Bart Cummings

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Bart Cummings
Occupation Horse trainer
Thoroughbred horse owner and breeder
Born (1927-11-14)14 November 1927
Adelaide, South Australia
Died 30 August 2015(2015-08-30) (aged 87)
Sydney, New South Wales
Career wins 12x Melbourne Cup
Racing awards
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
Significant horses
Light Fingers
Red Handed
Think Big
Gold and Black
Kingston Rule
Let's Elope
Rogan Josh

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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] Bart started his career working for his father as a strapper, despite being allergic to horses and hay.[2] 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".

Training career[edit]

Cummings received his trainer licence in 1953,[3] and set up stables at Glenelg in South Australia. His first significant win came in 1958, when he won the South Australian Derby, his first Group 1 win.[4]

Cummings had a record total of 89 runners in the Melbourne Cup starting in 1958 with Asian Court who finished twelfth. His next entrant was Trellios who fronted up in 1959 and finished fifth. 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.[5]

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.[6]

In 1968, Cummings opened stables, now called Saintly Lodge, at Flemington in Melbourne, home of the Flemington Racecourse.[4] Later that year, he won the Trainer's Premiership the first of five.[4]

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.[7]

In 1974 he became the first trainer in the British Commonwealth to train horses who won $1 million in prize money.[3]

In 1975, Cummings moved his operations to a new facility near Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, called 'Leilani Lodge'.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

Cummings achieved 266 Group 1 victories[11] and more than 762 stakes victories.[11] 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.[12] He also won the Australian Cup thirteen times.[13]


1974 ABC Sportsman of the Year[14]

1982 Made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the racing industry.[15]

1991 11 December 1991, Cummings was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.[16]

1997 Named in National Trusts 100 Australian Living Legends (chosen by a national vote) [17]

2000 Awarded a Centennial Medal and carried the Olympic Torch[3]

2001 An inaugural inductee into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame .[14]

2004 First licensed person to be made Lifetime member of Victoria Racing Club[15]

2007 Australia Post placed his image on a postage stamp as part of its Australian Legends series.[18]

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.[19]

Melbourne Cup winners[edit]

Cummings won twelve Melbourne Cups with eleven horses:[5]

In February 2016 the Victoria Racing Club unveiled a precinct in honour of Cummings at Flemington Racecourse to be named Saintly Place. The Chairman said,

We’re extremely pleased that Bart endorsed this initiative, which importantly is in general admission and accessible to all,...Bart has generously bequeathed a collection of his trophies for public display at Flemington, and in time Saintly Place will become a permanent trackside museum dedicated to the Cups King. The large collection includes Saintly’s Melbourne Cup and Bart’s 12 Melbourne Cup trainer’s trophies, as well as Caulfield Cups and Cox Plates.[20]

In 1965, 1966, 1974, 1975, and 1991, Cummings trained both the first and second placed horses in the Melbourne Cup.[21]

Personal life and death[edit]

Born in the Adelaide suburb of Glenelg he attended the Marist Brothers' Sacred Heart College in Adelaide in the beachside suburb of Somerton Park.[1] He left school at 14.[22] Cummings met Val met at a church social in Adelaide[2] and they in 1954. He had five children, daughters Sharon (now Robinson) and Anne-Marie (now Casey) Margaret and son Anthony.[23] His son Anthony and grandson James (to run his Sydney stables)[2] are also trainers,[24] 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.[25][26] 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.[27]

Will dispute[edit]

On 28 October 2016 a dispute over Cummings will was heard in the New South Wales Supreme Court. The dispute is between Anthony with his sister Margaret who want the estate to be settled as per Cummings will. They have also taken the executor of the estate, accountant Aaron Ross Randell to court contesting their father final will. In a separate action sisters Sharon and Anne-Marie who also have the support of Cummings wife Valmae are contesting the division of the estate.[28] The judge ordered that the parties find someone who could act as an intermediary in mediation between the parties. He expected mediation to occur in December/January and the matter was to return to court in February 2017.[23]

Secret family controversy[edit]

In November 2016 two sisters in Adelaide went public with a claim that Cummings was the father their father Peter Mander from a relationship with their mother Patricia Kilmartin. They allege that the couple were in a relationship for over a year and Patricia fell pregnant mid-1951. The relationship ended and Lloyd Mander married Patricia and raised Peter as his son. They have engaged a lawyer and have asked for DNA tests for geneticand biological reasons. They have stated that they are not interested in a financial claim on Cummings estate. [29]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary : Bart Cummings dead at 87 - the King is dead, long live the King 30 August 2015". Mudgee Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "This is my turf". Adelaide Now. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "Farewell to the Cups King 30 August 2015". Sporting Post. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "No one holds a candle to Bart: 80 and still blowing". Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Bart Cummings: A timeline of the Cups King's 89 entries in the race that stops a nation". ABC. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Trainer Profiles Bart Cummings". Horse Directory Australia. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Ten 31 October 2004". The Age. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  8. ^ "Hayes And Cummings - From Adelaide To Racing Greatness 3 September 2015". Racing and Sports. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "[Bart Cummings] Status Page 94 - TGR12_MAG_LR". Think and Grow Rich. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  10. ^ "Viewed wins Melbourne Cup 4 November 2008". Sydney Morning HErald. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Group One History". 
  12. ^ "Bart Cummings dead at 87: The King of the Melbourne Cup 30 August 2013". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  13. ^ "Career Highlights". Bart Cummings. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "Inaugural Inductees 2001". Australian Racing Hall of Fame. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  15. ^ a b "Bart Cummings : Cups King defied the odds". The Australian. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  16. ^ "Bart Cummings AM". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "National Living Treasures". National Trust. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  18. ^ "History of the Australian Legends stamp series 11 December 2015". Australia Post Collectables. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  19. ^ "Bart Cummings Medal". Racing NSW. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  20. ^ "Place for Bart at Flemington 20 February 2016". Racing Victoria. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  21. ^ "Statistics and stories". Melbourne Cup 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  22. ^ "Bart Cummings: Son Anthony tells of life with his famous father 7 September 2015". Herald Sun. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  23. ^ a b "[Will dispute] 28 October 2016". The Australian. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  24. ^ "Spring Carnival: Anthony Cummings proud of family dynasty on Derby Day 30 October 2016". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  25. ^ "Bart Cummings: Legendary Australian racehorse trainer dies aged 87". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  26. ^ AAP via Yahoo!7 Bart Cummings passes away
  27. ^ "Bart Cummings' family accept state funeral". skynews. 31 August 2015. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 31 Aug 2015. 
  28. ^ "Bart Cummings' three children fight over trainer's multi-million dollar estate 28 October 2016". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  29. ^ "Adelaide sisters reveal they are the secret grandchildren of Melbourne Cups King Bart Cummings 19 November 2016". The Advertiser. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 

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