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Ryanair putting on extra flights as thousands head off to Cheltenham

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Tiger Roll triumphs on day two of Cheltenham last year

Tiger Roll triumphs on day two of Cheltenham last year

Tiger Roll triumphs on day two of Cheltenham last year

And they're off, with thousands crossing the Irish Sea for the annual Cheltenham racing festival.

Around a third of this year's tickets were sold to Irish fans.

But racegoers have been advised to wrap up and keep dry, as 12mm of rain is forecast to fall tomorrow.

Over the weekend the weather was warm, but with downpours expected up to lunchtime tomorrow the racing may start on soft ground.

Predicted

Ryanair said it had put on 30 extra flights - and more than 190 flights in total - to and from Birmingham, Bristol and East Midlands for Cheltenham week.

The airline estimated its aircraft will carry some 25,000 racing fans to and from the festival. It has also sponsored a grade one race which will take place on Thursday.

Bookmaker Paddy Power predicted around €1.13bn will be bet across the industry for Cheltenham. Punters from Ireland are expected to wager €452m of that figure.

And the company spoke about its exposure to Irish horses running at the event.

"If the three 'Irish bankers' - the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll, Sir Erec, trained by young buck Joseph O'Brien, and Irish Gold Cup hopeful Presenting Percy - all win, it will trigger the biggest payout of the week," said a Paddy Power spokesperson.

"And if the latter wins, what his enigmatic trainer, Galway native Pat Kelly, does next could be the greatest cliffhanger of the week as the world's media and racing fans alike wait with bated breath to see if he breaks his silence to the press for the first time."

The annual battle between Irish and British horses to claim The Prestbury Cup is already well under way, with Irish punters showing huge support for our chances at Cheltenham this year.

The bookmaker has given Ireland a 55.6pc chance of winning the cup.


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