SIR Alex Ferguson was among a crowd of about 18,000 at York Racecourse when the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival got under way yesterday.

The former Manchester United boss turned up to see Telescope - which he part-owns - compete in the richest race ever staged at York, the £800,000 Juddmonte International.

The horse finished third, behind the Grey Gatsby in second place, with the race won by Australia.

Racecourse spokesman James Brennan said the attendance was slightly up on the same day last year, with racegoers avoiding showers despite threatening clouds. "It got quite warm when the sun came out," he said.

Today, which is Ladies Day, is set to be cloudy and cool with outbreaks of showery rain, perhaps heavy, but also brief bright intervals, especially later. Tomorrow and Saturday are set to enjoy bright or sunny spells, with the possibility of some showers.

Fashion is always top of the agenda at York Races, and yesterday an edible dress was unveiled, complete with an accompanying jockey, which was made entirely fromYorkshire summer produce.

The skirt was made from savoy and red cabbages and festooned with growing herbs and edible flowers and there was a Yorkshire pudding hat and handbag.

Nick Fazackerley, of York Racecourse Hospitality, said it was inspired by the course's commitment to local produce and home cooked fresh food produced on a grand scale for the expected 80,000+ racegoers.