Lester … From Start to Finish

Lester … From Start to Finish

I first met Lester Piggott when his record breaking nine Derby winners were celebrated in the 2002 Vodafone Derby Trophy. I depicted him riding his 1968 winner, Sir Ivor, at exercise on the Epsom Downs.

About two years after sculpting this trophy, I was invited by Susan, Lester’s wife, to Newmarket as she had something she wished to discuss. Susan had for some time, been thinking of what to do to mark her husband’s 70th birthday. She decided that she would like to commission a bronze which depicted Lester aged 12, riding his first winner on the Chase at Haydock Park in 1948 and, 4,491 winners later, his last victory, also at Haydock, on the Jack Berry trained Palace Gate Jack.

After many weeks of work and fascinating research through the Lester Piggott archives, I came up with what is now called the “Start to Finish” bronze. Having received this sculpture as his birthday present, the bronze was placed on show at the ensuing party. Viewing the sculpture for the first time, Lester’s great friend, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, thought that Haydock Park Chairman, Bill Whittle, should take a look at it. So a meeting was arranged and, with the bronze tucked under my arm, Susan Piggott and I went to Haydock to meet Bill and the rest of his team who, on seeing the sculpture, asked if they could commission a larger version (one third life-size).

This marked the beginning of what is now an annual event at Haydock Park. The Lester Piggott Day featuring The Lester Piggott “From Start to Finish” Handicap. Lester unveiled the one third life-size version which now stands at the entrance to the racecourse.

“One of my best ideas and one of Will’s best works.”
(Susan Piggott commenting on her commissioning the “From Start to Finish” Bronze for Lester’s 70th birthday)

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