A long-term plan came to fruition for Neil Mulholland after Milkwood claimed a clear-cut victory in the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle.
The Somerset-based trainer revealed he has had the Grade Two contest as the primary objective for his seven-year-old ever since finishing fourth behind the high-class Sceau Royal in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las in October.
Since that fine effort, Milkwood had been third in the Gerry Feilden at Newbury and third again in the fiercely-competitive County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
With the form of the latter contest significantly boosted by the subsequent Grade One success of the winner Belfast Banter, Mulholland’s charge was the 3-1 favourite to get back on the winning trail at Ayr — and did so in impressive style.
After moving smoothly into contention under a confident ride from Sam Twiston-Davies, Milkwood took over the lead from Irish raider Ana Bunina after the final flight before pulling three and three-quarter lengths clear.
Mulholland said: “He ran very well in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and Ayr is a very similar track, so we’ve had this in mind since then.
“It was the same type of race, but better ground and we’re delighted it’s worked out on the day.
“We were hopeful going into it, but it’s hard to win any race, never mind a Scottish Champion Hurdle.”
On future plans, he added: “The only race left for him (this season) is the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock.
“He’ll probably go chasing at some stage, but I’ve got to speak to the owner and see what we’re going to do.
“We’ll enjoy today and see how he comes out of it.”