Past and present jockeys react to Luca Cumani's decision to stop training
Luca Cumani's magnificent training career had a hugely significant, positive impact on the lives of many jockeys, past and present, and Kieren Fallon, Jimmy Fortune and Jamie Spencer were on Monday among those paying after it was announced Cumani would end his training operation in December.
Fallon said: "He's had a great career and has nothing to prove to anyone. I was disappointed for him when he lost Sheikh Mohammed Obaid's horses a few years ago, especially Postponed, who was top class. I'm not sure he ever really recovered from losing so many good horses.
"He was brilliant to me when I came back after a suspension and was a great man to ride for."
Fortune, who Cumani helped become champion apprentice in 1990, said: "I had my first association with Luca when I was probably only 17 or 18. When I first came over from Ireland for a guy called Michael O’Neill, up in the north, Luca offered me the job as second jockey to Frankie Dettori at the time.
"I had a couple of very good years with him, he was a wonderful trainer – we all know how good he is. Unfortunately at that time he had lost a lot of horses from the Aga Khan and I had to move on.
"He was a really good man to ride for, very intelligent. He was always extremely kind to his horses. He was a wonderful man to give a horse time; I think that was one of his best assets. He’d let the horse do the talking.
“When I returned from my back injury, he was one of the first people to be on the phone and got me going again, so I owed him a lot for that. At a time where people lost confidence in me, he was the one that put me back on good horses and gave me a chance. I’d always like to thank him for that."
"I look back on my time riding for him extremely fondly, winning Classics in Britain and Group 1s in America and Canada. He's a big loss to the training ranks."
Jamie Spencer, who rode for Cumani on Champions Day just last weekend, said: "You’ve just got to celebrate his career, he’s done so well over so many decades.
"He’s been very good to me. When I moved to England initially, he was the one who gave me my first big chances. I’m very proud to have ridden for him throughout my career, up until the end of his.
"Gossamer was the best horse I rode for him. She won the Fillies’ Mile and 1,000 Guineas, and he trusted me and believed in me when I was very young.
"Those are the things that stick in your mind; that he gave me a chance when I was young and hoping to get an opportunity. He trusted me to ride Gossamer.
"Even now I can assure anyone he's still hungry and diligent in the mornings. I’ve never known him to be late, he’s a proper on-the-clock man, where twenty past seven means twenty past seven, not 19 minutes past and not 21 minutes past. He’s been like that all the way through and his attention to detail has been amazing."
Andrea Atzeni, who rode Postponed during his time with Cumani, said: "It’s a real shame – I couldn’t see this happening and I wish Luca all the best. He’s one of the greatest trainers I’ve ridden for and we’ve had some great days together, including winning the King George with Postponed."
It is not just jockeys Cumani had a lasting impact on. Several other current trainers spent time as his assistant or pupil, learning their craft under his wing.
Marco Botti said: "I used to work for him and, for me, that's where it all started. I learned so much from him. He was a legend who won everything he could possibly win.
Amy Murphy said: "It's hugely sad to hear, especially for all the team around him. He's a legendary trainer and this is the end of an era. I learned more than I ever could have hoped for under his tutelage.
"He's had a big impact on my career and I look back on my time with him with plenty of happy memories. He's had a career to be proud of."
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