30 Aug 2015

Legendary racehorse trainer dies aged 87

12:10 pm on 30 August 2015

Legendary racehorse trainer Bart Cummings has died at the age of 87 surrounded by family at his homestead in north-western Sydney.

Australian racehorse trainer Bart Cummings won the Melbourne Cup 12 times.

Australian racehorse trainer Bart Cummings won the Melbourne Cup 12 times. Photo: AAP

His grandson and training partner said Cummings died in his sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"James Bartholomew Cummings OAM, passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of this morning, Sunday the 30th of August 2015, in his homestead at Princes Farm, Castlereagh," James Cummings said in a statement.

"His final moments were spent with his family and wife of 61 years, Valmae, with whom he celebrated their anniversary on Friday.

"For Bart, aged 87, this was a fitting end. A husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather; a master trainer and a larger than life figure.

"We will miss you."

In a tweet, his son, Anthony Cummings said his father lived a full life.

New Zealand's thoroughbred horse breeder, Sir Patrick Hogan, said Cummings made a massive impact on horse racing in this country.

Sir Patrick said the trainer helped him when he first started breeding horses, and the two were close friends.

He said Cummings was incredibly passionate about New Zealand thoroughbreds, and every year visited the country's stud farms and sales.

But Cummings had been in ill health for some time and rarely ventured from his farm in recent years.

In November last year, it was reported he was admitted to hospital with a chest infection.

The legendary trainer won the Melbourne Cup 12 times, earning him the nickname the "Cups King".

Born and raised in Adelaide, he had his first taste of victory at 23 years of age as a strapper for 1950 Melbourne Cup winner Comic Court trained by his father.

"I jumped out of the stands, I was terribly excited I can tell you that," he said of that first win.

Three years later Cummings was granted a trainers licence and in 1965 won his first Melbourne cup with Light Fingers.

He won his first Group 1 with Stormy Passage in the SAJC Derby in 1958 and has won nearly 7,000 races including 760 stakes races since.

In 1974, Cummings became the first trainer in the British Commonwealth to train the earners of more than $1 million in prize money.

He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1982 for his services to the racing industry, and in 1991 was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and the Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.

Cummings was awarded the Centennial medal in 2000 and carried the Olympic torch down the Flemington Straight.