TAK­ING THE REINS

Horserac­ing’s g lead­ing lady Francesca Cu­mani is set to change the game this year.

VOGUE Australia - - News - By Kim­ber­lee Oo. Styled by Petta Chua and Brad Homes Pho­tographedg by Philip Sin­den.

Horserac­ing’s lead­ing lady Francesca Cu­mani.

Grow­ing up in one of Europe’s rac­ing dy­nas­ties, there was never any doubt that Francesca Cu­mani would fol­low in her fam­ily’s foot­steps. Now call­ing Australia home, Cu­mani is one of our top horse-rac­ing per­son­al­i­ties and an avid sup­porter of women in rac­ing. Her ca­reer achieve­ments read like a roll­call of rac­ing ac­co­lades: suc­cess­ful TV com­men­ta­tor for Chan­nel Seven’s equine events; host of CNN’s Win­ning Post, a doc­u­men­tary-style seg­ment that took her all around the world; and now am­bas­sador for Magic Mil­lions, a new role that will see her get­ting back in the sad­dle, al­beit for some­thing slightly dif­fer­ent.

The 2017 Magic Mil­lions event will in­tro­duce polo for the very first time, with an ex­hi­bi­tion match be­tween am­bas­sadors Cu­mani and Zara Phillips, the eques­trian cham­pion Royal, and some of the best play­ers in the world, in­clud­ing Amer­i­can Nic Roldan, Ar­gen­tinian Ale­jan­dro Novillo Astrada and Cu­mani’s hus­band, Aus­tralian polo cham­pion Rob Archibald.

“It’s ac­tu­ally a lot harder than it looks,” Cu­mani says earnestly. “You have to be se­ri­ously fit and it takes a lot of skill. I think polo has an image of be­ing to­tally glam­orous, with peo­ple drink­ing cham­pagne and wear­ing white jodh­purs, but I’ve re­alised through Rob that there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it.”

It’s been a while since Cu­mani has rid­den, how­ever, as she re­cently took time off to welcome new son Harry, now six months. “My life has com­pletely changed – be­com­ing a par­ent def­i­nitely makes you a lot more self­less and re­ally changes your per­spec­tive on life. You put some­one else first all the time; they be­come your pri­or­ity,” she says with a smile. “But I think it’s im­por­tant to have a bit of bal­ance – as much as I love be­ing a mum, I don’t want to lose my­self com­pletely. I’m happy to hand him over to his grand­par­ents or any­one who wants a cud­dle so I can have time to do other things.”

In per­son, Cu­mani’s pas­sion for any­thing horsere­lated is ob­vi­ous – whether it’s the an­i­mals them­selves, the sports, or the events she reg­u­larly at­tends. She moves with an in­her­ent grace­ful­ness; it’s easy to see why she has be­come a rac­ing style icon in her own right.

“Grow­ing up in Eng­land, we have the in­flu­ence of Royal As­cot where there are ac­tual dress rules. I think rac­ing should be kept like that – it should be de­mure and chic, less of that night­club feel­ing with short skirts and re­veal­ing dresses,” she says. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to dress to your fig­ure shape. I don’t tend to be some­one who fol­lows all the lat­est fash­ions – I’d say my style veers more to­wards tra­di­tional, time­less and el­e­gant.” Just like the woman her­self.

“IT’S AC­TU­ALLY A LOT HARDER THAN IT LOOKS”

Gior­gio Armani jacket, $4,500, and skirt, $3,500. Tred­step boots, $550, from Horse-in-the-box. Hair: Jonathan Dadoun Make-up: Yvette Yvette Pro­duc­tion: Ro­main Vi­ol­leau

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