Dubbed ‘The Genius’ after saddling the first five home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1983, former Champion National Hunt Trainer Michael W. Dickinson has many claims to fame. Following his retirement from the training ranks, for the first time, Dickinson invented and developed the Tapeta racing surface, which is now in use at Newcastle and Wolverhampton in Britain and various venues worldwide. However, even before the ‘Famous Five’ at Cheltenham, Dickinson had already written his name, possibly indelibly, into the Guiness Book of World Records.
On Boxing Day, 1982, Dickinson made a deliberate attempt – as discussed with his parents, Tony and Monica, months earlier – to break the world record for the number of winners trained in a single day. In fact, during a busy Bank Holiday programme, he sent out twenty runners, or over a third of his string, from his yard in Harewood, West Yorkshire, to six different meetings across the country. The highlight of the day was a win for Wayward Lad, ridden by John Francome, in the King George VI Chase at Kempton but, all told, twelve of the Dickinson-trained horses won and just one of the twenty finished unplaced.
As far as the Grand National is concerned, it was Jenny Pitman who first broke through the ‘glass ceiling’ when saddling Corbiere, who was still a novice, to victory in 1983. In 1995, ‘Mrs. P.’ won the Grand National again with the 12-year-old Royal Athlete and, in the meantime, has been joined by three more female trainers on the Grand National roll of honour.
In 2009, Mon Mome, trained by Venetia Williams, caused a shock – although, to be fair, there appeared no fluke about his performance – when driven clear by the late Liam Treadwell to beat the 2008 winner Comply Or Die by 12 lengths at odds of 100/1. Four years later, in 2013, Auroras Encore, trained by Sue Smith, belied odds of 66/1 with a comprehensive 9-length win. Four years later still, in 2017, One For Arthur, trained by Lucinda Russell, was sent off at a rather more ‘punter friendly’ starting price of 14/1 and, having travelled and jumped well, stayed on strongly to win by 4½ lengths; in so doing, he not only made Russell the fourth female trainer to win the Grand National, but became the first Scottish-trained winner since Rubstic in 1979.
In the history of the Grand National, three trainers have saddled four winners apiece. In chronological order of their first win, they are George Dockeray, Fred Rimmell and Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain. Dockeray was responsible for three of the first four ‘official’ National winners, namely Lottery (1839), Jerry (1840) and Gaylad (1842), before completing his quartet with Miss Mowbray (1852). Rimmell saddled unquestionably the luckiest National winner ever, E.S.B. (1956), who was the beneficiary when Devon Loch inexplicably collapsed on the run-in, but later added Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976) to his winning tally; the latter was one of just two horses to beat Red Rum in the National. Speaking of the incomparable Red Rum, the equally incomparable ‘Ginger’ McCain saddled ‘Rummie’ to his three victories (1973, 1974 and 1977) and, much latter in his career, won the National again with Amberleigh House (2004).
Noel Le Mare, owner of Red Rum, jointly holds the record for most wins with three other owners, namely James Octavius Machell, Trevor Hemmings and Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Michael O’Leary. Machell owned Disturbance (1873), Reugny (1874) and Regal (1876) but, following Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015) and Rule The World (2016) and Tiger Roll (2018 and 2019), respectively, Hemmings and O’Leary still have the chance to add to their winning tallies.
Tattersalls, formerly Tattersall’s, is nowadays the leading bloodstock auctioneer in Europe, offering 10,000 throughbreds for sale each year through its sales rings at Park Paddocks, Newmarket and Old Fairyhouse, Co. Meath. The business was founded, at Hyde Park Corner, London in 1766 by Richard Tattersall and became a meeting place for racing men, including the future King George IV.
In 1865, the business moved to Knightsbridge and, in 1965, to Newmarket, and began holding auctions in Ireland in 1988. In 2016, Tattersalls celebrated its 250th anniversary and continues to thrive. Although the modern business attracts an international audience, from 50 different countries, Tattersalls retains the fundamental values of an essentially British, family-owned company, which is what it was for much of its existence.
Tattersall’s is also the name of an enclosure on many racecourses, situated between the Members’ Enclosure and the Silver Ring and home to the main betting ring. The Tattersall’s Enclosure, or ‘Tatts’ for short, takes its name from the aforementioned Richard Tattersall, who reserved two so-called ‘subscription rooms’ for members of the Jockey Club in his original premises; there, his patrons could conduct financial transactions or, in other words, bet and settle bets, in comfort and would continue to do so for decades afterwards.