Legendary flat race jockey Lester Piggott who rode a record nine Epsom Derby winners has died aged 86 his son-in-law said on Sunday.
Piggott was admitted to hospital in Switzerland last weekend.
“Sadly we can confirm that Lester died peacefully in Switzerland this morning,” said his son-in-law Williams Haggas.
“I really don’t wish to add much more than that at this stage, although Maureen (Piggott’s daughter) will be making a statement later.”
Piggott is widely regarded as one of the greatest jockeys in the sport’s history, and had been previously admitted to intensive care in 2007 due to a heart problem.
‘The Long Fellow’ as he was nicknamed — due to being unusually tall for a flat jockey — had lived near Geneva since 2012.
Statues of Piggott adorn nine racecourses in England and only a week ago one was unveiled at Ireland’s premier racetrack The Curragh.
The 11-time British champion jockey rode 16 Irish classic winners at the track largely due to his partnership with trainer Vincent O’Brien.
The three-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winning jockey was once known as the housewives’ favourite when it came to picking an Epsom Derby horse to back.
His first Derby winner came when he was just 18 on Never Say Die in 1954 with his ninth and last Teenoso in 1983.
He retired from the saddle in 1985 to train.
However, that was brought to an abrupt halt by the conviction for tax fraud in 1987 that saw him serve a year in prison, and made a shock return after his release to what he knew best, riding.
He rode on for another four seasons with his most notable success when he memorably reunited with O’Brien to win the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Mile on Royal Academy at the age of 54 in 1990.
Piggott rode his first winner, The Chase, at Haydock in 1948 when just 12 years of age and his last win came with Palacegate Jack at the same track in 1994, a few weeks short of his 59th birthday. He retired for a final time in 1995.
He rode 4,493 winners, the third highest tally in British racing history behind only Gordon Richards and Pat Eddery.
However, he played down his fame, declaring in 2015 that it would fade with time.
“I think a lot of older people still remember me,” he told the Racing Post.
“I’m probably famous to them, but the younger ones wouldn’t really know who I am. Time goes by.”
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