Its Ladies Day at Cheltenham and the crowds have been out not only to watch the racing but to inspect the fashions
The first day of the Cheltenham Festival has attracted huge crowds today. Among them some famous faces.
The sun was out at Cheltenham today as the final preparations were made for the start of the festival on Tuesday
Today is the first day of the Cheltenham Racing Festival, and the first of a quarter of a million racegoers head to Prestbury Park for the most famous national hunt racing festival in the world.
Irish horse Hurricane Fly is going for a third victory in the big race of the day, the Champion Hurdle.
A £45 million redevelopment of the spectator areas of Cheltenham racecourse will begin just ten days after this years festival.
Our sports corespondent Matthias Kurth spoke to managing director Ian Renton about the revamp:
Simon Claisse the Clerk of the course at Cheltenham says preparations for this year's festival have been a little smoother despite the recent bad weather. This time last year, freezing temperatures hampered work with much of the course being covered with protective sheeting to guard against frost.
Tomorrow (Tues) sees the start of this year's Cheltenham Festival - the biggest annual sporting event in the region and the spiritual home of national hunt horse racing.
Around 235,000 people are expected to descend on the famous old Gloucestershire race course over the next four days, which culminates, of course, with the Gold Cup on Friday.
Final preparations are underway for the Cheltenham Festival which starts tomorrow. The event is one of the most prestigious on the National Hunt horse racing calendar. More than two hundred thousand people are expected to attend the meeting over the next four days.
One of the world's biggest and most famous racehorse festivals gets underway next week and that means a huge boost for businesses in one part of our region.
The Cheltenham Festival attracts people from across the world and our Gloucestershire Correspondent Ken Goodwin has been talking to businesses in the town, who are ready for the busiest and most profitable week of the year.
Planning permission was granted last night for a £45 million pound redevelopment of Cheltenham racecourse. It's the racecourse's largest-ever investment in new facilities and includes a new grandstand and multi-tiered viewing platform for the parade ring.
Work is due to start after the Festival meeting next March and is not expected to disrupt the race programme at Prestbury Park.
Cheltenham Borough Council has granted planning permission to the £45 million redevelopment of Cheltenham Racecourse. Work is due to go ahead after next year's Cheltenham Festival in March.
– Ian Renton, Cheltenham and South West Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses
I am delighted that Cheltenham Borough Council has approved the application and am most grateful for the very positive support received from the local community. The new development will enable us to provide facilities for our racegoers in keeping with the quality of the National Hunt Racing on offer at Cheltenham and ensure that Cheltenham Racecourse enhances its status as a world-class sports venue for many years to come.
Grand National-winning rider Mick Fitzgerald has spoken of his sadness and of the risks involved in racing after it was revealed by the family of rider JT McNamara that the serious neck injury he suffered in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival has led to paralysis.
Leading amateur McNamara, 37, was injured when Galaxy Rock fell at the first fence in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup and had to be airlifted to Bristol, where he remains, although plans are to be made for a transfer to Dublin in due course.
Fitzgerald told Sky Sports News: "It's a mixture of sadness, it's the end of a great career for a jockey who was an amateur and did it because he loved the game.
"When it happened at the time a sombre (mood) descended on Cheltenham, everyone had everything crossed and plenty of people were praying their worse fears wouldn't be realised.
"This is the end of a glittering career."