In-form Piggott eager to extend riding stint in territory
RACING legend Lester Piggott wants to ride in the territory until the end of March.
Piggott, who showed he can still teach his younger counterparts a thing or two when taking Saturday's prestigious Class Trial with a brilliant ride on Ivan Allan's Sterling Town, has also been asked by sponsors Martell if he would ride at the Grand National meeting in a one-off deal at Happy Valley on April 9.
The maestro, here on a one-month visiting rider's licence which expires at the end of this month, said yesterday: ''With so many jockeys leaving I'm hoping the Jockey Club will allow me to stay on longer - to the end of March if possible.
''There isn't any real racing in England until the middle of April. So I could easily stay for longer if the Jockey Club agreed and wanted this.'' Piggott, 58, added that he had been approached by Grand National sponsors to ride in their events at Happy Valley during the Saturday night meeting when the world famous Grand National is telecast live to Hong Kong with two Valley events beamed back to Britain in a joint venture.
The Jockey Club's chief executive Major General Guy Watkins said yesterday: ''It is too early to say whether Lester will be granted an extra month but we're well aware of his wishes and the licensing committee will make a decision in due course.'' Meanwhile, Piggott's sparring partner, the very much in-form Walter Swinburn faces an agonising Derby decision.
Swinburn, fresh from a treble at Sha Tin on Saturday and already on the 14-winner mark during his three-month stint as a Club Jockey, has been offered the ride on Peter Ng Bik-kuen's improving Arman's Sax as well as whichever horse of Ivan Allan's that Basil Marcus rejects.
Marcus has to choose between McBrave and Wonderful Moment and it looks odds-on that the champion will partner McBrave.
Ng is confident that Arman's Sax, fifth in Saturday's Derby Trial, is going to take plenty of beating in the real thing.
Swinburn said: ''It is a terribly hard decision to make but at the same time it is a nice problem to have - it is better to have the choice of two than none at all.'' Swinburn is no stranger to big-race dilemmas. Last season he correctly chose Sayedatti over Zarani Sidi Ana in the 1,000 Guineas but back in 1986 he pulled the wrong rein four times in the English 1,000 Guineas and Oaks as well as in the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks.
''But I did get one thing right,'' quipped Swinburn. ''I won the Derby on Sharastani!'' Party Politics, winner of the Grand National in 1992, is out of this year's showpiece.
His trainer Nick Gaselee revealed a leg injury had wrecked the chances of a double.
Gaselee said: ''He's badly bruised the inside of his near-fore and the vet has advised us that he will need six to eight weeks of total rest.'' Ladbrokes quote: 10-1 Double Silk, 12-1 Moorcroft Boy, 20-1 Romany King, Garrison Savannah, Topsham Bay, 25-1 bar.