THE Olympic flame ended its first day in York to the sounds of thousands of cheering spectators in glorious sunshine.

After being taken through the streets of the city by the Olympic Torch Relay runners, the flame was brought on horseback to York Racecourse by 74-year-old showjumping Olympian Harvey Smith.

Arriving on the stage at Knavesmire, which had earlier seen a performance from singer Katy B, Smith said he was “proud for the whole of Yorkshire” as he used the torch to light a celebratory cauldron, to a huge cheer from the crowd.

Among those soaking up the atmosphere was Danielle Bailey, 14, from Otley, who carried the torch in her wheelchair through Knaresborough earlier yesterday.

She said: “It felt amazing and the atmosphere was really good. The crowds were wonderful.”

Emma Lewis, 21, a student at the University of York said: “It’s an amazing crowd here and it’s really buzzing. We didn’t know what to expect but it’s been really great. Katy B was fantastic, and with the weather we just couldn’t have asked for better.”

After being one of the lucky 200 cyclists chosen to escort the torch through York, 56-year-old Ann Stacy, from Naburn, made her way to Knavesmire to catch the last of the free entertainment.

She said: “It was amazing to be riding with the flame. It was much more than I expected and was amazing to be part of.

“I can’t believe the crowd at the racecourse now. It’s like bonfire night and the races all rolled into one, but with perfect weather.”

After spending the night in York, the torch was due to begin its journey again this morning from York Minster at 7.44am before making its way to the National Railway Museum, where it will be taken to Thirsk on a steam train.