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Cheltenham Festival under way in front of empty stands in stark contrast to 2020

No crowds are in attendance this year, in line with Government coronavirus restrictions.

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Runners make their way down the home straight in front of an empty grandstand (Michael Steele/PA)

Runners make their way down the home straight in front of an empty grandstand (Michael Steele/PA)

Runners make their way down the home straight in front of an empty grandstand (Michael Steele/PA)

The Cheltenham Festival got under way on Tuesday without the vast crowds who usually attend the biggest racing event of the year.

The coronavirus pandemic was just beginning to take hold when the blue-riband meeting took place 12 months ago.

This year the stands are empty, in line with the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what a difference a year makes at the Festival.

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The backdrop to the Festival is in stark contrast to last year (PA)

The backdrop to the Festival is in stark contrast to last year (PA)

PA

The backdrop to the Festival is in stark contrast to last year (PA)

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The parade ring is normally buzzing before a race (Tim Goode/PA)

The parade ring is normally buzzing before a race (Tim Goode/PA)

PA

The parade ring is normally buzzing before a race (Tim Goode/PA)

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The 2021 version is eerily quiet (Tim Goode/PA)

The 2021 version is eerily quiet (Tim Goode/PA)

PA

The 2021 version is eerily quiet (Tim Goode/PA)

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Winning horses and jockeys are usually cheered to the rafters (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Winning horses and jockeys are usually cheered to the rafters (Andrew Matthews/PA)

PA

Winning horses and jockeys are usually cheered to the rafters (Andrew Matthews/PA)

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This year the reception is very different (Tim Goode/PA)

This year the reception is very different (Tim Goode/PA)

PA

This year the reception is very different (Tim Goode/PA)

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The grandstands were packed out by racegoers last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The grandstands were packed out by racegoers last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

PA

The grandstands were packed out by racegoers last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

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Now just trainers, their teams and other essential participants occupy the seats (Tim Goode/PA)

Now just trainers, their teams and other essential participants occupy the seats (Tim Goode/PA)

PA

Now just trainers, their teams and other essential participants occupy the seats (Tim Goode/PA)

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On-course bookmakers usually enjoy their busiest week of the year (Tim Goode/PA)

On-course bookmakers usually enjoy their busiest week of the year (Tim Goode/PA)

PA

On-course bookmakers usually enjoy their busiest week of the year (Tim Goode/PA)

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This year the bookies’ stalls are deserted (Tim Goode/PA)

This year the bookies’ stalls are deserted (Tim Goode/PA)

PA

This year the bookies’ stalls are deserted (Tim Goode/PA)

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The Guinness Village is always a popular hang-out (Tim Goode/PA)

The Guinness Village is always a popular hang-out (Tim Goode/PA)

PA

The Guinness Village is always a popular hang-out (Tim Goode/PA)

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Now it is unrecognisable from last year (David Davies/PA)

Now it is unrecognisable from last year (David Davies/PA)

PA

Now it is unrecognisable from last year (David Davies/PA)

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The home straight, 12 months ago and now (PA)

The home straight, 12 months ago and now (PA)

PA

The home straight, 12 months ago and now (PA)

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