Verdana Blue made it two out of two last weekend when winning the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. And with that, threw herself firmly into the Champion Hurdle picture next March. The mare looked in great form once again, beating a decent field. But it wasn’t just the fact that she won, it was also the nature in which she won. Winning by just over two lengths, If The Cap Fits came in second place. Stablemate We Have A Dream was back in third.
The horses she finished in front of are quality animals. But she left them in her dust with far more authority than the distance of just over two lengths suggests. While We Have A Dream was making the running, Verdana Blue was sat nicely in behind travelling like a good thing throughout the race. As the pace picked up she didn’t need to have any pressure put on her to catch those ahead of her. She has a fantastic cruising speed and put that to good use here.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, if she does run in the Champion Hurdle then the high cruising speed will be a huge advantage. Watching previous Champion Hurdle’s, the best horses cruise into the race. While those who are not quite capable of living with the pace are pushed along from an early stage. She certainly looks like a runner capable of running in a Champion Hurdle. Hopefully, we get the chance to see her in the race next March at the Cheltenham Festival.
One thing she will need to run in the race is good ground. She thrives on this and alongside that, it is also something that others may fail to handle as well. That’s a double boost for her. Statistically, she may not be the best horse in the Champion Hurdle. But with a dry spell and good ground, she may be the best under the conditions we have on the day.
One final note on Verdana Blue. Expect to see her on the flat at some stage next year. This is a plan that Nicky Henderson has mentioned recently. He knows she wants summer ground and she has a great cruising speed, something that is needed to make an impact on the flat. The plan is to keep her ticking along after the Champion Hurdle. Then he will aim her at something on the flat so we could see plenty of her next spring as she looks to make a mark over hurdles and on the level.
Verdana Blue may not be the very best horse in the Henderson yard right now, and she is certainly not his main Champion Hurdle hope. However, she is showing a high level of form and deserves to be involved in discussions about the race. The better the ground is, the more chance she has. So watch out if the ground is good or better next March. Verdana Blue is currently on odds of 50/1 ante-post with Betfair.