The Courier-Mail

1927-2015

- RAY THOMAS

AUS­TRALIAN rac­ing leg­end Bart Cum­mings, the trainer of a record 12 Mel­bourne Cup win­ners, will be hon­oured with a state fu­neral.

De­scribed as the “Don Brad­man of rac­ing” the 87year-old died sur­rounded by fam­ily at his homestead in Syd­ney’s north­west yesterday morn­ing.

Flags at race­courses around the na­tion flew at half mast yesterday, a minute si­lence was ob­served at race meet­ings and jock­eys rode with black arm­bands as the in­dus­try mourned the loss of a sport­ing icon.

Less than a day be­fore he died, Sul­try Feel­ing, trained by Cum­mings in part­ner­ship with his grand­son James, won at Rose­hill Gar­dens, while two more horses pre­pared by the king of turf won at Wy­ong yesterday (Mi­das and Muy Bien).

The own­ers of Mi­das and Muy Bien gave per­mis­sion for their horses’ jock­eys to wear the fa­mous green and gold di­ag­o­nal silks that have been syn­ony­mous with many of the cham­pi­ons he trained.

In a state­ment, James Cum­mings said: “Mr Cum­mings’s fi­nal mo­ments were spent with his fam­ily and wife of 61 years, Val­mae, with whom he cel­e­brated their an­niver­sary on Fri­day. A hus­band, fa­ther, grand­fa­ther and great-grand­fa­ther; a master trainer and a larger than life fig­ure. We will miss you.’’

NSW Premier Mike Baird and of­fi­cials are fi­nal­is­ing ar­range­ments for the state fu­neral to pro­vide a fit­ting farewell to the man de­scribed as a na­tional trea­sure.

“We are li­ais­ing with the Cum­mings fam­ily and there are plans for a state fu­neral to hon­our an Aus­tralian leg­end,’’ Rac­ing NSW chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter V’landys said.

“Bart was al­ways in a league of his own.

“His larger than life char­ac­ter and sharp wit will be sorely missed. Bart goes down as a leg­end in Aus­tralian sport, up there with the great Don Brad­man.’’

Widely known as the “Cups King”, Cum­mings dom­i­nated Aus­tralian rac­ing for more than 60 years.

Born into rac­ing, he was strap­per for 1950 Mel­bourne Cup win­ner Comic Court, trained by his fa­ther, Jim, be- fore tak­ing out a trainer’s li­cence three years later.

Cum­mings wasn’t an overnight sen­sa­tion.

It’s a lit­tle-known fact that he went nearly two years be­fore train­ing his first win­ner at Mor­phettville in Fe­bru­ary, 1955.

“I have never for­got­ten how hard that was, and what a test of my per­sis­tence,” Cum­mings once said of his early days as a trainer.

He won his first Mel­bourne Cup with Light Fin­gers in 1965, and went on to win 11 more – a feat which is un­likely to ever be matched. ED­I­TO­RIAL P20

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 ??  ?? TO­TAL RE­SPECT: Jock­eys at Wy­ong share a minute’s si­lence in a trib­ute to Bart Cum­mings; and flow­ers left at the feet of the great man’s statue at Flem­ing­ton yesterday.
TO­TAL RE­SPECT: Jock­eys at Wy­ong share a minute’s si­lence in a trib­ute to Bart Cum­mings; and flow­ers left at the feet of the great man’s statue at Flem­ing­ton yesterday.

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