Citing the time constraints involved with his synthetic surface company Tapeta Footings, Michael Dickinson has announced he will not seek a trainer’s license for 2008.
And though the announcement did not specifically say he is retiring, the 57-year-old Dickinson said in an interview he needs to devote 100% of his time to Tapeta Footings.
“I think it is very unlikely I will return to training,” Dickinson said Nov. 12. “Never is a long time, and it remains to be seen. Maybe down the road, I would go to Saratoga and buy a few yearlings and become an owner.”
Tapeta Footings, the artificial surface developed by Dickinson at his Tapeta Farm in Maryland, is growing in popularity and now has installations in five different countries. The growth of the company has diminished the amount of time Dickinson could spend on training. In his statement, Dickinson said he spent most of last winter overseas.
“Training is 24/7, 365 (days a year),” Dickinson said. “I have always been a horseman, but now I have this newfound freedom. I have really enjoyed the last year. It has been a pleasant change.”
Dickinson said there is no need for him to designate a successor for his stable because the number of horses has been diminishing gradually since last summer.
As Tapeta surfaces have been installed at more locations, Dickinson said he is taking great satisfaction in how the product is being received and the conclusion that it is a safe and preferable surface for horses.
“I have been concerned for some time about the welfare of horses racing on unsuitable surfaces and really want to repay the horse in my own small way,” Dickinson’s statement said.
A native of Yorkshire, England, Dickinson was a top steeplechase jockey and three-time champion jumps trainer in England before relocating to the United States in 1987. According to Dickinson, between his riding and training careers in both countries, he has had 1,312 victories, including 151 stakes, 85 of which were in the U.S.
Among his training feats were having the first five finishers in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup. In the U.S., he is perhaps best known for his work with two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) champion Da Hoss, whose second triumph in the race came after only an allowance prep following a two-year absence from competition.
Dickinson said he is proud of his accomplishments in both the U.S. and United Kingdom, especially being runner-up for an Eclipse Award and being awarded the C. V. Whitney Special Achievement Award.