IRISH racegoers are being warned to be vigilant after substantial amounts of cash were stolen from several Cheltenham hotel rooms.
More than €5,000 was taken from three separate bedrooms in a popular Cotswolds hotel, with around five elderly men falling victim to an opportunistic thief.
With nearly 300,000 people expected to pass through the turnstiles by the end of the festival today, punters should be wary, with a string of thefts, pickpocketing, counterfeit money and assault among the crimes reported at the course this week.
Up to 15,000 Irish race-goers were expected to splash the cash this week at Cheltenham where jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Willie Mullins and owner JP McManus have enjoyed big wins, and police have warned them to be vigilant.
"Three hotel rooms in the Cotswolds were broken into this week and several thousand pounds was stolen," a police spokesperson told the Herald.
"Cash was stolen from around five men who were at the races, so we are urging people to be cautious with their winnings or if they have cash on them – especially Irish people who are travelling over as they are bound to have substantial amounts cash on them."
While thousands of merry punters have taken to the pubs and nightclubs of Cheltenham, the presence of police horses and general banter has resulted in no serious night-time incidents so far.
"In terms of night-time economy, it has been okay so far," the police spokesperson said.
The luck of the Irish was not in for one particular punter who lost several hundred pounds of cash in just one pickpocket incident.
"Things have been decent this year, but there are always concerns with pick-pockets," said the spokesperson.
It was not all doom and gloom for the race-goers, however, with the green of Ireland taking over as punters celebrated St Patrick's Thursday by sporting colourful hats, eye-catching costumes and tricolour wigs.
Determined to make waves with her outfit choice was fashion lover and best-dressed competition veteran Margaret Connolly.
While she is known for her quirky style statements, there was no missing Margaret (25) on this occasion as she stepped out in a full-length shamrock green jumpsuit matched with several tricolour accessories.
The wife of airline boss Michael O'Leary, Anita, tipped her hat to the celebrations in a festive headpiece, while her husband was in good form as he turned out to support the horses in his Ryanair-sponsored race.