5; days in the life of; EDWARD GILLESPIE

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MONDAY: I drive the four miles to the course, listening to Radio 5's sports coverage in the car and I'm at work before 7am. There is nothing in my diary all week: I just have to be available to the staff here, encouraging, enthusing. It is as difficult a pre-[Cheltenham] Festival Monday as I can remember. There are so many little things to get right, none of which the public will notice when they come in tomorrow. But the success of this event is looking after the detail. I spend a lot of time in the new grandstand moving tables - just a yard can stop a block developing when the place is crowded. Trainers and jockeys start to arrive and I shake a lot of hands.

TUESDAY: The smoothest Tuesday we've had in years. A lot of media stuff in the morning. At 10.30 we open the gates and suddenly all these names on the computers become flesh and blood. Festival week is a bit like the title sequence to Dad's Army: all these arrows pointing at Cheltenham, all over the country people getting into trains, buses, cars and helicopters, heading our way.

The PAs work, the lights work, the lavatories work. The only taps in the place that don't work are in our offices, so we can't make any coffee. I spend an hour walking around with a lunch box looking for the student helper it is meant for. In the end I give up and eat it myself. After a debrief, I leave about 8.30 and at home I help my daughter Rosie with a 1,000-piece jigsaw she has been doing. Later, I sleep like a baby.

WEDNESDAY: The problem is turning the place round. Before Tuesday we've had six months to get the course ready - now we have hours, and there is an enormous amount of litter to clear.

The Queen Mother opens the new grandstand. She makes a speech, which we weren't expecting, and it's wonderful. She's magic: the icing on the cake.

A well-backed Irish horse, Istabraq, wins the first, and that's a test. I tear down the steps and beat the horses into the Parade ring, determined to stop people getting into the winner's enclosure who shouldn't be there. Suddenly I see a flash of green next to me jumping over the rail. I know from the past that you don't hit these people head on, you hit them sideways. So I hit this guy sideways, catch his coat, and I hear "Boo! Boo!" I have managed to stop the winning trainer, Aidan O'Brien. There is a quite a naughty atmosphere there, and I just lose myself in the crowd. Dinner at a friend's in Cheltenham with the American trainer Bruce Miller. It's relaxing but I'm exhausted.

THURSDAY: At 7.20am I'm interviewed for the BBC by a lady standing on a box - odd. There is a demonstration outside by animal rights activists, fine with us as long as it is peaceful. I meet Alex Ferguson, who is a guest in a grandstand box - a big kick for me.

I watch the Gold Cup on television in the Weighing Room. Mr Mulligan wins - a great result for me, as I know what his trainer, Noel Chance, looks like, so I can avoid another embarrassing mistake in the winner's enclosure. I have a contretemps with the winning jockey, Tony McCoy, on the way up for the presentation. He is wearing a cap with a sponsor's name on it and I don't think he should wear it in the Royal Box.

I'm being asked by journalists whether it's true that some Blackburn Rovers footballers were thrown out of the course yesterday. As it happens, it's not true, but I'm relieved that a quick-thinking official has turned round the sign on the marquee where today the Chelsea players are having lunch. There's a fight going on in the Courage enclosure, but it's handled beautifully by the police. After racing I hand out some champagne to the staff, and then I do a stint on the switchboard. Later I help out a guy who's been left behind by his coach. He says it is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to him. It's after 10 when I leave. I stay up to watch the highlights and cry my eyes out to see the Irish trainer Ted Walsh and his family celebrating their first Cheltenham winner.

FRIDAY: I get to the course at about 8.30am, gather first reactions and deal with the Blackburn story. Crowds were up, the weather was good. Sadly, three horses were killed, but they were all classic racing incidents, and we haven't had the problems we had last year, when 10 horses died and it was totally out of our control - terrible. But nobody has died, nobody has been born, although I bet a few have been conceived.

Back home, Rosie and I finish the jigsaw. There is a piece missing.

Edward Gillespie is managing director of Cheltenham racecourse

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