During his 20 year career as a jockey, Mick Dittman achieved great success on different racecourse, won more than 1700 races and ultimately went down in history as one of the greatest jockeys of all time in Australia.
Mick Dittman was born in the year 1952 in Queensland and worked under Bill Kraft as an apprentice in the mid 1960s.
His first race was in Gold Coast at the age of sixteen and his first major win was in the 1968 edition of the Gold Coast Newmarket, which has since been renamed to Goldmarket. He won the race while riding Red Shah. About one year later, Dittman won the Ipswich cup while on Makata.
During his days as a jockey, Mick Dittman developed a reputation for applying the stick whenever necessary and it certainly paid off. Dittman’s maiden Group One (G1) win came in 1972 as an apprentice to Pat Duff when he won the Doomben Cup while piloting Knee High. The Doomben Cup victory set the stage for a successful career and Dittman ruled the racing scene in Brisbane in the 70s.
For example, while riding Strong James, he once won six out of the seven races that were on offer at the Eagle Farm Racecourse and came second once, to the surprise of many and to the disbelief of a number of jockeys in attendance.
Following his Doomben Cup win, Mick Dittman parted ways with Pat Duff and went on to stamp his authority as the king of Brisbane racing throughout the 1970s as he broke several records, including the record for the most wins which he set at 97 ½ . His five Brisbane premiership wins effectively put him third behind Russell Maddock and Bill Briscoe in terms of the highest number of wins in Brisbane premiership.
His move to Sydney in the mid 1980s, proved to be the right career move for him as his association with Tommy Smith, who was the trainer created a formidable force that ruled Sydney.
Mick Dittman won a total of three Sydney premiership titles. He earned the nickname “The Enforcer” due to his strong attitude and show of might and power on the saddle. Even if things were not looking up for Dittman, his never-say-die spirit kept him going and he could even lift the horses over the line if that is what it would take for him to win.
During his career, Mick Dittman managed to pull 88 Group 1 wins among his 1700 other wins. His major wins included the 1981 Golden Slipper Stakes which he won while riding Full On Aces, the 1982 Melbourne Cup aboard Gurner’s Lane who was being trained by G. Murphy, the 1983 Cox Plate while riding Strawberry Road, the 1984 edition of the same race while riding Red Anchor , the 1986 Golden Slipper Stakes (his second) under Tommy Smith while riding Bounding Away, the 1990 Caulfield Cup on Sydeston and his third Golden Slipper Stakes win in 1993 while riding Bint Marscay under training by Lee Freeman.
Other notable wins were the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Derby which he won twice with Red Anchor and Grosvenor, The Champagne Stakes with Triscay and Bounding away, the AJC Derby with Strawberry Road and Research, the AJC Oaks with 3 different horses: Mahaya, Bounding Away and Research, Rosehill Guineas with Strawberry Road and Deck The Halls, the AJC Sires which he won while riding Comely Girl and Full on Aces, the BMW Stakes which he won 4 times: while riding Alibhai, Kaaptive Edition, Our Cavalier and Sydeston.
His other major win was the Epsom Handicap which he won aboard Kinjite.
Other notable wins were riding Igloo, Marlboro Classic with Just A Printer and Mossman, Blue Diamond Stakes with Bounding Away and Aare, QTC Oaks with A Little Kiss, QTC Sires on Definate, VRC Lighting while riding Mahogany, WATC Australian Derby aboard Wonder Dancer, Key Dancer and All Ashore, AJC Metropolitan with Te Akau Nick and Natski, The Australian Cup with Veandercross, VRC Oaks on Research and Scomeld, Sydney Cup with Azam, Coolmore Classic while riding Skating, Futurity Stakes on Primacy, BTC Cup on Chief de Beers and OOR Stakes on Primacy.
Mick Dittman also won a number of races which have not been rated as Group one. Some of them were: the Defence Force Cup with Desert Chill, Bernborough Stakes on Chief de Beer, City Handicap with Just James and Ascot Bridge, Mc Dougall Stakes with Scotian Belle and Smokey’s Style, Ascot Handicap on Paravane and Vif, Healy Stakes on Amberdue, Albion Park Cup with Bois Boulang, O’Shea Stakes with Prince Majestic, Frazer Handicap with Setaria and QTC St Leger on Platonic.
While many people expected Mick Dittman to venture into the overseas tracks due to his prowess at home, his love for Queensland would not let him do that. As a matter of fact, he loved Queensland to the point of having had to return from Sydney earlier in his career when the lifestyle there did not suit him.
Mick Dittman had to let go of the opportunity to work as an apprentice under Bede Horan. However, after his retirement, he went to Singapore where he rode for two years before coming back to Australia to work as a racing manager and finally he settled to work as a bloodstock consultant.
His greatest disappointment during his otherwise admirable racing career was the failure to win the Stradbroke Handicap despite making a total of 28 attempts.
Mick Dittman was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in the year 2002, with his other great honour being the Mick Dittman Plate which is normally held at the Eagle Farm Racecourse in his honour.