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.