Steve Davis

Steve Davis Born in Plumstead, South East London on August 22, 1957, Steve Davis was introduced to snooker at an early age by his late father, Bill, who died in March, 2016, at the age of 89. However, it was after he joined forces with Barry Hearn – nowadays, of course, chairman of World Snooker, but at that time chairman of Lucania Snooker Clubs – as an 18-year-old that he began his rise to prominence. Davis turned professional in September, 1978 and, in 1980, won his maiden professional title in the UK Championship at the Guild Hall, Preston, where he whitewashed Terry Griffiths 9-0 in the semi-final and demolished Alex Higgins 16-6 in the final.

Davis reached the last 16 of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1979 and the quarter-final in 1980, losing 13-11 and 13-9 to Dennis Taylor and Alex, respectively, before winning the first of six world titles in 1981. Notwithstanding a shock 10-1 defeat at the hands of Tony Knowles in the last 32 in 1982, Davis went on to dominate the World Championship, and snooker as a whole, throughout the Eighties. He was world champion again in 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989, and runner-up in 1985 and 1986.

Indeed, the final frame of the 1985 World Championship, in which Dennis Taylor potted the crucial final black to beat Davis 18-17, having trailed 8-0 early in the second session of the match, is probably the most famous frame in the history of snooker. The so-called ‘black ball final’ lasted nearly 15 hours, eventually finishing after midnight, and attracted a record 18.5 million television viewers.

Davis also had the distinction of compiling the first televised maximum break, against John Spencer in the quarter-final of the Lada Classic in 1982. He announced his retirement from professional snooker, at the age of 58, in April, 2016, having won 81 professional titles, including 28 ranking titles.

Steve Davis – First Maximum Break on Television

Read more about Steve Davis here.

Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott Born in Wantage, Berkshire on November 5, 1935, Lester Piggott was the greatest Flat jockey of his era and was held in awe by many of his contemporaries. He rode his first winner in Britain, The Chase, at Haydock in August, 1948, and his last, Palacegate Jack, at the same Merseyside track in October, 1994. In the intervening 46 years, Piggott rode 4,493 winners and became Champion Jockey eleven times, including eight years running between 1964 and 1971.

Piggott was uncommonly tall for a Flat jockey, at 5′ 8″, and his height, together with his idiosyncratic, short riding style, led to him being nicknamed the ‘Long Fellow’. He was also famously tight-lipped, mainly due to a hearing impairment and slight speech impediment, and was known, less kindly, as ‘Old Stone Face’. Piggott enjoyed fruitful associations with three of the most successful trainers in the history of British Flat racing, namely Sir Noel Murless, Vincent O’Brien and Sir Henry Cecil, and won 30 English Classics; he remains the leading jockey in the history of the Derby, with nine wins between 1954 and 1983.

Remarkably, Piggott also remains, far and away, the most successful jockey in the history of Royal Ascot, with 116 victories, including a record 11 in the Gold Cup, in an era when the Royal Meeting was confined to four days. He also rode Nijinsky, trained by Vincent O’Brien, to victory in the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St. Leger in 1970, thereby completing the English Triple Crown.

Piggott retired from race riding for the first time in 1985, but was subsequently found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, of which he served just over a year. He came out of retirement in 1990, famously winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Belmont Park, New York on Royal Academy, also trained by Vincent O’Brien, less than two weeks after his return to the saddle. He also won the 2,000 Guineas in 1992, on Rodrigo De Triano, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, before retiring for a second, and final, time in 1995.

Lester Piggott – Three Best Rides

Read more about Lester Piggott here