Piggott reluctant to let go of the reins

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The Independent Online
Some things on Newmarket's timeless Heath never change, writes Sue Montgomery. Derby fancies may come and go, but yesterday morning the man who is the enduring modern symbol of the world's most famous race, Lester Piggott, was out at dawn doing what he does best. Piggott, aged 60, may have retired from competitive race-riding, but horses are in his blood, and the old maestro is now happy to turn the clock back nearly half a century to when he was an anonymous schoolboy riding exercise.

Yesterday morning Piggott (pictured above, on the far side) was on board Prince Of Andros, trained at Sefton Lodge by David Loder. Piggott, though still lean and spare, is more relaxed than he has ever been, and is content to pass on his unsurpassed knowledge to one of the emerging talents of the racing industry. Loder, aged 32, was born a decade after Piggott first rode to fame with his first Classic victory on Never Say Die in the 1954 Derby.

Piggott last rode competitively in Britain in 1994 and his wife, Susan, has now given up training. However, Piggott still lives in Newmarket and this spring he has been seen regularly on the Heath riding out for Loder.

This is always an important time of the year for the leading trainers on the Flat. The season's first four Classics all take place within the next two months and nearly all the leading contenders will be showing their paces in the coming weeks. Many will be on public view for the first time this season at Newmarket's Craven meeting next week, as will the country's leading jockeys. The most famous of them all, however, will not be seen.

Photograph: Robert Hallam; Racing, page 25