Crio’s Q? Bart’s horses


Someone told me yesterday that Think Big must have been Bart’s best horse. Obviously he’d seen the Cup winners list and noticed a “back-to-back”.

Diplomatically I suggested that there would be a range of opinions on this.


I went to my little parish school, Our Lady Of Fatima, for three years. Bart trained the Cup winner in each of them. His stables were a hundred yards away from our classroom. He and the Cummings clan were part of our Glenelg North (or Graymore) community. The races were, in those days, followed avidly, especially in our new suburb between Morphettville Racecourse and the beach. The J.B.Cummings runners were always closely scrutinised – after Church (invariably patronised by punters including Bart’s “leviathan” brother Pat, bookies such as my old man and an assortment of trackmen and bit players mixing with the pensioners) the merits of the upcoming meeting was always a topic – especially when the big races came around.

Bart helped overcome the mystique of Melbourne…the big smoke held no fears as Cummings conquered HQ. He was in the papers with Roy and with the Queen – and there on our local streets.

Dad always reckoned Galilee was the best – he used to tell a story of Pat Cummings tipping it to him after mass one morning.

I loved Leilani, the gallant staying mare and, of course, the wonderfully named, brilliant Century.

Fulmen (at Vic Park?) is an early recollection.

Most people have a favourite Bart horse and a favourite Bart story.

The great man’s now departed, but his story is one of local and national significance and his horses and their feats figure prominently in so many memories.

Nominations please?


Read Peter Baulderstone’s fine tribute to Bart.

Read Peter Flynn’s piece on Bart and being Barted.


  1. His best “forgotten” horse was Tontonan. Brilliant 2yo winner of 4 from 5 including Golden Slipper his career was constantly interrupted by injury. Came back to win Oakleigh Plate first up as a 3yo Then went to Sydney where he won the Doncaster and All Aged stakes. Never raced as a 4yo due to injuries, he came back To win the Craiglee, Feehan and Chirnside Stakes at 5. Never seems to get a mention in JBs best. Shaftesbury Avenue falls into the same category. Just shows how many champions he trained.
    I also used to love some of his fillies like Cap d’Antibes and Leica Show who could sprint with the best but then get over some ground.

  2. Great topic Crio….as tempting as it is to compare these wonderful horses from different era’s, I wil refrain at this point as Budge has already pointed out some I had forgotten. Tontonan, what an amazing horse he was, and how many horses could do what he did? Horses these days are spruiked far too early as possible stars (exhibit 1….Gai) and rarely go on.
    Agree Crio, horses like Leilani and Galilee are lengths in front of Think Big. There were also greats such as Maybe Mahal and Taj Rossi. More recently there were the obvious ones with Saintly and just how good could So You Think have been if it was left with Bart???
    There are endless stories about Bart and most will be untold, but one of the classics was when he had an owner from Adel that stumbled across a better than average horse that he had with Bart and he was constantly around at Bart’s stables every Sunday giving advice, basically an overnight expert. When he suggested to Bart that he had another horse he may consider giving him and wanted to barter on training fees, he asked Bart “how much a day for training then Bart”, with which Bart replied “$20 a day if you want me to train him, or $30 a day if you want to help”.
    Typical Bart.

  3. Think Big…hmmmm won 2 races in 2 years (albeit 2 cups) speaks volumes of Bart’s ability as a trainer.

    As far as his best, loved little mare Light Fingers,the romance of the Bart and professor pairing, she was so slight but so tough, cleverly named by Le Filou (the crook)

  4. Red Handed and The Dip were other well named Le Filou progeny that Bart had great success with.

  5. Viewed

  6. It may not have been his best but Red Handed was the only Cup winner I have won on so it holds a special place for me

  7. Didn’t see many of them, so can’t rate Galilee, but So You Think’s record is underrated, and in hindsight his record stacks up with the best of them:
    Cox Plate at 5th start as 3yo, and 10th start as 4yo.
    2nd in Emirates when didn’t settle and carried 53.5kg as a 3yo. Lead and the race time was the 2nd fastest ever at Flemington over 1600m.
    After a wind operations, his 4yo spring campaign consisted of 5 wins in a row: Memsie (G2), 1st Underwood (G1), Caulfield Stks (G1), Cox (G1), Mackinnon (G1), and finished with a 3rd in Melb Cup carrying 56.5kg
    His European career consisted of another 5 G1s, taking his tally to 10 G1s, with the highlight being his win in the Coral Eclipse – defeating a Derby & Arc winner in Workforce.

    So You Think & Shaftesbury Avenue are my favourite Bart trained horses .

  8. Good points there Showdown/Bellition. Pretty sure SYT would have been best of them all if he stayed here but he did himself proud overseas even though he wasn’t placed well. Then again if Saintly didn’t break down he could have been anything. His first up ein ( and last start) in the CF Orr had to be seen to be believed. But Bart (and my dad) always stuck fat with Galilee so that will do me.

  9. Elvis votes for No Peer.

  10. While not his best horse I have affection for Rogan Josh on the back of his 1999 spring and Cup win. And Saintly was magnificent too.

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    My biggest ever bet was on So You Think in the 2010 Cup. I had to talk myself out of trying to win enough to pay for an upcoming overseas trip; it had a lasting effect.

    But I did have $5 on Gold and Black in 1977.

  12. I always liked the story of when his son, Anthony, trained one of his first major winners. He told the press that Bart taught him everything he knows. The journos report back to JB who, with his usual wry expression, says “That’s true, but I didn’t teach him everything I know”

  13. Indicative of how many beauties Bart trained is that Ming Dynasty (after which a race is named this week) never figures in Top10 discussions. Here’s an old fav that won 2 Caulfield Cups (his 2nd, in 1980, with 58kgs at 50/1 beating Hyperno and Kingston Town) as well as 2 Australian Cups, a Metrop, QE Stakes etc. Upon retirement he was a popular clerk of the course horse for the AJC.

  14. Swish, my biggest bet was Dulcify in 79 Cup. At least yours got through the race alive.

  15. Crio, I loved Campaign King and backed him every time. Why did he keep starting at each way odds?

  16. ha…mine was Kingston Town in the Cup!
    Swish, SYT didn’t seem a Bart Cup horse…no kidding the Handicapper and he could lead and win. I wasn’t very keen on the big day – looking back, the other non-Bart part of the run was taking off before the clocktower (as did my King in ’82). It was, indeed, a phenomenal run and a terrible ride and it still took a very good Americain to beat him. How it must have hurt Bart (and Reg Fleming) to lose him in his pomp.
    A middle distance horse who nearly won a marathon handicap on sheer talent – like Super Impose’s 4th in 1989 (60kg) and Gunsynd’s 3rd in 1972 (60.5kg). Unlike Budge, Swish, we got a brave run for our mug money.

  17. Not sure about that John. Maybe check his history with Glen, our Berrigan racing enthusiast – that’s where Campaign King had 3 of his early wins when, I believe, Les Theodore was the trainer. I was O/S for most of his glory days so will rely on the word of others who saw this versatile (wins up to a mile) and successful (56-23:5:2) star. Don’t complain!

  18. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Budge/Crio – slightly off topic

    I was at Morphettville in the Derby alongside Billy “Cheeky Charlie” Thomas the day Dulcify saluted at 330/1 (it wasn’t until later that I realised who he was, when I worked with his daughter at the Highways Dept)

    The Riordans probably got Chinese takeaway that night.

  19. we would’ve headed to the red hots – perhaps a pie at the gate on the way out.

  20. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Where/how did bookmakers’ families celebrate a big win?

    The Barbecue Inn? The Arkaba Steak Cellar? Paul’s Fish Cafe?

    I hear they all did a superb baked potato and sour cream wrapped in foil.

    A little bit extra on the collection plate at Our Lady of Fatima?

  21. just by being solid citizens and paying their taxes. Of course wins were rare

  22. In truth, Swish, there were lairs, mug lairs and millionaires, but Dad had a family and was committed and busy. When we were young he’d buy something for the house – chair, mixmaster, furniture for us demanding kids (probably cash if poss!). Later on he was too busy paying school fees and working; perhaps The Cave at the Bay! Saturday night was trots and Sunday was church etc.
    Others had their habits – Hindley St would get a run from some of the satchel swingers after Globe Derby. I was naive. As with my tips, “no idea” is probably the best summation!

  23. I think the ” it will cost extra if you want to help train him” was directed at Stylish Century’s owner. Another horse who would be in any other trainer’s top ten. The owner eventually took him off Bart, trained it himself and ruined the horse. Can’t remember the guy’s name.

  24. Budge, I thought that Bill Mitchell trained Stylish Century and that he did a pretty good job…placed in a Cox Plate at 3?

  25. Crio. You are correct. Originally trained by Noel Doyle in Queensland, then Bart, then to Bill Mitchell and finally to the owner Dick Monaghan.

  26. Remember Ashbah?

  27. Budge, I asked around with a few of my old Adel punting mates we have come to the conclusion it may have been a horse called Stormy Rex…..not sure who owned him but they think that may have been the horse.

    Not sure?

  28. Neil Belford says


    Got him in a sweep when I was 8 and duly discovered Racing and Bart. Lost interest in racing but not Bart sometime in the 80’s. Does’t seem real that Bart is dead, he was so much larger than life.

  29. Stormy Rex won a couple of Derbyshire. Pretty sure it was owned by Dr Rex Lipman but I think the story was about Stylish Century and Dick Monaghan. Jock and Elvis might be able to confirm or deny.

  30. Crio/Budge

    Taj Rossi anyone?

  31. re Stormy Rex. It was bred and owned by John and Kerry Nelligan of Sandilands, Yorke Peninsula. (Rick Davies country).
    They were farmer/hobby breeders who knew Bart from their schooldays at SHC .
    Had a enormous run with owner breeding including Sheraco .
    Also bred Cap D’antibes which Rex Lipman raced.
    I think that renowned peanut, Larry Pickering took over the training of Rising Fear from someone but may have got it to place in the cup?

  32. Here’s Bart top ten according to Timeform ratings. Plenty you could argue with there but take it as read and give me your next ten best.

    The Top 10 highest rated Bart Cummings trained horses, by Timeform

    134 GALILEE
    133 SO YOU THINK
    129 CENTURY
    128 SAINTLY
    128 BEAU ZAM
    128 TAJ ROSSI
    127 TONTONAN
    126 LET’S ELOPE
    126 VIEWED

  33. was Lloyd Boy one of Bart’s? Remember it as having big spruik and some good results.

  34. Yep

  35. No particular order but next ten for mine are:

    next best missing out include

    Fair trainer Bart!!

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