There was a lot of chatter about Cheltenham 2017 being 'diminished' with the absence of horses such as Faugheen, Annie Power, Don Cossack, Thistlecrack and Vautour, but that ignores the competitiveness of the Festival and the potential for new stories to be told and new heroes to emerge.
Two new heroes had their day in the sun today.
The first was 17 year old Dingle jockey Jack Kennedy, who guided the character that is Labaik to a 25/1 shock in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
Labaik has refused to race three times since September, but once Kennedy got him under starter's orders, the horse behaved and delivered on the biggest stage.
Then Dublin amateur Lisa O'Neill, who works with Gordon Elliott during the week, rode her boss' horse Tiger Roll to win the 4 mile chase staged in honour of the late JT McNamara. It was a brilliant performance by O'Neill, in her first ever ride at the Festival. She won the Kerry National in the autumn, but this is a different league altogether. Her achievement is of Disney proportions.
The common link between Kennedy and O'Neill is Meath handler Elliott, the trainer of Labaik and Tiger Roll, who registered three winners today, the other being Apple's Jade in the Mares Hurdle as Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh came up empty handed. I thought Bryan Cooper gave Apple's Jade an excellent spin.
The feature, the Champion Hurdle, was an almost low key affair, with Buveur D'Air winning comfortably for trainer Nicky Henderson and Cork jockey Noel Fehily, giving owner JP McManus his 50th Festival winner.
Luckily, our NAP Tully East won the concluding race today at odds of 12/1, so we have €1406.25 in the Charity Bank after day one.
Tully East, ridden by Denis O'Regan for trainer Alan Fleming, handed Ireland a fourth winner of the day.
I will be on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show to give Wednesday charity bets with thanks to Betfair at 8.30am.
The Champion Chase is the day two showpiece and Douvan should be a penalty kick to give Willie Mullins his first win in the race. If he jumps around safely, he's too good for he opposition and he will win.