Piggott leaves hospital with pacemaker

Lester Piggott (AFP)
Lester Piggott (AFP)

London - Lester Piggott, widely regarded as the greatest ever flat race jockey, has been discharged from hospital following a two-week stay which saw him fitted with a pacemaker.

The 83-year-old, who rode 30 British Classic winners including a record nine Epsom Derbies, has suffered from heart issues in the past.

"Dad has left hospital, which is great news, and the doctors have been pleased with how his heart has settled down - these things take time when you're 83," his daughter Maureen Haggas told the Racing Post.

"Needless to say he'll be taking it easy over Christmas and hopefully build his strength back up into the new year."

Known as 'The Long Fellow' - because at 5-foot-8  (1.73 metres) he was tall for a flat jockey - Piggott racked up 116 victories at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting.

He battled to keep his weight down and subsisted on a diet of champagne and cigars and regular visits to the sauna.

Piggott was sentenced to three years in jail in 1987 after being found guilty of an alleged tax fraud of more than £3 million. With time off for good behaviour he served a year and a day.

Showing his trademark resilience, he returned to the saddle - after failing to flourish as a trainer - in 1990 aged 54 and produced one of the more remarkable sporting comebacks.

Less than a fortnight later he rode Royal Academy to victory in the Million dollar Breeders' Cup Mile for iconic Irish trainer, the late Vincent O'Brien.

Despite serving time many believe he deserved a knighthood - fellow jockeys such as Gordon Richards and AP McCoy have been ennobled.

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