For the first time in decades, the world’s most iconic race is being run without Bart Cummings, the man who won it more times than anyone.
The 12-time Cup winner died aged 87 on August 30 after leaving an indelible mark on Australian and world racing.
While his stable hasn’t qualified a runner in this year’s $6.2 million event, Bart will still be a big feature of the day, both for the 100,000 crowd expected to cram into Flemington racecourse and the millions watching on TV.
Race three is named in his honour, the J.B. Cummings AM Tribute Plate.
Before the big race, son Anthony and Bart’s grandsons Edward and James will be driven along the straight in a 1938 Bently, holding this year’s trophy and the first Melbourne Cup his grandfather won in 1965 with Light Fingers. They will be joined by Anthony’s wife Bernadette and James’s wife Monica.
In the mounting yard James and father Anthony will walk past the jockey silks of all 12 of the patriarch’s Cup winners before handing the trophies over to the Victoria Racing Club [VRC] officials.
A video montage of family photos, iconic images and famous moments of his illustrious racing career will be played on the big screens and beamed to millions watching at home on TV.
“It’s great to see him honoured at the Melbourne Cup for his legendary racing achievements, which we are all proud of,” says Bart’s youngest daughter Anne Marie Casey, who will also be on course for the tribute.
“He had a wicked sense of humour and growing up with him was always fun and exciting.
While he is known for his racing achievements, Bart was a “real family man”, says Anne Marie, who shares exclusive family album pictures in this story for The Carousel readers.
Bart and devoted wife of more than 60 years, Valmae, also never missed going to church on a Sunday, she adds.
Meanwhile, the VRC is also considering other ways to honour Bart at Flemington so his great racing legacy lives on, including the creation of a Cummings Corner.
“It’s pretty touching that people can all come together with a common respect,” adds grandson James.