Meet Francesca Cumani, expert horse racing presenter, owner and breeder. We discover more about her passion for horses and get an insight into equestrian style.
In your role as an ITV Racing Presenter, how do you prepare for a day in front of the camera?
There is a lot that goes into preparing for a race day on ITV. Communication with the editor of the show in the lead-up is really important, as is keeping on top of the news in the racing world. Then it’s a case of getting to know the horses running that day as well as I possibly can by watching replays, reading quotes and studying their form. Thankfully preparing the wardrobe is much easier because I delegate it all to my good friend and stylist Sarah Byrne.
Do you have any style tips for those of us who are keen to get back into riding horses?
Absolutely, and I think it’s something you can have a lot of fun with! It varies a lot for me depending on the style of riding. I will often just throw on jeans and a pair or RM Williams boots and jump on my ex-racehorse for a hack around, but then I love nothing more than getting all dressed up for a day out hunting. It’s a lot easier now to find clothes that will transition from riding wear to everyday clothes, so you can go from one to the other without too much hassle.
Horses are a major part of your life in so many ways. What is your earliest memory of riding?
I think my earliest memory is of a ride on my first pony called Rudolph. My mum was on a bike alongside and she decided he was behaving well so she gave us some time off the lead rein. No sooner had it been unclipped than Rudi decided he'd whip around and bolt towards home. Thankfully I tottered off somewhere before he crossed the road and he of course returned unscathed. Frankie Dettori was apprentice jockey to my father at the time and kindly offered to sort him out for me. Maybe it’s where he practiced his flying dismount because it was 1-0 to Rudi!
How often do you actually get in the saddle these days?
As often as possible. I would ride everyday if I could, but I travel a lot with work and I have a two-year-old boy who keeps me busy in-between. He much prefers tractors, but I think I'm slowly bringing him around to horses. I was very close to a horse called Purple Moon who I travelled the world with in his racing days and I still have him at my parent’s stud farm. He is about as mature as my two-year-old so there’s never a dull moment! It’s been a while since I rode in races and those days are probably behind me, but I will play polo at every given opportunity and the same with hunting!
From riding wear to everyday wear
Photo credit: Misan Harriman