Cummings and goings
By STEVE SPINKS
IF any rival trainer had been at the Ballina Jockey Club last night to find out the secret to Bart Cummings' success, they would have been disappointed.
As ever, the iconic South Australian trainer kept his cards close to his chest when interviewed as the after-dinner speaker at the Calcutta for the Carlton Ballina Cup today.
Cummings proved as elusive during the interview as some of his 11 winners of the Melbourne Cup.
However, the trainer of 244 Group One winners did open up on some of the highlights and lowlights of his stella career.
He rated 1966 Melbourne Cup winner Galilee as one of the greatest horses he had trained.
"He was pretty good," Cummings said.
"He won the Queens Cup as a three-year-old.
"As a four-year-old he was second in the Doncaster.
"He won the Toorak Handicap, the Caulfield Cup and should have won the McKinnon Stakes.
"He won the Melbourne Cup and the Sydney Cup.
"He's as good as you'd get, I'd say."
Galilee was the second of a trifecta of Melbourne Cup wins for Cummings ? the others were Light Fingers in 1965 and Red Handed in 1967.
His most surprising winner was Think Big when it won its second consecutive Melbourne Cup in 1975.
One of Cummings' biggest disappointments was Big Philou.
The 4-1 second favourite of the 1969 Melbourne Cup was ordered to withdraw 39 minutes from the start because stewards believed the horse had been nobbled.
It was later proved correct.
"It sent me grey," Cummings admitted.
As for this year's Melbourne Cup, the legendary trainer said it was too early to say which horse he would enter.
He admitted that Makybe Diva, trained by Lee Freedman, could make it three victories in a row.
"She's a champion," Cummings said.
The trainer, who has also completed five Melbourne Cup quinellas, said the mare had the advantage of the weights being compressed by the number of overseas entrants, making it easier for Australian stayers.
But apart from that, Cummings wasn't about to give away too much . . .