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Roberto and Piggott

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  • #1766
    Maxilon 5Maxilon 5
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    • Total Posts 2432

    I’ve just been watching RUK’s magnificent walk down the Derby memory lane. Worth the subscription fee on it’s own.

    We came to the 1972 version – a race I don’t remember seeing, though it’s one I’ve read about extensively. Roberto’s victory over the gallant Rheingold; a famous ride.

    I know I’m looking at the world using a modern context, (and I may be spitting on an icon), but in my opinion, the ride Piggott gave Roberto was the most brutal I’ve ever seen.

    It was beyond brutal; it was spiteful, vengeful, capricious, almost vicious. The ride said everything you needed to know about Piggott and his relentless, single-minded ambition.

    Ironic too, that in the week leading up to the race, Piggott jocked off Bill Williamson, the colt’s regular pilot – and a much more sympathetic jockey.  

    At one point in the final furlong, Piggott seemed to take deliberate aim at Roberto’s quarters, looked down, and dropped his arm full tilt, as if he was beating a particularly dirty carpet. It’s difficult to tell how many strokes of the cat Piggott administered, but I got to fifteen with little effort.

    And the horse ran for it, probably terrified. Rheingold was not hit once in the final furlong and was to me, the moral winner.

    Then, in the pre-amble to the 2.45 at Glorious, noted pundit Steve Mellish texts James Willoughby and says that the Roberto ride was the "greatest he had ever seen, ever!" Amazingly, Willoughby agreed – though Rishi Persad remained non-committal.

    Had this interchange been on ATR, I would have jetted a strongly worded communique to the booth.

    What do you guys think? Great ride, or act of wanton brutality?

    #61365
    Friggo
    Member
    • Total Posts 1593

    I think it depends on the horse. Some respond to several clatters, some hate it. Roberto obviously didn’t mind too much, and so it’s hailed as a success for Piggott. It was a damn good lashing he gave it though, and not the type of ride I’d like to see hailed as a truly great one.

    #61366
    DroneDrone
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    • Total Posts 5112

    The rides Lester gave Roberto and The Minstrel to win their Derbies are the stuff of legend but viewed through 21st century eyes are inescapably severe. I long marvelled at both but the sense of wonder they once gave has diminished over time. Personally the memories of Piggott I’ll take to the grave will be his exquisite handling of fillies and those that demonstrated his uncanny sense of pace e.g. Teenoso’s King George.

    Trouble is I grew up with Piggott in his pomp and therefore the rose tinted spectacles of youth demand that his star will remain undimmed.

    BTW it’s worth remembering that had Rheingold past the post first it would have been quite possible he’d have been disqualified for leaning into Roberto. Sorry, but Ernie Johnson was a small boy up against a big, big man that day. Brutal yep, but oh so beautiful in a pit-of-the-stomach Tyson sorta way

    #61367
    seabird
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    • Total Posts 2924

    To my eyes it was brutal, but to people who had backed him it was a great ride.

    Very difficult to be objective in these circumstances.

    Colin

    #61368
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    • Total Posts 17718

    Max

    From the punter’s perspective of a jockey getting every last ounce of effort from his horse, it was indeed one of the best rides ever. From the animal’s welfare standpoint, anything but.<br>The horse obviously wasn’t soured by the experience though, becoming the only horse to beat Brigadier Gerard, again under a forceful ride, this time from USA based Braulio Baeza. <br>It’s easy to cast stones from this distance, but such rides were much more acceptable then; so was corporal punishment, a smack round the head from the local bobby, racial segregation, cheap feminine labour, the Iron Curtain, etc.,etc., so while it easy to criticize now, it is also worth bearing in mind times were different then, and we have moved on as, no doubt, has Lester Piggot. <br>

    (Edited by reet hard at 7:33 pm on May 24, 2007)

    #61369
    ClintM
    Member
    • Total Posts 237

    To the eye, it was brutal stuff from Lester on Roberto. His Derby ride on The Minstrel  was pretty much the same, as was Christy Roche’s ride on Secreto. It is, however, a matter of conjecture how much pain a horse actually feels from the whip. In my experience, some horses resent the whip, but more run for it. Also, the whip doesn’t cause , for the most part, the real distress many horses remember.

    #61370
    yeatsyeats
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    • Total Posts 2923

    Quote: from reet hard on 7:31 pm on May 24, 2007[br]

    From the punter’s perspective of a jockey getting every last ounce of effort from his horse, it was indeed one of the best rides ever. From the animal’s welfare <br>standpoint, anything but.<br>The horse obviously wasn’t soured by the experience though, becoming the only horse to beat Brigadier Gerard, again under a forceful ride, this time from USA based Braulio Baeza. <br>It’s easy to cast stones from this distance, but such rides were much more acceptable then; so was corporal punishment, a smack round the head from the local bobby, racial segregation, cheap feminine labour, the Iron Curtain, etc.,etc., so while it easy to criticize now, it is also worth bearing in mind times were different then, and we have moved on as, no doubt, has Lester Piggot.

    <br>(Edited by reet hard at 7:33 pm on May 24, 2007)<br>

    Agree with all reet hards excellent post, in fact I was about to write that myself :biggrin: <br>2 months after the race Roberto beat the best horse many people have ever seen.<br>Personally I think Jimmy Fortunes ride at York last week was much worse.

    (Edited by yeats at 8:29 pm on May 24, 2007)

    #61371
    Flash
    Member
    • Total Posts 1144

    Different times, different  rules.

    Its a shame corporal punishment isn’t still in operation though and capital for that matter. Might get some order then instead of having to put up with idealistic, do-gooding nonsense.

    Anyway, off soapbox and back to topic – the thing I find amazing is, a jockey can still ride a "Roberto finish" today and would still keep the race. That is all wrong for me a ban isn’t sufficient.

    Great Piggott rides for the times but nowadays I’d cringe at seeing a ride like that.

    #61372
    Maurice
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    • Total Posts 355

    Excellent post, Reet.

    I backed both Roberto and The Minstrel but was never a fan of Piggott and have had even less time for him since he was found guilty of cheating us all via his taxes (or lack of).

    I don’t think Baeza was anywhere near as harsh on Roberto in the B&H but I’m willing to view evidence to the contrary. For me, it was a ride years ahead of its time.

    #61373
    insomniac
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    • Total Posts 1453

    Piggott’s ride was the tops. Sure, it’s not too pleasing to the eye  in today’s sanitised care-bear world, but it was legit at the time.<br>Piggott was (rightly) praised for the ride, but the real hero was the horse,. (I’ve ranted about this on here before).<br>Group one winner at 2, 3 and 4. Capable of the odd dud performance, but  on his day had very few equals from 10f to 12f in the last 40 years. Was never given the credit for his stuffing of Brigadier Gerard at York. People were quick to make excuses for the Brigadier (was poorly after race / didn’t enjoy left hand course etc.), but these don’t stack up. Roberto’s performance at York was the best I’ve seen over this trip in 40 years.

    #61374
    gamble
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2742

    <br> :old:

    Can’t help you<br> I arrived on the derby train late.<br> A very hot day<br> neck to neck in tatts<br> couldn’t see a damn thing<br> but someone shouted <br> "Roberto one"<br> It was like a gas chamber<br> and we were grateful of news.<br> Some of us would have killed<br> to have seen even a horse’s whip

    #61375
    Nor1
    Member
    • Total Posts 384

    In Vincent O’Brien’s official biography there is a chapter on Roberto.<br>The horse was renowned for his strength (although he didn’t have the best of knees), toughness, a fiery nature coupled with a very bad temper. He didn’t like starting stalls so, if given the chance, he attacked them.<br>I’m not excusing Piggott’s ride as I dislike seeing horses excessively hit, but it might explain it a little.<br>After the race Roberto was checked for marks (it is written there were none), he was still very lively on the way home, and squealing for his food which he got and  ate.<br>According to the book, Bill Williamson lost the ride the day before the Derby because he’d had a previous fall, fitness was an issue, and he didn’t show up to ride work at Epsom on that Tuesday.<br>

    #61376
    madman marz
    Member
    • Total Posts 707

    Quote: from trackside528 on 11:26 pm on May 24, 2007[br]Roberto’s Derby (1972):<br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvTJ1_-bPsI&mode=related&search=

    The Minstrel’s Derby (1977):<br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGxcsoFeGO4&NR=1<br&gt;

    Very poor reception on you tube virtually impossible to see the jockeys whip action.<br>Having started following racing passionately around 1980, rides like that were pretty much the norm. In todays more restrictive climate of whip use, rides like Piggotts would be viewed with horror. Like the over reaction to Jimmy Fortune’s ride on Great as Gold who incidently is a notoriously lazy individual who needs plenty of stoking as all he does is stay, people might remember before they compare Fortune’s ride to Piggotts the whips nowadays are modified so he certainly wouldn’t be causing as much pain as Piggott was. Yes Fortune broke the rules he got punished, personaly I thought his punishment was a bit harsh.

    I remember a ride Pat the great Eddery made on Distant Relative in the Moulin in France, it was equally as hard a ride as Piggott/Roberto, but at the time it was hailed as vintage Pat. Actually Mc Cririck was singing the praises of Pat, yet a few years later he was calling for the whip to be banned altogether, " Easy know Mc Cririck had Distant Relative backed and collected his dough" just another example of the hypocrisy of punters. If some of the TRF posters who slated Fortune had backed Great as Gold e/w, there probably wouldn’t be a whimper out of them.

    #61377
    yeatsyeats
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    • Total Posts 2923

    Quote: from Flash on 8:33 pm on May 24, 2007[br]

    Anyway, off soapbox and back to topic – the thing I find amazing is, a jockey can still ride a "Roberto finish" today and would still keep the race. That is all wrong for me a ban isn’t sufficient.

    <br>

    Can think of few things more likely to put people off horse racing and betting on it. Your horse being disqualified for a minor whip offence.

    "Backers of Roberto, sorry but your horse has been disqualified because Mr Piggott hit it once or twice too much with the whip"

    And what an ante climax to any race to have some Micky Mouse stewards decide the winner.

    #61378
    Maxilon 5Maxilon 5
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    • Total Posts 2432

    I’d feel guilty, Yeats, about collecting after that ride. I would collect, of course. To say otherwise would be hypocritical and a lie.

    But I wouldn’t remember the ride with any fondness and I would think twice about backing Lester’s mounts the next time.  

    God knows what it must have been like to actually hear the cracks, when you were standing along that inner rail, (something Gamble hints at).

    I was watching a race at Nottingham the other day along the rail, where four old dodgepots were being "vigorously ridden" as it were.  The rat-at-at-at auditory experience was worse than watching the jockey’s action, imo.

    Some great points made btw – and historical stuff I didn’t know. I’m also well aware it was a different, harsher world then. Just glad I’m betting in 2007 in insomniac’s "care bear" society.:biggrin:

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