GOODWOOD’S glorious Festival of Speed begins today, continuing City socialites’ merry lurch into the silly season after the combined joys of Epsom, Ascot and Wimbledon.<br /><br />This year’s motor extravaganza is themed “True Grit – Epic Feats of Endurance”, and is celebrating the 100 year anniversaries of petrolhead favourites Bugatti, Audi and Morgan.<br /><br />Apparently, ticket sales are actually up on last year, by an impressive five per cent – a feat the organisers are attributing to increasing numbers of Britons staying in the UK this summer, faced with the dual prospect of a weak pound and a half-decent English summer (for once).<br /><br />No such joy for the crunched-out corporate hospitality sector, though: a spokeswoman informs me tactfully that business interest has “held up, but is not ahead of last year”, while some of the corporate hospitality suites have even been turned over to the more eager public.<br /><br />Either it’s languishing somewhere down in the doldrums, or more and more firms are “doing a Royal Bank of Scotland” (read: refusing to offer themselves up as sitting ducks in suites with their names plastered all over them).<br /><br /><strong>GRAND AMBITION</strong><br />Former double Grand National winner Richard Dunwoody must be fervently wishing he’d never put himself up to complete the bone chillingly-titled 1000 mile challenge – which involves (yep, you guessed it) walking a thousand miles in one thousand consecutive hours.<br /><br />Dunwoody is currently 34 days into his hairbrained challenge and aims to walk the last mile on 10th July up the home straight of Newmarket racecourse on Darley July Cup day.<br /><br />Unsurprisingly for a man with his contacts, Dunwoody has had oodles of support – and today, he’s being joined on his jaunt by both former jump jockey JP McNamara and Paul Stewart, the son of veteran City financier and Cenkos founder Andy Stewart.<br /><br />McNamara will join him for a 10 mile stretch, while Stewart is attempting just one mile – an incredible feat if he achieves it, since he’s in recovery from a recent severe snowboarding accident and was told he might never walk again. The very best of luck to them.<br /><br /><strong>TASTE SENSATION</strong> <br />Old traditions die hard, it seems. Japanese banking giant Nomura’s regular Thursday curry day is legendary in the City, but I hear the firm has now extended the ritual to its new Canary Wharf headquarters, which it took over from Lehman Brothers when it acquired the failed titan’s Asian, European and Middle East operations last September.<br /><br />The Capitalist’s spies report that Nomura’s famous Katsu curry was introduced to former Lehmanites last week for the first time – and the piquant gusts of air floating down from the canteen drew such crowds that the dish sold out in under an hour. If only all integrations could run so smoothly.<br /><br /><strong>FINE FIGURE</strong><br />There’s no rest for the wicked: spotted out enjoying himself at a dinner on Tuesday night was Tim Weller, the chief executive and founder of Incisive Media.<br /><br />Despite reports that the banks are closing in on a debt swap deal for the business-to-business publisher that would leave them in control of over four fifths of the company, Weller looked surprisingly calm and collected as he worked the room.<br /><br />He was also looking particularly svelte, leading many to question whether he’s currently testing his willpower on an Atkins-style diet plan. All credit to the man if so – he’s certainly got a darned sight more self-restraint than yours truly.<br /><br /><strong>CITY RACERS</strong><br />Under two weeks to go until this year’s Standard Chartered Great City Race, and runners all over the Square Mile are busy making last minute preparations for the event, the most hotly-contested race in the City calendar.<br /><br />Even if you’re not running, the organisers are urging friends and colleagues to come down on 16 July to support – and who knows, you might even bump into some of the City A.M. team doing their bit for Standard Chartered’s blindness charity Seeing is Believing.<br /><br />If you want to help us along with our fundraising, any donations would be gladly received at www.seeingisbelieving.org.uk/CityAM – every little helps!<br /><br /><strong>SUNSHINE BLUES</strong><br />Why is it that come rain or shine, we Brits always seem to find an excuse to grumble about the country coming to a halt?<br /><br />In February, the City was brought to a standstill by six inches of snow. Five months on, and we’re basking in glorious sunshine – and yet another piece of puffery lands in The Capitalist’s inbox with grave warnings about staff pulling sickies to enjoy the weather and watch Andy Murray at Wimbledon, costing us upwards of £50m.<br /><br />Mountains and molehills, anyone?