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