Greatest Jockey Lester Piggott Dies. Top Competitions Abound In Europe

Lester Piggott, many would say was the best jockey of all time sadly died yesterday in a Swiss hospital. The out pouring of adulation for ‘the greatest’ is a testament to the brilliance of his jockeyship. We offer our condolences to trainer William Haggas, Lester’s son in law and his daughter Susan as well as the rest of his extended family. Meanwhile, it has been a busy past week for all sport horse top international competitions. In the UK, the three day eventers were busy competing in the latest round of the Eventing Nation’s Cup at the Houghton Horse Trials. In Hamburg, Germany, the dressage riders were out in force to compete for the CDI 4 star along with the show jumpers in round six of the Longines Champions League. In Rome, other top show jumpers were out in a CSI 5 star competition. In Munich, dressage was also at the fore with another FEI CDI 5 star.

Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott with Frankie Dettori

We start with the sad news that at 86 years of age, the great Lester Piggott died in his sleep early Sunday morning in a Swiss hospital. Lester was possibly the most remarkable jockey of all time. He made the Derby at Epsom his own by winning the race no less than nine times. It is 52 years since the Colts Triple Crown in the UK was won, by Nijinsky ridden by Lester Piggott, a feat that no other jockey has managed for all that time. He rode no fewer than 4,493 winners, only bettered by Sir Gordon Richards and Pat Eddery. Lester Piggott won no less than 30 British classics, the Derby as already mentioned, he won the Oaks on 6 times; the St Ledger on 8; the One Thousand Guineas twice and the Two Thousand Guineas on five occasions. In a career which spanned nearly 50 years, perhaps Piggott’s most impressive victory was in New York when after spending a period in prison for de-frauding the tax man, he won the Breeders Cup with Royal Academy in the most scintillating style. Before the race, Lester Piggott was ridiculed by many saying that he hadn’t got a chance in the race to which he simply replied “watch and learn – watch and learn” and boy did they watch and learn how the maestro plied his trade. We will pay proper tribute to Lester in the next few weeks.

Nations Cup Eventing Round Two at Houghton Hall

At the Houghton Hall three day event, an FEI 4 star international event incorporating The Eventing Nations Cup of Great Britain. The event is considered to be one of the top events in the UK with over 700 horses competing each year. The FEI Eventer Nations Cup is a series of nine events taking place between mid-May and mid-October each year and this at Houghton Hall was the second in the series. Each event is conducted with competitors competing at CCI 4 star. The organisers can opt either to use the short format or long depending on what they want. Each team from a nation must have at least three riders in the team but most have four riders and as with other FEI competitions, the worst score if there are four riders, is dropped. After each event, each nation will be allocated a number of points. 100 points for the team in the top position, ie: the winners of that event, going down to 20 points for the less successful teams. In the first round in Italy at Pratoni del Vivaro, Switzerland took the honours in a very tight finish with France in second and Sweden in third.

Tom McEwen leads the British Team to victory

At Houghton Hall, The British Team took the win a total of 114 penalty points with only three riders for the cross country and show jumping sections following Phoebe Locke’s fall on another horse at the venue and being stood down by the medics. The all-female riders from the United States took second place with Sweden taking third. Currently with two third places, Sweden are top of the leader board in the series with Great Britain and Switzerland in joint second place. The next round takes place later in June in Poland.

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