Flying Colours

Nicholas Best

  • Lester: The Official Biography by Dick Francis
    Joseph, 338 pp, £12.95, March 1986, ISBN 0 7181 1255 5
  • Born Lucky by John Francome
    Pelham, 157 pp, £9.95, November 1985, ISBN 0 7207 1635 7

High over the Lambourn Downs, in the dark days of 1943, two American fighter planes collided in mid-air. Even as the wreckage spiralled to earth, a seven-year-old boy was galloping towards the spot on a horse much too fast for him. His father caught up with him just as the boy reined in to have a closer look at something on the ground – the twisted, mangled corpse of one of the pilots. ‘He’s dead,’ said Lester Piggott, without a trace of emotion. No tears, no hysterics, no outward sign of shock. Just a calm assessment of the situation, with no frills, either then or later. In the racing business the professionals show their colours early.

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