Racing dynasty matriarch Monica Dickinson has died at the age of 83. And though it was her late husband, Tony, and then their son, Michael, who held the licence in Yorkshire for most of the glory years, Monica was integral to the operation that reached its peak when the yard sent out the first five in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
A thoroughgoing horsewoman who point-to-pointed and showjumped successfully, the former Miss Birtwhistle made feeding and turnout her specialist subjects in the family business, and was a robust driving force under the strict-but-fair heading. "She was a wonderful woman, extremely dedicated," said one-time rival trainer Peter Easterby, "an incredible professional. We had some right battles and she was always so tough to beat."
After Michael, now based in the United States, was headhunted by Robert Sangster to train at Manton in 1984, Monica took up the reins at Poplar House, Harewood. Her first high-profile win came with Browne's Gazette in the Christmas Hurdle and the following year she sent out Badsworth Boy for the last of his three Champion Chase wins, took the Whitbread Gold Cup with By The Way and King George VI Chase with Wayward Lad.