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St Patrick's Thursday at Cheltenham

First Lieutenant and Riverside Theatre jump the fence during the Ryanair Chase, on St Patrick's Thursday 2013. Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The third day of racing at the Cheltenham festival gets underway later.

Today is named St Patrick's Thursday, so spectators heading to the course can expect to see not just the horses but some Irish themed celebrations too.

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Festival off to a peaceful start say police

Crowds enjoying the racing at Prestbury Park today Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Gloucestershire Police say the Cheltenham Festival got off to a "peaceful start" with only a few crimes reported.

Just one man was arrested - in connection to handling of counterfeit money. Police say they'd like the good start to the festivities "to continue into the evening."

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All smiles at the Cheltenham Festival

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

The racing hasn't even begun but there are already plenty of happy people at this years Cheltenham Festival. Almost a quarter of a million people are expected to attend the four day festival which is seen as one of the greatest events in the racing calendar.

Horses aren't the only entertainment on offer at the festival Credit: ITV News West Country

The first race is the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at 13.30. It's estimated punters will wager a total of £250 million over the course of the festival.

Punters expected to wager £250m at Cheltenham

235,000 people are expected to attend the 4 day festival Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

One of the biggest events in the horse racing calendar gets under way today as thousands of punters descend on Cheltenham for Gold Cup week.

The Irish have always been an integral part of the prestigious National Hunt Festival. Organisers normally expect about 15,000 Irish race-goers every day.

More than 200,000 pints of Guinness are expected to be drunk at Prestbury Park as around 235,000 people attend the four-day festival. Punters are expected to wager £250 million during the week.

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