Newmarket horseracing legends Lester Piggott and Frankel enter a new racing Hall of Fame
Newmarket racing legends, Lester Piggott and Frankel, have been named as the first two inductees in a new racing Hall of Fame.
Their names were announced to mark the 10th anniversary of the Qipco British Champions Series, the organisation behind the initiative.
The first official hall of fame for British Flat racing sets out to immortalise the modern greats of the sport, both human and equine, from 1970 onwards, and inductees will be selected by a panel including Emma Berry, wife of Newmarket trainer John Berry and European editor of Thoroughbred Daily News, Brough Scott, racing broadcaster and writer and Martin Mitchell, former Tattersalls bloodstock director.
Lester, whose record nine Derby wins look unlikely ever to be equalled, broke the previous record of six victories in the Epsom Classic, which had stood since 1836, in 1976 when he won on Empery.
He added further wins on The Minstrel in 1977 and Teenoso, trained in Newmarket by Geoff Wragg, in 1983. In all, Lester rode the winners of 30 British Classics between 1954 and 1992 and his record of 116 winners at Royal Ascot, in an era when the meeting lasted four days rather than five and with just six races per day, is also still a record.
Frankel, who was trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, and is now building a reputation as a leading sire at Cheveley’s Banstead Manor Stud, is one of the sport’s greatest equine names, and produced arguably the most memorable performance in the history of the 2,000 Guineas a decade ago at his home course, when he powered clear of his field from the start and maintained a clear lead all the way to the line.
He remained unbeaten across three seasons and through 14 starts in 10 Group 1 races.
The story of the great horse was inextricably linked with his trainer’s own battle with cancer and captured the hearts of the nation.
And according to Lester, who is now 85 and based in Switzerland, Frankel is the one horse he wished he could have ridden.
“It is an honour to become the first jockey, and the first person, to be inducted into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame and I am truly delighted to receive this special medal,” he said.
“I feel fortunate to have spent many brilliant years riding such incredible horses and I’m touched to see my story so well preserved through this initiative.
“The Hall of Fame is a terrific concept and something that racing has deserved for so many years.”
His daughter Maureen, wife of Newmarket trainer William Haggas, said of her father: “He was totally dedicated to riding winners, totally disciplined to keeping his weight down.
“His work ethic was unbelievable, my sister and I, by watching him growing up, inherited that work ethic. His longevity was incredible, he rode his first winner when he was 12 and his last winner when he was 59. He was at the top, if not very close to the top, of his sport for that length of time and that’s pretty remarkable.”
And Lady Cecil, widow of Sir Henry said: “I’d say Henry would be very proud of Frankel being inducted into the Hall of Fame, as am I.
“He’d say it was a fitting tribute because Frankel had such a brilliant racing career.
“I always remember Teddy (Grimthorpe) said ‘don’t forget to enjoy it’ and that’s exactly what we did.”