Cheltenham Festival revellers fashion arrive for day one

Giddy up glamour! Cheltenham Festival is awash with sequin frocks, statement suits and thigh-skimming minis as revellers return for the first time since 2020

  • Racegoers are pulling out all the fashion stops as the four-day Cheltenham Festival kicks off today
  • Crowds are returning to the track this year after organisers were forced to hold 2021’s behind closed doors
  • The event is a favourite of the Royal Family, including equestrian Zara Tindall and her husband Mike 

Fabulous racegoers have pulled out all the fashion stops on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival as the four-day meet returns to its pre-pandemic glory. 

Perfectly coiffed women donned eye-catching prints, thigh-skimming mini skirts and sequin frocks as they arrived in their thousands to take in the first day of the action. 

They were joined by VIPs including the Queen’s grandchildren Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, and Zara’s husband Mike.

The high-spirited event, a highlight of the British racing calendar, is welcoming punters for the first time since 2020 after the pandemic forced organisers to hold last year’s event behind closed doors.

The famous festival was one of the last major sporting events to be held with spectators before lockdown in March 2020. It was accused of being a Covid super-spreader event, with a number of famous faces including Andrew Parker Bowles, comedian Lee Mack and footballer Charlie Austin all contracting the virus.

Over the next four days, as many as 250,000 horse racing enthusiasts are set to descend on the Gloucestershire course. 

To add to the excitement, revellers are set to bask in above average temperatures 60F (15C) today – and they certainly didn’t hold back in dressing for the balmy weather. 

Here come the girls! Short dresses, sequins and bold prints were on show as revellers arrived at the Cheltenham Festival

Feathered fancy! Glamorous racegoers beam in their statement hats as they arrive for the first day of the four-day meet

Making a statement: A vibrant magenta print suit helps this racegoer stand out from the crowd. Right, Jade Holland Cooper

Pop of colour! From playful accessories to eye-catching outfits, vibrant springtime hues were the order of the day

Here come the girls! A gaggle of glamorous gals arrived in their race day finery ahead of the action of the four-day meet

Classic combos: Some couples returned to failsafe fashion combinations as they stepped out for the four-day event

Thigh’s the limit! Friends dressed in flirty mini dresses arrived hand-in-hand at Cheltenham Racecourse this morning

Grand entrance: Designer Jade Holland Cooper showed off her pins in Gucci tights. Right, time for a quick photo

Country chic! Racegoers in elegant coats have their photo taken in front of a flower photo wall on their arrival at the course

Matchy, matchy! Racegoers in purple hats arrive ahead of day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse

Fashion designer Jade Holland Cooper was among the early VIP arrivals and showed off her figure in a flirty mini skirt, statement belt and Gucci logo tights. 

Elsewhere a gaggle of friends opted for all-out glamour in figure-hugging dresses, strappy heels and vibrant contrast handbags. They teetered into the course hand-in-hand, ready for a day at the races. 

Not to be outdone, men also pushed the fashion boundaries in suits in bold, look-at-me prints. One gentlemen turned heads in his deep magenta two-piece featuring a Seventies-inspired print. 

Another group decided on a theme and co-ordinated their purple velvet bowties, purple hats and violet-striped shirts. 

There was also plenty of classic country combos on show. Revellers who prefer to play it safe stepped out in their tweed, felt hats and smart three-piece suits.  

It comes after horse racing legend Ruby Walsh lifted the lid on what Cheltenham week is like for jockeys, why Irish domination is bad for the sport – and the reasons the Festival needs a fifth day. 

But first, let me take a selfie! A group of man pause to take a snap on their arrival at Cheltenham Racecourse this morning

Splash of colour! A group of friends raised the style stakes as they arrived at Cheltenham in fabulous frocks

Ready to race! Some 250,000 revellers are expected over the course of the four-day Cheltenham Festival

Day out: Cheltenham Festival racegoers looking forward to the action after last year’s event was held behind closed doors

Getting ready: Punters prepare themselves for the busy day ahead on the morning of the first day of the Cheltenham Festival

Return of the crowds: The racecourse is back to welcoming thousands of punters a day after being effectively closed last year

Walsh is Cheltenham’s most successful ever jockey with 59 winners, and now the 42-year-old is carving himself a second career as a racing pundit and TV personality.

While the jockeys are the main focus of the week, Walsh may now relish his position away from the cut and thrust of the sport, as he reveals it is not always an enjoyable week for those sitting atop the horses.

Speaking ahead of the Festival, he told SportsMail: ‘I would not be looking forward to the next five days of the lives of Paul Townend, Davy Russell, Harry Skelton, Harry Cobden, Rachael Blackmore and others. You just have the constant worry. The dragging of time between now and next Tuesday – it will feel like five months. 

‘I was an absolute nightmare prior to the Cheltenham Festival. In team sports you are part of a squad and you go into camps or you are part of a squad. In racing, who has a media officer? Jockeys and trainers don’t. 

‘It is hard to keep away from the spotlight. There will be no-one heading to Dublin airport to get on a chartered flight. They’ll be getting on the flight next to whatever punter is also on the flight talking to them. 

‘There is not a team hotel or an escorted bus into the stadium, they will have to walk into the racecourse with the crowd. Being a jockey is very different at that level from the top sportspeople in other sports. You watch the golf or Wimbledon and you see the courtesy cars flying by, I never saw a courtesy car pull up to bring me to the races.

The main races are the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, the Champion Chase on Wednesday, Thursday’s Stayers’ Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday

As many as 250,000 horse racing fans are set to descend on the Gloucestershire course across this weekend for the first time since the start of the Covid pandemic

To add to the excitement, fans are set to bask in above-March-average temperatures 60F (15C) today. And while rain is expected to fall on Wednesday, fans are set to enjoy a sunny final two days of the festival, including on Friday for its famous Cheltenham Gold Cup

As many as 250,000 horse racing fans are set to descend on the Gloucestershire course across this weekend for the first time since the start of the Covid pandemic

Spectators arrive for day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. The four day event is taking place in Gloucestershire this week

‘It is a very different environment and it constantly keeps you in the pressure. You don’t want to be the person who is barking or snapping, but ultimately you are the one under pressure and I definitely did snap at people I shouldn’t have.’

For an industry so reliant on its punters, Walsh admits it is ‘huge’ to have fans back in attendance this week.

‘I was one of the lucky people who was at Cheltenham last year,’ he notes. ‘It was a strange experience and was nothing like I had ever experienced. Cheltenham is unique for National Hunt racing with its crowds.

‘That volume of people over four days, that cacophony of noise – it is incredible and it will play its part on horses, on trainers and on jockeys. It all adds to the mix and even simple things like helicopter traffic and helicopters are disappearing at the end of the racing, they are so loud. It is just noise and atmosphere.’

CHELTENHAM TIPS: All the best bets from day one of the Festival including the Champion Hurdle 

By Sam Turner for the Daily Mail

Sportsmail provides all the tips ahead of the opening day of Cheltenham Festival with selections from Britain’s No 1 tipster Sam Turner, eight-time champion jockey Peter Scudamore and festival winning jockey Lizzie Kelly.

Many believe Honeysuckle only needs to turn up today to be crowned a Unibet Champion Hurdle heroine once more.

Henry de Bromhead’s top-class mare defends a perfect record stretching back 14 races in this afternoon’ hurdling showpiece and bookmakers are loath to take many risks on her failing to deliver again.

A six-length rout of Sharjah last year stamped Honeysuckle as one of National Hunt racing’s new icons and she has done little to dispel that tag since, continuing to beat every rival put in front of her.

Defending champion Honeysuckle is odds-on favourite to win the Champion Hurdle

However, there is a chance she faces a stiffer test this time as a then out-of-kilter Epatante was second favourite last year, while Goshen, a considerably better hurdler going right-handed, was only 11-2.

This year’s renewal appears to feature greater strength in depth, with last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner APPRECIATE IT (Cheltenham, 3.30) representing the all-conquering Willie Mullins stable, while five-year-olds Teahupoo and Adagio are improving hurdlers.

2020 winner Epatante, back issues seemingly rectified, is another that cannot be dismissed along with Tommy’s Oscar, who boasts such a high cruising speed that he must surely boast at least a frame chance.

Willie Mullins’ 2021 Supreme winner Appreciate It will take on Honeysuckle on Tuesday

Honeysuckle’s supporters may not be quaking in the face of those challenges, but they have more to offer than last year’s opposition and, if Mullins has worked the oracle with Appreciate It, then his eight-year-old is a very exciting proposition. 

Last year’s Supreme wasn’t a vintage renewal but the selection was incredibly dominant in a time not dissimilar to that of Honeysuckle.

Mullins has resisted the urge to run Appreciate It this season, but, as we know from six-time festival winner Quevega, long absences are not an issue for the Closutton maestro.


1.30 Dysart Dynamo

2.10 Riviere D’etel

2.50 Gericault Roque

3.30 Appreciate It

4.10 Queens Brook (nap)

4.50 The Tide Turns

5.30 Run Wild Fred (nb)


1.30 Jonbon (nap)

2.10 Haut En Couleurs

2.50 Tea Clipper

3.30 Honeysuckle

4.10 Stormy Ireland (nb)

4.50 Hms Seahorse

5.30 Vanillier

 Northerner – 2.50 Vintage Clouds (nap)


Mullins could begin the meeting on the front foot with the explosive DYSART DYNAMO (Cheltenham, 1.30) in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The unbeaten six-year-old’s all-guns-blazing style is not necessarily perfect for this assignment, but there are other front-runners in the field and I’m hoping Paul Townend may be able to get a tow into the race without expending all the petrol.

The imposing Constitution Hill represents an enormous danger and it isn’t difficult to envisage this strong stayer at two miles arriving with a big challenge at the final flight. Hopefully, Dysart Dynamo will be able to withstand that late assault.


Edwardstone represents one of the best British hopes for the week and, given a virtually blemish-free record over fences, is extremely difficult to knock — so I won’t! 

But RIVIERE D’ETEL (Cheltenham, 2.10) has probably achieved more in her chasing career and was unlucky not to win the Irish equivalent of this race at the Dublin Racing Festival. Coeur Sublime, third that day, is a tall price for a horse of his ability, with some firms offering four places.

Edwardstone represents one of the best British hopes at Cheltenham this week


This race has been kind to the connections of GERICAULT ROQUE (Cheltenham, 2.50), who landed this race twice with Un Temps Pour Tout in 2016 and 2017.


QUEENS BROOK (Cheltenham, nap, 4.10) looked as though the run would do her good when chasing home Burning Victory at Punchestown last month and she looks a decent bet to reverse placings.


GORDON ELLIOTT may enjoy a favourable conclusion with THE TIDE TURNS (Cheltenham, 4.50) holding a strong hand in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, while RUN WILD FRED (Cheltenham, nb, 5.30) boasts all the attributes to lift the finale.


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