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Press Release 3rd June 2023 Epsom Downs

Saturday 3rd June

Trainer John Gosden remembered the late Lester Piggott as a “remarkable, unique man” after Torito (4-1) came out on top in the Betfred Lester Piggott Handicap. The £75,000 10-furlong contest has been permanently renamed in honour of Lester Piggott, who rode a record nine Derby winners and passed away shortly before last year’s Derby aged 86.

Torito, a three year old Kingman colt, came home the comfortable two and three quarter lengths winner in the hands of Benoit de la Sayette.

Gosden, who trains the winner in partnership with his son Thady, said: : “It was nice ride and he had him in the perfect position where Lester (Piggott) would have told you to be, which is fourth or fifth with one horse inside you and only two wide to save ground so you could move where you want to. It was the perfect Piggott ride.

“They all get put in (the Derby) as yearlings so you can never read into a Derby entry as they are put in for £600 as a yearling but look I like him and we will see if we can go to Royal Ascot. He will get bumped up a few pounds for that but hopefully it won’t be mad.

“It was good form (he had coming into the race) but he has handled the ground well and I’m very pleased.

“I remember when Lester came to our house when William (Buick) was riding in his first Derby. Lester sat down and looked at the race and said try and sit fourth or fifth with one horse inside you, do not waste ground but don’t get pinned on the rail and that was it and he shuffled off.

“Benoit is a talented young man and we know that. He has done really well to be champion apprentice last year. He has overcome adversity early in his life and I think he is a lot stronger for that. I’m pleased with the way he is, his work ethic and his style of riding.

“Lester was a great mate and I was very fond of him even from his Vincent O’Brien days. He was with Vincent O’Brien in 1977 with The Minstrel here and I led him down to the start. I was very fond of him.

“He was the most remarkable, unique man and one of the funniest chaps you will ever meet with a very dry sense of humour. Like Barry Humphries he said I don’t have this weakness I take enormous pleasure in other people’s misfortunes.”

Benoit de la Sayette added: “It was his first run at the track, he’s quite lightly-raced, and he handled it nicely. I just pulled him out, showed him a bit of daylight, gave him the confidence to pass a couple of horses, and he did the rest. I was judging what sort of pace he would run from earlier and when I saw the horse that beat him last time ran in the Derby [Artistic Star], it gave me confidence to have an understanding on what sort of race he was going to run.

“He is half-brother to Mimikyu and also Indigo Girl and Journey, so he’s really well-bred and he’s bred to stay, so I can’t see a problem with him getting further.

“I am really grateful, considering I rode out my claim last week, to be legged up so quickly on a day like this. I’m happy he’s a winner as well.”


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