A crowd of more than 60,000 attended day one of the Cheltenham Festival, after officials at the track backed measures in place on course to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

A total of 60,664 was around 7,000 fewer than the record number present for the opening day of the famous meeting 12 months ago.

Increased wash basins and hand sanitiser stations have been put in place, with aggregate crowds across four days this week expected to top 250,000, flocking to the Cotswolds from Britain, Ireland and France.

Ian Renton, regional head of racing south-west for Jockey Club Racecourses, was anticipating a drop on last year's opening-day attendance - when a record 67,934 packed into Prestbury Park - because advance sales across the four-day meeting have not been as buoyant over the last two weeks.

Renton said: "Ticket sales have been affected. Over the last fortnight they have reduced considerably, compared to where they normally would be at, so we expect attendance to be down every day.

"Last year we had record crowds most days, but we won't be expecting record crowds this week.

"We are very happy with the crowd of 60,664 considering the uncertainty of the last fortnight."

He earlier told BBC Breakfast: "We have been liaising very closely with the Government over the last fortnight and listening to them and listening to their advice, and they have been extremely helpful in telling us what they believe is the right thing to do.

"As we heard yesterday, they want business to continue as usual in this country and sporting events such as this that take place.

"So we have put a lot of precautions in place, in terms of ensuring racegoers have access to soap and water and can follow Government advice on hygiene.

"We have created 24 sanitiser gel boards, which arrived with us last night, to ensure racegoers can take every precaution possible."

Asked what impact the cancellation of the Festival would have had, Renton said: "We do have insurance to cover these events - as we said,  we would have followed the advice whichever way it went.

"I think everyone is very much looking forward to these four days. The Festival is very much a UK and Ireland event - that is where the horses, jockeys and trainers come from.

"We've got a few runners from France over the four days, but it's less international than Flat racing.

"It's a huge event for all the participants, as well as locally - it's a big event for the local economy, so we're very pleased the Government has taken the view that the Festival should go ahead this year."

Tom Deane, from Dublin, said: "It definitely seems a bit quieter. We've just been for a drink in the Centaur (bar), and usually you can't move an inch, but today it was quite comfortable.

"Obviously some people have stayed away, but I look forward to this week all year - and if the Government says it is safe, then you have to trust them. Just take all the sensible precautions to stop it spreading."