Of all the bling that will dazzle racegoers at Flemington this spring, some of the best and brightest will be an unrivalled collection of trophies donated to the Victoria Racing Club by Australia’s greatest trainer.
The trophies – a glittering display of sterling silver, gold, bronze and crystal – are the legacy of Bart Cummings, the trainer of a record 12 Melbourne Cup winners. When Bart died in 2015, plans were already under way for the collection to be installed at Flemington. After his death, his extended family pushed ahead with the donation.
The 149-piece collection includes Bart’s 12 Melbourne Cups, two Caulfield Cups, four Cox Plates and numerous silk presentation sashes.
“Bart typically avoided fuss, but he was delighted for this tribute to be at Flemington,” Bart’s son, Anthony, said at the collection’s unveiling ahead of the Spring Racing Carnival. “We, along with the wider racing public, can enjoy and remember Bart’s extraordinary feats for years to come.”
Anthony and his son James, now head trainer at Godolphin’s Australian operations, put Saintly’s 1996 Melbourne Cup in pride of place to complete the priceless display. The winner of Bart’s 11th Melbourne Cup, Rogan Josh, and his last Cup runner (and the first he shared with James), Precedence, were also on course for the event.
Some of the trophies date back 40 or 50 years, and many had been lovingly handled. Restoring them to their former glory was a job for conservator Paul Hunt.
He started by going back to basics; removing obvious dust, and then rubbing in calcium carbonate powder. “I use bare hands to massage the surface of the metal to remove all the blemishes and tarnish marks,” he says. “Then I use brushes to get into the crevices and remove the polish residue, and I buff them up with cotton cloths and cotton gloves. They come up a treat after that. They’re very shiny.”
Looking their gleaming best, the cups and plates are now on display at Saintly Place, a public area at Flemington named in honour of Bart’s former stables.
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