When did Lester Piggott ride his first Royal Ascot winner?
In a riding career spanning six decades, Lester Piggott rode 4,493 winners, including 30 English Classic winners and won the Flat Jockeys’ Championship eleven times, including eight years running between 1964 and 1971. Coincidentally, eleven was also the number of times Piggott won the highlight of Royal Ascot, the historic and coveted Gold Cup, including a notable hat-trick on Sagaro in 1975, 1976 and 1977.
Piggott not only remains the most successful jockey in the history of the Gold Cup but, by the proverbial ‘country mile’, the most successful jockey in the history of Royal Ascot. Of course, at various points during his career, Piggott enjoyed profitable associations with such luminaries of the training profession as Sir Noel Murless, Vincent O’Brien and Sir Henry Cecil. Nevertheless, his astonishing record of 116 winners, achieved long before the extension of Royal Ascot to five days in 2005, is unlikely to be beaten.
Piggott rode his first Royal Ascot winner, Malka’s Boy, trained by Walter Nightingall, in the Wokingham Stakes on June 20, 1952, as a 16-year-old, making all the running to win by 3 lengths. For the record, he rode his last Royal Ascot winner, College Chapel, trained by Vincent O’Brien, in the Cork and Orrery Stakes, now the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, on June 17, 1993, at the age of 58. The ‘Long Fella’ retired for the second, and final, time two years later.