Blog - It was ever thus
Please forgive us our cliches on a day like this. They only become cliches because we use them so often - and we use them so often because they sum things up so well.
Yes, I know you have heard 'Rollercoaster of emotions' and 'triumph mixed with tragedy' a thousand times.
But what else could you say about the first afternoon of the Cheltenham Festival?
An occasion horribly marred by the fatal accident to the hugely talented Our Conor in the Champion Hurdle.
And given another another sad twist by the massive heart attack apparently suffered by owner/breeder John Reynolds just an hour before his Midnight Prayer landed the National Hunt Chase.
Yet a day also usual punctuated with all the typical Cheltenham highs that make the spirit soar.
Not just the thunderous roar that signalled the start of the opener but the even louder exclamation that welcomed Vautour home the winner - and the extraordinary explosion of emotion that greeted Quevega's historic success.
It's also something of a cliche to make a huge issue of the ground on the first day and to conclude that it is quicker than many had expected.
That view might have been lent weight by a couple of apparent track records.
I say 'apparent' because we have changed the way we calculate race times this season, not starting the watch until the first runner crosses the line - rather than when the tapes go up - so the data is not strictly comparable with previous years.
But it certainly wasn't soft out there.
This has already been a lucky festival even before the first race was run after a bizarre brush with disaster - all thanks to a couple of racing media celebrities I will not name, other than to say that they are Hull City-supporting brothers who appear on rival satellite television channels.
They recommended a decent place to stay in Upper Snodsbury, which I booked a while ago. And thought nothing more about until I happened to phone the place a fortnight ago and discovered they had closed that very day.
Had it not been for my fortuitous call, I would have turned up totally unawares this evening, to be greeted by boarded up windows. And the prospect of a night spent sleeping in the car - which would probably not make me unique at Cheltenham but is still rather less than ideal.