He is known as the Cups King, referring to the Melbourne Cup, as he has won ‘the race that stops a nation’ a record twelve times.
Bart Cummings was born in 1927, the son of the accomplished trainer Jim Cummings, who trained the great stayer Comic Court to a win in the 1950 Melbourne Cup.
He started his career working for his father as a strapper, despite being allergic to horses and hay.
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 12th behind Baystone.
His next entrant was Trellios who fronted up in 1959 and finished 5th behind MacDougal. In 1960, Sometime finished in 6th place.
It wasn’t until 1965 that he hit the big time. With 3 runners in the Melbourne Cup, he finished first with Light Fingers and second with Ziema, and his other runner, The Dip, finished 18th.
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 1975, Cummings moved his operations to a new facility near Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, called ‘Leilani Lodge’.
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’ most recent Melbourne Cup winner is 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.
So far[when?], Cummings has achieved 266 Group 1 victories and more than 762 stakes victories, with his latest stakes win in the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes which was won by Hallowed Crown at
Royal Randwick on Saturday April 12 2014. In addition to his 12 Melbourne Cups, he has 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.
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.
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.
Australian race horse trainer Bart Cummings died on August 30, 2015 at age 89.