Bart Cummings stopped coming to race meetings a long time ago.
But he was always there somehow, an omnipresent force through his grandson and training partner James, his famous green and gold colours, his horses.
His name in the race book.
Maybe that is why a sense of finality settled at Canterbury on Wednesday when Leilani Lodge pair of Nazir and The Special Two won races three days after Cummings’s death.
Bart’s name didn’t appear in the form guide. There was no more deferring to the great man’s training wisdom when it came to making spring carnival plans.
Suddenly, it was all too obvious Bart Cummings was gone.
Grandson James had produced his first winners as a solo trainer, but in circumstances sad, not celebratory.
He spent most of the meeting graciously accepting condolences, stoically carrying on with his job of saddling up nine thoroughbreds under the weight of his grief.
When Nazir won, that emotion spilled out.
For jockey Tim Clark, who has ridden for the Cummings stable on and off for many years, steering Nazir to victory was a proud moment.
Bart Cummings was still a regular at trackwork when Clark moved to Sydney and he remembered the Cups king as a man who spoke sparingly but meaningfully.
“Coming here with three rides for them, I was always hoping to at least get a winner for James on his first day,” Clark said.
“Bart would have a smile on his face.”
“He didn’t say many words but when he did speak he had all your attention.”
Nazir wore the black and white checked colours of long-time Cummings client and friend Dato Tan Chin Nam while Tye Angland wore the stable’s green and gold silks to victory on The Special Two.
The Special Two is part-owned by James Cummings along with the Leilani Syndicate, made up of the stable’s staff.
“I could keep you here for 10 minutes with all the things that have happened this week, even with the story behind this horse itself,” James said.
“This is a horse for the staff and they deserve this, they’ve worked bloody hard,” James Cummings said.
“It’s great to see those green and gold colours get up today.”
Those colours, and the Cummings family name, will keep Bart’s legacy alive long into the future.