Epsom to honour Piggott by naming Derby in his memory

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Desert Crown is a strong favourite to land the Epsom Derby on Saturday with flat racing's blue riband to be renamed in honour of the record-breaking serial winner Lester Piggott.

The legendary jockey died in Switzerland on Sunday aged 86 but such was his stature tributes were still flooding the email server of Britain's racing daily the Racing Post on Tuesday.

When Piggott retired, for a second time, approaching his 59th birthday in 1995 he had ridden the grand total of 4,493 winners.

Nine of those were in the Epsom Derby, with his first at 18 on Never Say Die in 1954, his last Teenoso in 1983.

His name was already indelibly linked to the classic - he earned the title 'the housewives' choice' when it came to picking an Epsom Derby horse to back - but on Saturday the racecourse has announced it's official title will now be The Cazoo Derby (in memory of Lester Piggott).

Jockey Club director Phil White told the Post it was a fitting tribute as "no jockey is more synonymous with our most famous race than Lester Piggott".

Jockeys will sport black armbands on Friday for the fillies version of the Derby the Oaks, and also on Saturday. One minute's silence will also be staged on both days.

Desert Crown leapt to the head of the ante-post betting after an eye catching win in the Dante Stakes trial.

Michael Stoute's charge is only having his third ever racecourse outing and he could face a maximum of 17 rivals round the notoriously tricky undulating mile and a half of prime turf snaking around Epsom Downs.

Desert Crown heads the betting at around 13-8 from Stone Age, one of three likely runners for master Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien, with the Godolphin-owned Native Pride the third favourite.

Among the many memories and touching tributes coming in was one from Piggott's daughter Tracy who described his bond with horses as "poetry in motion". She underlined his dry sense of humour and his custom of producing one-liners.

Asked how she believes her father would like to be remembered, she replied: "He'd probably say, 'As the greatest', or something like that – it would be a one-liner.

"I heard him say a few times that people might have forgotten about him, or that nobody remembers him, but I think looking down now he'd be so thrilled. He'd be absolutely chuffed watching and listening to everything."

nr/dmc

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