Haydock abuzz as Lester Piggott marks anniversary of first British victory

Legendary jockey Lester Piggott has fond memories of Haydock and the track got the opportunity to return the affection on Saturday.

The Smarkets Lester Piggott 70th Anniversary Handicap recalled the occasion when, aged just 12, Piggott rode the first of his 4,493 winners in Britain on The Chase at the track. His final victory, on Palacegate Jack, also came at Haydock, 24 years ago.

Piggott, who travelled over from his home in Geneva, Switzerland, was joined by Palacegate Jack's trainer Jack Berry to hand the prize to the race's winning trainer Iain Jardine, who was successful with Alemaratalyoum.

The 11-time champion jockey was then on the receiving end after being presented with a Staffordshire pottery flatback of Fred Archer from clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright.

"It's great to be here, especially with Jack," said Piggott, 82. "I have some great memories of riding here and remember that day all those years ago. You never forget your first winner."

Among the throngs of well-wishers was Haydock member Tom Duddy, from Oldham, who is the same age as Piggott and was present at the course for the racing idol's first and last winners.

The track commemorated Piggott's career in 2006 with a bronze of The Chase and Palacegate Jack named 'Start to Finish', which is positioned near the main entrance and was created by renowned equine sculptor William Newton.