In one of the strangest stories in the racing world it has been revealed that Kempton Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle winner Verdana Blue will head back to the scene of her success but this time on the all weather before the big one at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Champion Hurdle for the classy mare was never really seen as an option for her trainer Nicky Henderson, but when she got up on the line to defy the 1/4 favourite and stablemate Buveur D'Air, the picture became a lot clearer.
Before this however, the next path for the Crimbourne Stud owned seven year old was going to be at Lingfield in the all weather Championships Finals Day where there is a nice prize pot to be had, but very strange for such a classy hurdler.
In an overall decision to cover all bases for the horse the trainer and connections have decided send Verdana Blue to Kempton next month on the all weather in preparation for both the Champion Hurdle at jumps racing HQ but also for the fast-track qualifier for the Marathon final at Lingfield.
(Credit Racing Post) Crimbourne Stud's Charlie Parker said: "The plan is to target the Champion Hurdle.
"We were going for it last year but the ground went heavy and we swerved it."Providing it's normal opening-day ground, we're definitely going to have a go. If it was soft we'd wait and go to Lingfield.
"There's a fast-track qualifier at Kempton over two miles on February 16 and we think that would be a nice prep for her and hopefully we'll get her qualified for Good Friday at the same time."We ran her at Chelmsford three weeks before she won a Listed race over hurdles at Kempton and it worked out perfectly."
Having an all weather preparation potentially for one of the biggest hurdle races of the season is something that has not been seen before but is does remind you of a certain Enable during the flat season when she had an all weather prep at Kempton and went on to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
(Credit Racing Post) The track's clerk of the course Barney Clifford said: "It's fantastic to hear and again demonstrates the importance of the all-weather programme that you can have a dual-purpose mare mixing it at the top over hurdles and on the all-weather.
"At Kempton we like our surface 'standard to slow', as it appeases the greater horse population and gives people opportunities and options."
(Credit Racing TV)