HALF the City is due to decamp to Berkshire this week for Royal Ascot, which runs from today until Saturday. As usual, the raft of financiers meandering about the racecourse will be a mix of those enjoying a corporate jolly and those who’ve invested their wealth in horses – two of whom are tipped as good bets for today’s action.<br /><br />Paco Boy, running in the Queen Anne Stakes, is part-owned by Parkwood Property Investments partner Derek Lucie-Smith and is second-favourite to win the race despite a poor performance at Newbury. Lucie-Smith, meanwhile, can use the experience as a pleasant warm-up to the Property Race Day at Sandown on 3 July. The event, which he chairs, is in its third year and fast becoming a favourite on the property networking scene.<br /><br />Also in the running is Fleeting Spirit – the four-year-old filly part-owned by Cenkos founder Andy Stewart and Newsmith Capital hedge fund manager Paul Roy – who is third favourite for the King’s Stand Stakes later today.<br /><br />Perhaps it’s finally time for the City’s luck to turn?<br /><br /><strong>BARGAIN BASEMENT</strong><br />Wealthy folk on a mission to snap up a bargain investment need look no further.<br /><br />A Mayfair townhouse is to be offered up in a residential receivership sale on 22 July – with an eye-watering guide price of £20m, the largest repossession anyone can ever remember seeing. The Charles Street pad, as you might expect, comes complete with underground swimming pool, a lift to transport people in style between the six floors, and a four-storey mews extension (with planning permission).<br /><br />Mind you, applicants should know that they’ll be benefiting from the demise of 35-year-old real estate magnate Cevdet Caner, who’s been forced to give up the house after his property investment business Level One collapsed last year.<br /><br />It’s a good job he’s got a second swanky pad in Monaco to fall back on, eh?<br /><br /><strong>DIAMOND GEEZER</strong><br />Congratulations to Nomura’s Rob Nicol, who recently proved himself to be the most savvy worker in the City when it comes to solving riddles about the Square Mile.<br /><br />Nicol was crowned the winner of Leadenhall Market’s Diamond Hunt, which saw hundreds of City workers combing the streets trying to solve the clues as to the diamond’s whereabouts. <br /><br />The sparkler – worth a tidy £5,000 – was eventually discovered at the foot of Monument. Oh, for the benefit of hindsight.<br /><br /><strong>SORE SPOTS</strong><br />To lunch last week with legendary Slaughter and May M&A lawyer Nigel Boardman, who tells me that he’s still recovering from an arduous charity bike ride he recently completed through deepest, darkest Zambia. <br /><br />Boardman and colleagues Glen James and William Underhill returned a few weeks ago from their tough 500km jaunt, but their hands – and more tender parts of their anatomy – are still numb from the vibrating of the bikes over the rutted dirt tracks.<br /><br />The trio have raised over £90,000 for poverty charity African Revival from their adventures, which included Boardman nearly knocking himself out by falling from his bike and James proving himself enthusiastic, if not adept, at performing the Zambians’ ritual courtship dance.<br /><br />They’d love to bump up the funds raised into six figures, and would welcome any donations at www.justgiving.com/slaughterandmay-zambiabikechallenge. Surely the suffering of those poor bottoms is worth a bob or two?<br /><br /><strong>LIFE O’RILEY</strong><br />What better way to reward a team for some serious hard work that to take them off sailing around the south coast of England on a jolly?<br /><br />The staff at City stockbroking firm Charles Stanley headed down to Plymouth on Friday after putting out their annual results last week, for the firm’s Annual Passage Race, run out of the Royal Western Yacht Club.<br /><br />Resident sailing enthusiast Magnus Wheatley, the firm’s head of communications, joined crew members Chris Evans, Nigel Odling, Katherine Burns and Robert Fletcher to captain the winning vessel “Major Clanger”, cheered on by his 20 month old son Harry. <br /><br />(I hear not all was smooth sailing after one of the crew lost a winch handle overboard and was charged £549.99 for a new one, though luckily for the expenses department, he managed to secure a refund before it was too late.)<br /><br />But the entire team basked in glorious sunshine at the regatta and emerged smiling yesterday morning to get stuck into another week. That’s the life.<br /><br /><strong>BBC BLOOPERS</strong><br />Typos always have the potential to tickle people pink, but I hear the Beeb excelled itself yesterday when it posted subtitles online for an internal meeting being shown to other employees via video link.<br /><br />Bloopers included “sexual aura” instead of “orientation”; “hideously wide” in the place of “white” in a chat about diversity, and “for those of you watching on wine” – a situation which many workers, in all probability, were fervently dreaming of.<br /><br />But The Capitalist’s personal favourite has to be the use of the phrase “as Marx said”, referring to something director-general Mark Thompson had uttered. At least the BBC’s minions were giving their own dear leader the respect he deserves.