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First day of Cheltenham Festival

Yesterday the weather the racecourse was sunny Credit: ITV News West Country

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.

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Final preparations ahead of Cheltenham Festival

Around 235,000 people are expected to descend on the famous race course Credit: ITV News West Country

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.

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Businesses gear up for the Cheltenham Festival

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.

Go-ahead for Cheltenham racecourse redevelopment

A CGI image of the proposed plans for the racecourse at Prestbury Park Credit: The Jockey Club / Cheltenham Racecourse

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.

Racecourse plans get green light

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.

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.

– Ian Renton, Cheltenham and South West Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses
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Racing sadness at news of McNamara paralysis

Jockey JT McNamara is said to be in a "very positive" frame of mind despite the injury. Credit: PA

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."

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