Ontrack’s 2019 Royal Ascot will have a different feel with news that Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani is retiring at the end of the current season.
The Ontrack Royal Ascot tour bases itself in Newmarket for week one and has always featured a stable visit to the historic stables Luca and wife Sara have operated for 43 years.
“Luca and Sara have always been fantastic hosts and the stable visit was always a highlight for our tour group,” said Ontrack’s Managing Director Grant Morgan.
“We will speak with Luca and Sara and see if they will still be in the Bedford Lodge stables in June or whether we make alternative arrangements. It’s been an absolute pleasure dealing with the Cumani family,” said Grant Morgan.
“The news of Luca’s retirement cuts one of Flat racing’s few remaining ties to a time when smaller owner-breeders had a fair crack of the whip, and modern-day leviathans like Godolphin and Coolmore were still in their infancy.
“Many outstanding horses passed through Cumani’s hands in the 80s and 90s, including two Derby winners in Kahyasi (1988) and High-Rise (1998), while Barathea took the Irish 2,000 Guineas in 1993 and the Breeders’ Cup Mile a year later.
“A split with the Aga Khan, Kahyasi’s owner, before the 2000 season was a major setback, with Kalanisi, a subsequent Breeders’ Cup winner, among the horses to leave the yard. Falbrav, though, helped Cumani to return to the sport’s top table with five Group One wins and a narrow defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2003.”
Cumani also mentored several leading jockeys, the most notable being Frankie Dettori, who was 14 when he arrived at Bedford Lodge.
“I wouldn’t say it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but I’ve come to realise the time is right,” Cumani told The Guardian. I’ve been very lucky and privileged to have won big races all around the world and I no longer have the material to do so. I’ve been to Churchill Downs and Melbourne and now we’re having more runners at Wolverhampton and Chelmsford and it’s not quite the same.”
Cumani’s son, Matt, is settled as a trainer in Australia while his daughter, Francesca, is a presenter on ITV Racing. As a result, Bedford Lodge will be sold in the new year, with Cumani and Sara turning their focus to his Fittocks Stud, just outside Newmarket.