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TV stars, sports legends and royalty join the party as Irish beat bookies on Paddy's Day

THE festivities at Cheltenham racecourse continued long after the final horse left the track, with punters flocking to Prestbury Park to see Irish band the Hothouse Flowers take to the stage last night.

Hundreds of fans from Ireland and further afield turned the course green as they finished St Patrick's Day off in style, by watching the popular group perform all of their best known hits, before hitting Cheltenham hotspots including The Beehive, The Retreat and Club 21.

Sporting legends such as former Chelsea footballer Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, snooker player Jimmy White, Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn and Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp and his son, former Liverpool footballer Jamie Redknapp, were among those spotted celebrating all things Irish.

They stayed on at the track to mark another successful day, and were happy to soak up the jovial atmosphere from their private box.



FRIEND

Jamie explained how he was very disappointed that his father's horse Bygones In Brid failed to romp home in the final race of the day on Wednesday.

The Sky Sports pundit was flying solo, with his TV presenter wife Louise Redknapp staying at home to celebrate St Patrick's Day with the couple's children. Instead, he was accompanied by his close friend, ITV chat-show presenter Jeremy Kyle, who enjoyed his third day out at Prestbury Park.

Jeremy told the Herald how he was determined to make the festival given that next year he may have to miss it if it clashes with filming for his new US-based TV series.

"It's my favourite week of the year, it's the only time I get off work," he explained.

"Racing is probably my number one passion and of course I love it when the Irish people come over and win every race at Cheltenham," he laughed "My absolute favourite of the week was Big Buck's so I'm delighted. I never say how much money I put on.

"I always say I'd take Cheltenham over anything, including a week in Barbados. I mean you have the atmosphere, the horses. Even the sun came out this week.

"We're moving the family to America on July 27. I've signed a five-year deal to do a show for 187 channels in America and then I've another three years at ITV in England so, yeah, I'll be working 360 days of the year from now on."

Jeremy went on to explain how he was planning to branch into horse-racing himself in the future and was working with Andrew Balding. Earlier in the day England's rugby captain Mike Tindall made the most of his time off the pitch due to injury by joining his glamorous fiancee Zara Phillips at the track.

The talented centre player has been ruled out of tomorrow's Six Nations clash against Ireland at the Aviva stadium, with an ankle injury.

Tindall (32) appeared to be more than happy to soak up the jovial atmosphere with his royal bride-to-be, however, with the couple joining the great unwashed in front of the grandstand to watch the big race of the day, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, which was won by Big Buck's.

Mike's future mother-in-law, Princess Anne, also emerged from the royal box to watch Kildare man Ruby Walsh saddle the Stewart family owned racehorse to victory.



TEARS

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary also stepped out to the parade ring to congratulate Trevor Hemmings, owner of Albertas Run, on his big win in the Ryanair Steeple Chase. O'Leary appeared to be in high spirits, despite breaking down in tears earlier in the day, as he discussed his father Ted's battle with cancer during an interview with Channel 4.

Publican Charlie Chawke meanwhile, was in flying form after his horse Son Amix came in second place in the second race. The Dubliner was congratulated by new mum Tamso Doyle of Horse Racing Ireland, trainer Jessica Harrington's daughter Emma and Joe Walsh.

Other names at the track included Irish political figures Charlie McCreevy and Jim McDaid and Banagher singer Mark Boylan.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is expected to attend today's Gold Cup meeting, as well as Queen Elizabeth.

Bookies, meanwhile, are hoping to recoup some of their losses, after being taken to the cleaners by the Irish punters over the past three days.

lnolan@herald.ie