23 DECEMBER 1972, Page 30

Juliette's Weekly Frolic

You try to explain that Spanish Steps ran the race of his life in Saturday's ' SGB,' that you wouldn't have missed it for the world, that you're jolly pleased you supported him, that even Fred Winter acknowledged he outjumped his winner, Soloning, at every fence . the brave attempt at euphoria stumbles into silence. "And exactly how much did you say you made this time?" comes the curt enquiry.

A short head, two lengths, twenty, it's all the same financially-speaking. Tales of what might hive been are notoriously sleep-inducing even to fellow sufferers and the inquisition is not amused. As for the 'six-to-follow' . well, now they are five — Official having been whispered round Ascot as the fastest thing in Toby Balding's stable, sadly broke down in the big hurdle. Fortunately he's still in full possession of his reproductive powers and can swap the rigours of the racecourse for a balmy life at stud. A replacement must be found, but Such matters require careful consideration and can wait until after Christmas.

Compulsive gamblers will already be mugging up their greyhound form in preparation for the coming Saturday, horse racing taking its annual holiday. ITV's cameras and Ladbroke's sponsorship aim to get us all hooked on theliarringay dogs, but I prefer to abstain from vice until after the festivities and shall save up my pennies for the great Boxing Day splurge, highlighted by Kempton and the 'King George.' Cheltenham apart, this is the only major 'chase to have escaped the attentions of the sponsors but with only thirteen standing their ground at the last forfeit stage several weeks back — and one of these, The Ghost, left in by mistake — there is unlikely to be much scope for each-way betting on the day. Still that won't 'detract from a fascinating tussle between Pendil, The Dikler and ,Spanish Steps, with Clever Scot looking dangerously on from his current quote of 10-1. My hero Spanish Steps looked to have done a' hard day's work on Saturday, and if anyone's going to eat Pendil, The Dikler at least has the physique for the job.

As you may have noticed I'm something of an expert at finding flaws in red-hot certainties. Pendil's is, of course, stamina, but what of Bula over in Leopardstown for the following day's Irish Sweeps Hurdle? Surely there's no loophole, here? Well, it was tough going, but I can just about provide one. The NH Racehorse of the Year has yet to travel and while he'll no doubt prove the perfect passenger, it's worth remembering that a plane flight was the undoing of last year's English favourite, Canasta Lad — reason enough for a little interest elsewhere, I think. Comedy of Errors had teething troubles at Cheltenham and will surely be a lot nearer this time, but his price is not conducive to each way betting and at 40-1 I prefer the Irish winner of our Gloucester Hurdle, Noble Life. The Irish have yet to win this rich prize 'of theirs, but they usually manage a place and his trainer ' cancelled a planned raid on Saturday's SGB Hurdle for fear that our swine fever would prevent the horse returning to Ireland in time for the 'Sweeps.' Assets: £89.50. Outlay: £3 to win The Dikler; £2 ew Noble Life (at 40-1, Corals).

Five to follow, assets: £13.56.