There were happy scenes at Haydock Park as the racecourse celebrated the 70th anniversary of Britain’s greatest jockey Lester Piggott’s very first winner. It was on 18th August 1948 that Piggott, then only twelve years old, rode The Chase, trained by his father Keith, to win a selling handicap at the Lancashire course. Little did racegoers that day know that the career they had just seen burst into life would lead to global stardom for the young jockey in the years to come.
Piggott looked happy and relaxed as he mingled with the crowd both before and after the race Haydock had named in honour of the 70th anniversary. Large crowds queued for photos and autographs and Piggott, along with trainer Jack Berry who trained Piggott’s last British winner which was also at Haydock, smiled and chatted with racing fans young and old in the Lancashire sunshine.
In an interview following the race the former jockey was quick to recall that Haydock was the scene of many of his best memories in racing. “I have some great memories of riding here and remember that day all those years ago. You never forget your first winner.”
For one of the racegoers, Tom Duddy from Oldham in Lancashire, it was a special day. Tom is the same age as Lester Piggott and was present at the course on the day Piggott rode his first winner and was also there on the day he won his final British race win in 1994. A member at Haydock (Tom’s wife Olive wife buys his annual membership every year for his Christmas, claiming it is ‘easier than buying socks’) Tom recalled the day Piggott rode his first winner. ‘I went with my parents that day, we were in the silver ring, things were very different in those days.’