CHELTENHAM starts today, but an Irish hat designer is already more than €20,000 richer thanks to the fashion-mad festival.
Milliner Edel Ramberg (right) is fast becoming the go-to hat designer to the racing elite after more than 50 of her creations were snapped up by a UK retailer with royal racing connections.
Elizabeth Hughes, whose father is British horse trainer Richard Hannon, has been buying and renting out Edel's hats for more than a year.
The Galway woman designs the hats from scratch and they can fetch up to €300 for her most basic creation, with a more intricate piece selling for more than €500.
Edel, who has designed hats for guests at the wedding of British royal Zara Phillips, has also sold many to women in Irish racing circles as they get ready for this week's festival extravaganza.
Edel told the Herald: "Elizabeth buys my hats and rents them out to BBC presenters and a lot of people in the horse world for different racing events.
"I've only known her for a year-and-a-half, but before Christmas she bought about 50 of my hats for Cheltenham and they've all been rented out.
"It's a great way for getting my hats on heads in the UK and helping Irish designers over there."
As well as her online business, word of mouth has done the world of good for Edel, who has fashioned a series of different styles for her regular Irish clients.
"A lot of my regular clients have ordered hats and most of them seem to be going over on Wednesday," she said.
"I've been making a lot of wool hats because Cheltenham is usually quite cold, and although it is warmer this year, women always need to be ready for a wash out.
"Candy colours are also more popular as we get further into spring, so that involves me dying the fabric."
Despite the popularity of her designs, Edel has yet to make her own visit to the Cotswolds racecourse, though she has been to Ascot to enjoy the fashion on display.