Francesca Cumani is becoming synonymous with Melbourne Cups for Aussie viewers but the racing identity's presence for this year's race had a very 2020 feel about it.
While the daughter of legendary trainer Luca Cumani wasn't at Flemington to witness Twilight Payment's shock win in the 2020 Melbourne Cup, she was still present on the new-look coverage.
'DISGRACE': Fans fume over 'horrific' Melbourne Cup tragedy
The 37-year-old agreed to be part of Channel 10's coverage after being a staple of Channel 7's broadcast team for many years.
However, a positive COVID-19 test for her father meant the talented presenter was forced into isolation.
It meant that Francesca was unable to return to Australia for Tuesday's Cup due to border restrictions.
"Coronavirus is the reason why Francesca Cumani can't join us in Australia this year for the Melbourne Cup. But it hit home even more seriously overnight when Cesca's dad was diagnosed with COVID-19 and she was put into isolation," Ten sports presenter Stephen Quartermain said.
WFH! Last night I was beamed in from England to join the @channel10au team for coverage of the 2020 #melbournecupcarnival for #derbyday 10 Socials have created a fun Melbourne Cup Carnival filter for Instagram - you can have a go of the Melb Cup IG filter via the link in my bio #CupWeekOn10 #MelbourneCup @channel10au @10Sportau Wearing : @ltmillinery headpiece @suzannahlondon dress @emporioarmani shoes @swarovski jewellery @laurenmccormackmakeup & hair @sarahkatebyrne styling
A post shared by Francesca Cumani (@francesca_cumani) on
The setback didn't stop the horse racing icon fulfilling her broadcasting duties, however, with Cumani appearing on Zoom from the loungeroom of her UK dining room.
She informed viewers that her 71-year-old father's coronavirus diagnosis appeared positive because of his good health.
"As you can see a different setting here. I am at home and isolating now," she said.
"He (her father) is, thankfully, so far, OK. He just had a bit of a sore throat and felt a little bit down, so he got a test and it did come back positive. As a result, we've all very much just shut down. My mum is still feeling OK and thankfully, so far, so good."
Francesca tweeted that it was weird being part of a Melbourne Cup day, without witnessing the massive Flemington crowds that always accompany the big day.
Viewers found her virtual presence from overseas equally as strange, but were glad nonetheless that she was still part of Melbourne Cup day.
Being part of the @10SportAU Melbourne Cup day from home is brilliant but you realise more than ever how its people that make an event come to life. I will miss the roar as the gates crash open.
— Francesca Cumani (@francescacumani) November 3, 2020
We miss you over here too Francesca 😘
— joeyjoey joey (@joeyjoeyjoey7) November 3, 2020
Melbourne is missing you 😘 at least we get to see you virtually 🐎
— Lisa wells (@Lisajwells3000) November 3, 2020
Really feels weird
— Derek Cornelius (@DC_CORN) November 3, 2020
Francesca love your insight today. Yes today is weird not seeing thousands celebrating race that stops the nation. But Covid-19 has stopped the world. 😕Hope your fathers okay.
— Janelle Blight (@BlightJanelle) November 3, 2020
Tragedy as top-rated horse is put down
The 2020 edition of the Melbourne Cup ended in heartbreak as news spread shortly after the race that Anthony Van Dyck had to be put down.
The high-profile Irish runner was euthanised after failing to complete the course in the Melbourne Cup.
One of the favourites to give trainer Aidan O'Brien his first Melbourne Cup victory, Anthony Van Dyck was injured during the race.
"It is with sadness that we confirm that Anthony Van Dyck had to be humanely euthanised after sustaining a fractured fetlock during the running of the Melbourne Cup at Flemington," Racing Victoria's Jamie Steir said.
"The horse received immediate veterinary care, however he was unable to be saved due to the nature of the injury sustained."
The 2019 English Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyck was rated one of the best horses to be sent to Australia for a spring campaign.
He was on target to run well at Flemington after producing the run of the race when narrowly beaten in the Caulfield Cup.
Nick Williams, a part-owner of the winner Twilight Payment, said he was devastated to learn that Anthony Van Dyck, owned by global thoroughbred power Coolmore, couldn't be saved.
"I want to send send out all my sympathies to the team Coolmore," he told Racing.com.
"They put a huge amount of money into out sport.
"They take their best horses everywhere in the world and they've had this bad luck with such a great horse Anthony Van Dyck today.
"I just feel terrible for them. It's a shocking thing to happen at anytime."
Anthony Van Dyck raced 19 times in five countries and collected five other wins to go alongside his English Derby triumph.
He is the sixth horse to have died on Melbourne Cup race day since 2013, all of them foreign gallopers.
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