STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE
PASSING OF BART CUMMINGS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MONDAY, 7 SEPTEMBER 2015
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Today, along with a vast congregation of mourners in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, our Parliament pays tribute to the memory of an Australian sporting legend, Bart Cummings.
We honour a gentleman of the turf and the king of the sport of kings.
For more than half a century, punters would run their eyes down the form guide and catch upon that name: JB Cummings.
And that name in print, or the flash of the green and gold silks in the mounting yard, would be enough for many to redo their carefully formulated trifecta and re-work their quaddie.
Perhaps, they would say to themselves, Bart has something up his sleeve again.
And so often, he did.
Racing weaves many tales, it invokes great mystique – but it only pays on results.
And no-one could match Bart Cummings for results.
- Seven Caulfield Cups
- 13 Australian Cups
- Five Cox Plates
- Four Golden Slippers
- 32 Derbies
- 24 Oaks
- 268 Group 1 wins in total, and more than 8000 race wins.
And of course, the victories that made him the ‘Cups King’: 12 Melbourne Cups.
When Viewed saluted the judges in 2008 for Cup number 12 Bart’s long-time stable foreman, Reg Fleming said:
‘There’s Bradman…and there’s Bart’.
Andrew Webster, from the Sydney Morning Herald, later asked Cummings about this comparison with Australia’s most famous sporting name.
Bart raised one of those famous eyebrows and offered a vintage response:
‘I wasn’t bad at cricket, but I wasn’t as good as Bradman’
As much as Bart’s modesty would not allow it, the Bradman comparison hits the mark, I think.
Not just through statistical dominance, the relentless accumulation of records.
But that other ephemeral quality of sporting greatness, the sense of the man with special gifts, using them for the big occasion.
Bart, it was often said, had ‘the eye’.
The knack of picking a yearling and producing and turning it into a champion.
We know so many of the names:
- Storm Queen and Galilee, Light Fingers and Think Big,
- Maybe Mahal and Shaftesbury Avenue
- Let’s Elope, Saintly, and So You Think
And it was his horses he credited with the success – never himself.
Ray Thomas, from the Daily Telegraph, knew Bart well.
In one of the last interviews they shared, he asked Bart to describe himself. Bart said:
“I’m just an ordinary sort of fellow ... can train a bit though.”
Today we pay tribute to this modest champion.
We salute the contribution he made to our national memory.
We offer our condolences to the people he loved and the people who loved him.
May he rest in eternal peace.
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