A record-breaking crowd of more than 63,000 people descended on Cheltenham yesterday for the opening of the famous horse racing festival.
Several notable individuals from the City made the two-hour journey, including renowned founder of Collins Stewart Andy Stewart and ex-Barclays banker Rich Ricci, both of whom have horses racing throughout the week.
Other notable people in attendance included Irish businessman and horse owner JP McManus, Mark and Zara Tindall and restaurateur Mark Hix who was cooking up a £90, seven-course-meal at The Park hotel, a 10-minute walk from the racecourse.
McManus will not be the only Irish horse owner attending, with RyanAir boss Michael O’Leary, who is currently leading McManus in the Irish owners’ championship, expected to be there.
Punters are estimated to wager up to £200m at the event, with the hot favourites for day one being the Rich Ricci horses.
It is estimated the bookies saved £50m in payouts after Ricci’s last horse Annie Power fell at the final hurdle. Several London-based firms were sponsoring races at the event, including Neptune Investment Management, recruitment agency Pertemps and insurance broker JLT.
Cheltenham offers the largest amount of prize money of any jumps festival in the world, with £3.9m available to participants, and just over £1m of that handed out on Gold Cup day.
About 120,000 bottles of wine were imbibed at the event last year, a record set to be surpassed in 2015.