A feast of jump racing unfolded in dramatic style in front of sellout crowds as Cheltenham Festival reached a nail-biting climax.
Sensational Lord Windermere drew the loudest applause of the day as he romped home to victory in the Gold Cup, denying Gloucestershire-trained The Giant Bolster, who put in a brave shift to finish in third.
Organisers hailed one of the most successful race weeks in years, with a sellout crowd of 67,814 basking in glorious spring sunshine yesterday.
A touch of stardust was provided by celebrities such as Lilly Allen, Alex James, Jeremy Clarkson and Princess Anne, who was on hand to hand out the Gold Cup.
But it was a difficult day for three jockeys; Daryl Jacob was thrown from Port Melon, which seemed startled at the start of the race, and he was taken to hospital with a broken leg, knee and elbow. The horse ran into the railing at the side of the track and threw Jacob over it onto the concrete apron, narrowly missing a TV cameraman, but smashing into the camera.
Ruby Walsh, the festival's all-time leading jockey, broke his right arm after a heavy fall in opening race, forcing him to withdraw from the Gold Cup, and another jockey, Chris Timmons, was stopped from racing after he failed an alcohol breath test
"It was an amazing finish to the Gold Cup race," said breathless spectator Sally Bennett, 33, from Cirencester. "Lord Windermere just came from nowhere to steal it - I don't think anyone saw it coming.
"It has been an amazing week and to have such perfect conditions, you couldn't ask for any more."
Spectators clutched their betting slips tightly as they roared their horses on to the line. Meanwhile, revellers in the Guinness Village knocked back pints of the black stuff in a bid to calm their nerves.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds were rung through the tills at betting shops across the racecourse throughout the week as bookies reported an upturn in the number of people having a flutter.
One person for whom the day held greater significance was tetraplegic Andrew James, who was left in a wheelchair after falling off a horse in a point-to-point race 23 years ago.
"I love coming here every year," said the 56-year-old, from Abergavenny. "It doesn't bring back bad memories for me. You've got to move on with your live and I just love the whole occasion."
5.55pm: The transcript of the stewards' enquiry into the Gold Cup race was televised and here is the transcript.
Asked to give evidence, Tom Scudamore, who was riding The Giant Bolster, said: "I am carried across, as you can see from the head-on. At no point have I had to stop riding, but I am taken across."
Where did the interference come from?
Tom Scudamore: "From my inside, it's come from. But again, that is it. My fellow is quite quirky. First of all, he has gone to get a run. He is on my left there, so I have pulled my stick through and I have started to get carried across again, but at no point has it made any difference to my finish-line position."
Mr Casey, did you suffer any interference?
David Casey, on First Lieutenant,: "Yes, I did. I jumped the last upsides Mr Scudamore on my outside with plenty of room on the inside. I was trying to keep a straight line as best I could from the last home. The horse on my inside has drifted out across me and basically from a stride after the last, has carried me across the track. The closer we got to the winning post, the further he carried me, giving a slight nudge into the third horse. I felt at the time I was going to get up on top with a straight run. I was actually upsides I think at the line, or just after the line, and, two strides after, I am in front. I felt that, with a straight run, I would have won the race. I got interfered with a couple a times because he has carried me across and across and then I got a slight bump and he pushed me into Mr Scudamore's horse as well. I felt all the way up the straight I was being impeded."
Davy Russell, on Lord Windermere, said: "My horse came to the last and landed and ran and hit the front. Silviniaco Conti just came across and towards and, as he did, my horse maybe was intimidated by Silviniaco Conti. But, saying that, my horse is pricking his ears the whole way up the straight and I am always going to end up holding the second horse. Without a doubt, I am on the best horse in the race and I am never going to be passed the whole way. If I had continued going aggressively, I was never going to be passed."
David Casey: "He says that, if he had to go round again, he would have been in front but, I think I am actually in front two strides after the line. I we had gone round again, I would have been in front."
Davy Russell: "Just to say that I had stopped riding at that stage. My horse is very idle and was pricking his ears. There's no doubt I was on the best horse."
Stewards' secretary Paul Barton explained: "Clearly there was interference. As the winner has gone for home up the run-in, he has stayed straight for a large part of the run-in and then started to shift right into the whip. In doing so, he moved across onto the second and caused minor interference to the third.
"We looked at how the horses were going at the time, listened to the jockeys' evidence and on balance we did not think the minor interference had cost the second the race. If we have any doubt, the doubt goes to the horse in front."
5.50pm: Jim Culloty joined a rare group who have both ridden and trained a Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup when Lord Windermere prevailed in an incident packed renewal of Jump racing's most-prestigious event.
Culloty, who partnered three-time Gold Cup winner Best Mate, had an anxious few minutes while waiting for the result of stewards' enquiry into interference before Lord Windermere was confirmed the winner.
"They were the worst few minutes of my life," said Culloty. "This was so unbelievable that I almost expected to lose the race.
Culloty makes history as fourth man to ride & train Cheltenham Gold Cup winner
Jim Culloty followed in the footsteps of Fred Winter, Pat Taaffe and Jonjo O'Neill in becoming the fourth man to both ride and train the winner of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup today.
The stewards decided to leave the placings as they were after a lengthy enquiry.
5.15pm: Racecourse spokeswoman Sophia Brudenell hailed the week as a "huge success" with some 234,000 people through the gates over the four days - a similar figure to last year.
"It has been absolutely fantastic," she said. "We've been lucky with the conditions and the week really has had a bit of everything.
"Although the British had lots of winners on Thursday the Irish came back strongly today and overall we could not have asked for more."
She said now all eyes would turn to the redevelopment of the venue's grandstand with builders set to move in in 10 days.
"We hand the site over a week on Monday so it will continue to be extremely busy at the racecourse as we work towards that," she added.
3.40pm: Lord Windermere came from last to first to snatch victory in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Trained by Jim Culloty, who won three Gold Cups on Best Mate as a jockey, last year's RSA Chase hero just prevailed from On His Own after an amazing run to the line.
3.30: Racecourse bosses have announced a sellout crowd for Gold Cup day, with a grand total of 67,814 people in attendance.
3.20pm: Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been rung through the tills at betting shops across the racecourse throughout the week.
Bookmaker Jill Davies, who works for Bet Fred, said the punters had enjoyed the upper hand over the bookies so far.
"I think the punters are winning so far," she said. "If Bobs Worth wins the Gold Cup then we'll be in trouble because the vast majority of people have been backing him to win and we'll have to pay out.
"But that said, it has been a good week and we've certainly been a lot busier than the last couple of years. People have been prepared to bet big and bet with their hearts which is good to see."
2.50pm: Jockey Daryl Jacob has been taken by stretcher into and ambulance with suspected leg injury.
2.45pm: Ruby Walsh misses the rest of his rides this afternoon after he took a heavy fall when Abbyssial came down at the second flight when prominent in the opening race today, the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
His father Ted told Channel 4 Racing that his son had incurred a high-up injury to the right arm.
It was confirmed later that the injury is a compound fracture to his right humerus.
He was taken to Gloucester Hospital for treatment.
2.15: Glen Robinson came all the way from Melbourne, Australia, to be at Cheltenham Festival for the first time.
The 64-year-old, who lost his right leg in a motorbike accident in 1976, was watching the day's racing unfold from the winners' enclosure.
He said: "Cheltenham is right up there with the very best racing venues in the world. We're pleased to be here, although it's very different to the kind of racing we're used to in Melbourne.
"It's all flat racing there and people tend to come along more for the party. Here the crowds really know their racing and are extremely knowledgeable about the horses.
"I have always enjoyed racing. I have lost my leg but I haven't let it stop me getting by."
It was straight from one of the world's great horse racing meccas to another for the sports enthusiast.
"Tonight we're jumping on a plane to get to the Hong King derby," he added. "So we can't wait for that either."
2pm: Pistol-toting Frank Jacobs stood out among the crowd. The 29-year-old came dressed as the Milky Bar Kid complete with cowboy hat and jacket, as well as Milky Bars to hand out to other racegoers.
"I have had quite a lot of attention so far," said the Londoner. "I would say the girls have found me irresistible but since I'm about to marry one and she might read what I say so I'd better not!
"It's all good fun though and we are having a great day so far.
"We're all backing Silviniaco Conti for the Gold Cup so we're keeping our fingers crossed."
3.45: It was a good start to the day for married couple Julian and Sophia Rowett, who backed Tiger Roll in the opening JCB Triumph Hurdle race.
"We had a bit of luck and won £50 on Tiger Roll," said a delighted Sophia. "Hopefully our luck will continue."
Meanwhile it was a double whammy for seasoned campaigner Caroline Atkinson, from Hampshire, who had a one-two in the same race.
"I backed Tiger Roll to win and Kentucky Hyden each way so I was really pleased with that," she said. "It gives me some money to play with for the rest of the day."
1.45pm: Jockey Ruby Walsh has been taken to hospital following a fall with a suspected arm injury. He fell at the first on Abbyssial in the 1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle
1pm: Gloucestershire police traffic update: More than 67,000 spectators and around 9,000 cars expected for Gold Cup Day, so expect delays and disruption on all routes in and around Cheltenham.
Traffic coming from the south-east looking better
Kingsditch Roundabout very slow in particular from Tommy Taylors Lane.
A435 Evesham Road and A435 Southam Road very busy
12.45pm: Business has been booming at the racecourse's tented village all week and traders are hoping to finish on a high today.
Staff at Lock & Co hatters said they have been shifting Trilby hats and fascinators by the dozen as racegoers looked to stand out from the crowd.
Leander Rougier, a saleswoman for the firm, said: "It has been a fantastic week and we have sold really well.
"Men have been going for the traditional look by and large, with lots of them buying Trilby's.
"But the ladies have been a bit more daring, going for bright colours and eye-catching designs which are going to make them stand out from the crowd."
Meanwhile, staff at country clothing brand Cordings of Piccadilly said sales were up compared to previous years.
"We have probably sold around 40 tweed jackets in all as well as lots of waistcoats and Tattersall checked shirts," said manager Justin Block.
"We've had lots of return customers who know we are here for this week but we've had some new buyers too with people keen to pick up country fashions to get involved in the racing scene."
Noon: Police traffic update: Over 67,000 people expected at the races today, so delays anticipated on all routes in and around Cheltenham.
Busy along Old Bath Road
All approaches to the Kingsditch Roundabout very slow
Hales Road, Priors Road and Bouncers Lane in Prestbury very slow
11.45am: As the gates opened for the final climactic instalment in this year's Cheltenham Festival, the early morning mist parted, making way for bright sunshine and blue skies - perfect conditions for a feast of top-class jump racing.
Bumper crowds of more than 67,000 are expected to turn out to enjoy the occasion, transforming Prestbury Park into a sea of tweed, flat caps and garish cords.
Ladies are looking stunning in their fancy hats and fur coats, whilst dapper gents are determined not to be put in the shade, donning bright trousers in anything from burgundy to pea green and mustard yellow.
All the talk among the excited throng was of the day's Blue Riband event - the Gold Cup which starts at 3.20pm. Will defending champion Bobs Worth make it a historic double? Or will it be the year for much-fancied Silviniaco Conti? These were the important questions being posed early on in the Guinness tent among expectant punters.
One person hoping for a profitable day was Mary-Ann Rust, who was collecting at the racecourse gates for old people's charity Salters Hill, which runs old people's care homes in Gloucestershire.
"We've been coming to Cheltenham Festival for around 20 years," said the stalwart. "So far it's going well. People seem to be in a good mood so hopefully they will give generously.
"Every penny counts for us so we're hoping people win big and throw a few coins our way."
11.30am: All routes towards Cheltenham very busy as capacity crowd expected at racecourse, say Gloucestershire police.
Old Bath Road is very busy
Approaches to the Kingsditch Roundabout from Swindon Lane and New Barn Lane slow moving
Hales Road, Priors Road and Bouncers Lane in Prestbury very slow
Jockey Bryan Cooper has been been transferred to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol after undergoing what was described as successful surgery on Thursday at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
Cooper, who is the retained rider for Irish owners Gigginstown House Stud, broke his leg when he fell at the second-last flight aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained Clarcam in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
He was operated on at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital but will require further treatment in Bristol.
A update from Cheltenham Racecourse read: "The jockey would like to thank Mr Chris Curwen and Dr Tom Perris and all the doctors at Cheltenham Racecourse.
"He has now been transferred to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for further surgery."
Irish Turf Club senior medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick reported Cooper to have suffered a "very complex" fracture.
He said: "Bryan suffered a very complex fracture to his leg.
"He's in very, very good hands and is being treated by one of the best surgeons so we are pleased about that."
Gloucestershire Police is warning drivers coming to the festival of the heavy fog around the county this morning.
Inspector Bill Stack, from Gloucestershire Police, said: "It is another really foggy day today, and we encourage people to driver slower than they would normally.
"Use your lights and fog lights and keep a safe distance, bigger than you normally would.
"Slow down. It is not worth rushing on the road if you are going to end up in A&E."
Tens of thousands of people will raise a huge cheer at Prestbury Park today as Gold Cup day gets underway at the Cheltenham Festival 2014.
The racecourse is expected to be packed out with racing enthusiasts as they prepare for the greatest day of the festival.
Tickets for the day are already almost sold out, with 67,000 people expected.
Favourite Bobs Worth will be going for a Gold Cup double in today's race.
Gloucestershire airspace is also set to be the third busiest in the country today, with people flying in from across the world for the races.