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New Zealand breeders salute Bart Cummings

Legendary trainer Bart Cummings

What an achievement! What a feat! What a legend! Bart Cummings- the New Zealand breeding industry salutes you.

It would take a thesaurus of adjectives to describe what legendary trainer Bart Cummings achieved in the 2008 Emirates Melbourne Cup when he trained his 12th winner Viewed, but it would still not be enough to describe the achievement.

In fact Barack Obama's election to the US Presidency the following day is perhaps all that has overshadowed it in world news.

On the first Tuesday of November when Viewed galloped into racing immortality it marked 50 years since Bart Cummings saddled his first runner in the Melbourne Cup.
It was another seven years before he won his first cup and that was after he had studied the form and realised that New Zealand was producing the best stayers and the most group winners.

Prior to that initial Melbourne Cup win with Light Fingers in 1965 Cummings had become a regular visitor to the Trentham sales with the purpose of finding the perfect stayer in mind. In fact he couldn't buy Light Fingers (Le Filou) so he leased her instead, however he did manage to purchase his next six winners from New Zealand. They were 1966 Galilee(Alcimedes), 1967 Red Handed (Le Filou). 1974 and 1975 Think Big (Sobig), 1977 Gold and Black (In The Purple), and 1979 Hyperno (Rangong).

In 1990 he won with Kingston Rule and the following year it was another New Zealand bred Let's Elope who took out the Cup. Both she and Galilee completed the rare Caulfield/Melbourne Cup double. His 1996 winner also had the NZ suffix and that was Saintly who shares the same colours as Think Big and this year's winner Viewed all owned by Malaysian owner Dato Tan Chin Nam. Rogan Josh was winner number 11 in 1999.

Cummings is perhaps the greatest promoter of the New Zealand-bred stayer – even now he credits a huge amount of his success to the fine horses he has purchased from New Zealand. He believes our climate and grass is the reason we breed so many top stayers and we should not lose sight of this. This from the gentleman who has now won an outstanding 250 Group One races – Cups, Derbies, Guineas, Oaks, the lot.

He started out in Adelaide working for his father Jim who trained Comic Court to win the 1950 Melbourne Cup, and took out his trainers licence in 1955 also in Adelaide. In 1968 he set up stables at Flemington – now known as Saintly Place and in 1975 he established Leilani Lodge at Randwick in Sydney, and named in honour of another of his fine New Zealand bred winners Leilani. He has been a Sydney resident since that time.

In his training career the octogenarian has now not only trained 12 Melbourne Cup winners but an outstanding 250 Group One winners. He has trained nine winners of the Australian Racehorse of the Year Title. He has won 11 training premierships in Victoria and in 1988-89 completed the trifecta by winning the training premierships in South Australia, Victoria and Sydney.

His contribution to the racing industry is Australia is awe inspiring and he has been recognised in the Australian Sports Hall of Fame, Racing Hall of Fame and has been honoured with an Order of Australia and a Centennial Medal in 2000, the same year he carried the Olympic Flame up the Flemington straight.

Not surprisingly Cummings has won the Victoria Racing Media's Personality of the Year title, and was the first-ever trainer to be awarded Life Membership by the Victoria Racing Club.

Well known for his sharp wit, on his way out of the jockey's room after watching the 2008 Melbourne Cup he was asked how it felt to win a dozen Melbourne Cups and quick as a whippet he responded with "it'll be a bakers dozen next year!"

All of the New Zealand breeding industry congratulates you James Bartholomew Cummings and hope that we can continue to contribute to your legendary career.


- Michelle Saba