17 JUNE 1972, Page 30

Juliette's Weekly Frolic

Whether you view Lester Piggott through rosecoloured glasses, or turn white with rage at the sight of his name on the numberboard, it's only fair to remember that he's not the first to go fishing after favourites. Way back in the ' gentlemanly' days of 1920 a stable jockey lost his coveted Epsom ride to the then ' Champion ', with the owner offering the same

' present' to both should the horse win. The ' villain ' was Steve Donoghue, the deed was done on Derby Day itself, and the question of superior fitness did not enter into it. However, while on that occasion the end did not justify the means (the horse inexplicably fell two furlongs from home) three further years of wheeling and dealing resulted in a Donoghue Derby treble, in the process of which he not only dislodged his colleagues but ditched two generous patrons — Lords Derby and Woolavington — to achieve his ends. In contrast Lester, who owes loyalty to none, appears positively angelic, and it's hardly fair to blame him for the death of the sport of kings when the rot set in a long, long time before the takeover by businessmen and bloodstock agents.