Paul Sheehan adores Francesca Cumani – and he wants to tell the world
The Sydney Morning Herald’s writer dedicates his column today – “Why Seven needs this beauty with the beasts” – to an extraordinary essay counting the ways in which Cumani, Seven’s racing pundit, is lovely.
And there certainly are a lot of ways.
Dr Mumbo assumes the column was inspired by Sheehan spending a pleasant afternoon in front of his television watching Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup. As Sheehan tells readers in his intro:
“This year reaffirmed my belief that women, at their best, are superior to men at their best.”
Blimey, forget about the Anzac spirit. This must have been the most impressive piece of racing punditry of all time.
Sheehan goes on:
“The thoroughbred was the only women on the anchor panel, an English import, Francesca Cumani, who floated elegantly above the fray, intimately involved and yet apart.
“Cumani may have a dark side, but on camera she betrays no self-absorption or vacuity. At 29, she has left no trail of scandal, controversy, conflict or fodder for the prurient.
“On race day, with so much bogan chic on parade, Cumani opted for simple elegance.”
And there’s more. Much, much more:
Beauty is commonplace, but beauty plus intelligence, lucidity, courage and loyalty is a more rarefied combination. It can be found in men, but its highest expression is in women.
But what exactly does Mr Sheehan mean by beauty? Happily, he’s on hand to explain:
“Beauty. It has been widely noted that Cumani, daughter of one of the world’s leading racehorse trainers, Luca Cumani, is a high-order beauty. That is self-evident and requires no elaboration.”
That’s great Paul, but surely women can’t be clever too? Wait! They can.
“Intelligence. Cumani is quadrilingual – she speaks English, Italian (her father’s first language), Spanish and French. She has a degree in modern languages from Bristol University. She exhibits a depth and breadth of knowledge in her chosen field, thoroughbred racing.”
Which is nice, but surely the op-ed page of the SMH needs to hear more about Cumani’s wondrous qualities. It does indeed:
“Lucidity. It does not take long to take Cumani seriously when she is analysing a horse because she can seamlessly command names, dates, jockeys, events and conditions when discussing past performances and current preparations. And she speaks from experience.”
But surely if women at their best are better than men at their best, then we need to hear some tales of valour?
“Courage. Cumani is an excellent rider and a former jockey. It takes courage to take a racehorse to full gallop. She said in an interview last year: ”A lot to do with racing is your nerve, and holding it. The moment you lose your nerve or get scared, the horse can really sense it.
“I can only imagine the force of being on a frothing stallion with its ears back.”
Somebody certainly is frothing. And there’s more – and we really are through the looking glass now, people:
“She wants to have children. Here we reach the point of divergence, the point of discrimination, where the apex of the pyramid of admirable qualities is occupied by women, not men. A man can be beautiful, intelligent, lucid, courageous and loyal, but he can never take on the greatest of all responsibilities, procreation.”
Now while some readers may be becoming alarmed for Sheehan’s blood pressure at this point, it all gets just a little more extraordinary yet:
“Women have greater physical capacity for pleasure than men. This is nature’s scheme. Because in nature, procreation is paramount. So women have to take greater risks than men for passion.”
Which leads Dr Mumbo to look inside himself and ask the question: What the actual fuck?
Luckily Paul is on hand to explain:
“Women live in a more dangerous world than men. Men usually have much greater physical strength than women. In domestic disorder, or crime or social conflict, when push comes to shove, women are usually at a disadvantage. They have to rely on their wits more than men, and relying on wits trumps relying on strength.”
Is this still about Francesca Cumani? It would seem it is. Sheehan, who seems remarkably well informed on Ms Cumani’s affairs in a slightly worrying way, informs the readers that her contract is up for renewal. He concludes with some advice for Seven:
“On Seven’s biggest day, covering the race that stops a nation, they need that thoroughbred among the roughies.”
Still, the article is already a smash hit on the SMH’s facebook page: