Kate was looking chic in a fur hat and tailored beige coat. Wills wasn't able to join her for the event, though, as he was busy with his military training at Sandhurst
Photo: © Rex
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Camilla and her daughter Laura get into the spirit of things at Cheltenham. The Duchess took centre stage after the race when she presented the coveted Gold Cup to Anita O'Leary
Photo: © Rex


20 MARCH 2006

Racing fans who attend the Cheltenham Festival each year have grown accustomed to seeing members of the Royal Family cheering from the sidelines. But the pretty 24-year-old who garnered most attention at this year's event was not one of the Windsor clan - although many predict she soon will be.

Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton suddenly became the star of the show when she joined her handsome beau's father, Prince Charles, in the royal box at the weekend. The second-in-line, who is currently tackling the rigours of military training at Sandhurst, wasn't able to attend the Gloucestershire event, but his best friend Thomas van Straubenzee was on hand to escort his leading lady.

The popular brunette, who was sporting a fur hat and tailored beige coat, even managed to spark a flurry of betting, with bookies slashing the odds on her and Wills getting engaged before next year's festival.

And she wasn't the only one who managed to charm fellow spectators, as the Duchess of Cornwall was also on winning form. Camilla undertook her most high-profile official engagement to date when she presented the Gold Cup to Anita O'Leary, whose husband, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, owns the winning horse War Of Attrition.

It was a big day for Irish fans, with horses from the Emerald Isle taking first, second and third place in the main race. And it didn't go unnoticed that the Duchess was sporting a green titfer - complete with shamrock motif - as she handed the coveted trophy to Anita.

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