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The man you can’t ignore man – and delighted to see him chalk up Classic win number nine in the 1966 Oaks on Valoris. Of all the privileges I’ve been granted as a racegoer, I’m not sure that any match the autumn of that year, when Piggott was riding out of his skin, routinely winning every kind of race when defeat seemed inevitable. By walking away from Noel Murless at the end of that year, Lester missed out on much Classic glory in 1967, notching only with Ribocco in the St Leger, but he won three of the set in 1968 with Sir Ivor twice and Ribero at Doncaster. He still wasn’t halfway to Buckle’s record, which continued to seem impregnable, and could hardly be recognised as a target. In 1970 I was lucky enough to witness what has been denied to many. I saw Nijinsky land the Triple Crown, and I was present when Humble Duty ran away with the 1,000 Guineas, the only Classic that had eluded Piggott in the past. A front-running masterpiece in the St Leger on Athens Wood in 1971 was followed a year later with a Classic double on Roberto in the Derby, for which he was loudly booed, and Boucher in the Leger, yet another triumph achieved thanks to his association with Vincent O’Brien. Roberto’s Derby meant that Piggott was now level with Jem Robinson and Steve Donoghue, but we could hardly expect that he would win at Epsom on three more colts, Empery in 1976, The Minstrel in 1977 and Teenoso in 1983 – except that on each occasion I was wearing a particularly gaudy tie given to me by Susan Piggott, a plausible omen, at least after the first win.

“I did get to meet Lester and, memorably, on the first occasion we spoke he told me a blatant lie” Buckle’s record was vulnerable now. There had been Oaks victories in 1975 and 1981 with Juliette Marny and Blue Wind, and a 1981 fillies’ Guineas triumph with Fairy Footsteps just a week after the jockey had suffered an injury in the stalls at Epsom that prompted John Oaksey to deliver what seemed to amount to an obituary to TV viewers. It was finally clear that Buckle’s record was under threat. An Oaks victory on Circus Plume came as the equaliser, and Commanche Run’s St Leger meant that there was a new Classics champion. But it wasn’t to end there. Shadeed provided a win in the 2,000 Guineas of 1985, and I was present for the memorable 30th Classic triumph when Rodrigo de Triano scored in 1992. John Sharratt, Raceform’s top race-reader, and I had the press stand to ourselves that day. All our colleagues had persuaded their bosses to send them to Churchill Downs to watch Arazi flop in the Kentucky Derby. I lived to see one supposedly unassailable record bite the dust. What are the chances that I might see another? John Scott’s 40 Classic victories between 1827 and 1863, 16 of them in the St Leger, have stood as the record, unapproached in a century and a half. Aidan O’Brien took his tally to 31 in the 2018 Oaks, and he is still a young man. Am I going to see a second supposedly unassailable record finally overtaken? The only doubt is about how long I’m going to live. It’s a certainty that Aidan will attain the goal.

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THOROUGHBRED OWNER BREEDER INC PACEMAKER

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28/06/2018 13:18

Profile for Thoroughbred Owner Breeder

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...

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