50 years on from Nijinsky winning the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, Lester Piggott shares his memories of that special performance.
Each year, to mark QIPCO’s sponsorship of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the winner of a vintage renewal is commemorated.
This year Nikinsky became the latest recipient of the QIPCO Diamonds & Pearls award, won last year by Nashwan.
The son of Northern Dancer had already captured the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the Irish Derby, and started at odds of 40-85 for Ascot’s 1970 renewal.
The only three-year-old in the field cruised past his rivals on the bridle and defeated the previous year’s Derby winner, Blakeney to win by an effortless two lengths.
He went on to win the St Leger, and in doing so, became the first racehorse in 35 years to win the Triple Crown. A feat which no colt has matched since.
Following his impressive racing career, Nijinsky went on to stand at stud in the US where he sired 155 Stakes/Group winners and remains the only stallion to have the winner at the Kentucky and Derby at Epson in the same year (1986 – Ferdinand & Sharastani). His notable progeny include King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes winners Ile de Bourbon (1978) and Lammtarra (1995).
Piggott said: “I am delighted to receive the QIPCO Diamonds and Pearls award. Nijinsky was a wonderful horse and was unbeaten at the time. There was a lot of hype going into the King George – the opposition was decent, they were good horses, every one of them had a chance.
"You had all the best – obviously we thought he would win. He came to the other horses in the straight so easily, it was hard to believe really but he won in a canter. It was a wonderful win and was probably the best performance of his career.”