At almost 84, Bart Cummings still has a spark in his eye.
With 12 Melbourne Cups to his name, there is always room for another.
Cummings does not rest on past achievements. He’s always looking forward, moving with the times. And with imported stayers having so much recent success in Australia, it is no surprise his major Cup hope is German Illo.
No matter the horse, Cummings is most often the man.
We look back at his past winners.
1965 Light Fingers:
Cummings’ romance with the Melbourne Cup had begun 15 years earlier when he strapped 1950 winner Comic Court for his father Jim.
It was a year when fashion overshadowed racing and model Jean Shrimpton created headlines around the world by wearing a miniskirt to Flemington on Derby Day.
Cummings won his first Cup as a trainer with pint-sized mare Light Fingers and snared the quinella with Ziema.
Light Fingers returned 12 months later but had to settle for second to Galilee.
In a twist of fate, Galilee was owned by husband and wife Max and Venice Bailey,who also raced Ziema.
Cummings has often said Galilee was among the best he has trained and the gelding remains the only horse to claim the Sydney, Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in a calendar year.
1967 Red Handed:
The first time Cummings’ now-famous colours of green and gold diagonal stripes were worn to victory in the Cup.
Red Handed was no superstar, in talent or looks and according to Cummings had “a head like a violin case”.
1974 Think Big:
Chased down the great Leilani to give Cummings his third Cup quinella.
He also provided Malaysian businessman Dato Tan Chin Nam with his maiden Melbourne Cup win.
It was the start of a successful partnership between trainer and owner, and of a wonderful friendship.
1975 Think Big:
Etienne de Mestre, the trainer of inaugural winner Archer, held the training record with five Cup wins.
With Think Big, Cummings equalled that feat.
The dour stayer turned around a lacklustre Mackinnon performance to down barn mate Holiday Wagon and claim back-to-back Cups.
He didn’t win a race in between.
1977 Gold And Black:
Struck down by pneumonia in the autumn, Gold And Black was nursed back to health amid fears his lungs may have been permanently damaged.
He put those fears to bed with a stunning second in the Mackinnon then staved off Reckless in the Big One.
He later retired to become a clerk of the course in Adelaide.
A victory overshadowed by tragedy.
In a mid-race scrimmage, favourite Dulcify was stripped from behind by Hyperno.
The champion faltered, picked himself up for a few strides, then broke down hopelessly.
Dulcify had shattered his pelvis and had to be euthanased despite trainer Colin Hayes’ desperate efforts to save him.
1990 Kingston Rule:
Set a race record time of 3:16.40 which still stands and gave champion jockey Darren Beadman his first win in the great race.
Like this year’s pre-post favourite Americain, Kingston Rule claimed the Moonee Valley Cup in the lead-up.
1991 Let’s Elope:
The Kiwi mare blossomed under Cummings, winning four consecutive races in the spring of 1991, three of them Group Ones including the Caulfield-Melbourne Cup double.
Like many of Cummings’ Cup winners, she had her final tune-up three days out, winning the Mackinnon.
“The horse from heaven” was bred by Cummings and part-owned by Dato Tan.
Defeats in the Craven Plate and Metropolitan in Sydney left a cloud over his Melbourne carnival credentials.
But the cloud cleared when he scored a slashing Cox Plate victory then backed it up to claim the Cup.
Proving he adjusts his programs to suit his horse, Cummings didn’t race Saintly between those wins.
1999 Rogan Josh:
Owner Wendy Green and her 7500km road trip from Darwin to Flemington added a fairytale flavour to Cummings’ 11th Cup.
Like Green, Rogan Josh took an unconventional path to Melbourne via the Pinjarra and Bunbury Cups in WA, neither of which he won that year.
But under Cummings, he finished fourth in the Caulfield Cup then emulated Let’s Elope by landing the Mackinnon Stakes-Melbourne Cup double.
On the 50th anniversary of his first Cup runner, Cummings produced another masterstroke.
Viewed’s spring campaign was interrupted, his form indifferent.
Cummings kept the faith and Viewed delivered, finding his best when it mattered to claim the Cup in the tightest finish ever and give Cummings his 250th Group One win.
The man with the midas touch has a perfect dozen of Melbourne Cups.
Will he make it a baker’s dozen in 2011?