With all the tributes pouring in from around the world on the passing of the late, great Bart Cummings, I’m reminded of a few more “one-liners”. One of his most fabled alliances was with the accomplished jockey Roy Higgins, who rode two Melbourne Cup winners during his association with the yard. Higgins is reputed to have reminded “the master” that if it wasn’t for him, he would’ve won two fewer Melbourne Cups. To which the Cups’ king retorted: “And if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have won any!”
There was another side to this extraordinary man and the horses which would confer upon him the greatness that would demand a state funeral. “I don’t keep records. That may sound strange, but I never look back, I only look ahead. You can’t dwell on the past. Racing goes on and you have to go on with it”.
“A good horse will win the race you train him for. Patience is the cheapest thing in racing, but most people don’t use it. I worked out early that you have to aim for the top and then look down. I’ve tried to eliminate the speculative side of racing by trying to choose Group One winners as yearlings. If they don’t make the grade, there are plenty of other races around”.
“The excitement of it doesn’t worry me. Never has, never will. I approach every meeting the same. You have to. If you change it, the horses know. So your attitude should remain the same, whether it’s a maiden at Gosford or a Melbourne Cup at Flemington”.
And his final words on the animal he obviously liked more than most people: “They think, they are honest, they are very intelligent and they do not forget. You get a few non-conformists,” but if you are good tempered and good natured, horses will respond in a similar manner”.