Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani announced yesterday that he will retire in December after holding a licence for 43 years. The Italian, who sent out his first winner in the Duke of York Stakes in 1976, trained two Derby winners, plus a St Leger and handled some exceptional horses during his career. The likes of Alkaased, Barathea, Falbrav, Markofdistinction, Postponed and Starcraft were all trained at Bedford House Stables on the Bury Road in Newmarket. There were plenty more high profile names such as Commanche Run, Ensconce, Gossamer, Kahyasi and Presvis amongst others.
Cumani had a tremendous record in races such as the Galtres Stakes at York - won it 8 times between 1990 and 1999 - and the Extel Handicap at Goodwood. He won the latter event three years on the trot in 1984 to 1986 with Free Guest, Fish N Chips and Chinoiserie. He made a big impression on me when I first got into racing and I was fortunate enough to visit Luca at his yard for Ahead On The Flat on a number of occasions. In fact, I must have been to Bedford House at least a dozen times. It was an experience I will never forget. From a personal point of view, I will never forget Half A Year winning the St James's Palace Stakes in 1987 and Kalanisi was another of my favourites. Indeed, when I interviewed Luca in 1999 for AOTF he said about the unraced three year old colt by Doyoun: "He is an unraced colt who did some nice pieces of work last season. I don't know what trip he will want but he does have some ability." Kalanisi won three out of three for LMC, including an eight lengths winning debut over seven furlongs at Folkestone, before being transferred to Sir Michael Stoute. Like his trainer, he was a class act.
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