Edward Cummings chases his first Group 1 with Duais in Queensland Oaks

There could arguably be few better apprenticeships in racing than being the driver for legendary Cups King Bart Cummings.

As Bart’s eyesight failed in his twilight years, the racing icon called on his grandson Edward to drive him around.

And the man who could win his first Group 1 at Eagle Farm on Saturday hung on every word.

Edward Cummings, the 35-year-old son of trainer Anthony, older brother of Godolphin trainer James, and Bart’s grandson, is aiming write another rich chapter in his family’s extraordinary racing story.

But first things first, and it’s just about impossible to talk to a Cummings without asking them to recount a few tales about the legendary Bart, who passed away in 2015.

Edward recalls spending some precious moments with his iconic 12-time Melbourne Cup winning grandfather.

“I would drive my scooter to Bart’s place at Elizabeth Bay and he would have a lot of breakfast on, a few bowls of porridge and some eggs and toast and tea and coffee – he was a pretty good doer himself,” Cummings laughs.

“We would then get in his car and I would drive him to the stable.

“At that time he wanted me to start helping him move around some of his bloodstock, which to be fair wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

“He wanted more than people were willing to pay.

Cummings celebrating the win of Sky Boy in the Villiers with father Anthony at Randwick in 2018. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“He gave me all the old names in the diary including a few deceased former contacts, he hadn’t updated it for maybe decades.

“To begin with I was probably a bit of a bungling idiot, when I was dealing with him I could see he was getting frustrated.

“I said to myself that if this was going to work I needed to approach him more as just another person to build a rapport with and sort of see what happened.

“Then we started to share stories and laughs and he started to open up and he became a bit more comfortable with me.

“Dad (Anthony) ended up winning the (2012) Victoria Derby with Fiveandahalfstar which was a rich racetrack experience.

“I remember running halfway across the racecourse just to get into the mounting yard to embrace dad and say well done.

“We must have been up on the big TV screen and Bart was in one of the Terrace restaurants at Flemington and he said to the guy he was having lunch with, ‘I think I have lost my ride’.”

Edward Cummings has a rolled-gold chance to surge into racing’s Group 1 club with Australian Oaks runner-up Duais which is rated a $5.50 chance in the 2200m Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm.

Edward Cummings only began training on his own two years ago after spending nearly three seasons in a training partnership with father Anthony.

Duais can give Edward Cummings his first Group 1 in the Queensland Oaks. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

He admits he is feeling the pressure of trying to nail his first Group 1 but the trainer who came from a family of sports nuts, and grew up playing tennis against brother James, says he is embracing it in the same way as professional golfers do when lining up clutch putts.

“It’s very similar to say a Phil Mickelson lining up a six-foot putt to win a major tournament, it’s a real knee-knocker,” Cummings says.

“You know everyone is watching but at the end of the day you have got to embrace that pressure as that’s what we are all here for.

“If you didn’t have that pressure, it means you are not in contention.

“Despite having been around successful horses for a long time, it’s a different kettle of fish completely when you set out on your own and you are a small stable.

“A good horse inherently adds pressure, first there is pressure to find a good horse and you are then under pressure to maintain a good horse and especially when everyone else can see you have a good horse.

“You can either embrace it or fear it and I am embracing it.”

Edward Cummings (right) and brother James Cummings. Picture: Toby ZernaSource:News Corp Australia

Cummings, who not surprisingly given his famous family tree was regularly hit up for Melbourne Cup tips when he was a schoolboy (including when Rogan Josh won the 1999 Cup in Ed’s first year of high school), says he is extremely close to brother James.

They have vastly different jobs with James regularly in the media spotlight as the head trainer for Godolphin’s Blue Army in Australia.

Ed is happy to fly under the radar but knows a Group 1 win would really put him on the map in his own right.

In the meantime, he’s got plenty of cherished family Group 1 wins that he holds close to his heart.

One of them when was in 2008 – his first time on track for the Melbourne Cup – when he went to Flemington to cheer on dad Anthony’s $101 roughie Red Lord.

He quickly switched allegiances during the race.

“I was cheering on Red Lord and then that wasn’t going so well so I started cheering for Viewed and hoping he would win and he did, he turned out to be a superstar for Bart,” Cummings said.

“It was a total whirlwind and I got to follow Bart into the media press room and he famously delivered a couple of funny one-liners about Aidan O’Brien’s trio of runners trying to put it (pace) on for Luca Cumani’s horse.”

Originally published asFamous surname driving Edward to maiden Group 1

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