Verdana Blue Ends Buveur D’Air Unbeaten Run at Kempton
There was a shock in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day when Verdana Blue managed to beat Buveur D’Air in a thrilling contest. The gutsy mare dragged jockey Nico De Boinville over the line to end her stablemate’s unbeaten run, and shock the racing world. The two time Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air will now have to come back from defeat if he wants to win a third title in a row at Cheltenham.
To be seen at her best, Verdana Blue needs to have good ground and that will be something that decides her Cheltenham fate. The main plan is for her to run on the flat in March in the AW Stayers Championship at Lingfield, a race worth £200,000. That is assuming that the ground at Cheltenham is going to be on the soft side. Trainer Nicky Henderson has said though that if the ground is good to firm, he will send his mare to the Champion Hurdle, although the chances of that are incredibly slim.
Those looking for an excuse for Buveur D’Air will no doubt look at his jumping error three from home, just when the race began. He went straight through that hurdle, knocking it to the floor and that seemed to stop him in his tracks, and force him to begin his run again. Having said that, he was still ahead at the last hurdle, before Verdana Blue came from behind him and showed a quicker turn of foot to win the race.
After beating Buveur D’Air, there is a chance that we won’t see Verdana Blue over hurdles again this season, instead concentrating on the flat. Should the ground come up firm enough for her, we could see her at the festival but that looks very unlikely at this stage.