Thoroughbred horse owner and breeder
14 November 1927|
Adelaide, South Australia
|Died||30 August 2015
Sydney, New South Wales
|Career wins||12x Melbourne Cup|
|12x Melbourne Cup|
|Order of Australia
Sport Australia Hall of Fame
Australian Racing Hall of Fame
Image on Australian Post Postage stamp>
Former Australian National Treasure
Gold and Black
James Bartholomew "Bart" Cummings AM (14 November 1927 – 30 August 2015), also known as J.B Cummings, was one of the most successful Australian racehorse trainers. He was known as the "Cups King", referring to the Melbourne Cup, as he won 'the race that stops a nation' a record twelve times. During his lifetime Cummings was considered an Australian cultural icon and an Australian National Living Treasure.
Cummings was born in 1927, in Adelaide, South Australia, the son of the accomplished Irish-born trainer Jim Cummings, who trained the great stayer Comic Court to a win in the 1950 Melbourne Cup. Bart started his career working for his father as a strapper, despite being allergic to horses and hay. Cummings had an older brother, Pat, and said of his father; "I had the best of teachers. My dad had a lot of experience behind him and I picked up from him by watching, listening, and keeping my mouth shut".
Cummings received his trainer licence in 1953, and set up stables at Glenelg in South Australia. His first significant win came in 1958, when he won the South Australian Derby, the same year he bought his first yearling.
Cummings had a record total of 78 runners in the Melbourne Cup at the time of writing[when?], starting in 1958 with Asian Court who finished twelfth behind Baystone. His next entrant was Trellios who fronted up in 1959 and finished fifth behind MacDougal. In 1960, Sometime finished in sixth place. It wasn't until 1965 that, with three runners in the Melbourne Cup, Cummings finished first with Light Fingers and second with Ziema, with his other runner, The Dip, finished eighteenth.
Cummings won his first Trainer's Premiership in the 1965–1966 season. Not only did he achieve his first Melbourne Cup victory that year, but he also won the Adelaide, Caulfield, Sandown, Sydney, Brisbane and Queen's cups.
In 1968, Cummings opened stables, now called Saintly Lodge, at Flemington in Melbourne, home of the Flemington Racecourse. Later that year, he won the Trainer's Premiership in both Victoria and South Australia, a feat which he would replicate in the 1969 and 1970 seasons.
In 1969, the favourite for the Melbourne Cup was Cummings' horse Big Philou, which had already won the Caulfield Cup. However, the horse was drugged illicitly with a large dose of laxative the morning of the race and was unable to compete.
In the late 1980s, Cummings spent millions of dollars purchasing racehorses, much of the money spent on behalf of a tax minimisation syndicate. Unfortunately, like many other trainers Cummings was hit hard by the recession of the early 1990s. With help from Reg Inglis' organisation, however, he avoided bankruptcy and continued training.
Cummings' final Melbourne Cup winner was Viewed in the 2008 race, when the horse beat Bauer in a photo finish. This was his 12th Melbourne Cup victory, on the 50th anniversary of the day when he entered his first Cup runner.
Cummings achieved 266 Group 1 victories and more than 762 stakes victories. In addition to his 12 Melbourne Cups, he won the Caulfield Cup seven times, the Golden Slipper Stakes four times, the Cox Plate five times, the VRC Oaks nine times and the Newmarket Handicap eight times. <http://www.bartcummings.com.au/career-highlights/> He also won the Australian Cup thirteen times.
On 11 December 1991, Cummings was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. He was also an inaugural inductee into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1982 for his services to the racing industry. He was also awarded a Centennial Medal and carried the Olympic Torch in 2000. In 2007, Australia Post placed his image on a postage stamp as part of its Australian Legends series. In May 2008 Racing NSW announced a new horse racing award to be known as The Bart Cummings Medal which will be awarded for 'consistent, outstanding performances amongst jockeys and trainers at New South Wales metropolitan race meetings through the racing season.
Melbourne Cup winners
Cummings won twelve Melbourne Cups with eleven horses:
- Light Fingers (1965)
- Galilee (1966)
- Red Handed (1967)
- Think Big (1974 & 1975)
- Gold and Black (1977)
- Hyperno (1979)
- Kingston Rule (1990)
- Let's Elope (1991)
- Saintly (1996)
- Rogan Josh (1999)
- Viewed (2008)
In 1965, 1966, 1974, 1975, and 1991, Cummings trained both the first and second placed horses in the Melbourne Cup.
Personal life and death
Cummings was married to his wife Valmae since 1954. His son Anthony and grandson James are also trainers,while second grandson Edward is a stable foreman.
Cummings died on 30 August 2015 in Prince's Farm in Castlereagh NSW, two days after he and wife Valmae celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. He was 87. His family accepted an offer by the Premier of New South Wales, Mike Baird, of a state funeral, which took place on 7 September at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, on College Street, and was televised on Sky Thorougbred Central, 7Two, ABC and Nine Network Australia from 10AM AEST.
- "Group One History".
- http://www.smh.com.au/sport/horseracing/bart-cummings-dead-at-87-the-king-of-the-melbourne-cup-20150829-gjauee.html Bart Cummings dead at 87
- "Bart Cummings AM". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- Inaugural 'Bart Cummings Medal
- "Race 7 - Flemington - Tue 04 Nov 2008 - RACING.COM". RACING.COM.
- "Bart Cummings: Legendary Australian racehorse trainer dies aged 87". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- AAP via Yahoo!7 Bart Cummings passes away
- "Bart Cummings' family accept state funeral". skynews. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 31 Aug 2015.