Mick Dittman - Plunge

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Dittman, with eye for a filly, takes the plunge

January 20, 2009

Mick Dittman was one of Australia's most successful jockeys during his career, but the Queenslander always had a secret urge to be a part of a well-executed plunge.

This was easier said than done as Dittman had hundreds of thousands of followers around Australia and rode for the nation's leading trainer, Tommy Smith.

One day, standing alongside Smith at the trainer's Tulloch Lodge at Randwick, they watched a float full of two-year-old fillies being unloaded.

One filly took Dittman's eye to such an extent that he arrived the following morning at 4.30 to ride the youngster in slow work a rare occurrence for the stable jockey of such a powerful outfit.

"Every day, I'd get there and ride her," Dittman recalled. "We never went fast because I knew she had what it took, but I didn't want all the clockers at Randwick to get any hint of her ability.

"I'd either work her at 4.30 or at 10 in the morning when no one was around. Perhaps on the odd morning I'd let her sprint the odd furlong, but that'd be up the back where no one could see her.

"I'd learnt from a very early age that bookies and their spies miss very little of a morning and, if they do, they pay through the nose that afternoon."

After the filly had been in work for six weeks, Smith announced he was going to Europe for a month and his brother Ernie would run the stable.

"This was a bit of luck," said Dittman. "Tommy was the best trainer in Australia, but if he'd known how good this filly was he would've told all of Sydney and she would've started 1-5 wherever we took her.

"So I said to Ernie: 'There's a quid to be made here. Only you and I know how good she's going, no one else has been on her back and I galloped her the other morning at about 10.30 when no one could see her, and her work was sensational."

Both Dittman and Smith agreed that a two-year-old race at Warwick Farm the following week was ideal for a plunge.

"Just a couple of hours before acceptances, I rang Ernie and said: 'Look, put Mark De Montfort on her and I'll ride the stablemate.'

"He said: 'But Mick, you've done months of work on her and you're giving up the ride.'

And I replied: 'Let's hope the bookies are just as confused as you are!'

"Ring De Montfort and tell him he's got the ride and tell him that the filly is fairly backward and will need more time before she shows her best and give me the same instructions for the one I'm riding. And when we get into the mounting yard, repeat these instructions and I'll handle the rest," Dittman said.

"When we got behind the gates, I trotted up to De Montfort and said: 'I've got a message from Ernie for you. Forget those instructions, kick up on her early don't worry if you're caught six wide as she's capable of breaking the track record. He said to me: 'Are you for real, Mick?' "I've never been more serious in my life, just do as you're told."

The filly strolled away to win easily and was backed from 3-1 into 4-7.

Tommy Smith arrived back two days later and declared the filly the best two-year-old in Australia a statement Dittman was glad the trainer released post-race.

Her name was Speedcheck and she finished second behind Rory's Jester in the 1985 Golden Slipper. Of course, Dittman, who was known as "The Enforcer", had the last word: "You do understand that it's against the rules of racing for jockeys to bet."


By Glenn Davis
Tuesday 10 November 2009, 3:07pm
Former champion jockey Mick Dittman will return to live on the Gold Coast next year, but he has no plans to take up training.

Dittman, 57, has spent the past seven years living in Singapore where he rode for two years before becoming a racing manager and working as a bloodstock consultant.

Known as "The Enforcer" during his riding days, Dittman is currently in New Zealand to watch his talented filly Keep The Peace run in the Group One Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on Saturday.

Speaking on Radio TAB, Dittman denied reports he planned to apply for a trainer's licence when he returned to the Gold Coast.

"I haven't got any plans to train," Dittman said.

"I've given notice (in Singapore) and I'm moving back to the Gold Coast in either February or April.

"I love my golf and the warm climate but I'll let others do the hard work (training).

"Training is hard work and long hours and at this stage of my life I'm quite happy to just race a few horses."

While Dittman denied he planned a return to the training ranks, he refused to rule out his son Luke taking on the role in the future.

Dittman trained for only a brief period on the Gold Coast after being granted a licence in October, 2002.

Luke Dittman, 18, is currently living in France and is awaiting a clearance to resume his riding career as an apprentice.

Dittman, whose late wife Maureen was a trainer, said his son had shown a keen interest in training once his riding days were over.

"It's a possibility (of Luke Dittman training)," Dittman said.

"It does interest him and his mother (Maureen) was a trainer but I'll leave that decision to him.

"Luke is in France and for the moment he wants to have a crack at riding over there.

"It's the off-season there at the moment and it's all experience for him.

"He was hoping to be riding now but there's been a hold-up getting his licence from the club over there."

Dittman, who will continue to act as a bloodstock consultant when he returns to Queensland, is regarded as one of Australia's best jockeys.

He landed a double on his first day riding at Murwillumbah as a 16-year-old and went on to become Australia's best rider in the 1980s and early `90s.

Dittman won 90 Group One races and 330 stakes races including most of the major races in Australia such as the Melbourne Cup on Gurner's Lane (1982), Caulfield Cup on Sydeston (1990) and Cox Plates on Strawberry Road (1983) and Red Anchor (1984).

He also won three Golden Slippers on Full On Aces (1981), Bounding Away (1986) and Bint Marscay (1993) but he never won the biggest prize in his home state, the Group One Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm, from 28 attempts.


Proud Knight:
OldLarsy writes ...     2009-Jan-23, 12:29  PM

I don't recall it being a big go, can we dig up betting flux?

Just spotted this thread, found it interesting re Speed Check/Mick Dittman.

According to official AAP flucs, Speed Check was $2.88 out to $3.50 before starting $3.00.

She won by 4.5.

Bet Mick could fill a book about some of the stuff that went on at Tulloch Lodge.

Mick was always a big punter....many of times i'd see him with Billy Idol side by side up the Bighouse in the  late 80s...and 90s

What game was the idol playing sporty ?

westie writes ...     2009-Nov-17, 10:09  PM

What game was the idol playing sporty ?

Always down stairs in the highrollers room playing cards...dill.. ;)


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