British maestro Piggott in hospital
LONDON • Nine-time Epsom Derby-winning jockey Lester Piggott has been hospitalised in Switzerland where he lives, said his son-in-law, English trainer William Haggas.
Haggas did not reveal why the 86-year-old Piggott had been taken to hospital but told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s battling a bit, but he’s a tough man.”
Haggas said his wife Maureen – Piggott’s eldest daughter – was due to visit him in hospital on Monday.
Piggott’s son, Jamie, had been by his bedside on Sunday.
“Hopefully, he’ll pull through and get home as soon as possible,” he said.
“All we can do is train plenty of winners and keep him amused, that’s what we’re trying to do.
“I don’t think he thinks about what he’s achieved, but he loves the adulation that he gets every time he steps out into a public place.”
Piggott, widely regarded as the greatest jockey in the sport’s history, had been admitted to intensive care in 2007 due to a recurrence of a heart problem.
But he made a swift recovery.
“The Long Fellow”, as he was nicknamed due to being unusually tall for a flat jockey, has lived near Geneva since 2012.
Statues of Piggott adorn nine racecourses in England – including Ascot, where he holds the record (116) for most wins at Royal Ascot.
On Saturday, one was unveiled at Ireland’s premier racetrack The Curragh.
He 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, who rode over 5,000 winners worldwide, including Singapore – was once known as the housewives’ favourite when it came to picking an Epsom Derby horse to back.
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. I’m probably famous to them, but the younger ones wouldn’t really know who I am. Time goes by,” he told the Racing Post. - AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE