Michael Dickinson On Training The First Five In The 1982 Cheltenham Gold Cup

It's be 40 years since he achieved this incredible feat
10:00, 16 Mar 2023

It’s remarkably been 40 years since Michael Dickinson pulled off one of the greatest horse racing feats of all time. In the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup, every single one of the first five horses over the line were trained by Dickinson, who was just 33 at the time. 

“It’s still fresh in the memory,” tells Betfred TV.  “We were first and second the year before in the 1983 Gold Cup, and I got home and told my wife that I was going to have the first seven next year, so she was in a bit of disbelief and shock.”

“My wife was a school teacher, so she couldn’t get the day off. She smuggled a radio into her class, gave her students a difficult task to do and put her headphones in. Peter Bromley announces that I have five chances going into the race, so she assumed that I would fail already because I should have had seven. 


“Peter Bromley was saying that Bregawn was six lengths clear, Wayward Lad was making relentless progress, instead of steady and relentless progress, which I believed to be the case and I thought Silver Buck was cruising but Bromley was saying that he was moving sweetly, so I was pretty close. “Captain John has made a mistake, two out, three out,” and then my wife claims she’s heard this all before and begins to burst out crying. I said “The cups going to Harewood,” and Peter said “The cups going to Dickinson.”

It’s a record that still stands in the Guinness World Book of records, along with Dickinson’s 12 winners on Boxing Day 1982.

“November 1st, the previous year, I remember having dinner with my parents and I had two glasses of wine, which was always one too many for me, and I claimed that we were going to break the world record for the number of winners in a single day and my dad was horrified when I came out with that,” he recalls. “The reason why he was horrified was because Sandy Dudgeon was there and Sandy Dudgeon is now the Director at the Jockey Club and he was staying with my parents for a few days at the time. 

“To cut a long story short, we get to Boxing Day and we have 21 runners and 19 of them are in the first three and 12 of them are winners, so we did break the record. It was a great day.”

However, given all the changes around Cheltenham, the memories don’t come flooding back for Dickinson every time he visits the course. “The new Cheltenham isn’t like the old Cheltenham. The course has improved a lot, it’s very good and there’s little resemblance. It’s even improved this year from last year.” 

There’s also the small matter of Willie Mullins. The trainer could feasibly train the first five at the Festival given the amount of horse he has in the race. Dickinson believes the feat he achieved could be matched.

“Yes because we only had 55 horses and the mega trainers now have 250 horses. So if we could do it with 55 horses, then he can do it with 250.”

1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup Result 

1st   Bregawn

2nd  Captain John

3rd   Wayward Lad

4th   Silver Buck

5th   Ashley House

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