Racing: Taby the place to be for Piggott's devotees: Matt Chapman tells how Sweden plans to hail a legend's return

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The Independent Online
LESTER PIGGOTT may have been greatly underused in Britain this year but he remains in demand abroad and today is the main attraction at Taby racecourse in Sweden. Piggott, who is enjoying his spell this season, with three outstanding winners last week, will ride the Jack Berry- trained Selhurstpark Flyer in the pounds 36,500 Sprint Championship. Win or lose, Piggott's reception will be that reserved for a hero.

The racecard for the Sprint Championship is dominated by Piggott's visit. The inside cover reads: 'There is special joy in welcoming Lester Piggott, whose outstanding achievements on race courses all over the world have been greatly admired by Swedish racing fans for decades.'

Bjorn Zachrisson, director of the Scandinavian Racing Bureau, said: 'Lester really is a legend in Sweden, and all the racing fans love to see him in action.

'With Lester riding, the crowd will be at least trebled, from about 1,500 to 4,500 racegoers. It would be more, but we are in the middle of the holiday season.'

Piggott has won three Classics in Sweden, so it is unsurprising he has such a following. On his first ride in the country, in 1958, he won the Swedish Derby on Flying Friendship and took the same race on Tao in 1991, the last time he was in action there. Piggott's other Classic success in the country came on Kansas, the Swedish St Leger winner of 1980.

Zachrisson is keen that Piggott's wins in these events should be recognised: 'Lester has ridden three Classic winners in this country, but they are very often ignored when people talk about his lifetime achievements. I believe that these triumphs should be listed along with all his other Classic wins.'

So can Selhurstpark Flyer, who is blinkered for the first time, further endear Piggott to his posse of Swedish followers? The form book suggests he has every chance, although the Michael Bell- trained Roger the Butler, the mount of Michael Fenton, will provide stiff oposition. And, Piggott will recognise one of the Norwegian challengers, Troon, whom he rode to victory at Brighton in 1992 when the horse was trained by his wife, Susan.

Victory, though, will not provide as great an advertisement for Piggott's skills as his successes in Britain last week: Lemon Souffle and En Attendant at Newmarket's July Meeting; a last-to-first win on Pickles at Chester. They brought the 58-year-old's tally in Britain to 10 wins from just 101 rides this year. In Ireland he has had two wins, on College Chapel and Right Win in Group races, from only five rides, while Captain Horatius and Suplizi in Italy, and Oenothera in Germany have all given him high-level successes in countries where his following remains strong.

(Photograph omitted)

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