Royal Ascot is one of the most celebrated meetings in British horseracing. It’s considered to be the pinnacle of the UK’s flat racing season, bringing together the best thoroughbred stayers and flat racing jockeys across the continent.
There are some jockeys who are simply born to prevail around Ascot. Success at Royal Ascot is a sure-fire way for jockeys to secure immortality in UK horseracing. With so much on the line, the most successful jockeys at Royal Ascot prove themselves to be riders for the big occasion.
Within this article, we explore the most successful jockey of all time at this historic meeting, as well as those hot on his heels looking to break his duck.
Introducing Royal Ascot’s All-Time Most Successful Jockey – Lester Piggott
Iconic jockey Lester Piggott retired in 1985 as the undisputed king of Royal Ascot. Piggott is widely considered to be the finest flat racing jockey in the history of the sport. With no less than 4,493 career wins to his name, Piggott was no stranger to the winner’s enclosure in races throughout the country.
He was a regular feature at Royal Ascot’s winner’s enclosure too – that much is certain. Piggott racked up an almighty 116 race wins during Royal Ascot meetings.
This is an even bigger feat than you might think. Piggott raced when Royal Ascot was staged over just four days rather than five. Furthermore, the racecards had just six races per day instead of seven.
Ahead of the 2019 Royal Ascot meeting, a statue to commemorate Piggott’s success at Ascot was revealed in his honour. It’s one of nine life-size statues of Piggott located across multiple flat racecourses in the UK – all of which were hand-sculpted by William Newton.
Away from Royal Ascot, Piggott racked up a host of wins in the so-called British Classics. He is a nine-time winner of the Epsom Derby and a five-time winner of Newmarket’s 2000 Guineas. He was also named Champion Jockey of the UK flat racing season a record 11 times.
Lester Piggott’s Closest Challenger
There is one active jockey that’s often been compared with Piggott. Veteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori has long been likened to Piggott, for both his racing style and durability on the course.
Dettori is looking to emulate Piggott by racing well into his 50s and the similarities continue in their Royal Ascot performances. Dettori is a history-maker in many ways at this meeting. In 1996, he stole the show by winning all seven races in a single card during British Champions’ Day at Royal Ascot.
Dettori has won the Ascot Gold Cup an incredible eight times in his career to date. His first came way back in 1992 aboard Drum Taps, while his most recent was in 2020 as part of a hat-trick of successive Gold Cup wins on Stradivarius between 2018 and 2020.
The Ascot Gold Cup is one of several prestigious Group 1 races held throughout the five-day Royal Ascot event. The Gold Cup and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes tend to have the biggest heritage and pull among racegoers, with most Royal Ascot free bet offers used on these headline races, without people having to risk too much of their own money.
Dettori has won an impressive 74 times at Royal Ascot, with his 2021 victory in the Queen Anne Stakes moving him second in the list of all-time winners at Royal Ascot. The enigmatic Italian overtook the late Pat Eddery in the process, but he still has a long way to go to eclipse the achievements of Piggott.
It’s highly unlikely that Dettori will ever come close to Piggott’s record. With retirement surely only a couple of years away for him, racking up 42 more Royal Ascot wins in the time he has left would be a near-impossible feat.