Racing identities, politicians, battlers and punters have filled Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral to farewell Bart Cummings, the man known to all as the Cups King.
Cummings’ large family led mourners at the state funeral, but behind them was a congregation that exemplified the people the trainer had touched during his 87 years.
NSW Premier Mike Baird and his wife Kerryn, state Labor leader Luke Foley, federal Health Minister Sussan Ley and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove were present, as was leading trainer Gai Waterhouse, many of the country’s current and former top jockeys.
Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said Cummings was revered by Australians of all sorts.
“From the cabbies who drove him to Randwick and Flemington to leaders of government and industry, even the Queen,” he said.
The priest who gave the homily, Father Adrian Meaney, said Cummings had passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 30, at his home beside the Nepean River in Sydney’s northwest.
“Bart finished his race of a lifetime,” Fr Meaney said.
“He had run his race with great courage.” Cummings’ wife of 61 years, Valmae, sat at the front of the cathedral.
She had celebrated her 61st anniversary with Bart the Friday before he died.
Beside Cummings’ coffin were placed the 1996 Melbourne Cup won by Saintly and a statue of the Virgin Mary – symbols of the two religions in the devoted Catholic’s life.
As the crowd left after the service the bells of the cathedral tolled 87 times, one for each year of Cummings’ life.