14 MARCH 2008

One particular punter got top marks for enthusiasm at this week's rain-lashed Cheltenham festival. Braving the inclement conditions in a trilby, jaunty red jacket and trousers, the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips revelled in the racing action alongside rugby star love Mike Tindall.

One of the most interesting runners at the event, which ranks just behind the Grand National in terms of importance, was her royal grandmother's horse Barbers Shop.

That he came in second wasn't for lack of encouragement from Zara, who was seen leaping up and down in the stands shouting, "Come on, come on", at the nail-biting finish.

"Horses are her passion and this one was extra special because it was her grandmother's first ever entry (at Cheltenham)," said a source close to the 26-year-old, who is likely to head Britain's equestrian team at the Olympics.

Added the source: "The Queen wasn't able to watch because of other commitments but was having the race recorded."

The outcome didn't put a dampner on the day, which Zara spent holding hands with her boyfriend and sharing betting tips. The pair are also attending Friday's Gold Cup event, where they will be joined by Zara's mum Princess Anne, who presents the trophy.

Photo: ©
The royal racegoer added a blaze of colour to a wet and windy Cheltenham festival on ThursdayPhoto: © Rex
Photo: ©
Zara was kept company by her long-term boyfriend Mike as she spent the afternoon cheering on her grandmother's horses Photo: © Rex