Racing: Piggott's switch stirs up anger: The veteran jockey sports the Queen's colours to the dismay of Swedish punters anticipating a Derby display

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The Independent Online
LESTER PIGGOTT has decided to risk angering Swedish racegoers by pulling out of a planned ride in their Derby this Sunday. The jockey, who was stripped of his OBE six years ago, is instead standing by the Queen and intends riding a Royal horse in Germany the same day.

Piggott has informed the Swedish racing authorities that he is unable to ride at Jagesro racecourse. He was booked at least two weeks ago to take six mounts on the 11-race card, including the ride on Zerenad in the Swedish Derby.

But the 58-year-old sent a fax to the track saying, 'due to my fall (at Goodwood last Thursday) I don't feel up to riding at Jagesro racecourse on Sunday. If you have any questions please phone me.'

Piggott's presence could have trebled gate receipts at Jagesro and there is certain to be anger over his decision to switch to Germany the same afternoon. He has been declared to ride the Queen's Sharp Prod in the Group Three Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten. Lord Huntingdon, who trains Sharp Prod, confirmed yesterday that Piggott would ride the Queen's horse.

The situation is a virtual repeat of last year, when Piggott was booked to ride Zenithsa in the Swedish Derby, but rode Sharp Prod in the Preis von Berlin, where the partnership finished in fourth.

Piggott said earlier this week he would return to the saddle at Newmarket tomorrow, eight days after narrowly escaping serious injury in the fall at Goodwood. He has spurned suggestions that he should retire.

For Balanchine, however, retirement is very much on the agenda. It was announced yesterday that a decision on whether the dual Classic heroine has already run her last race - or will return to the track in 1995 - will be made later this year.

Successful in the Oaks at Epsom and the Irish Derby, she suffered a serious attack of colic last month, and underwent surgery to remove a blockage to her small intestine.

Although the operation was a complete success it was disclosed that Balanchine, owned by Godolphin in partnership with Maktoum Al- Maktoum, would not race again this season.

On Monday night, she once again showed signs of discomfort from colic and was taken to Newmarket veterinary surgeons, Greenwood, Ellis and Partners, for treatment.

However, reporting an improvement in the filly's condition, a spokeswoman for Godolphin said yesterday: 'Balanchine has had a good night and seems fine. She is back at the Someries Stud in Newmarket and it does not look as though she will require further surgery at this stage.'

(Photograph omitted)

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