This year marks the 10th anniversary of the British Champions Series. The 2021 edition got underway at the beginning of this month, with the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The Series continues throughout the flat season, culminating in British Champions Day at Ascot in mid-September. And for those excited punters, the latest racing results can be found online.
And to celebrate all things British Champions, the first official Hall of Fame for British flat racing was revealed last month. Immortalising the greats in history – both human and equine – from the 1970s onwards, the inaugural champions were announced, and there were no real surprises, with the first two inductees being legendary jockey Lester Pigott, and British thoroughbred, Frankel.
Piggott – first jockey to be inaugurated
Piggott was an 11-time Champion Jockey between the years of 1960 and 1982, amassing 4,493 winners during his career, including 30 British Classis victories. With nine victories in the Epsom Derby, he is the most successful jockey by some way, and it’s unlikely his record will ever be broken.
Ascot was a happy hunting ground for Piggott. He also holds the record for the most victories at Royal Ascot, with 116. He accumulated those wins back when the meeting last four days rather than the five we have become accustomed to. And in its current format, Frankie Dettori is the most successful active jockey, with 73 winners – proving Piggott’s legendary status within the sport.
Further to those accolades, Piggott was the last winner of the famous Triple Crown, comprising the 2,000 Guineas, The Derby and the St Leger Stakes. It was back in 1970, that the 5 ft. 8 in. man, often jokingly referred to as ‘The Long Fellow’ due to his height, rode Nijinsky to victory. It was the first time in 35 years that the feat was managed, and it has since yet to be replicated.
On being listed, Piggott, who rode his first winner at the age of 12, and his last when he was 59 years old, said:
“I feel fortunate to have spent many brilliant years riding such incredible horses and I’m touched to see my story so well preserved through this initiative.”
Frankel – first horse to be inaugurated
Frankel was unbeaten in his 14-race career, and it was his astonishing performance in the 2,000 Guineas, a decade ago, that will always be remembered. Named the clear favourite before the race, the three-year-old with Tom Queally in the saddle, charged into the lead – and such was Frankel’s blistering pace, no-one else could keep up all race. He went on to win by six lengths, recording a time of 1 minute 37 seconds.
The British thoroughbred, who listed as the favourite in every race he entered, went on to win a total of 10 Grade One races, including the St James’s Palace Stakes, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Champion Stakes. It was in the Champion Stakes at Ascot that Frankel’s emotional farewell took place – in front of Her Majesty the Queen and a sell-out crowd. In winning the race, the legendary horse, trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil also secured an official rating of 147 by Timeform – the highest rating awarded to a Flat horse.
Frankel’s jockey, Queally, said of the achievement:
“I’m pleased that Frankel’s unblemished career has been acknowledged by the new Hall of Fame initiative, and I’m especially delighted that he is the first racehorse to be given the accolade. I will always fondly remember the moments I spent with him.”