A Q&A with Francesca Cumani

A Q&A with Francesca Cumani
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by Ben Buxton,

First Published: 13 Mar, 2023

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A Q&A with Francesca Cumani

‘One minute I was working in a racing stable and the next I was part of the broadcast of a major racing event’

Set in the astounding location of Bedford House Stables, Fairfax & Favor collaborated with Francesca Cumani on a campaign that joined their mutual love of racing and all things equestrian. With a backdrop of red shutters, classic monuments and of course the stables, this location complemented not just Francesca herself, with its family roots, but also the timeless Fairfax & Favor pieces that were show cased.

From fashion to racing, we bring you an exclusive interview with ITV racing presenter Francesca Cumani, where she provides a behind the scenes take on all things racing, presenting and Fairfax & Favor.

A Q&A with Francesca Cumani

Q1 – Tell us about yourself, how did you find yourself as an ITV Racing Presenter and was this something you also wanted to do as a career?

‘You have hit the nail on the head with the words ‘find yourself’ because one minute I was working in a racing stable and the next I was part of the broadcast of a major racing event being viewed by millions of people. That happened in Australia in 2009 where racing, especially around the time of the Melbourne Cup, is hugely popular. I was travelling my dad’s horses there to race and after a couple of near misses in the big race I was asked to be part of the race day panel on Chanel 7 and that was the start of a career in television. It led to a great job with CNN international covering all the big race meetings around the world and then to ITV in 2017.’

Q2 – Did you always know that you wanted to be a Horse Racing Presenter?

‘No absolutely not. I used to watch Claire Balding when I was younger and would marvel at how intelligent and composed and authoritative, she is and never thought I could do a similar role. I am not naturally a centre of attention type person, more of a listener than a talker and still now I do everything to avoid watching myself on the tv. All that said I do like to challenge myself and I am an adrenaline junkie so live tv does tick those boxes.’

Q3 - How would you describe an ideal race day outfit - do you have any tips to share?

‘I think I approach race day dressing quite differently to most people because I am there for work and not a day out. I tend to arrive at the racecourse around 9am and often not leave until past 6pm so I need to be comfortable and not be too cold or (occasionally) too hot! I also need to be practical and keep cameras in mind so obviously big hats and super high heels are out. In terms of style, I am not a trend follower, more of a classic dresser but I like to experiment with quite varied looks and love really well-cut clothes that fit beautifully.’

Racing campaign with Fairfax & Favor:

Q4 – The yard where the photoshoot took place was special to you, why is that?

‘Yes, we decided to shoot the campaign at Bedford House stables which is where I grew up and where my dad used to train racehorses. It’s now owned by a good friend of mine Charlie Fellowes and his wife Vicki, and they very kindly let us take the pictures there’.

Q5 – What is your favourite Fairfax & Favor piece from there new Outerwear collection?

‘I absolutely love the suede trench coat. It’s so easy and so versatile to wear and is basically an outfit in itself. You can layer it up for colder days and then have it undone over something cooler for the warmer days.’

Q6 – When were you first introduced to the brand Fairfax & Favor and do you have a favourite product?

‘I remember hearing about the brand and the enterprising duo of Felix and Marcus a really long time ago through people in racing in the Newmarket area, but I don’t think I had a pair until I was kindly gifted them via my stylist Sarah Byrne back in 2017. Fair to say I now have quite the collection and I love the new fur lined Anglesey that joined the line up recently. They are super warm and comfortable and look great with jeans or skirts alike.’

Racing:

Q7 - Do you prefer jump or flat racing and why?

‘I grew up with flat racing at my core and whilst I do enjoy the jumps and have massive admiration for all of those involved, I still prefer flat racing. I spent many English winters abroad, mostly in Australia covering their racing, so when I did come back and do the jumps on ITV it was a big learning curve to familiarise myself with the horses, the race pattern and the trainers, jockeys and owners. I have loved getting to know AP McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald, Luke Harvey, Alice Plunket and all the jumps team on ITV but I confess I find Ruby Walsh rather terrifying!’

Q8 – Which is your favourite Racecourse to watch the racing? Is it also your favourite to present at?

‘There are a lot of stunning racecourses around the world, but I think England has a large proportion of them. The shortlist would be Goodwood, Chester and Epsom with the latter pipping the other two at the post because it’s the home of our most famous race, The Derby. It’s a completely bonkers roller coaster of a track with ups and downs and strange cambers but it’s a great test of horse and jockey.’

Q9 – How do you prepare your Raceday outfits?

‘That’s the best bit…I don’t! I have enough to prepare, and I like to stick to what I’m good at so I delegate it all to the wonderful Sarah Byrne and she never lets me down. It’s not an easy job because there are so many different days to consider. There’s not only the outfit to think about but also the millinery and the footwear and then the weather is always a big factor. I think we spend a huge portion of our time together discussing the forecast!’

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