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New Zealand Racing mourns passing of Hall Of Fame trainer

The New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Industry is mourning the passing of legendary Australian trainer Bart Cummings.

The extraordinary horseman who was known worldwide as the "Melbourne Cup King" passed away peacefully on the weekend after accomplishing virtually all there was to accomplish in the world of thoroughbred horse racing.

Celebrated for his many career achievements in Australia, his deeds with New Zealand bred horses were recognised locally in 2012 when he was made an honorary inductee in to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame during one of his many visits to the National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka.

Cummings first bought at the New Zealand yearling sales in 1958 and sourced eight of his 12 Melbourne Cup winners from New Zealand including Think Big, who went on to twice win the Melbourne Cup in 1974 and 1975.

Cummings also bought his best horse, So You Think, from the Karaka sales in 2008 where he outlaid $110,000 for the Windsor Park Stud graduate.

Amongst his many friends in New Zealand was Cambridge Stud's Sir Patrick Hogan who first met Cummings over sixty years ago.

"I first met him during my Fencourt (Stud) days when he called in on his way to the Yearling Sales at Trentham," recalled Hogan.

"That was my opportunity to meet Bart and it was a great ride as I was very much involved with him over the years both as a studmaster, as part of his racing stable and in his home as a friend which has left some very fond memories."

Hogan also noted the profound effect Cummings has had on shaping local breeding operations.

"He made an enormous contribution to our bloodstock industry," he said,

"Bart recognised all those years ago that New Zealand had the right type of product, the classic type of horse and he made it his business to come here and sort out the horses he wanted to take back to race in Australia as part of his stable.

"I was very fortunate to know him as he gave me an enormous amount of advice in my younger days through hints and ideas on what I should be doing with my young horses.

"He told me you had to build constitution into your animals, to give them the right trace elements and a balanced diet that will give you an edge on your competitors."

Hogan first raced horses through the Cummings stable in the early 1970's with his most recent being the durable stayer Precedence who has competed in four Melbourne Cups. Hogan recalled an incident when dealing with Cummings over Precedence that typified the man.

"I remember a couple of years ago I mentioned to his racing manager, Duncan Ramage, that we would like Precedence to come over for the Auckland Cup," he chuckled.

"I said to ask Bart to prepare him for the Auckland and Wellington Cups.

"The reply came back straight up - tell them I'm the boss!

"He knew what he wanted and where he was going and although he would listen to you I think that sums him up neatly."


- NZ Racing Desk