Racing: Piggott arrives to upstage on new platform: Paul Hayward witnesses the Greatest Performing Grandfather warm up for a record

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The Independent Online
LESTER who? The name Piggott meant nothing to the gatemen at Gulfstream Park early yesterday morning as Rodrigo De Triano's jockey arrived for work. 'I can't get a pass. They won't let me go anywhere,' he said in those smudged words of his. Piggott can expect his opponents in today's dollars 3m ( pounds 1.95m) Breeders' Cup Classic to be similarly unaccommodating when he tries to make his moves.

It was a surprise to see Piggott on board Rodrigo De Triano for a mild canter because Peter Chapple-Hyam, the trainer, had not especially sought his services for this routine exercise, and besides, The World's Greatest Performing Grandfather does not normally feel the need to undertake reconnaisance. Last year, on a freezing morning at Churchill Downs, he prefaced his appointment with a horse of Richard Hannon's by saying: 'I don't know what the hell I'm doing here.'

Yesterday Piggott was positively effusive in discussing Rodrigo De Triano's prospects. 'We know he's the best miler in the world on grass,' he said. 'It's just a question of whether he goes on the dirt. I would have preferred him to run on the turf (in the Mile).' Doubtless someone will remind him that the Mile is worth dollars 2m ( pounds 1.3m) less than the Classic.

Not that anybody can tell Piggott much about anything. Chapple-Hyam admitted this week that he 'had overdone the riding instructions (ie issued too many orders)', when Rodrigo De Triano last ran, and Piggott had said with quiet authority: 'Listen, I was race-riding before you were born.'

Indeed he was. When Piggott won the 1957 2,000 Guineas on Crepello, Chapple-Hyam was minus-seven in age. If he wins the world's richest race here today - the hyperbole store is on red alert - Piggott will become the oldest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race, surpassing Bill Shoemaker, who was 56 and two months when he won the 1987 Classic on Ferdinand. Piggott will be 57 next week.

Despite his doubts about the choice of race for Rodrigo De Triano, nobody should question Piggott's ability to upstage days like these. Think of his success on Royal Academy in the Mile at Belmont Park two years ago, or consider that while most attention was fixed on Arazi's attempt to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday 2 May, Piggott was capturing the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Rodrigo De Triano.

He is fortunate that his mount today has been so brilliantly handled by Chapple-Hyam. This is a horse who has won four Group One races from May to October and has been revived from a mid- season lapse to become Europe's best chance of winning the Classic.

Chapple-Hyam's colleague, Roger Charlton, says: 'I saw Rodrigo in the paddock at Epsom (before the Derby) and I thought he'd never win another race. He looked tucked up (skinny) and miserable. Peter has done amazingly well to bring him back so many times.'

Do not expect Chapple-Hyam to enjoy this race. Piggott, of course, will employ those BAFTA- winning waiting tactics while the trainer has to fret up in the grandstand. 'It's an entirely different game over here because they go that much faster,' Piggott said yesterday. 'You have to adapt.'

Seldom has he faced such a challenge.

----------------------------------------------------------------------- EUROPEAN BREEDERS' CUP WINNERS ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Year Track Horse Race Trainer 1984 Hollywood Park Lashkari Turf A de Royer Dupre (Fr) 1985 Aqueduct Pebbles Turf C Brittain (GB) 1986 Santa Anita Last Tycoon Mile R Collet (Fr) 1987 Hollywood Park Miesque Mile F Boutin (Fr) 1988 Churchill Downs Miesque Mile F Boutin (Fr) 1989 Gulfstream Park - - - 1990 Belmont Park In The Wings Turf A Fabre (Fr) Royal Academy Mile V O'Brien (Irl) 1991 Churchill Downs Arazi Juvenile F Boutin (Fr) Miss Alleged Turf P Bary (Fr) Sheikh Albadou Sprint A Scott (GB) ----------------------------------------------------------------------- The Chase was won by Gacko (Fr) in 1987 and by Morley Street (GB) in 1990 and 1991 -----------------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

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