Tribute to Bart Cummings

By: Bryan Martin OAM - This is Your Racing Life
Sunday, August 30, 2015

Australia lost an icon in sport with the passing of James Bartholomew [Bart] Cummings in the early hours of Sunday August 30th 2015. Bart’s health had deteriorated over recent years and he had been confined to living on his horse farm at Princes Farm in New South Wales.

Bart Cummings’ record of training winners in the sport of kings is unparalleled. He has the amazing record of training 12 Melbourne Cup winners including 5 quinellas [1st and 2nd] between 1965 and 2008. His record outside the Melbourne Cup stands alone having prepared the Caulfield Cup winner 7 times, the Golden Slipper 4 times as well as the Cox Plate 5 times. Bart has the astonishing record of training 32 Derby winners and winners of the Oaks on 24 occasions. His overall record of feature race winners at Group One level stands at 268. Bart’s record of winners Australia wide is around 6,000.

Of Irish descent, Bart Cummings was the strapper for his dad Jim when Comic Court won the Melbourne Cup in 1950 and obtained his training license in Adelaide in 1953, when his mother and father took an extended holiday back to their homeland of Ireland.

1) A strapping young Bart with his dad's champion Comic Court. Bart strapped the horse on Cup day 1950.  2) Facing the elements early morning at Flemington, the great man is at home there. 3) Bart and a great favourite Ming Dynasty, dual Caulfield Cup winner.

Despite all his amazing success at the highest level in racing, Bart Cummings remained a very shy person, a deep thinker with an innate ability to communicate with horses, an ability to know when a horse had had enough training or racing, when to change the routine of training and importantly when to change the feeding, so much of this knowledge was passed down from his father Jim.

Bart mixed with royalty, greeting Her Majesty The Queen when his horse Beau Zam won a special race in front of the Queen in Canberra to celebrate the Bi-Centennial in 1988. 

He survived bankruptcy in the mid eighties when a tax driven syndicate of bankers lured him to a buying spree of multiple millions at the Sydney sales. Bart had signed for all the yearlings purchased when the company collapsed, leaving Bart with a bill of millions of dollars. He fought his way back in true Cummings fashion, paid the debtors and got back to training his winners...and remarkably, had one of his best decades ever through the nineties, winning 4 Melbourne Cups.

1) Great moment to savour for Bart and family after Let's Elope won the cup in 1991. 2) Bart with Saintly, one of his best horses.

We will never see the likes of this true racing icon again. We will, in our time, never see his feats equalled or passed. A devout catholic, a good friend to all in the Media, a wicked Irish wit, the prince of one-liners, that was Bart, a legend in our time.

We celebrate a great life well lived.

Written by Bryan Martin OAM - This is Your Racing Life, for Tobin Brothers Funerals


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