Farewell to king of the turf
STATE funerals are usually associated with great national leaders. Bart Cummings, though, was also a national leader in his chosen field. The man farewelled yesterday was, in many respects, the Australian king of the sport of kings. He was a man who, as Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher put it: “Was revered by the cabbies who took him to Flemington or the captains of industry who liked to be in his company.”
Cummings was special for not just his uncanny skill as Australia’s most successful horse trainer; a horse whisperer par excellence. That alone has given him, similar to most champions, an enduring place in the minds of most Australians, regardless of any great interest in racing.
He could have been a “tall poppy”, an extraordinarily successful man who ordinary punters would like to take down a peg or two, but his dry, almost laconic, self-deprecating wit and downto-earth nature endeared him to millions. He had strength of character and conviction in family and faith. He was the human face of the race that stops a nation and will be as sorely missed as he is fondly remembered.
Rest in peace Bart Cummings.