Luca Cumani: Five of the greatest horses trained by the master

Mon 22 Oct 2018

Luca Cumani has had a plethora of equine talent through his hands during a highly successful career, dating back to 1976. Keith Hamer selects five of his best.

Barathea

The Breeders’ Cup may only have been an afterthought at the end of the 1994 season, but Cumani left no stone unturned in Barathea’s preparation by building a Churchill Downs-style course and sending over him to the United States early so he could acclimatise.

Barathea won in convincing style by three lengths to end his career in a high. His other important wins came in the 1993 Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Queen Anne Stakes in 1994.

Commanche Run

It usually takes more than just a classy stayer to win the St Leger, and 1984 victor Commanche Run proved the point by landing two Group Ones over a mile and a quarter the following year.

Commanche Run was one of the best examples to showcase Cumani as a great trainer as the horse suffered a setback just a few days before the race. He and his staff kept a constant vigil over Commanche Run after he grazed both forelegs in a fall.

Their care paid off with victory under a vintage ride from Lester Piggott. The following year, he won the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup and the Irish Champion Stakes.

Falbrav

Frankie Dettori and Falbrav after winning the Hong Kong Cup
Frankie Dettori and Falbrav after winning the Hong Kong Cup

Falbrav is yet another testament to Cumani as a trainer as the horse won eight times at the top level in five different countries – England, France, Hong Kong, Italy and Japan.

Falbrav got better with age and was superbly campaigned by his trainer. Running all over the world, Falbrav won half of his 26 starts and was placed in all bar three of them.

His three top-level wins in Britain came in the Eclipse, the International and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Fittingly, he ended his racing days with victory in the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin under Frankie Dettori.

Kahyasi

Kahyasi in the winner's enclosure after winning the Epsom Derby
Kahyasi in the winner's enclosure after winning the Epsom Derby

Kahyasi was nurtured for greatness. Winner of his only start as a two-year-old, the Aga Khan-owned colt was unimpressive on his first start at three at Sandown but still won and put up a much-improved performance to land the Lingfield Derby Trial.

That set him in good stead for Epsom where, suited by a breakneck piece, he swooped to beat Glacial Storm by a length and a half. He went on to win the Irish Derby, albeit by a short head, despite being struck into.

He was never quite the same afterwards and was beaten in his last two races, the Prix Niel and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

One So Wonderful

One So Wonderful (right) claims a narrow win in the Juddmonte International
One So Wonderful (right) claims a narrow win in the Juddmonte International

Cumani trained many talented fillies throughout his career, including Embla, Infamy and Gossamer, but arguably none better than One So Wonderful.

Successful in her only race at two and in her first two starts at three, it was as a four-year-old that she enjoyed her finest hour in the Juddmonte International.

What a race it was as she won a never-to-be-forgotten battle by a short-head from Faithful Son, with Chester House the same distance away in third.

It was a performance that saw her rated the highest rated older filly or mare in 1998.

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