Australia`s greatest trainer Bart Cummings dies

Australia`s greatest trainer Bart Cummings dies

Bart Cummings, the legendary Australian horse racing trainer who won 12 Melbourne Cups, died peacefully in his sleep aged 87 on Sunday, his family said in a statement.

Cummings, who has iconic status in Australian thoroughbred racing and was known as "Cups King", spent his final moments with his family and wife of 61 years Valmae at his northwestern Sydney home. 

"For Bart... this was a fitting end," the statement said.

"A husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a master trainer and a larger-than-life figure. We will miss you."

James Bartholomew Cummings was born in 1927 in Glenelg in South Australia state and worked as a strapper at his father`s stable despite being allergic to horses and hay.

Cummings began training horses when he was 26 and won the first of his Melbourne Cups with mare Light Fingers in 1965.

He became part of Melbourne Cup folklore when he went on to train 11 more winners of "the race that stops a nation". The next most successful trainers Etienne De Mestre and Lee Freedman chalked up just five winners.

His last victory was in 2008 with Viewed in a thrilling photo finish.

"Someone told me I do make a habit of winning this race and I said it was a good habit to get into," Cummings quipped after the race.

Cummings trained winners in 268 Group 1 races, including seven Caulfield Cups, five Cox Plates, four Golden Slipper Stakes, 13 Australian Cups, 32 Derbies and 24 Oaks.He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1982 for services to racing industry and inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.

Tributes poured in for Cummings, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott describing him as "a sporting giant and a racing legend".

"Few people have dominated a sport like Bart Cummings did. He will be remembered as a truly great trainer, the winner of literally thousands of races," Abbott said in a statement.

"Race day will not be the same without him."

The racing minister for Victoria state, where the Melbourne Cup is held every year, compared Cummings` impact on Australian sport to the late cricket great Don Bradman.

"Bart Cummings stands alongside Don Bradman as the greatest name in Australian sport," Martin Pakula said in a statement.

"Bart won everything there was to win in racing, he fought back from adversity, and with his dry wit and his quiet way, he told racing`s story."

Leading trainer Gai Waterhouse tweeted: "A great sadness clouds over the Industry with the news of Bart Cummings` passing. The Cups King`s legacy remembered - past, present & future."

Malaysian property tycoon Dato Tan Chin Nam, who had four Melbourne Cup winners trained by Cummings, said in a statement that "he has done more than enough for me in his life".

"We have had our differences but at the end of the day bygones are bygones," he said, the Melbourne Age newspaper reported.

"A friend in need is a friend indeed and Bart Cummings is a great mate of mine." 

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