This year’s Glorious Goodwood was perhaps a merited retribution for the time and money they spent last year in
getting the green light to accommodate 5,000 of its members to attend on the Saturday; only for it to abandon those
plans at the last minute when officials reversed their decision. Kindly invited by Great British Racing International, a
not-for-profit industry body dedicated to guiding and growing global investment into British horse racing, it was
encouraging to witness a full and flamboyant crowd frolicking in the bucolic scenery of the South Downs. Goodwood
endorses a more laid-back approach than Royal Ascot or Epsom. Top hats and tails are replaced by a more unbuttoned
style of pale linen tailoring and flowing maxi dresses. This atmosphere of relaxed elegance was ignited by the King
himself who shocked racegoers in 1906 by dressing in a Panama hat and linen suit. It is now the official uniform for
gentleman at the festival, whilst the Panama hat is worn by men and women alike, with some choosing to don the
signature Goodwood version with a red and yellow stripe.
Dress for ladies embodies the same casual elegance as the men. Being there on Ladies Day’, there was certainly a
ceremonial feel to it, with the ladies wearing beautifully silhouetted wallpaper printed maxi dresses, stylish tea
dresses and even cool and casual suits – some of which were expertly crafted by friend of The Rake, Daisy Knatchbull
at her bespoke firm The Deck. Since launching her
label in 2019, she has built up an extraordinary roster of influential and stylish women as patrons, one of which is
the eloquent, chic and popular presenter of ITV Racing, Francesca Cumani. On a break from interviewing racing’s
glitterati, I was lucky to catch up with Francesca:
Your family has a long history with Goodwood, with your father Luca winning the Nassau Stakes on this very day in
1985 with Free Guest. From your experience of coming here as a child and now as the face of racing, what is it that
gives Glorious Goodwood that special charm?
I’m sure you’ve experienced it today, you get here, and you immediately witness the beauty of the course – part of
the Goodwood estate – the rolling downs owned by the 11th Duke of Richmond is a unique and picturesque
landscape to watch racing. The Duke also has a fantastic eye for detail, over the years he’s added elements to make
it not only an amazing place to watch racing but a venue that engenders a convivial-yet-relaxed ambience, where
people can enjoy themselves in style.
Your father Luca was born in Milan and has always been a very stylish gentleman. Being half Italian yourself I’m
sure you have a great appreciation for men’s style. Are there any facets of the men’s dress at Goodwood that you
particularly enjoy seeing each year?
This meeting at Goodwood in particular brings out a bit more passion, and on the whole people can be a little more
creative. There’s a lot of linen, bolder colours, Panama hats, and it’s also a good opportunity for the men to
really step up.
I remember seeing you in a beautiful navy corduroy double-breasted suit made by The Deck at Longchamp. Being so
well dressed yourself, I know many of the ladies look to you for style inspiration. As it’s Ladies Day’ at Glorious
Goodwood today, could you perhaps tell me a little bit about what you're wearing today?
My outfit today was provided by my stylist Sarah Kate Byrne. She has a unique ability to seek out the most wonderful
vintage dresses, one of which I am wearing today. It is a caped 1970s poppy maxi dress from Valery’s Vintage, and
because it’s got a high neck and I’m wearing a large red hat from Whitely London, Sarah has chosen chic medium-sized
earrings from British brand Annoushka Jewellery, which is also where my other jewels come from.
An hour before Francesca kindly took the time to convey her experiences of Goodwood, the biggest cheer of the day was
heard when the horses crossed the finish line for the Group One Qatar Nassau Stakes. Not immediately privy to the
reasoning behind this unusually loud roar, one of the most emotional stories in racing had just unfolded. Lady
Bowthorpe, a filly, not an owner stormed to victory, ending a 27-year top-flight success wait for trainer William
Jarvis. And for his loyal owner, Emma Banks, agent to music stars such as Florence and the Machine and Kylie
Minogue, she had finally been rewarded with a Group One success. But the warmest and deep-felt adulation was for her
rider Kieran Shoemark, who capped a remarkable comeback from his well-documented problems with drink and drugs. An
extremely popular jockey in the weighing room, William Jarvis said of Shoemark: “He’s a delightful young man who
went to a bad place and has come out the other end.” The story didn’t stop there, Lady Bowthorpe was in fact bred at
Fittocks Stud, owned by Francesca’s mother and father, Sara and Luca. Even more extraordinary, when the Cumani's
bought Fittocks Stud, a handful of stock came with the purchase. One of them was Free Guest, the filly that Luca
trained to win this very race in 1985.
Sport has a habit of throwing up inspirational stories, and where better to witness one amongst a full crowd on a
sunny day at Glorious Goodwood. The grandstands were a sea of Panama hats, spectators were dancing to jazz bands,
and people were drinking champagne in smart bars long after racing had finished. Admittedly, a long way from my home
in Wales, the laid-back and stylish charm that Goodwood transmits gives it a unique holiday feel, but with the added
thrill of watching high-calibre horses galloping at tremendous speed.