Michael Dickinson He may not have been the most prolific trainer of all time – in fact, he saddled just 380 winners – but surely no trainer has had a more profound impact on the sport of National Hunt racing, in such a short space of time, than Michael William Dickinson. Dickinson turned his attention to training in 1980, at the age of 30, taking over the licence at Poplar House in Harewood, West Yorkshire from his father, Tony. He held a National Hunt licence for just four seasons, before relinquishing it to train Flat horses for Robert Sangster in Manton, Wiltshire, but in three of them – 1981/82, 1982/83 and 1983/84 – he was Champion Trainer.

 

In 1982, Dickinson saddled Silver Buck and Bregawn to finish first and second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and, the following year, achieved the training feat for which he is probably most famous, filling the first five places, with Bregawn, Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Ashley House. Aside from the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in 1982 Dickinson also won the Peter Marsh Chase with Bregawn, the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Rathgorman, the Hennessy Gold Cup with Bregawn, again, and the King George VI Chase with Wayward Lad. The day after the King George VI Chase, December 27, 1982, he sent out twelve winners, thereby breaking the world record for the most winners in a single story.

 

The 1982/83 season followed a familiar pattern; Ashley House won the Peter Marsh Chase, Badsworth Boy won the Queen Mother Champion Chase – a race he was to win again in 1984, and 1985 – Sabin Du Loir won the Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle and Wayward Lad won the King George VI Chase for the second year running. The 1983/84 season was a little quieter, in terms of major wins but, Badsworth Boy aside, highlights included winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Top Novices’ Hurdle with Browne’s Gazette. The following season, Brown’s Gazette started odds-on favourite for the Champion Hurdle, but veered violently left at the start, losing all chance.

Martin Pipe To anyone with even a passing interest in National Hunt racing in Britain, Martin Charles Pipe CBE barely requires an introduction. Pipe first took out a public training licence at Pond House Stables – formerly Tuckers Farm, a derelict pig framing facility bought by his father, David, in 1973 – in Nicholashayne, near Wellington, Somerset in 1974. He was far from an overnight success but, when he retired, due to ill health, in April, 2006, he had become, far and away, the most successful trainer in the history of the sport, with 4,180 winners to his name. He was hailed by his contemporaries as the man who, almost single-handedly, revolutionised the way in which National Hunt horses were trained and, in so doing, made National Hunt racing more competitive and, therefore, more popular.

 

Pipe took 14 seasons to become Champion Trainer for the first time but, having secured his inaugural trainers’ title in 1988/89, would head the National Hunt standings 15 times in total – a sequence interrupted only by David Nicholson in 1993/94 and 1994/95 – before his retirement. In fact, the 1988/89 season was the first of eight in which he trained over 200 winners in a season and his total of 208 winners that year was almost double the previous record.

 

Pipe saddled 34 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, starting with 66/1 chance Baron Blakeney, ridden by Paul Leach, in the Triumph Hurdle in 1981. During his title-winning years, he recorded four victories in the main ‘championship’ races – Granville Again and Make A Stand in the Champion Hurdle, in 1993 and 1997, respectively and Balasani and Cyborgo in the Stayers’ Hurdle, in 1994 and 1996, respectively – and, while the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Queen Mother Champion Chase remained elusive, he was leading trainer, outright, at the Cheltenham Festival in 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2002.

Sir Michael Stoute Interestingly, Sir Michael Ronald Stoute received his knighthood, in 1998, in recognition of services, not to horse racing, but to tourism in his native country of Barbados. Nevertheless, Stoute has been training, in his own right, in Britain since 1972 and has been a fixture of British Flat racing since first thrust into the public eye by the record 10-length win of Shergar in the 1981 Derby. That was the first year he won the trainers’ title and he has since added nine more, most recently in 2009.

 

By his own admission, in recent years, he has lacked the firepower, or numbers, to compete with Ballydoyle or Godolphin for the trainers’ championship, but Stoute remains at the top of his profession. Indeed, in June, 2018, he became the most successful trainer, numerically, in the history of Royal Ascot, with 76 winners, after Poet’s Word beat Cracksman in the St. James’s Palace Stakes.

 

Aside from the ill-fated Shergar – who also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1981, but was kidnapped from Ballymany Stud, Co. Kildare two years later and never seen again – highlights of his early title-winning seasons included his second Derby winner, Sharastani, in 1986. In 1989, Stoute won his first 1,000 Guineas with Musical Bliss, while Zilzal won four major races, including the Sussex Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

 

Having won the trainers’ title again in 1994 and 1997, Stoute entered the new century in flying form, winning half a dozen domestic Group 1 races – including his fourth 2,000 Guineas with King’s Best – in 2000 to become Champion Trainer for the sixth time. Indeed, the Noughties proved to be a particularly lucrative period for the master of Freemason Lodge, with four more trainers’ titles in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2009. During that period, he saddled his third and fourth Derby winners, Kris Kin in 2003 and North Light in 2004, finally laid his St. Leger hoodoo to rest, after 25 failed attempts, with Conduit in 2008 and achieved a remarkable 1-2-3 with Conduit, Tartan Bearer and Ask in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in 2009.

Saeed bin Suroor Dubaian Saeed bin Suroor was the original trainer for the Godolphin operation, founded by Sheikh Mohammed, and first started training in Britain in 1995. In his inaugural season, he saddled just 17 domestic winners, but they included Moonshell in the Oaks, Lammtara in the Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Halling in the Juddmonte International Stakes and Classic Cliché in the St. Leger.

 

Unsurprisingly, after such a stellar start to his career, in 1996, in only his second season in charge at Godolphin Stables – formerly Stanley House Stables – in Newmarket, bin Suroor became Champion Trainer for the first time. That year, he saddled 48 winners from 158 runners in Britain, at a strike rate of 30%, and amassed £1.96 million in prize money. Domestic highlights include notable doubles for Mark Of Esteem, in the 2,000 Guineas and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Halling in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and the Juddmonte International Stakes and Classic Cliché in the Yorkshire Cup and the Gold Cup, while top-class juvenile Medaaly also won the Racing Post Trophy.

 

Saeed bin Suroor was Champion Trainer again in 1998, and again in 1999, with 38 winners from 115 runners and 40 winners from 121 runners, respectively, at the astonishing strike rate of 33% on both occasions, and £2.3 million and £2.7 million in total prize money.

 

In 1998, he won the 1,000 Guineas with Cape Verdi and the St. Leger with Nedawi, while other high-profile victories in Britain included Swain in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and the Champion Stakes, Cape Cross in the Lockinge Stakes, Daylami in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and Kayf Tara in the Gold Cup. In 1999, he won the 2,000 Guineas with Island Sands, the St. Leger (again) with Mutafaweq, the Lockinge Stakes (again) with Fly To The Stars, the Coronation Cup, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (again) and the Champion Stakes (again) with Daylami – who also won the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park, Florida – the Haydock Sprint Cup with Diktat and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Dubai Millenium.

 

By 2004, bin Suroor was firmly established at the top of his profession; his 115 domestic winners that year included half a dozen at the highest level, headed by Doyen, who won the Hardwicke Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, and Refuse To Bend, who won the Queen Anne Stakes and the Coral-Eclipse Stakes. Collectively, those four victories alone contributed just short of £900,000 to his seasonal total of £4.3 million, which gave him his fourth trainers’ title.