Bart Cummings first experienced the thrill of a Melbourne Cup win at 23 years of age when he strapped the home-bred Comic Court for his father Jim Cummings in 1950. His training feat to date of 11 Melbourne Cup winners and 5 quinellas has earned him the title of “ Cups King ”.
`Bart Cummings strapping Comic Court before the Sydney Cup`
James Bartholomew Cummings was born and raised in Adelaide, working for his father at the Adelaide stables after completing high school at Marist Brothers, Sacred Heart College. He took out his own training licence in 1953, utilising his father’s stables. He won his first Group 1 with Stormy Passage in the SAJC Derby in 1958 and has gone on to train stakes winners every year for 47 years since. Sirmione's win in the 2008 Group 1 Australian Cup saw the stakes winners total reach 695, including 249 Group 1 winners.
Bart established stables at Flemington, now known as Saintly Place, in 1968, which are still his Melbourne headquarters today, and set up stables at Randwick, now known as Leilani Lodge, in 1975, from which he manages his training and spelling operations.
`Horse inspection at Leilani Lodge` `Green & Gold` ` Saintly on parade'
Bart first hit the headlines when he not only won his first Melbourne Cup in 1965 with Light Fingers, but also went on to train the winners of the two subsequent years, Galilee in 1966 and Red Handed in 1967. For good measure, he also trained the second placegetters in 1965 and 1966. This was just the start of J.B.Cummings affinity with the Melbourne Cup. In 1966/67, Bart scored 7 Group Cup wins when he trained the winners of the Melbourne, Caulfield, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sandown and Queens Cups with four different horses. Quite an accomplishment..
Proving his versatility as a trainer, Bart also trained horses at the time which were winning Group 1 sprint races, such as the Lightning Stakes (Anna Rose), and the major Group 1 race for two-year-olds, the Golden Slipper Stakes (Storm Queen).
In fact he has trained the winner of the Golden Slipper four times to date and won the premier Group 1 sprint race at Flemington, the Newmarket Handicap, a record 8 times, most recently with Shaftesbury Avenue in 1991. Bart's currently has two very good sprinters in Mimi Lebrock and Occurrence who are being aimed at Group One glory.
The 1972/1973 season saw the first of Bart’s horses to be named Champion Racehorse of the Year, in the four time Derby winner Dayana. Since then he has consistently added to the list, with Taj Rossi, Leilani, Lord Dudley, Maybe Mahal, Hyperno, Beau Zam, Let’s Elope and the home bred Saintly the most recent addition in 1996/1997 to bring the current total to nine.
`Dayana` `Taj Rossi` `Leilani` `Lord Dudley` `Maybe Mahal`
Bart was honoured with the Order of Australia in 1982 for his services to the racing industry and his tireless promotion of racing to the public. He was subsequently inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1991 and was an inaugural inductee into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. Bart has received numerous awards over the years from sporting bodies, including Victoria Racing Media Personality of the Year 1997. He was also honoured with the Centennial Medal in 2000 and in the same year carried the Olympic torch down the Flemington straight.
Bart broke another record in 1988, when he was the first trainer to reach earnings of over six million dollars in prize money, this time with eleven Group 1 winners with horses such as Champion stayer Beau Zam and sprinter/miler Campaign King.
Bart purchased the historic property Princes Farm in 1988, located on the Nepean River at Castlereagh, within easy driving distance of the Randwick stables. The 150 acre spelling and breeding complex complements Bart’s training and breeding activities and it was at Princes Farm that Saintly was born and raised. The Cummings family have always bred their own horses as well as making purchases at the many yearling sales throughout Australia and New Zealand. Recent breeding successes include Taikun, Flying Pegasus, Outback Prince, Hotel Grand, Moonboat and the promising Related.
`Bart & Saintly at Princes Farm`
In 1989/1990, JB Cummings won the trainers premiership in three different states, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, the first time it had been done. There were 20 stakes winners and six Group 1 wins that season, including Tristanagh’s VATC 1000 Guineas and VRC Oaks. Bart is now one of the few top trainers to operate stables at Flemington and Randwick, as well as running his own spelling and breeding complex.
The establishment of the Racing Hall of Fame occurred in 2001, and Bart was an inaugural inductee, along with other significant contributors to racing, such as Tommy Smith, George Moore and the immortal Phar Lap. Bart’s topline stayer Galilee was inducted in 2005 for his staying performances in the 1960’s which includes a Sydney Cup win by a margin of six lengths carrying 60.5kgs in 1967.
` Prime Minister John Howard congratulating Bart on his induction`
The Australian Racing Museum moved to Federation Square in Melbourne in 2004 and Bart Cummings’ 11 Melbourne Cup trainers' trophies are currently on display there, an impressive sight. In fact it was Mrs. Valmae Cummings, Bart’s wife, who first suggested trainers should receive a miniature replica of the Melbourne Cup trophy presented to the owners, a suggestion which has since been implemented by the Victorian Racing Club.
In 2004, Bart received a surprise honour from the VRC. The club presented J.B.Cummings with Lifetime Membership, the first time a trainer has received the honour. The VRC also re-named the 2500m open handicap race previously known as “The Banjo Paterson” race, “The Bart Cummings”, which appropriately, is a Melbourne Cup qualifying race.
Bart is still actively training from his Randwick and Flemington stables and regularly attends the annual yearling auctions looking for his next champion. With his consistent selection and training techniques, there is no reason the "Cups King" cannot add more trophies to his owners` cabinets.
`Bart Cummings inspecting yearlings at the sales`