ONE of the greatest jockeys in history has expressed his delight after unveiling a statue of himself in his hometown of Wantage.

Lester Piggott, 83, says he is ‘honoured’ by sculptor William Newton’s work, which he revealed on Sunday ahead of an exhibition celebrating his achievements opening at the town's Vale and Downland Museum.

Mr Piggott, who chalked up nearly 5,000 career race wins, posed with the statue in the museum’s courtyard at an invitation-only event at midday, before the ‘Born To Ride’ exhibition opened to the public on Monday.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Newton’s ‘stunning ​life-size bronze work​‘ was unveiled 71 years to the day since Mr Piggott’s first career win.

The jockey said: “It is an honour to come back to the town of my birth, where people tell me I was the first baby boy born in the hospital.”

Mr Piggott, who was born in Wantage in 1935 and grew up in Letcombe Regis and Lambourn, added: “I think Willy Newton’s sculpture is quite magnificent and I hope the townsfolk and everyone who visits the museum in the years ahead will enjoy it as much as I do.”

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The statue is part of a project that incorporates a total of nine statues being sited around the country at venues including Ascot, York, and Newmarket, with each one representing one of his Epsom Derby wins.

The ‘unique’ exhibition, called ‘Lester Piggott ​ – Born to Ride’​ has been created in conjunction with The Jockey Club and is being billed as ‘a wonderful pictorial journey through Lester’s life’.

It explores his early days, family and friends, the owners he has worked for and the racecourses he has ridden.

Oxford Mail:

Memorabilia from his career​, on loan from private collectors, has been brought together especially for the exhibition.

Vale and Downland curator Suzie Tilbury said: “We’re thrilled that the museum has been selected as the new home of this captivating statue of Lester Piggott, in his hometown of Wantage.

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“Horse racing has long been a very important sport, pastime, and business in the Vale of the White Horse, and we are excited to have this opportunity to highlight this still thriving tradition within our museum.”

She added: “We are especially proud to be hosting this exhibition to pay tribute to Lester’s long, sparkling career, as well as shedding light on more personal aspects of his life that helped shape him into a living legend.”