LESTER PIGGOTT, NEWMARKET, ENGLAND, JANUARY, 1985
THE WATERMARK AND THE SIGNATURE ON THE IMAGE WILL NOT BE PRESENT ON AN ORIGINAL PRINT.
David Steen: “I hope this portrait of Lester conveys his sense of achievement from a life in racing. There is a wonderful look of satisfaction in his eyes. To this day he remains one of my heroes and this is part of the reason why.
It was 1960 and I was staff photographer on The Daily Mail. It was the day before The Derby and I was sent to accompany a reporter who was doing a story on Sir Victor Sassoon, part of the banking family, immensely rich and passionately keen on horses and racing. He lived mostly in Nassau, Bahamas, confined to a wheelchair due to an accident that had paralysed him and was cared for by a nurse.
We met him at his flat in Curzon Street, Mayfair. He and his nurse (who he later married) were charming and friendly and the interview went so well that before we left he invited us both to be his guests at The Derby the following day. He also suggested I have a bet on his horse, St Paddy, ridden by Lester Piggott. I hired a morning suit from Moss Bros and put £5 each way on St Paddy at 8-1.
In his box there was the usual conviviality and excitement as the horses came under starters’ orders. Sir Victor was in his wheelchair at the front of the box and as the horses turned into the home straight, Lester suddenly pulled out and came through to win. At this point Sir Victor levered himself out of his chair, stood up and raised his top hat.
I got the picture that was used on the front page with the headline: ‘The Victor of Epsom’, picked up a £50 bonus from the Mail and won £50.
A job well done, reporter Shirley Flack and I made a good team. We were married a year later.”