Bruce Raymond says Lester Piggott had “that bit extra” that made him a hero to many.
Piggott, who died peacefully in Switzerland at the age of 86 on Sunday morning, having recently been hospitalised, was a great friend and rival of Raymond’s during a halcyon period of racing and jockeyship in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Raymond, who serves as racing manager to Saeed Suhail, owner of Cazoo Derby favourite Desert Crown, said his long-time weighing room colleague was revered and feared by all but a couple of jockeys.
“There were a lot of great jockeys around – I thought Willie Carson was a great jockey. Pat Eddery, too, John Reid, Yves Saint-Martin was absolutely brilliant, and Freddie Head. They were fantastic jockeys. Lester had just that little bit extra and it doesn’t take much,” he said.
“I don’t know much about football, but he might have been like Sir Alex Ferguson, playing these mind games. You don’t need much to find that bit extra – you only have to find half a length, don’t you?
“I think he just had that bit extra. If you asked Yves Saint-Martin if Lester was he better than him, he would say, ‘Of course not!’.
“Because he was our hero, everybody tried to model themselves on the champion jockey at the time, as he is someone you look up to. Everyone was copying Kieren Fallon at one time, and Pat Eddery before that.
“There are lot of jockeys riding like Pat now – although not so polished. Pat was probably the only jockey who wouldn’t give him anything.
“Lester would go around the changing room asking questions, and you’d be thinking, ‘Why did I tell him that?’, but Pat would just say, ‘I’m not telling you anything!’.
“We all had so much respect and we were in awe of Lester, though.
“Ask him why he was the way he was, he would not be able to tell you. Some people will tell you they are geniuses, but Lester would not be able to tell you why he was. He just was.”