Unibet Elite Hurdle report; Race-fit Verdana Blue wins for Nicky Henderson

Verdana Blue pulls clear in the Elite Hurdle
Verdana Blue pulls clear in the Elite Hurdle

Verdana Blue produced a sparkling display to brush aside more exalted rivals in the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

Nicky Henderson's mare was fighting fit after wins on the Flat and in a Listed hurdle at Kempton last month, and she took the step up to Grade Two company in her stride under Jeremiah McGrath.

Stablemate We Have A Dream, sent off the well-backed 7/4 favourite, set out to make it a true test under Darytl Jacob but he came under the pump after turning for home as If The Cap Fits and the eventual winner made their move.

If The Cap Fits was in front two out but a scruffy jump didn't help his cause there and the strong-travelling Verdana Blue swept by him coming to the last flight.

She swiftly put the race to bed and went on to score by two and a quarter lengths from If The Cap Fits, with We Have A Dream a further seven lengths back in third and Redicean well held in fourth.

Sky Bet reacted by slashing Verdana Blue to 7/1 favourite for the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham next Sunday, while the Nicky Henderson-trained mare is 25/1 for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at the Festival in March.

Henderson told Racing UK: "It was always the plan for her and it looked made for her when the ground was quick.

I suppose she was probably the fittest of the three (main contenders) and she was very good at Kempton the other day.

"There's a great team behind the victory and the owners have been great supporters. She's a smashing mare.

"She does love good ground and she might just have had her day in the sunshine.

"She might go back on the Flat at some stage but is obviously in very good form at the moment."

Of the third home he added: "We know that four-year-olds have a difficult season but We Have A Dream is a good horse. He looked like he got tired and he'll come on a lot for that today.

"There's a long way to go but he might be itching for two and a half (miles) now. He's possibly set it up for the mare in the end but you have to run each horse on their merits.

"He's had a good spin and jumped very well but got tired."


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