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The Cheltenham Festival has ended with more than 250,000 people attending over the four days despite the coronavirus crisis.

The crowds were slightly down on last year with the meeting going ahead despite many other sports in Britain barring public attendance.

Scottish and Irish racing jurisdictions have announced spectator-free racing.

Cheltenham chief Ian Renton admitted his relief after the final day and said the club had followed government guidelines regarding health.

A total of 251,684 people went to the course compared to 266,557 in 2019, with Friday’s Gold Cup card drawing 68,859 racegoers, 2734 less than last year’s record for the day.

“I’m relieved as it has been an interesting week with everything going on around the racing, but it is fantastic the day’s racing we have had today – to see probably one of the best Gold Cups I can recall,” Renton said.

“There have been some fantastic results and at the end of the day, that is what it is all about.

“The crowd here have enjoyed four great days of sport in what is probably a slightly surreal atmosphere, with what was going on in the country.

“I think, for us, what has been incredibly helpful is the really consistent guidelines we have had from the government now for a fortnight.

“I’ve never been in any real doubt that was has happened over these four days wasn’t going to happen.”

Renton felt extra hygiene measures at the track, including banks of hand sanitiser dispensers and increased hand-washing facilities, had given racegoers confidence to attend the Festival.

“The team here have done a fantastic job introducing extra measures to ensure racegoers and participants coming here feel it is the right environment to come to,” he said.

“At the end of the day, what the meeting will be remembered for is the racing, and seeing such fantastic results and racing today is fantastic for everyone.

“It is wonderful the crowds have held up.”

 
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