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Arrivederci, Luca!

13/11/2018

The list of winners to have been trained out of the Bedford House Stables yard of Luca Cumani has been a long, and impressive, one.

That Luca Cumani was able to churn out the winners year after year over the course of the last 43 years is a testament not only to the quality of some of the horses that have been placed in his care, but in the ability of their trainer to plot the course of their careers successfully and ensure that they were spot on when it came time to step out on a racecourse.

As the third-longest serving trainer in Newmarket, there will be a sense of nostalgia long after the final resident at Bedford House , as part of the current string, is loaded onto a horse truck and moved away. It is the end of an era. And what a spectacular one it has been. The career of Luca Cumani has, as is often found in racing, included some lows but it is for the great moments that this legendary conditioner will be remembered for.

In short a total of 32 Group One winners were prepared by Cumani and his team. Among these were two winners of the Epsom Derby. His record also features 124 Group wins. That’s just shy of three graded winners every season on average.  Talk about consistency.

The list of residents  to have called Bedford  House Stables home is an impressive one. Among  them were the Derby heroes Kahyasi who managed to claim one of flat racing’s most prestigious prizes in 1988 before High Rise did the same a decade later. Commanche Run was another of the Classic winners under Cumani’s care, as was Zomaradah. She won the Italian Oaks (Gr 1) as part of her haul of graded stakes wins but more importantly was the dam of Dubawi, one of the world’s greatest stallions.

Other big names to have passed through the hands of Cumani include Falbrav, who won a number of Grade Ones including the Juddmonte International and the Hong Kong Cup, Starcraft, Alkaased, who claimed the Japan Cup, and there was also success at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in 1994 as Barathea, winner of the Queen Anne and Irish 1,000 Guineas, proved to be a brilliant victor of the Mile.

Cumani has never been shy to travel horses across the world to claim big race success and while he may not have managed to bag Australia’s biggest race, he came close in the Melbourne Cup with Purple Moon in 2007 and Bauer, who missed by a nostril a year later. Luca and his wife Sara were reunited with Purple Moon earlier this year when the Melbourne Cup trophy came to town. Purple Moon has been a brilliant resident at the Rothschild yard at the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art at Palace House and has thrived in his second career as part of the Retraining of Racehorses efforts.

 

Luca and Sara Cumani share a moment with Purple Moon and the Melbourne Cup at Palace House in 2018. Picture: Newmarket Journal

 

It wasn’t just thoroughbred talent that has been nurtured at the Cumani base on the Bury Road. The likes of jockeys Frankie Dettori,  and champion apprentices Jason Weaver and Royston Ffrench all improved under his tutelage. The likes of current trainers  Chris Wall, Marco Botti, Ed Walker, Guillermo Arizkorreta, champion trainer in Spain, and David Simcock all spent time learning from Cumani.

Luca Cumani himself has been privileged to learn from one of Newmarket’s greats having taken up a role as assistant to Henry Cecil when he moved to Newmarket, from his native Itlay, in the mid-1970s. Since 1976 he called Bedford House Stables home and we have all been fortunate to see the results of his efforts.  His retirement does not mean a downing of tools but rather a shift in focus and he will still be responsible for supplying winners, albeit in a different manner, as he concentrates his efforts on the running of Fittocks Stud which is in Upend, just a short drive from Newmarket.

We have been fortunate to have been able to take tour groups behind the scenes at Bedford House Stables and we will always be grateful to  Luca and Sara for offering us the opportunity to do so and for giving up their time to make sure that our visitors  enjoyed themselves and were able to learn a lot more about life behind the scenes in a racing yard. Based on the below tweet, we think they enjoyed it too.

Arrivederci, Luca!

In a career full of highlights, it would be hard to pin down one success as a defining moment. Rather we’ve decided to relive three great victories that immediately spring to mind when the name Luca Cumani is mentioned.

Kahyasi – Epsom Derby 1988

Barathea – Breeders’ Cup Mile 1994

High Rise – Epsom Derby 1998

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