FAMOUS jockey Lester Piggott will be in town this weekend, writes Nathan Okell.

He will be the headline guest at Haydock Park Racecourse when it stages its Smarkets Ladies Day: Rose of Lancaster Stakes on Saturday, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of his first ever victory.

Arguably flat racing’s greatest ever jockey, Piggott was crowned Champion Jockey eleven times and clocked up an impressive 5,300 winners worldwide including 4,493 Flat winners in the UK, 30 English Classics, 9 Epsom Derby’s and 20 over hurdles.

He also impressively rode 95 winners alone at Haydock Park Racecourse, endearing him to Haydock regulars, and celebrated his final win of his career at the track aboard Palacegate Jack in 1994 for former trainer Jack Berry.

St Helens Star:

Lester Piggott. Picture: PA Wire

Piggott began his successful racing career in 1948, when at the tender age of 12, he won his first ever race at Haydock Park on “The Chase” for owners Mr & Mrs B J R Lavington. Little did anyone know that this would kick-start such a triumphant and impressive career.

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Lester Piggott with the owners of his first ever win at Haydock Park

Lester, who currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland, will be attending the race day with his wife Susan and other family members.

Former trainer Jack Berry said: “Lester studied the horse and could read their minds. He was the greatest ever jockey.”

In commemorating the career of the legendary flat jockey, Haydock Park have announced that the fourth race of the day will be named in his honour - The Smarkets Lester Piggott 70th Anniversary Handicap Stakes.

On hearing the news, Piggott said: “I am very grateful to Haydock Park for commemorating a minor race run so very long ago.

“That seller back in 1948 was to prove the start of a very long career, and I’m delighted that Haydock was at the end of that career as well – the course where I rode my last winner in Britain in 1994.”

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Statue at Haydock Park

Jump racing legend, Sir AP McCoy also revealed: “He was my hero growing up. I don’t think there will ever be a jockey who is mentioned in the same breath as Lester Piggott.

“Even now, Frankie (Dettori) is by far the most well-known jockey but even he hasn’t reached the level Lester had.

“Lester Piggott was one of the greatest sportsman of my time and I think will always be. It has been 70 years since he rode his first winner and people are still talking about it, there’s not many sports with people like that.”

Leading female rider, Josephine Gordon also paid tribute to Piggott, stating: “It’s brilliant to be celebrating Lester Piggott’s 70th anniversary, he’s huge in the sport and to us jockeys. We all look up to him.”

The Rose of Lancaster Stakes Day celebrates fashion, style and flat racing, boasting a superb seven races which includes the Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes and one of the richest Ladies races in Europe - the Smarkets Haydock Park Ladies Trophy Handicap Stakes.

Haydock Park looks forward to welcoming some of the top trainers through its doors for what proves to be an exciting afternoon of racing.

Off the track, racegoers will have the chance to be crowned the “Most Stylish Individual” in the Style Stakes competition, with prizes including a £2000 holiday courtesy of Haydock Park Racecourse, and a personal styling session, £100 gift voucher and a photoshoot with a professional photographer courtesy of Olivia May.

ITV host and personality Vernon Kay will be there to spin the decks after racing with a set that’s sure to keep Haydock Park rocking into the early evening.