Daniel Tudhope column: Lester Piggott back at scene of first winner

Lester Piggott: At Haydock today.
Lester Piggott: At Haydock today.
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Jockeys live for the big meetings and there is nothing more important in the north than the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York which starts in 11 days.

So, my agent was deadly serious when she sent me a text this week saying: “Don’t get banned or you’ll miss York.”

I’m being careful because, with approaching £5m in prize money, I want to be involved.

Today, I’m at Haydock where the 70th anniversary of Lester Piggott’s first winner is being marked with a race in his name.

The man himself is going to be there, back where in 1948, at the tender age of 12, the 11-times champion jockey partnered The Chase to victory in a selling race.

The Merseyside track is my only destination this weekend. I was there last night as well as today, seeking my own small landmark victory, one more winner to reach my 50th at the track.

Addis Ababa hasn’t been out of the first two places during his short three-race career to date and takes in the one-mile handicap at 1.20pm.

He might eventually benefit from a slightly longer trip. He’s progressive.

Lincoln Rocks goes for the Listed race 70 minutes later. She’s perfectly entitled to be racing at this level, having triumphed at last year’s Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival. The mare has yet to get in front this season, but she has seven victories to her name, including at Haydock.

The horse I ride in the Lester Piggott race is a very interesting one. Markazi is new to the David O’Meara yard, a recent purchase for €140,000 at last month’s Deauville sales after seven winners from 15 outings in France.

David has put me up on this horse rather than his other runner in the race, Lamloom, who was runner-up at York on his most recent outing.

So I’m hoping that, for once, French form trumps York form!

There’s plenty of action at Yorkshire tracks next week – Ripon, Thirsk, Beverley, Catterick, Doncaster and Pontefract are all in action.

Then it’s the big one, starting on Wednesday, August 22, the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York.

Our yard’s running plans are not concrete yet, but there are some mouth-watering contests to savour, including the Group 1 Juddmonte International worth a cool £1,000,000; the highest race in Britain for fillies, the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks and the highest rated sprint in the world, the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe.

The four days culminate in the signature race itself, the now £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor.

Trainer David O’Meara will be a panellist for the Festival preview evening a week on Tuesday, hosted by ITV’s Ed Chamberlain.

It promises to be fun and, in the past, informative night. Check out the racecourse website if you want to be there to hear Ed and the boss.

There will be plenty of build-up to the feature festival both in these pages and on Racing UK and I hope I get to wear the leading jockey armband.

The next racing at York is the highlight of the calendar – the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival between Wednesday and Saturday, August 22-25. Find out more at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk