James Brown sang how “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”and it certainly seems to be the case when it comes to horse racing.
There seems to exist a glass ceiling in a sport commandeered and control by individual Old Boys Clubs that need to come crashing down, yet, even with 2013 looming large and about to spanking us and smack us in the face, Brother James and The Godfather Of Soul is still singing the same song.
Apart from Lady GaiGai Waterhouse, where is racing’s version of Gai Power? Take the term, Lady GaiGai- Gai Power.
Sure, there are young and new female riders, especially in Oz everywhere one looks, but where are the female power brokers of racing- and young- though Lady GaiGai will be forever young in our books.?
Hong Kong racing has Jenny Chapman and JoJo McKinnon, but no matter how good they might be in their jobs, how important are their gigs and how indispensable are they?
In a world where we see women in seats of power, they seem “jocked off” in the chauvinistic world of horse racing. And so we come to Francesca Cumani.
Wait: Forget about her incredible beauty as this can often be an albatross and something that is a bad substitute for intelligence and talent.
It is a cop-out and belittles the lady. We have been with enough of extremely talented woman in many industries- fashion, banking, all forms of the retail business, property, politics etc- and who also happen to be very savvy and attractive. And maybe a little Posh.
Only the music industry with its boys club and chummy chums think this glass ceiling exist.
We have seen it at work, first hand. We have seen why women have been hired and how they have had to play the game to survive and which is possibly why the music industry is down the toilet today.
Like female jockeys who can compete with the men and the boys as equals, the music industry can have powerful songwriters like Diane Warren, Linda Perry and a few others and artists with power like Lady Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and La Streisand etc, but where are the women when it comes to running a music company and why does this vacuum still exist today and where are the YOUNG female leaders? Same in horse racing.
Apart from Francesca Cumani, where is a new generation of female racing pundits and the next Gai Waterhouse?
How much longer do we have to listen to those delusionary macho macho men who are legends in their own lunchtime?
Right now, Lady GaiGai is a lone voice fighting her own battles and winning the wars and capable of taking on all comers while those with small willies can do nothing more than try and dismiss and silence her as some Mad Hatter.
But as in Alice In Wonderland, Gai Waterhouse is as mad as a fox and as sharp as the Cheshire Cat who can play any role anyone wants her to be and can use this as an opportunity to benefit her and her business. She is equal parts Hepburn, Bacall and Bette Davis. No one fucks with her and pity the fools that try.
We love and respect her for all that and for who she is and how she has become her own person and not happy to be TJ Smith’s daughter.
By the same token, Francesca Cumani has become more that the daughter of Luca Cumani and has become her own person.
Our question- our wish- is the answer to the question, And now what, Miss Cumani and where the racing world is her Iranian Black Caviar.
Being the host of a mainstream news channel program like CNN’s Winning Post is a great start as is being a regular panelist and guest on racing programs where, to be frank, the men come across as gibbering girlie men when she’s around. She has that knock-down effect on men who, for all their macho bravado, are wilting eunuchs around her. And the same goes for those who met her mother Sarah Cumani.
We met Francesca Cumani albeit briefly for the first time at the club called Adrenaline at Happy Valley Racecourse during Hong Kong’s International Week with a very nice young journo named Alex Steedman from Queenland who’s had the good manners to write and keep in touch. We remember little things like these as it speaks volumes about character. As for Francesca Cumani, we found her to be a very approachable, intelligent woman with a deft knowledge and understanding of horse racing who handles herself with great confidence without any airs and graces.
As someone said to us- and he meant it as some back-handed compliment- “You feel you can’t even swear when next to her.”
Well, when around all women, there should always be respect.
Of course, as some have said, perhaps Francesca Cumani is perfectly happy with her lot in life and which will mean everything changes and nothing does as we get on the same merry go round as the baton gets passed from one racing dynasty to the next and from the next dinosaur to the next.
But, perhaps there is a position needed in racing that- oops= no one has even thought about?
At least in Asia, there has been a considerable increase in new racegoers- all female- some of whom have already formed owner-syndicates and have drop-kicked boyfriends to attend race meetings. This is a consumer group looking for a new, young role model.
This is also a consumer group wishing to inter-act with like-minded females who can guide them- show them how to bet, have them understand a good horse from a bad horse, keep them away from the clutches of greedy bloodstock agents and even greedier trainers and knowing a good ride from a bad one.
Surely, someone with the pedigree of Francesca Cumani fits this bill like one of her perfect beige shoes?
Francesca, que’est du pense?