Spirit of Bart Cummings returns to Oakbank after 30 years

This Saturday will mark the 30th anniversary of the last time Bart Cummings had a runner at the Oakbank Easter carnival and the late training legend will have an influence again this year.

The last time Cummings’ name appeared in an Oakbank race book was when St Elmo’s Fire finished 10th in the 1991 Harry D Young Hurdle, and on Saturday one of the last horses he bred will contest the same race.

Cummings died in 2015 but the Simon Wilde-trained Britannicus is a result of the master trainer’s mating between his 2009 Australian Derby winner Roman Emperor and his 2002 Melbourne Cup runner, Zabeel mare Miss Meliss.

Since moving to Wilde’s Warrnambool team, Britannicus has taken to the jumping caper in fine style – finishing first or second in three of his five jumps starts last season while also proving a tough stayer on the flat, winning races up to 3600m.

Britannicus as a foal with his dam Miss Meliss at Princes Farm. Picture: Princes FarmSource:Supplied

He resumed at his home track last week and worked home over 2350m on an unsuitable Heavy 9 track and the prospect of firmer ground has Wilde excited by the six-year-old gelding’s prospects in the $102,760 race.

“He likes the good ground and only has to run first four to make it well worthwhile,” Wilde said.

“He’s never looked better and I loved his trial, I thought his hurdle trial was terrific before he ran last week.

“He jumped like a stag and then late in the trial he came right up underneath Ronan (Short) and he said he felt like he had heaps to give.

“He’s won second-up a couple of times for us so second-up seems to be the go with him.

“This class of race is a bit stronger than I planned on running him in but I don’t think there’s anything in the race that you’d go ‘we can’t beat that’.

“It’s definitely worth having a dip.”

Legendary trainer Bart Cummings bred Britannicus, who will race at Oakbank on Saturday.Source:News Limited

Britannicus is a $10 chance with TAB Fixed Odds to win the Harry D Young Hurdle (3600m) and will be ridden by Ronan Short.

“We bought the horse to hopefully win a flat race and go jumping and he’s done the job for us on the flat and this season and next season will be his years to see where he fits in on the jumping scene,” Wilde said.

For the trivia and racing buffs out there – Bart Cummings’ last winner at Oakbank was the 15/10 chance Valerian in the 1982 Onkaparinga Cup under John Letts.

Cumming was a three-time South Australian premiership winning trainer.

He won the title in 1965/66, 1966/67 and 1989/90 when he also won the Sydney and Melbourne premierships.

Stormy Passage gave him the first of his 266 Group 1 wins in the 1958 South Australian Derby. Cummings trained another 23 Group 1 winners in his home state.

In 2010, Cummings was inducted as an inaugural legend in the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame alongside another Australian sporting icon, Don Bradman.

Originally published asSpirit of Bart returns to Oakbank after 30 years

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