World's Favourite Racing Personality Says Nothing Beats The Melbourne Cup For Passion
The pageantry of Royal Ascot or the raw passion of Flemington?
For Francesca Cumani, perhaps the world's best-known racing commentator, it's a no-brainer.
Royal Ascot has the pageantry and the poshness. But for the raw emotion and the roar of the crowd, Melbourne wins by several lengths
Cumani -- who will be part of Network 10's Melbourne Cup Carnival coverage later this year -- was speaking to 10 News First's Sandra Sully at the Ascot Gold Cup meeting in England this week.
"Pageantry is something that the Royal Ascot meeting has that you're not going to get anywhere else in the world," Cumani said.
"The fact that before racing every day, you get the amazing royal procession, the sight of Her Majesty the Queen coming down the track in her carriage... it's a sight to behold."
Cumani has attended the Melbourne Cup for over a decade now, and indeed had a close personal connection to a near-win in the race, when Bauer, a horse trained by her father Luca Cumani, went down by a nose in a thrilling photo finish to the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed in 2008.
In short, she gets Australian racing, and she gets what makes our greatest race so special.
"I wouldn't miss the Flemington carnival for the world. The Melbourne Cup is so much a part of my year," she told Sully.
"You talk about the differences and the similarities between Royal Ascot and Melbourne... but there's nothing like it. In the build-up to the Melbourne Cup when horses are behind the stalls, you can just feel the sense of anticipation building in the crowd.
"And the roar... I cannot wait to be back this year, and with Network 10."
Cumani said that English racing folk are more subdued then us excitable Aussies.
"Here at Ascot, often when you have a winner everyone's still quite subdued -- owners, trainers, whoever it is. What I love about Australia is everyone just goes wild when they win."
So there you have it. The Melbourne Cup beats Ascot for emotion. But out on the track, it must be said there was a victory overnight for the quality of English racing form over our own Melbourne Cup form.
Cross Counter, the 2018 Melbourne winner was contesting the Ascot Gold Cup. Though it ran well, the four-year-old gelding could only manage a close fourth to English champ Stradivarius in the big race.
"The big question is whether Stradivarius can be lured down under for the Melbourne Cup this year," Sully told 10 daily.
Five-year-old Stradivarius has won its last seven starts -- including the last two Ascot Gold Cups -- so if it makes the trip down under, it would be sure to start a short-priced favourite.