This month, Piggott, 85, became the first jockey to be inducted into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame and no one can match his tally of Lockinge wins, albeit Dettori is having a good go at trying to catch him.
Piggott’s maiden Lockinge win came in 1960, the year he won the first of his 11 jockeys’ championships. He took the honours aboard 7/4 favourite Sovereign Path, a four-year-old owned and trained by Ron Mason. It was only the third running, with the previous two renewals being claimed by Pall Mall, owned by Her Majesty The Queen.
Piggott struck again with The Creditor (trained by Noel Murless) in 1964 but had to wait another nine years before his next success on Sparkler (Robert Armstrong). Belmont Bay (Henry Cecil) provided him with his fourth in 1981 before further victories on Polar Falcon (John Hammond) in 1991 and Swing Low (Richard Hannon Sr) in 1993.
The 1981 renewal featured only six runners but Piggott had to be at his imperious best to gain a dramatic victory. He controlled the race from the front on the Daniel Wildenstein-owned four-year-old but defeat seemed inevitable when the strong-travelling Hilal loomed up on his outside and headed him. However, Piggott squeezed out more from his willing partner and edged back ahead in the final strides. He would clinch a tenth jockeys’ title that season.
A decade later, Piggott struck again with the French-trained Polar Falcon despite the colt fluffing the start and being up against the prolific filly In The Groove, who started odds-on. Piggott bided his time on the rain-softened ground before inviting his mount to pounce and accelerate two lengths clear of the hot favourite. Polar Falcon would go on to prove himself a top-class sprinter.
Piggott was 57 when also adopting patient tactics on Swing Low, two years later, hitting the front inside the final furlong on the 12/1 chance and being able to ease down in the final strides. He remains the oldest jockey to have won the race with those left trailing that day including a youthful Dettori, who partnered Powerful Edge.
The Lockinge was a Group 2 contest each time Piggott won it, only being elevated to Group 1 status in 1995. However, that did not prevent many wonderful horses from taking part before that time, with Brigadier Gerard (1972) and Kris (1980) being among revered winners.