Glamorous horse racing commentator Francesca Cumani has separated from her Australian polo-playing husband Rob Archibald.
The longtime face of the spring carnival coverage has moved on with fellow ITV racing commentary team member Oli Bell, Daily Mail Australia can reveal.
Francesca, the 35-year-old daughter of acclaimed Italian-born trainer Luca Cumani, married Rob in 2014.
Their son Harry was born two years later. They own a $2.4 million house at Randwick, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and also have a home at Scone in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.
Francesca Cumani separated from her rugged Australian husband, international polo player Rob Archibald
New man in her life: The ‘effervescent’ racing commentator Oli Bell with Francesca Cumani
‘From the beginning we knew that living between the UK and Australia would be a challenge but we believed we could make it work,’ Francesca, pictured with husband Rob Archibald, said
Television commentator Francesca Cumani pictured with her husband Rob Archibald and son Harry
The couple attempted to juggle their lives on either side of the planet – a challenge which intensified after Francesca was hired by Britain’s ITV two years ago.
That meant her spending eight months in Britain during the racing season and four months in Australia, where she had been a commentator for Channel 7.
Francesca is now seeing fellow ITV racing commentary team member Oli Bell (both pictured)
Francesca Cumani with Simon Marshall hosting Channel 7’s Caulfield Cup coverage in 2013
But the strain has been too much, as Francesca, who first got to know Australia after transporting one of her father’s horses Down Under, explained.
‘From the beginning we knew that living between the UK and Australia would be a challenge but we believed we could make it work,’ she said.
‘Sadly we were wrong. The most important thing now is to make sure we look after our son so he isn’t affected by what has happened.’
A friend says that, despite the split, relations between the couple are ‘perfectly amicable’.
Racing royalty Francesca Cumani and husband Rob Archibald on their wedding day in 2014
‘They’ve been trying to work at it but were struggling,’ one said. ‘Francesca then confided in Oli and he comforted her and they got together.’
Oli, 31, has been described as ‘effervescent’.
Last year when his uncle Michael Bell’s horse Big Orange clinched the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot by a short head, Oli raced out of the commentary-box and onto the course.
The following day he met the Queen who mentioned that she had seen a ‘lunatic running on to the track’.
Francesca first appeared on television screens in 2009 when Channel 7 asked her to be part of a panel. She was 26.
Since then Francesca has become a fixture of Australian television racing coverage, adding a foreign flavour and some female glamour.
British-born thoroughbred expert Francesca Cumani and her polo-playing husband Rob Archibald were Australia’s most glamorous equine couple
‘They’ve been trying to work at it but were struggling,’ one friend said of Francesca and Rob (both pictured). ‘Francesca then confided in Oli and he comforted her and they got together’
Rob is a former international polo player who was born in Scone, the thoroughbred breeding capital of Australia.
After retiring from international polo competition Rob began training race horses under the guidance of Gai Waterhouse.
Francesca and Rob were introduced by mutual friends at a pub in 2012, met again at a wedding the following year and soon began dating.
‘Francesca thought I was quite shy at the wedding,’ Archibald told Stellar magazine in December last year.
‘But something was there. We sat and spoke for a while, and we kept in touch from that moment. We got on very, very well.’
A friend says that, despite the split, relations between the couple are ‘perfectly amicable’