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Fast ground just the ticket for Verdana Blue who romps home in Scottish Champion

The fast ground which caused her trainer Nicky Henderson to withdraw several of his runners on the valuable card was tailor-made for Verdana Blue, who scorched to a record-breaking victory in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.

It was a notable triumph for 17-year-old rookie jockey Connor Brace, who had only been booked for the ride earlier in the week by the champion handler.

Henderson had concerns about the drying ground for several of his runners on the card, but he certainly had no qualms about letting the admirable Verdana Blue take her chance.

"We've had to take five horses out and that shows how quick the going is, but she's lethal on this sort of ground," he said.

The seven-year-old cruised to the front at the second-last and pulled further clear after the final flight to defeat Dino Velvet by seven lengths, winning the competitive £105,000 2m handicap with consummate ease.

The time of 3m 38.84 seconds lowered second the course record set 24 hours earlier by more than one second.

Booked to use his claim

Henderson had booked Connor Brace for Verdana Blue to ease the mare's burden, and the trainer said: "She's won so easily we didn't need the 7lb allowance, but Connor has given her a beautiful ride."

Brace, from Porthcawl in south Wales, is based with Fergal O'Brien and rode his first winner as a conditional at Perth last August.

"I only became aware that I would ride on Monday when my agent contacted me,”" he said.

"Nicky just told me to get a lead and then let her go. She was a great ride and has jumped and travelled well all the way."

Verdana Blue had claimed the scalp of Buveur D'Air in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle but was disappointing in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on much slower ground.

"She needs it like concrete and we did think about running her in the Further Flight race at Nottingham the other day," said Henderson.

"But then when I heard it might get quite quick up at Ayr we decided to bring her here.

"Unless I get overruled for about the 50th time, I think she'll be having a holiday as she's been on the go for a long time.

"She's rated around 90 on the Flat and I think we can rule out her going to the Melbourne Cup."

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