The Insider has an early tip for next year’s Grand National and encourages Peter Cullum to take a few more risks

Speaking of Peter Cullum, the insurance market’s greatest legend and a renowned taker of risks, has apparently found a new hobby. The great man, 40th in the Sunday Times rich list, was presented with a Harley-Davidson motorbike for his birthday, by his wife. So he did what any right-minded man would do, and headed off to Wales for a six-day intensive course to get his motorbike licence. Sadly he failed on the first attempt – because he went too slowly. Peter Cullum failing for going too slow? Now that’s got to be a first…

Using every trick in the race

My old friend Chris Giles has his hands full these days, running one of the country’s biggest consolidators and keeping an eye out for the transformational deal that will rock the market.

But I’m glad to hear a whisper that he still finds time to indulge in an old passion. Giles has bought a horse, called Tricky Trickster, for £320,000 and plans to enter it in the 2010 Grand National. An unofficial spokesman for Giles denied speculation that he was looking to buy up the entire field to ensure a certain victory.

Spend and tax policy

Elsewhere in consolidator-land, Peter Cullum has donated £10m to facilitate the launch of the Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship. The cash is small change to Cullum, but will be used to launch the careers and businesses of those wishing to emulate him. The donation won glowing praise from Lord Mandelson, who attended its launch last week at the Cass Business School in London. Next door, oddly enough, was a presentation on the tax problems facing philanthropists. Clearly, no one told Cullum.

A caring sermon

Poetry and insurance are not exactly two words that go together, but that has not scared off Ecclesiastical from dipping its toes into the literary world. The insurer, which specialises in charities, has published a booklet of work from four of Britain’s up-and-coming poets, writing on their experience and reaction of the care organisations they had visited. Ecclesiastical will freely distribute 7,000 copies of the booklet to professional carers.

The fine art of getting on down

Talking of culture, those lovely people at Hiscox are sponsoring the British Council’s exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Now, my friends at Insurance Times are not generally renowned for their love of art, but they tripped along nevertheless last week for a tour – and one exhibit in particular was a hit. The red-and-gold sequinned turntables went down a treat with the team, who said they reminded them of their work nights out…

If you can’t stand the heat

There’s no denying that the past month was a scorcher. And with temperatures soaring in the high 20s and the Tube turning into a 40-degree sauna I am told one senior underwriter at Lloyd’s decided to relax the dress-code policy and arrive in shorts and a T-shirt.

Unfortunately he was stopped by the doorman and a few strong words were exchanged. But the doorman stood his ground and refused to let him in. Good to know that Lloyd’s traditions are still de rigueur.

Work from home or go to Southwark

Legal & General (L&G) had to close its Moorgate offices this week, apparently due to a gas leak that happened during the night. There was a whoop of joy as some lucky employees got to “work” from home. But others could not take the day off as L&G’s contingency plans meant having to work in the Southwark and Kingswood offices. However being in the trade I am sure its building insurance cover was adequate … at least I hope so.