Michael William Dickinson took over the licence at Poplar House, Dunkeswick, near Harewood, West Yorkshire from his father, Tony, in 1980 and wasted little time in revolutionising National Hunt racing. In three of the four seasons that Dickinson Jnr. held a licence – 1981/82, 1982/83 and 1983/84 – he was Champion Trainer; on the first two occasions, he sent out 84 winners and 120 winners, at a strike rate of 45% and 46%, respectively, from a yard with just 55 stables.
Michael Dickinson first won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1982, when he saddled Silver Buck to beat stable companion Bregawn by two lengths, for a notable 1-2 in the ‘Blue Riband’. However, in 1983, Dickinson saddled Bregawn and Captain John – who had already filled the first two places in the Hennessy Gold Cup the previous November – to finish first and second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and, remarkably, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Ashley House to fill the next three places, for a record-breaking 1-2-3-4-5 for the yard. So, strictly speaking, Michael Dickinson won the Cheltenham Gold Cup just twice, but his so-called ‘Famous Five’, will always be remembered as one of the greatest training feats of all time.