Racing’s cheekiest moments

Spencer being cheeky

With years of training and hard work going into readying yourself for that chance to shine on the big stage, it’s understandable that most jockeys have a very serious outlook when it comes to race riding.

That said even when the chips are down in the heat of battle, some riders are able to see outside the bubble of focus and behave in a manner more fitting of a showboating footballer.

1. Piggott performs whip swap in France

We kick off this list with the greatest Flat jockey of all time, Lester Piggott, performing quite possibly the cheekiest manoeuvre ever seen in the saddle.

The stage was the 1979 Gran Prix de Deauville and with a furlong to go, having dropped his own whip, Piggott seamlessly reached over and grabbed a replacement from his backpedalling neighbour, young French rider Alain Lequex.

Piggott’s mount, with the added encouragement, would then go on to finish second, one place ahead of Lequeux. A masterful switch that even caused the usually stone-faced Piggott to break into a smile when interviewed about it after the race.

The French stewards didn’t share his sense of humour though and banned Piggott for 20 days.

2. Spencer waves to the chasing pack on Sariska

Jamie Spencer is known to be something of a joker within the weighing room, and that good sense of humour clearly came into play in the closing stages of the 2009 Irish Oaks.

Riding the hot favourite Sariska, Spencer (in the maroon) can be seen cruising past his rivals with a furlong to go; sat completely motionless while his fellow riders are all at pains to keep their horses going.

As if the thrill of winning a Classic with ease wasn’t enough; Spencer can then be seen waving goodbye to his good friend and weighing room colleague Fran Berry as he and Sariska pass his mount Roses for Lady to take the lead close to the finish. A quite breathtaking display of confidence and cheek which most jockeys would shudder at the thought of.

Sariska’s trainer Michael Bell commented after the race that Spencer was “basically toying with them”. A fair assessment indeed.

3. Eddery gets Brave in the 1986 King George

One of the most celebrated racing partnerships of the 1980s; Dancing Brave and Pat Eddery first came together when stylishly winning the 1986 renewal of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

An eventual 11-time Champion Jockey, Pat Eddery had actually only got the ride because regular jockey Greville Starkey had hurt his neck in the days leading up to the race.

The nerves of partnering the hot favourite for the first time in such a prestigious race clearly didn’t get to Eddery though. Cruising into contention at the top of the straight, Eddery then proceeds to take a long lingering glance over at the floundering Walter Swinburn aboard 1986 derby winner Sharastani.

The moment of cool cheek precipitated a fierce burst of acceleration that saw Dancing Brave go onto win the prize with ease.

4. Barzalona’s Stands out in Epsom Derby

The 2011 Epsom Derby saw a photo finish quite unlike any other seen in its then 231-year history.

This particular need for the camera wasn’t down to the closeness of the race, instead it was used to capture the breath-taking piece of self-confidence shown by the then 19-year-old French jockey Mickael Barzalona.

The young rider was at the culminating point of a brilliant last to first ride aboard second favourite Pour Moi, when yards before the finishing line, as he was overtaking his final rivals, he stood upright in his irons and celebrated wildly.

Barzalona Derby Pour Moi

(Credit Racing Post)

Had Barzalona started the party any earlier, he would most likely have been beaten and the photo would have endlessly been used as an example for the arrogance of youth.

Frankie Celebrates too soon

Frankie Dettori riding talent and showmanship have seen him become a household name across the country and the most recognisable jockey on the planet.

His penchant for celebrating on the line and post-race with his customary flying dismount are part of the reasons why the public have taken to the bubbly Italian throughout his 30 year career.

However recently this exuberance got the better of him at York races when he thought he’d won the Nunthorpe Stakes aboard Lady Aurelia. Punching the air and gesturing to the crowd when crossing the line, Frankie celebrated wildly before being hit with the news that Luke Morris and Marsha had in fact grabbed first place by a nostril.

The event was summed up wonderfully by ITV Racing commentator Richard Hoiles, who said ,”Frankie punches the air! He’s sure, I’m not!”