Australian Racing: a partnership through the generations
Every day, thousands of Australians work tirelessly to bring Australian racing to life. In 2015/16, Tabcorp’s businesses returned $790 million to the industry. We’re proud to back racing and its people, and celebrate the individuals that bring the industry to life.
Racing has been in the Cummings family for generations. James Cummings is the fourth generation to work as a trainer, following his great grandfather, his esteemed grandfather Bart who won a record 12 Melbourne Cups and father Anthony. Despite such an impressive racing lineage, James was free to expand his horizons as a child and left to explore where his passions lay. Ultimately, he decided to make racing his career.
I started working as a stable hand for my father when I was 13 years old for pocket money, so I was always surrounded by it, and also with my grandfather. But I was given an incredible education, and an ability to choose my own path. At 17, I decided that this was a career that I was passionate about pursuing, and it turned out to be a wise choice.
After a period working at his father’s stable as a junior foreman, he made the move to work with his grandfather, Bart, as a Foreman. Bart carved out a reputation as one of Australia’s master trainers, and James was keen to absorb every piece of advice he could. Beyond his incredible ability with the horses at his stables, James watched how his grandfather motivated his team to help them achieve incredible results.
It was terrific to work with the best, but not just for the racing element, Bart excelled in his ability to mentor the next generation of trainers. I can’t think of any trainer operating in Australia who has produced as many top class trainers. He had an ability to demand excellence of everyone that worked with him, and encouraged you pushed yourself to achieve things you never thought were possible.
James’ day starts early at 4am when he makes his way to check on his horses at Leilani Lodge in Sydney. He works with his team throughout the day to make sure the stable’s selection of racing horses are in peak condition. The day is long and varied, meeting vets, race stewards and his riders. The day ends with planning for the next morning, and targets are mapped out.
There are just not enough hours in the day for the things that we want to achieve. But that’s part of the motivation I suppose. You just don’t have time to think too much, you just have to keep moving and not over think it. This job is our passion, and we are always determined to give it everything we have.”
The racing industry in Australia has been blessed to have had the Cummings family working within it for so long, but James believes the relationship has been more than reciprocal. “In Australia, this racing industry is a huge part of who we are. We were racing horses almost as soon as we set foot in this country. There is an incredible passion for racing that continues. I would recommend any young person to work within it. It is a dynamic environment where you can showcase your skills and be rewarded for it.”
After working within the industry for many years, James emphasises the work that Tabcorp does for the industry that he loves. “My grandfather always said the tote was the most important thing in racing. He knew that it wasn’t all about us; it was all about the punters and keeping them happy. We continue to push ourselves to be better for the people who are behind us like family, friends and supporters like Tabcorp.”