21 OCTOBER 1972, Page 27

Juliette 'S Weekly Frolic

I'm reading Gregory Blaxland's Golden Miller (Constable £3.25) and enjoying it. It's a nice change to find a racing book written by a layman — if you can call a military historian that.

Unfortunately, my money is earned, or rather lost, by tipping horses, not reading books, and there are more pressing matters on hand like the 197th running of the Manchester (November) Handicap at Doncaster this Saturday. The three-yearolds, Merry Kerry and King Top, are being backed as for a two-horse race, but a puzzle of these proportions requires a less Obvious solution and for a custom-built mystery horse you couldn't do better than Tommy Gosling's L'Apache. The 1971 Ladbroke Classic Trial winner was not seen after his Derby effort until April this year, when he proceeded to finish nearer last than first in a trio of richly endowed "Group 3" races. Then nothing, and all but forgotten, he reappeared in Saturday's Champion Stakes to take fifth place, some eighteen lengths behind The Brigadier. So what is this curious character doing in the line-up for the last big middle-distance gamble of the

season? Was last weekend's effort a shrewdlyplanned warm-up? Certainly somebody thought SO, for he's down to 10-1 with Ladbrokes and after so long a lay-off is not travelling to Yorkshire for the bracing air.

Both Willie Carson and the bookies consider Ksar to be the number one van Cutsem .chal lenger for Saturday's Observer Gold Cup, and Yet the trainer considers his other entry, Noble Decree, the best two-year-old in the stable. The latter took the first step along the path made famous by his sire, Vaguely Noble, when realising a six-figure sum at the Keeneland Yearling Sales, his next task is to carry Lester Piggott to victory here, and if all goes according to plan it would come as no surprise to find the ex-champion perched on his back for next season's classics.

Last year's Hermitage Chase at Newbury sew a fence by fence duel between Into View and Spanish Steps, the former finally prevailing by a short head.. This time the special conditions of the race (2.30 Sat) see Edward Courage's champion chaser with 51b less and a great chance of a first time out victory.

Assets £124.08: Outlay: £3 to win L'Apache, Noble Decree (at 7 to 1) and Spanish Steps.