Thursday, November 17, 2005

Belated birthday greetings to The Maestro

I should have posted this on November 5th, but better late than never.

On 5th November 1935, he was born, in Wantage, England.

When he rode his first winner, Harry Truman was in the White House.

The figures speak for themselves: thirty English classics and Champion Jockey umpteen times on the flat in Britain; to be honest I don't know the exact number.

And what is most remarkable I feel was the longevity of his career. He was a fresh-faced teenager when he rode his first winner, and he was a grandfather when he won his last Classic on Rodrigo De Triano.

There are so many stories about him I can't repeat them here, because, like all legendary figures, there's no guarantee the stories are really true.

And, like all of us, he was a combination of saint and sinner; he has paid his debt to society as a guest of Her Majesty, an experience he describes in his autobiography as "just a waste of time".

But I remember the night when I was once in the same room as him; he was receiving a lifetime achievement award from a group of racing enthusiasts, and I will never forget the beaming smile on his face, which would have belied his usual stone-faced image that most people know him for.

So, here goes. Everybody join me in saying: "Happy Birthday, Lester Keith Piggott".

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