Spectator Life

Spectator Life

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

Watch out Wimbledon: padel is taking over

For the past 15 years, I’ve had an entirely healthy compulsion – my wife, I suspect, would disagree – to play tennis at least twice a week. I assumed this habit was so ingrained that nothing short of a calamitous injury could ever keep me from my fix. Spain is where the craze took hold.

Roger Alton

If you thought Lord’s was rowdy, get ready for Leeds

Shouldn’t we all just calm down a bit after Lord’s? Once prime ministers decide to intervene, you know things have gone too far. Rishi Sunak has made it clear he wouldn’t want to win a match that way apparently, which feels very much like Tony Blair’s decision to wade into the case of Corrie’s jailed

A second tip for the Northumberland Plate

When I put up Zoffee at 20-1 for the Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate six weeks ago, I said that I was hoping he would swerve the big staying handicaps at Royal Ascot. I had suspected trainer Hugo Palmer wanted to keep his horse fresh for tomorrow’s target which has a first prize of more than £80,000.

Damian Reilly

Why the Enhanced Games won’t work

If like me you’re convinced a lot of professional sportspeople are doped to the gills, perhaps you’re excited by the launch of the Enhanced Games – a proposed rival to the Olympic Games in which competitors will be encouraged to take as many performance-enhancing drugs as they can get into their bloodstream.  After all, if so many are already juicing – and, crucially, not

A strong fancy for the Wokingham, Royal Ascot day 5

If there is a so-called ‘group horse masquerading as a handicapper’ in the 28-strong Wokingham field (tomorrow, 5pm), then it is almost certainly the favourite, Orazio. Charlie Hills’ four-year-old grey colt has won his last two handicaps comfortably and this race has been the plan for some time.  However, my strong each way fancy for

Two tips for Royal Ascot on Friday

Frankie Dettori’s final Royal Ascot as a jockey saw more lows than highs over the first couple of days of the meeting. He rode just the one winner but also picked up a nine-day suspension for careless riding on the first day. I am hoping the charismatic Italian enjoys a better day on Friday, particularly

Roger Alton

Why we all need an Ollie Robinson

It’s a long way from Edgbaston to Karachi, but that’s where my thoughts were turning after Australia’s last-gasp victory in an unbearably tense, always thrilling, wonderful Ashes Test on Tuesday. Ominously for England, Australia’s three best batsmen, and the three best in the world, misfired simultaneously over five days. But they still managed to win.

Look for value in Thursday’s Ascot Gold Cup

Coltrane and Eldar Eldarov are vying for favouritism in the Ascot Gold Cup (tomorrow, 4.20pm), the highlight of day three of the royal meeting. They both have strong form and big chances of winning the Group 1 contest over two miles and a half. However, there is little value left in their prices of little

A 33-1 shot and other tips for Royal Ascot day two

The Royal Hunt Cup (tomorrow 5pm) is just the sort of big-field handicap that I relish. At first glance, finding the winner seems impossible with no less 30 runners charging down Ascot’s straight track and the draw having a big effect on the result. Perotto is a worthy favourite: he has proven form at the

Three tips for Royal Ascot tomorrow

Make no mistake, Ed Bethell is a young man going places in the racing world. He is talented trainer, charming with it and he knows how to place his horses to great advantage. Since taking over the trainer’s licence from his father James at the start of 2021, Bethell has nearly doubled the number of

A 14-1 tip for the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday

Fresh from plundering many of the major jumping prizes last season, Irish trainer Willie Mullins will head to Royal Ascot next week with plenty of chances in the big staying races on the flat. Predictably, the bookmakers are taking no chances and his most fancied horses for the two Tuesday staying handicaps are short-priced favourites:

Jack Grealish and the cult of feminine men

Like everyone else I’m enjoying the boozy antics of Man City’s Jack Grealish. He’s spent the last few days partying following Man City’s victory in the Champions League, behaving exactly how a 27-year-old who earns £15 million a year should behave. He’s having a ball and who can blame him? But there’s a difference between

Ferrari’s glorious return to Le Mans 24 Hours

Last weekend, Ferrari contested the top category at the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time in 50 years, and they took me along for the ride. The greatest endurance race in the world celebrated its centenary, and the grandstands and campsites were even more packed than usual – 325,000 fans descended on France’s

The high and lows of a Hong Kong jockey

You can take a jockey who has ridden there out of Hong Kong; it’s a lot harder, I reflected, after a chat at Newbury with Neil Callan, taking Hong Kong out of the jockey. Even though this is his second season back on home territory after spending ten years in that racing pressure cooker, Neil

Could the King land his first Royal Ascot winner?

You don’t need to be a genius to know that if you are training for HM The King and HM The Queen, then it would be a shrewd career move to land a Royal Ascot winner for them later this month. This is, of course, the first time that the King and Queen will be

Roger Alton

Football bosses must carry the can for players’ bad behaviour

If you couldn’t watch the Europa League final between Sevilla and Roma, then you should count yourself fortunate. It was a nasty, bitter and forgettable excursion, blighted by fouls and time-wasting, that should make anyone connected with it ashamed, apart from the doughty English referee Anthony Taylor, who had a fairly good game. But for

Two tips for the Epsom Derby

It is usually the Grand National at Aintree that throws up a delightful human interest story for the media to relish. Think Devon Loch throwing away the race when poised to win for the Queen Mother in 1956, Foinavon’s 100-1 victory in 1967, Red Rum winning his third National in 1977 and former crock Aldaniti

So long to Luton’s old stadium

I’ve been following Luton Town FC since the singer Helen Shapiro was ‘walking back to happiness’ in the 1960s. Luton is the bungee club of English football. Since reaching the 1959 FA Cup final, they’ve been boldly bouncing up and down the leagues. It’s only now that Helen’s words are coming true. ‘Say goodbye to

Gus Carter

The joy of cheese rolling

It’s unnerving being surrounded by a crowd in the woods. You can hear people but only glimpse their limbs or faces through the leaves. It triggers something primordial, similar to the feeling of being watched. Ideally, someone with a big strimmer would have given Cooper’s Hill a good going over before the cheese rolling. But

A 6-1 tip for the Temple Stakes

James Tate is an accomplished young trainer who has won several top races in his time but landing a Group 1 contest is still missing from his CV. That will undoubtedly change at some point and the horse currently in his care most likely to achieve it for him is ROYAL ACCLAIM. Aged four, this likeable

Roger Alton

Is Uefa just useless – or is it worse than that?

It’s not clear how many readers of this journal will be affected, but anyone planning a stag weekend in Prague ought to steer clear of the first week of June. That’s when the city hosts the Uefa Conference League final at the 20,000-capacity Eden Arena, home to Slavia Prague. The finalists are West Ham –

A 20-1 tip for the Northumberland Plate

All-weather racing is usually not for me: it too often serves up poor quality fare featuring either horses past their prime or horses who are simply never going to have a prime worth mentioning. However, the one all-weather race that I do study in depth each year is the Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate and that is because, with prize money of more than £80,000 for the winner, it attracts entries

Tom Goodenough

TV dramas like Welcome to Wrexham are spoiling sport

Wrexham had never seen anything like it: thousands of fans cheering their team as an open-top bus made its way through the city’s streets. On board, Wrexham’s footballers celebrated their side’s promotion back to the English football league. The club’s star owners, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, were there too – and with them, as

A canter through Britain’s racecourses

Although it could hardly be less woke, the racing world is an excellent example of the diversity and inclusiveness we are all constantly urged to practise. Racecourses attract people of all classes, ages, creeds and economic status, some drawn by the spectacle, others by a love of horses or betting, and many just by the

A 12-1 horse to back before the weekend

Lambourn trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis has started the Flat season in fine form with nine winners from just 37 runners for a winning per cent to races of 24 per cent. This year he has undoubtedly benefitted from an influx of more than 20 horses from high-spending owners, Amo Racing, but he is a trainer

A 17/2 tip for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket

Master trainer Aidan O’Brien provides a quandary for punters by sending over two very different horses from Ireland to contest tomorrow’s Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes. Little Big Bear is officially the highest rated horse in the race (Newmarket 4.40 p.m.) after four impressive wins last season but he has never raced over further than six

A 12-1 tip for the bet365 Gold Cup

The bet365 Gold Cup, that’s the former Whitbread Gold Cup, remains one of my favourite big race handicaps of the jumps season and I am pleased to say that I have a good tipping record in the race. A quick, slick jumper who stays well is required as the fences come thick and fast on