It was cheers and champagne all the way as the Knavesmire welcomed crowds of more than 37,000 over the three day Dante Festival.

With a record prize money waiting in the winners' enclosure, visitor numbers were up by an average of eight per cent on last year for the whole event.

But the bubbly flowed even faster yesterday as warm weather boosted attendance by 14 per cent with 16,000 race goers through the gates.

A record £1 million prize money was up for grabs. But a string of victories by North Yorkshire-trained runners ensured much of the cash stayed in the county.

Helicopters buzzed in with owners because of the high stakes and there were sightings of sporting VIPs such as footballers Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon, plus Yorkshire and England cricketer Tim Bresnan.

Champagne corks popped as temperatures soared with many race goers reluctant to miss out on the offer of £30 a bottle when the time came to toast success or drown sorrows.

North Yorkshire's trainers and jockeys also sparkled with more romping home to victory yesterday.

Cheers rang out for two North Yorkshire trained winners - David O'Meara's G Force and Richard Fahey's Dusky Queen.

The county's stables had already enjoyed more than its share of winners with more success on the cards when racing resumes at the Knavesmire on May 31.