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Henderson eyes Champion Hurdle as Verdana Blue powers to Elite Hurdle success

Verdana Blue made it two from two over hurdles for the season when powering clear of If The Cap Fits to land a competitive running of the Unibet Elite Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson's mare, who was an impressive winner at Kempton last month, held a steady position behind front-running stablemate We Have A Dream before picking up well to score by two and a half lengths.

The five-year-old has been shortened to 6-1 (from 8) for the Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and is priced at 25-1 for the Champion Hurdle.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "She was great, wasn't she? She was very quick and very fit and that has probably made the difference.

"This race was always the plan and I was praying all week that they would not get the rain as the faster the better for her. It did rain but thankfully the ground is still decent despite it."

He added of the winner, who is a general 7-1 chance for next week's Greatwood Hurdle: "We will try to keep her going but she is very ground-dependent. She is in the Greatwood next weekend at Cheltenham and we could take a look at that if the ground is not soft.

"She will end up going for the Champion Hurdle if the ground allows but after that I would not mind switching her back to the Flat as she is very definitely not slow."

The win gave Nicky Henderson his first success in the Grade 2 contest since Chomba Womba's success in 2008.

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