Ten year old Precedence will kick off his fifth Melbourne Cup campaign in the Group 2 $250,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday but sadly the late Bart Cummings’ name won’t be listed as his trainer after the ‘Cups King’ passed away on Sunday morning.
Cummings and his grandson James had been training in partnership for just over two years and James Cummings is the only name now appearing as the trainer of the horses coming out of Leilani Lodge at Randwick.
The following message was posted on JB & JA Cummings website on Sunday morning, “James Bartholomew Cummings OAM passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of this morning, Sunday the 30th of August 2015, in his homestead at Princes Farm, Castlereagh.
His final moments were spent with his family and wife of 61 years, Valmae, with whom he celebrated their anniversary on Friday.
For Bart, aged 87, this was a fitting end. A husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a master trainer and a larger than life figure.
We will miss you.”
The legendary Bart Cummings prepared a record twelve Melbourne Cup winners which were among his 268 Group 1 winners during is his sixty years as a trainer, but unfortunately the best Precedence could do from his four attempts in the ‘Race That Stops The Nation’ was a sixth behind the German trained Protectionist in last year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.
In honour of Bart Cummings, the Victoria Racing Club agreed that the master trainer’s name would be listed alongside of Precedence’s name if the tough stayer was able to gain a start in the great race on the first Tuesday in November for the fifth time.
“No-one would dare object,’’ chief steward Terry Bailey told the Herald Sun.
“It’s Bart’s race, end of story.’’
After the Chelmsford Stakes, James Cummings will target the Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 4 with the winner of the race named after his famous grandfather being exempt from the ballot for the Melbourne Cup.
“He is actually going terrific,” Cummings said.
“We had a little plan to be first-up in the Chelmsford at Randwick and if he is in good form we have an eye on The Bart Cummings to bring him down to Melbourne third-up for that race.
“I think that is really going to be his race and it would create an exemption to the Melbourne Cup.
“I think that he will really relish that distance at Flemington and I get the feeling that he has some good racing in front of him this preparation.
“Even if this was to be his last, I think that he could certainly go out with a bang.”
Precedence had a very light winter campaign and was only produced once during the Queensland Winter Carnival for a fifth to Leebaz in the Group 2 $358,000 Sky Thoroughbred Central A.D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on April 25.
The Zabeel gelding went around in his first Melbourne Cup in 2010 for an eighth to Americain followed by an eleventh to French stayer Dunaden the following year, then in 2012 Precedence performed around the same level for a ninth to Green Moon.
The 2013 Melbourne Cup field had to go around without Precedence who failed to make the final line up but he was back in contention in 2014, finishing a brave sixth behind Protectionist.
While a Group 1 win isn’t among his ten victories from sixty-four career starts, Precedence was able to win twice at Group 2 level in the 2010 and 2013 $250,000 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley and earned $1.945 million in prizemoney.