Zara’s cheers for her ex: Pregnant royal can’t hide her emotion as her former boyfriend Richard Johnson scoops a thrilling Gold Cup victory at Cheltenham

Champion jockey Richard Johnson romped to victory on Native River in today’s Gold Cup at Chelteneham, cheered on by ex-girlfriend Zara Tindall.

He and Henderson’s favourite Might Bite fought out a thrilling duel throughout the race but just as the latter loomed to produce a final challenge, Johnson eased his horse to victory, making the most of his preference for the testing conditions.

Zara and Johnson had a tempestuous on-off relationship for around three years, which ended in 2003 the same year the pregnant royal met her now husband Mike Tindall.

But the former partners have remained on friendly terms and have been seen catching up at race meetings over the years, with Richard, 40, previously riding a horse owned by Zara, Somewhere To Be.

Richard married his wife Fiona Chance – daughter of Gold Cup winning trainer Noel – in 2007 while Zara and Mike wed four years later in 2011.

And the romance is clearly still very much alive between the royal and the former rugby player, who put on a very affectionate PDA today as they paused to exchange kisses outside the viewing boxes.

As they shared a sweet moment, the couple seemed oblivious to the cameras and the crowds swirling around them on Gold Cup today.

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Pregnant royal Zara Tindall couldn’t hide her joy today as her ex-boyfriend Richard Johnson won the Gold Cup

Thumbs up! Champion jockey Richard Johnson looked thrilled as he celebrated his victory in the Gold Cup 

Thumbs up! Champion jockey Richard Johnson looked thrilled as he celebrated his victory in the Gold Cup

It was clearly a nailbiting moment for the pregnant royal as she watched her ex romp to victory 

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The couple had a tempestuous on-off relationship before she met her husband Mike

It was clearly a nailbiting moment for the pregnant royal as she watched her ex romp to victory. The couple had a tempestuous on-off relationship before she met her husband Mike

The couple dated for three years but have remained friends over the years
At Royal Ascot in 2002, a year before they broke up

The couple dated for three years but have remained friends over the years. Right: At Royal Ascot in 2002, a year before they broke up

ockey Richard Johnson celebrates with the Gold Cup after winning the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase on Native River

 

Johnson was riding his second Gold Cup winner, 18 years on from his triumph aboard Looks Like Trouble.

Following the race, he said: ‘Eighteen years seems a long time. I’m speechless. He’s been a fantastic horse for me and I was lucky to pick up the ride on him.

You need a brave horse that stays and jumps to win a Gold Cup and that was what he was today.’

Johnson has ridden more than 3,000 winners and his success rate is second only to legendary jockey AP McCoy, who is now retired.

Zara and her husband Mike packed on the PDA at Cheltenham this afternoon as they paused for a kiss outside the viewing boxes

Zara and her husband Mike packed on the PDA at Cheltenham this afternoon as they paused for a kiss outside the viewing boxes

Zara and Mike Tindall share a sweet kiss at the Cheltenham Races
Autumn Phillips put on an animated display as she pointed to her betting slip as husband Peter Phillips looked on 

Autumn Phillips put on an animated display as she pointed to her betting slip as husband Peter Phillips looked on

Jamie Dornan and his wife Amelia Warner kept a close eye on their betting slips as the action got underway on the track 

Jamie Dornan and his wife Amelia Warner kept a close eye on their betting slips as the action got underway on the track

An animated Princess Anne who is a lifelong equestrian fan, appeared to be in her element as she enjoyed the festival 

An animated Princess Anne who is a lifelong equestrian fan, appeared to be in her element as she enjoyed the festival

A ticket-holder put on a colourful display in a grey, purple and turquoise coat
Carol Vorderman looked glamorous in a black dress and leather jacket teamed with a statement leopard print hat

A ticket-holder put on a colourful display in a grey, purple and turquoise coat (left). Carol Vorderman looked glamorous in a black dress and leather jacket teamed with a statement leopard print hat

Spirits were running high as revellers soaked up the sunshine
Racing fans got into the spirit of things before the action on the track kicked off

Spirits were running high as revellers soaked up the sunshine and got into the spirit of things before the action on the track kicked off

Victory parade! Jack Kennedy celebrates after winning the 13.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle on Farclas

Victory parade! Jack Kennedy celebrates after winning the 13.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle on Farclas

Presenter Jeremy Clarkson with his Irish actress girlfriend Lisa Hogan
His fellow Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond and his wife Mindy were a perfectly matched pair

Presenter Jeremy Clarkson with his Irish actress girlfriend Lisa Hogan. His fellow Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond and his wife Mindy were a perfectly matched pair (right)

Race goers smile for a photo during Gold Cup Day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival

Race goers smile for a photo during Gold Cup Day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival

Georgia Toffolo struck a casual figure in jeans and a pink tweed blazer
Victoria Pendleton took the theme of the day to heart, arriving at Cheltenham in a gold trimmed cape embellished with horse heads 
Carol Vorderman sported a figure-hugging black dress and an oversized leopard print hat

Georgia Toffolo struck a casual figure in jeans, a pink tweed blazer and a fedora by Hicks & Brown, while Victoria Pendleton took the theme of the day to heart, arriving at Cheltenham in a gold trimmed cape embellished with horse heads and Carol Vorderman sported a figure-hugging black dress and an oversized leopard print hat

Georgia Toffolo struck casual figure in pink blazer and a fedora
The happy couple are set to become parents again this summer, after suffering the heartache of a miscarriage 

The happy couple are set to become parents again this summer, after suffering the heartache of a miscarriage

Who knew they were friends? Autum and Peter Philipps joined Jamie Dornan's wife Amelia in a box after placing their bets 

Who knew they were friends? Autum and Peter Philipps joined Jamie Dornan’s wife Amelia in a box after placing their bets

Friends braved the chilly spring weather in skimpy tops and pink high-waisted trousers
Pregnant Zara Tindall looked chic in navy and gold

It’s the last day of Cheltenham and revellers made sure they pulled out all the stops in the fashion stakes today. Pregnant Zara Tindall looked chic in navy and gold

 

However, there was a sting in the tail for Johnson today who picked up a seven-day whip ban and a fine of £6,550, for ‘excessive frequency with his whip’ during the race.

Other famous faces among the crowds included Made In Chelsea’s Georgia Toffolo and Ollie Locke, presenters Chris Evans, Carol Vorderman and Gabby Logan, Coronation Street’s Michael Le Vell and writer Jilly Cooper.

Elsewhere, the worlds of royalty and showbiz collided as her brother Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn were seen catching up with Fifty Shades actor Jamie Dornan and his wife Amelia.

The couples looked very friendly as they strolled through the course and then made their way to a box where they were seen examining their betting slips as the racing action culminated in a stunning front-running performance by Johnson.

 

Zara has been making the most of the Gloucestershire festival this week, putting in an appearance every day.

This afternoon she looked chic in a bespoke navy and gold trimmed coat from Claire Mischevani.

She teamed her outfit with teamed with a bespoke navy felt hat by London milliner Juliette Botterill and quirky grey suede shoes with a gold, buckle-effect trim.

Meanwhile her husband Mike looked every inch the country gent in a navy three-piece suit and flat cap by Holland Cooper.

The royal, who is already mother to a daughter, Mia, is expecting her second child this summer.

The couple announced in January that they are expecting their second child, believed to be due in the summer.