Spectator Life

Spectator Life

An intelligent mix of culture, style, travel, food and property, as well as where to go and what to see.

Is Conor McGregor the Irish Trump?

The flamboyant, ridiculous mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor is considering a run for the Irish presidency. ‘Potential competition if I run,’ he tweeted yesterday, along with a picture of Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny, the three septuagenarian current favourites for the job. ‘Each with unbreakable ties to their individual parties politics… Or me,

Ireland can land the Coral Gold Cup

The weather is going to play a key role in the outcome of tomorrow’s big race, the Coral Gold Cup (Newbury, 2.50 p.m.). To start with, the cold snap might even claim the card altogether with a course inspection due at 7.30 a.m. on race day. Secondly, after little rain over the past fortnight, the

The Terry Venables I knew

You didn’t have to like football to feel some sort of affinity with Terry Venables. He had bags of East London charm, oodles of enthusiasm and glossy good looks (as long as you didn’t mind the gold medallion around his permanently tanned neck). As it happens, I like football very much – so it was

Tips for the Coral Gold Cup and Becher Chase

There are two high-class chases taking place tomorrow – one at Haydock and the other at Ascot. They will have a bearing on the betting markets for the Ladbrokes King George VI at Kempton on Boxing Day and the Cheltenham Festival. However, neither race this weekend is now an attractive betting proposition because each has

Roger Alton

How Vegas became a sporting hotspot

Anyone know the Hindi for schadenfreude? Who could have seen that coming: certainly not your correspondent, who had invested some time ago in India to win the Cricket World Cup. Not to be, sadly, and the red-hot favourites were given an absolute pasting in their own backyard by a team of unfancied Aussies who had

Will the Las Vegas Grand Prix survive?

Equal parts hype and horsepower, this weekend’s Las Vegas Grand Prix is the most talked about sporting event of the year. For the first time, Formula One will take to the strip, with 20 cars screaming past the floodlit Venetian Caesar’s Palace and the faux Eiffel Tower at 200mph. Certainly, it lost its shirt on

Four tips for upcoming big races

Cheltenham’s November meeting is, as usual, a meeting to savour and I am looking forward to my first visit to the Cotswold track this season when I attend tomorrow’s seven-race card. I put up two tips for tomorrow’s big race, the Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.20 p.m.), last week and I was pleased to see

Two tips for the Paddy Power Gold Cup

Richard Hobson is a trainer that I have a lot of time for. He always gets the best out of his small string and he is always willing to share information with journalists about the well-being of his horses and their big-race targets. He places his horses well too, even if it means going to

Celebrity owners are ruining football

Tom Brady must get bored easily. After America’s superstar quarterback retired (for a second time) in March, he invested in a Las Vegas women’s basketball team, sorted out his divorce, bought a racing boat team with Rafael Nadal and, this summer, became a minority owner of Birmingham City. A few weeks ago, it was announced that

Ross Clark

Why should my cricket club have to tackle climate change?

Is there anything left which hasn’t been overtaken by climate change drivel? In my spare time I serve as chairman of a village cricket club in East Anglia: a club which I and others, against the grain of the contracting world of village cricket, have succeeded in setting up from scratch over the past dozen

Two tips for the Grand Sefton at Aintree

The jumps season is well under way and I am delighted to be tipping chasers and hurdlers again for the first time in six months. I particularly enjoy backing course specialists over the Grand National fences at Aintree and so the Boylesport Grand Sefton Handicap Chase is just up my street. In last year’s contest

Tips for Doncaster and Newbury tomorrow

I have a policy of not betting or tipping on jump racing until at least the first week of November. That’s because the early season form over chases and hurdles is so difficult to predict in that it is hard to know which horses are fit from their summer break and which are not. Having

Two tips for Ascot on Champions Day

Not for the first time on Champions Day at Ascot, the ground tomorrow looks likely to be very soft and it is essential to back horses that can handle the conditions. All the better, too, if they have strong course form as the sand-based track is not liked by all horses – even those that

England have a spring in their step ahead of the Afghanistan match

England looked fortified by their Himalayan break on Tuesday, bouncing back from a depressing defeat to New Zealand, to despatch Bangladesh by a margin of 137 runs in Dharamshala. In hindsight, England were conspicuously superior and the match a little one-sided, with Bangladesh’s batting intimidated by the steepling bounce achieved by the very tall Reece

Three tips at two meetings tomorrow

Tomorrow’s Club Godolphin Cesarewitch Handicap (Newmarket, 2.40 p.m.) is worth more than £100,000 to the winner and it is always a highly competitive affair. As usual, the substantial prize money has attracted several runners from the other side of the Irish Sea and it is not hard to see why one of them, Pied Piper,

Roger Alton

Simone Biles is in a league of her own 

Has there ever been an athlete, male or female, quite like Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time? She is like something from another planet, so out of this world are the body-bending tricks she can accomplish on the floor, vault and bars. These are incomprehensible feats of agility, strength and grace, which were

Can the England cricket team regain their composure?

Last Thursday’s opening game of the Cricket World Cup saw England roundly thrashed in Ahmedabad, by what looked on paper to be a fairly average New Zealand.  Posting a stuttering 282 for nine off 50 overs, England threatened to dominate but too often threw wickets away. Jonny Bairstow clipped the second ball of the innings

Two tips for Ascot tomorrow

Research tells us that a horse typically peaks in terms of speed and performance at the aged of four or five and deteriorates after that. But there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. Indeed, for some thoroughbreds, age really is just a number. Personally, because the horse spent time stabled near me when I

A second Cambridgeshire tip and one for Ascot

The last three winners of the Bet365 Cambridgeshire have triumphed at odds of 40-1, 40-1 again and 25-1. Earlier this century there were even bigger priced winners: 100-1 in 2004 and 50-1 in 2017. So don’t be surprised if the race throws up another shock result tomorrow (Newmarket 3.40 p.m.). I have already put up

Roger Alton

Will the US catch the birdie at the Ryder Cup? 

At last the Ryder Cup is here – well, in Rome – and with it Europe’s biennial chance to stick it to the Americans in a sport that matters in a format that we can all relate to. Even if you regard golfers as extremely well-off people largely determined to make themselves better off, the

Arsene Wenger is no philosopher

It’s now five years since he finally stepped down as the manager of Arsenal FC after two decades at the helm – an occasion marked by the recent unveiling of a statue outside the Emirates Stadium of a triumphant Arsene Wenger holding aloft the Premier League trophy. The occasion made me reflect on his tenure at

Jake Wallis Simons

Why do cyclists insist on making drivers angry?

Picture the scene. I’m in the New Forest, riding in a bicycle race. It looks like I’m on course for a personal best, perhaps even first place. I’m well-fuelled and feeling strong. Then I hit traffic. The road is too narrow to slip alongside the line of five or six cars in front of me.

Who to have a flutter on at Longchamp

The Arc weekend at Longchamp – well worth a visit if you have never been racing in France – is just over a week away and now seems a good time to place a couple of bets at this most prestigious of meetings. Set on the outskirts of Paris in the Bois de Boulogne, Longchamp

The murky world of bloodstock agents

Top owners are quitting horse racing because bookmakers nervous of a government and a Gambling Commission that know remarkably little about the horse-racing industry and ignore even the modicum they do know are making it harder and harder for them to have a significant bet, closing the accounts of those who refuse to acquiesce to

Inside the weird world of real tennis

When John Lumley was a baby, his mother placed him in his carrycot at one end of the tennis court in the leafy village of Holyport in Berkshire, and drove balls at him. I should clarify that John was perfectly safe. The tennis in question was real tennis: the old-fashioned version of the game, which

What happened to Ronaldinho?

Cast your minds back to 2005, a time when it was considered cool to record your favourite song to use as a ringtone on your phone, iPod Nanos were everywhere, the Crazy Frog drove every parent in the country crazy, and Ronaldinho was named the best football player on the planet. A lot has changed

Two tips for Doncaster tomorrow

The Saturday of Doncaster’s St Leger meeting offers something for everyone: the fifth and final ‘classic’ of the season and a ridiculously competitive sprint handicap for starters, with much more besides. I will start by looking at the Group 1 Betfred St Leger (tomorrow 3.35 p.m.), which is the longest flat racing classic over a

Roger Alton

Novak Djokovic, the man who won’t go away

‘What are you still doing here?’ joked Daniil Medvedev to Novak Djokovic after their US Open tennis final – a lung-busting baseline slugfest featuring jaw-dropping athleticism and brilliant shot-making – had ended in a straight sets win for the Serb. It was his 24th Grand Slam victory. There’s no sign that Djokovic wants to slow