Dobbin gets his oats with a new filly...

Richard Kay

Last updated at 10:46 31 March 2006

Grand National-winning jockey Tony Dobbin's hopes that the racing fraternity would be gossiping about his riding 25-1 hope Direct Access in the big race at Aintree have been dashed. Instead, the chatter from the stables is all about the Irish jockey's love-life.

For as the Ulsterman prepares himself for another crack at the world's most prestigious steeplechase, I discover he has left his wife for another woman.

Behind the haystacks at the racing yard in Cumbria where he rides for leading trainer Nicky Richards, Dobbin, 33, has been secretly romancing the nation's leading female amateur jockey.

Pretty Rose Davidson, 26, who is the daughter of a reclusive property tycoon, keeps seven racehorses at the Greystoke yard she shares with Dobbin.

Having placed his wife Vicky in the unsaddling closure and moved out of their marital home at Calthwaite, near Penrith, Dobbin is now believed to be sharing a nosegay with lovely Rose.

Rose, a graduate in fine arts from Edinburgh University, is one of four daughters of Duncan Davidson, a Ronnie Barker lookalike and grandson of the 15th Duke of Norfolk, whose company Persimmon Homes has made him a £250 million fortune.

Rose previously dated former Lambourn trainer Ed James, but recently asserted she was too busy riding out six days a week to entertain any thought of boyfriends.

Her dedication to racing has given her ten winners this season, five more than her nearest rival.

Meanwhile, Dobbin has had 84 winners this season and is reckoned to be one of the top five jockeys in the country, having steadfastly worked his way up through the ranks.

He tells me he will be riding the 11-year-old gelding Direct Access on

Saturday week, but when I ask to talk to him about his new romance, he replies curtly: "No."

But his left-behind wife tells me: "It's very distressing. I don't know where he is, or if or when he's coming back."

Liz's earthquake trip gives Jemima a jolt

Jemima khan's divine bottom lip is aquiver with rage at the antics of Elizabeth Hurley. The late billionaire James Goldsmith's beautiful daughter, 32, is outraged that her ex-husband Imran Khan invited Liz — former lover of her current beau Hugh Grant — to visit him in his native Pakistan and highlight the work he is doing with victims of the recent earthquake.

To add to the indignity, Hurley's endeavours are splashed over 13 pages of a feelgood magazine this week.

These girls have form. Only last summer, Jemima stormed out of Sir Elton John's white tie and tiara ball after Hurley suggestively sucked Hugh's finger.

Says an equally irate friend: "Jemima is incensed by Liz's antics. She thought it was totally inappropriate of Liz to go out to Pakistan. She's also absolutely fed up of Liz constantly phoning Hugh."

Not that one would know from the reply kaftan-clad Liz — who was accompanied on the trip by her Indian boyfriend Arun Nayar — gave when asked if her presence had caused any awkwardness with her and Jemima.

She said sweetly: "No, of course not. I mentioned it to Hugh before I came and everyone was cool."

Perhaps it was in one of those all-too-frequent phone calls.

Sir Ian Blair managed to avoid Lord goldsmith's baleful gaze during Wednesday night's dinner for the Association of Chief Police Officers at London's Guildhall, thanks to some skilful table-planning.

The Scotland Yard Commissioner — who secretly taped a telephone conversation with the Attorney General, much to his subsequent displeasure — was seated with wife Felicity at Table 13, about 150ft from the top table, from where the Government's law officer addressed the throng.

Says my eyewitness: "Sir Ian was behind a pillar completely out of view of Lord Goldsmith." Spoilsports...

What was it that put debonair television pundit Michael Portillo off his food so unexpectedly at fashionable Italian restaurant Scalini in Chelsea the other night?

The former Conservative Cabinet Minister seemed all set for a sumptuous repast before he spotted mischievous publicist Max Clifford seated at another table with his latest protegee, Russian-born classical singer Marina Laslo.

Just as pretty Miss Laslo was urging Max to introduce her to Portillo, the This Week regular summoned the maitre d' and asked to be moved to another table. Even this failed to restore his appetite, however. "It's a bit late to eat," he declared as he headed for the exit at 9.15pm.

Lord Lucan's chum Bill Shand Kydd last night paid tribute to his late brother Peter, second husband of the Princess of Wales's mother Frances. The bon viveur and war hero, who has died aged 80, devoted his life to Scotland and sheep-farming in Australia, an indulgence funded by a family fortune founded on the invention of Polyfilla. His funeral is in Aldeburgh on Thursday.

Says Bill: "He was a wonderful brother. He was happy in the end to be close to his first wife, Janet, in Suffolk."

No, not Gordon Bennett...

Former atomic Kitten Kerry Katona was an ornament to Wednesday night's cerebral black-tie dinner for the British Book Awards at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.

Miss Katona was in attendance because she's just signed a £1 million deal to write her autobiography.

Thankfully now completely recovered from her nasty experience in a Spanish strip club when her childhood sweetheart Dave Cunningham knocked her unconscious after a slight difference of opinion, Kerry was more than happy to pose for a picture with Alan Bennett, who won the Reader's Digest Author Of The Year prize for his memoir Untold Stories.

When asked if she had ever read one of Bennett's books, Kerry replied sweetly: "No, I never 'ave."

Nor had she ever seen any of his plays. The former I'm A Celebrity... winner added: "To be honest, I've no idea who he is."

Steve Morgan

Further to my item on February 22, I now learn that the property tycoon Steve Morgan and his former mistress Janet Hill reached a legal settlement in 2001, through their solicitors. This settlement provided her and their son with an annual income, a home, a car and maintenance for the child including payment in full of the child's school fees throughout his education. I am sorry that my earlier article was misleading and am happy to clarify the position.

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