YOU have to go back all the way to 1988 and Celtic Shot to find a winner of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham who recorded a time slower than Epatante did on Tuesday, but that was mostly not the latter’s fault, as she was a deserving winner of a race run at a solid pace but on ground much softer than usual.

Analysing all the times on the day shows that this was in fact the softest opening day at the Festival this century, and quite likely some way back into the last also.