One of Newmarket’s great trainers and a doyen of his profession, Luca Cumani, has announced he is to retire from training at the end of this season.
The 69 year-old Italian, has trained successfully for 43 years, sending out countless Group One winners and Classic heroes.
Cumani came to England in the 1970s and after a spell as Sir Henry Cecil’s pupil, set out on his own as a trainer.
Among his early big race winners was Tolomeo, second in the 2,000 Guineas but winner of the 1983 Budweiser Million at Arlington Park.
A year later, the Bedford House Stables Master, sent out Commanche Run to give Lester Piggott his 29th English Classic.
That colt proved outstanding at four, defeating Oh So Sharp in the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup and also landing the Irish Champion Stakes.
1985 was a good year for Cumani, with the smart filly Free Guest, racing in his familiar Fittocks Stud Silks, while Bairn was a top class miler, running second to Shadeed in the 2,000 Guineas and landing the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Cumani also proved a dab hand with handicappers and the mid-80s was a glorious period, with horses like Fish N’ Chips, Free Guest, Chinoiserie and Dallas all making their mark. Celestial Storm and Infamy were other top performers at this time, with the latter winning in North America.
The appointment of Ray Cochrane as stable jockey, started another golden spell. The pair teamed up to land the 1988 Derby with the Aga Khan’s Kahyasi.
At this time, Cumani was nurturing a prodigious young talent in Lanfranco Dettori, whose father Gianfranco, had ridden for the trainer.
Dettori had his first Arc ride on Legal Case for Cumani – and whilst down the field there, the colt, under Cochrane, won a pulsating four-way finish to the 1989 Champion Stakes. That year also saw Ensconse win the Irish 1,000 Guineas in the Sheikh Mohamed colours.
But Dettori was an irresistible force and won his first Group Ones aboard the Cumani pair Markofdistinction (QEII) and Shamshir (Fillies’ Mile) in September 1990.
The following year, Second Set proved a top class miler, but Barathea eclipsed his achievements, running second to the mighty Zafonic in the 1993 2,000 Guineas, before landing the Irish equivalent – and in 1994 he won the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
A decade after his first Derby, Cumani saddled High Rise to win the 1998 Epsom Classic under Olivier Peslier.
That same year he saddled One So Wonderful to win a dramatic renewal of the Juddmonte International Stakes.
Into the new Millennium, Gossamer proved an outstanding filly in 2002, landing the Irish 1,000 Guineas, having won the Fillies’ Mile at two.
The colt would go on to travel the world under the Godolphin banner, while Cumani campaigned other globetrotters like Alkaased, who won the Japan Cup, Presvis and Purple Moon, who along with Bauer, narrowly missed out on the Melbourne Cup.
The trainer also trained Falbrav to win the Juddmonte International Stakes, QEII and Eclipse Stakes.
Postponed was perhaps the last great horse Cumani trained – using all his skill and patience to nurture a slow-burner into a champion.
Under Cumani, the late maturing colt won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Prix Niel, before he was controversially removed from the yard and sent to Roger Varian.
Second Step proved another smart horse at his best, winning the Jockey Club Stakes and Grosser Preis von Berlin, while Mizzou was a smart stayer, winning the Sagaro Stakes and running second in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
This season, down on numbers, Cumani still enjoyed success with God Given.
However, he has now called time on a glittering career, stating:
“Time waits for nobody. I have decided this is a good moment to wind down, although I see it as more of a change of direction for me. From next year I will devote all my energies to running our Fittocks Stud.”
“We will be putting Bedford House on the market at the start of next year,” said Cumani, 69. “I discussed it with Matt (his son) but he is training in Australia, which is really the land of opportunity.
“He is married to Sarah, who is Australian, and they are now expecting their first child. It makes perfect sense for him to stay there.”