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Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Obsessed by properties of waxes and polymers

Inside the mind of Cheltenham legend and Tapeta creator Michael Dickinson

Michael Dickinson: roast beef and Yorkshire pudding would be his last meal
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First published on Sunday, March 14, 2010


When a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A farmer. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? The brain functions much more efficiently after a good night's sleep.

Who would play you in a film of your life? My first thought was Clive Owen but my PA, Michelle, says I remind her of Basil Fawlty so on that note I would say John Cleese.

What's your favourite journey? On the back of a good horse, jumping big hedges, foxhunting in one of the many pretty countryside areas in England or with the Cheshire hounds in Pennsylvania.

Do you think there is too much racing in Britain? I don't know if we have too much racing in Britain but I do know we have too much racing in America. We do not need 50,000 races a year. Monmouth Park, which traditionally hosts 130 days of racing a year with an average of $330,000 purse money per day, is now going to condense its meet to only 50 days a year but increase the daily average purse to $1 million.

If there was one thing you could change about your life, what would it be? I'm quite happy the way I am. I divide my time between the USA, UK and the UAE and it is a pleasure and privilege to live in those three countries. When I think of all the people in Burma and North Korea who will never get the chance that I've had in life, it makes me realise how lucky I am.

What's your favourite/least favourite racecourse? I don't have a least favourite racecourse. They all have their own special charms, qualities and uniqueness. My favourite racecourse is very often wherever I am standing at that time. My favourite one day's racing is the Dubai World Cup. My favourite two-day meeting is the Breeders' Cup. My favourite three-day meeting is Aintree, my favourite four days is Cheltenham and my favourite five days is Royal Ascot.

What's your favourite sport outside racing? Foxhunting and football.

Sum yourself up in five words Dedicated, passionate, obsessive, compulsive, loyal.

What was the last film you saw? Seabiscuit.

John Cleese would play Michael Dickinson in the film of his life
What was the last book you read? Team of Rivals. It told the story of the political genius Abraham Lincoln on becoming president and how he installed his political rivals in his cabinet.

Give us a playlist of your favourite five songs (and artists) Anything composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Is racing cleaner than it was 20 years ago? Yes.

Give us a horse to keep an eye on Mindip.

What was the best day of your racing life? A dead-heat between the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup and Da Hoss's second Breeders' Cup win in 1998.

Who's your favourite horse ever? That is like asking a parent who their favourite child is! There are too many to single just one out.

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind? The properties of waxes and polymers.

Dogs or cats? Jack Russell terriers.

Favourite holiday destination – in Britain and abroad Holiday? What is a holiday?! I live an interesting and varied life and I don't need one.

Michael Dickinson (front) with his famous five who filled the first five places in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup: (l to r) Bregawn, Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Ashley House
Best/worst subjects at school History and geography would be my best subjects. The worst would be algebra.

What football/rugby/cricket team do you support? Manchester United.

What superstitions do you have? None. There are more than enough real-life problems to concentrate on.

What would you choose as your last meal? Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

What is the strangest/funniest thing you have ever seen on a racecourse? I have had a lot of fun and seen some strange things but they were all in-house jokes.

Tell us something about yourself that only you know I can't tell you, because then I wouldn't be the only one that knew!

Who'd be your four ideal dinner party guests? Jesus Christ, the Prophet Mohammed, Buddha and Sir Winston Churchill.

What's the worst thing anyone's said to you? It's unprintable.

What keeps you awake at night? If I feel that one of my tracks is not as good as it could be.


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