Nowadays, Michael Dickinson is probably best known as the inventor of the Tapeta synthetic racing surface but, in his younger days, wrote his name indelibly into the record books by training the first five home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Aged just 33 and in only his third season as a trainer, having taken over his father, Tony, Dickinson produced a marvel of preparation that would later win him a Racing Post poll of the 100 greatest training feats in the last century.
In order of preference, his ‘Famous Five’ were Bregawn, ridden by Graham Bradley, Captain John, ridden by David Goulding, Wayward Lad, ridden by Jonjo O’Neill, Silver Buck, ridden by Robert Earnshaw and Ashley House, ridden by Dermot Browne. The The favourite, Bregawn, who’d finished second behind Silver Buck in 1982, made all the running to beat Captain John by 5 lengths, with Wayward Lad a further 1½ lengths away in third.
The first three finished a distance, and further, clear of Silver Buck and Ashley House in fourth and fifth, but Dickinson summed up his achievement in his post-race interview, saying, “If only people realised just what a hell of an achievement it is to get a horse here fit to run well in the Gold Cup…just to get them here, let alone to win, is almost impossible.”