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Anthony Cummings is fond of saying his father taught him everything he knows, but not everything the legendary trainer knew.

He wasn’t alone.

Among the crowd which packed Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral on Monday to farewell a man known to millions of Australians as the `Cups King’, were many trainers who honed their craft under Bart Cummings.

Racing is an insular and time consuming business but Bart’s success infected the public and added to the excitement around the Melbourne Cup.

His feat to win the trophy 12 times has been likened to Don Bradman’s Test average of 99.94 – something that won’t be repeated.

That set him apart from other trainers and sometimes his own family.

Anthony is the only one of his five children to follow him into racing and struggled with his emotions as he paid homage to his father and mentor.

“I was always in awe of my father,” Cummings said.

“He could talk on any subject and had a view on everything.

“People came to him for advice. They didn’t always like what they were told but they got what they asked for, his view unequivocal, unabashed, uncensored.

“The place I really got to know him was in New Zealand where we would go each year to look at yearlings.

“He would talk about his own father and his relationship with him.”

It was in New Zealand Bart spotted the small, gangly filly that would become his first Melbourne Cup winner, Light Fingers in 1965.

That eye for the future champion is something his son and every other racehorse trainer tries to emulate – not always with great success.

When Anthony struck out on his own, he and his father became competitors, adding another dynamic to their relationship.

But in the last few years, Bart mellowed as he spent more and more time at his beloved Princes Farm on the banks of the Nepean River.

“It was his life’s dream to have his own property,” Anthony said.

“Horses were his lifelong passion and he bred horses on the farm.

“Three of my Group One winners came from there.

“He reached a level of contentment and I didn’t have a blue with him over the last few years.

“At one stage he told me I’d come good. Rare praise indeed.”

 
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