HRN Original Blog:
The Weekly Tout

Lester Piggott?

1984 Kentucky Derby.

I work with this Irish guy from the town of Sligo, Ireland. It’s located in the northwest corner of the country. We work at the same place, but in different departments so we are more acquaintances than buddies. His name is McCarthy, and that’s what we refer to him as, he’s McCarthy. The other day we were talking and I weaseled the conversation around to horse racing. And he winked those blue Irish eyes at me and says, “Have I told you me Lester Piggott story?”


“Go ahead McCarthy, tell me your horse story.” McCarthy nudges me in the ribs as if we were in some old time movie. “Me brother Sean rings me and says, ‘Lester Piggott is only racing one horse on today’s card it has to mean that this horse is a winner or Lester wouldn’t be on him.’ This was after the tax evasion prison term…” At this point, I had to interrupt him and ask, “Who is Lester Piggott?”


“You’ve got to be kidding me laddy, you don’t know about Lester Piggott?" And he told me… he is known as the Long Fellow due to his 5’8” frame, Piggott won the Epsom Derby NINE times. “Why he’s the greatest flat track jockey of all time he is,” McCarthy said. He won his first Derby in 1954 as an 18 year old. And he won eight more, his last in 1983. He had 4,493 wins in his career and was named British Flat Track Champion 11 times. And he won the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Mile on Royal Academy. His resume is long and full of top flight victories.


“Oh he struggled he did with his weight. He was fighting to be 8 stones most of his career.” I didn’t ask what a stone was out of fear that McCarthy would tell me - I wanted to get home that night. I figured that I must go 22 stones and a few pebbles if a jockey weighs eight.


Lester Piggott was the greatest jockey of Great Britain and he famously got in trouble with England’s Internal Revenue Service and served 366 days on a three year sentence for tax fraud. McCarthy’s story had me on the edge of my seat, but what about the phone call between brother Sean, I asked?


“Well I put Ten Quid (?) on him and I won 600 Pounds, it’s the only bet that I’ve made in me life,” McCarthy nudged me again as if I understood what a quid and a pound were. A quid is worth $16.50 bucks and 600 pounds is worth 990 dollars by today’s terms. So I figure that McCarthy did pretty well with his Lester Piggott story. 


But something bothers me, who is the colony’s top jockey? Let me know what you think. Who’s your vote for all time jockey of the United States? It’s hard to beat Laffit Pincay’s 9,530 victories, but you tell me who you think is the best jockey of all time. I’m headed to the Wood Memorial in the first week of April so I’ll talk to you after that sports fans. Riders Up!



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Older Comments about Lester Piggott? ...

Weekly- This is a very underrated race. Very exciting indeed!
I forgot to include the link Here is a great race
What a great race this is. Thanks for all your comments
Focusing back on the Jockeys, was there anything more fun then watching Lester win the BC Mile on Royal Academy?...his patent riding style so evident as he tried to close down Itsallgreektome. A couple of Riders I will say are Don Seymour and Sandy Hawley in Canada, and Mick Kinane from Europe. In the USA I always liked Pat Day.
That is very interesting Buck, and TV.
As I understood, they bury most TBs head signifying intelligence, heart for strength, feet for power. Though quite a number of great horses were buried whole: MOW, Exterminator etc.
Interesting. For what particular reason do they not bury them whole?
head heart hooves usually
Most are not buried whole.
Very nice Vic. You got to see Nijinsky. Buck - I didn't know that was uncommon to not bury a horse whole.
EP. If you get to Claiborne, Nijinsky's former stall is in the back of the main barn. Also he was a horse who was buried whole at Claiborne, which is unusual as most are not.
Lester-- one of the great ones no doubt, but if there had been a whip rule when he rode, he would have been mucking stalls.
saw the great Nijinsky at Claiborne. Developed a nasty thrus infection in the rear pastern area and it wound up causing massive varicosities. He had a huge rear leg when I saw him but ti did not seem to bother his gait.
I very much like Lester. But his ride on Nijinsky was what cost that sick horse the Arc. He showed the whip and the horse ducked away(He knew he would) but Nijinsky was striding on smoothly and powerfully like he would normally do and forced Lester to go to the Whip. End of race.
can't recall which track but it was a smaller venue in England.
Back in the 60's Piggot was the only rider to go very wide at the line EVERY TIME he rode there. He won close races often, so some bright person investigated and found that the alingment on the finish line markedly favored the outside horse. Upon questioning about it he was noncommital but has to have known that and it was a wonder it took judges so long to discover that problem.
I remember Piggott well. He rode Roberto in the Derby and beat the horse so much that he was roundly booed coming into the winners circle. I also remember after Galbreath stuck up for him on his ride on Roberto in both Derbies (Irish too), Piggott decided to ride Rheingold in the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup. So Galbreath brought in Baeza and Roberto won the race from start to finish leaving Piggott and Rheingold in the back along with the great Brigadier Gerrard. I remember he and Wildenstein had issues over riding All Along and that caused him to lose her and other horses as well. I think that animosity also affected his relationship with Henry Cecil as Wldenstein was a big owner with him.
Great ego
Back in the day the only thing I knew about racing in England was the name Lester Piggott. The man could ride winners! Best jockey ever in the USA is a tough question. In his time Jerry Bailey was excellent in the big races.

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Meet Johnnie Carrier


With 10 years of writing a humor column for his home town paper under his belt, Johnnie Carrier has decided to try something different. He is a graduate of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Clown College Class of 1977 and traveled the West with Circus Vargas in 1979.

 In the 80’s, Carrier lived in New York City and Boston, but he settled down however in the smallest city in Massachusetts late in the decade and married Dawn Luskin in ’88. David was born in 1991 and has been blessed with his father’s sense of humor, but luckily his mother’s good looks.

 Racing has been more than a casual interest having lived so close to Saratoga. He started going to the track at a very young age with his parents and has tried to instill that passion into his son by taking him at the same age. In 2003, Carrier started to write as a freelance writer with the North Adams Transcript and can be followed there at the paper’s website.  


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