Cheltenham post another attendance record on memorable day at the Festival.

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Bryony Frost celebrates after winning the Ryanair Chase on Frodon. (Pic: Courtesy of Cheltenham Racecourse).

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CHELTENHAM racecourse on Thursday posted record attendance numbers for the third consecutive day as Paisley Park won the Stayers’ Hurdle and Frodon landed the Ryanair Chase.

Bryony Frost became the first woman to win the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase when scoring on the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old.

Then 40 minutes later the feel-good feeling continued when Paisley Park won the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle for popular owner Andrew Gemmell and trainer Emma Lavelle.

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s clerk of the course said on Thursday: “You couldn’t write better stories, could you? Three winners for J P McManus – two at the beginning of the day [Defi Du Seuil and Sire Du Berlais] and again in the last [Any Second Now]; Frodon and Bryony Frost; Andrew Gemmell and Emma Lavelle with Paisley Park; Lizzie Kelly on Siruh Du Lac… It just went on and on. A fantastic day’s racing – heart-warming stuff, I think.

“The weather didn’t disrupt us too much, either – we had a nice, dry afternoon.

“I think the times of the races were a little bit quicker than yesterday, so I think that Good to Soft, Soft in places was pretty well spot-on for the ground. And we are predicted a dry, breezy, cloudy day for the big one – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup day.”

A final field of 16 runners will contest the Gold Cup on ground that is now described as Good to Soft and includes last year’s winner Native River, who prevailed by four and a half lengths from Might Bite who reopposes.

“Native River is in good nick and it would be nice if the ground was good to soft or soft,” Richard Johnson, Native River’s jockey, said earlier this week.

“There is rain forecast and I am sure the course will be slightly on the slow side anyway, but obviously the softer the ground the better as it will bring his stamina into play.”

Native River is one of three runners for trainer Colin Tizzard who is also represented in the Gold Cup by Coral Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape and Thistlecrack, the 2016 Stayers’ Hurdle and King George VI Chase winner who was runner-up to Clan Des Obeaux in the 2018 King George at Kempton Park when last seen out.

*Thursday’s attendance on St Patrick’s Thursday came to 67,821, a new record figure since The Festival became a four-day extravaganza in 2005.

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