Racing: Feathard Lady extends winning run by showing the heart of a Champion

Slightly smudged, perhaps, but there it is on the mare's forehead: a splash of white in the shape of a heart. And this, judged on her contribution to another afternoon of Irish euphoria here yesterday, seems set to become one of the Turf's defining motifs for so long as Feathard Lady is around.

In serenely extending her unbeaten record to seven in the Christmas Hurdle, the little mare - dirt cheap as she was, scrawny as she remains, and on all available evidence invincible - captured many new hearts. Her first trip to these shores, moreover, will have won over more clinical observers, too. Stan James, who sponsored the whole card, now offer 7-1 against Feathard Lady winning the Champion Hurdle itself, and the 10-1 available elsewhere will not last long.

Every time Feathard Lady is raised in grade, she wins more easily. Here she proved a class apart, bolting a dozen lengths clear of Self Defense after jumping deftly and creeping quietly into contention on the home turn. As a mare, admittedly, she was receiving 7lb from the rest. But make no mistake, she has the potential to find a niche in Irish jumping folklore - owned as she is by a dozen lads who drink in the same Co Tipperary bar, and spent barely £1,000 between them.

In Brave Inca her young trainer, Colm Murphy, already has one of the best hurdlers in Ireland. And the fact that he may not even be the best in his own stable - which houses just 35 animals - would suggest that Murphy did not find either through beginner's luck.

"You'd feel blessed to have one of them in a lifetime," he said. "To have the two together is unreal. They're chalk and cheese, you couldn't compare them. He is tough as nails, she does everything so easily. They're going to run into each other sooner rather than later, but with a bit of luck they will dead-heat.

"I would have been disappointed had she not been thereabouts, but to win like that was way beyond our expectations. We have no idea how good she might be."

Murphy will now attempt to find out in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on 29 January. Brave Inca, meanwhile, runs at the same track on Thursday.

Feathard Lady's rider, Ruby Walsh, had already had the red carpet laid out for his return from injury, winning the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase on Hoo La Baloo after Racing Demon, the odds-on favourite, was scratched and the remaining three runners all fell. Hoo La Baloo is being quoted for the Irish Independent Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, but he throws out his right foreleg and Paul Nicholls recognises that he will not be anywhere near so proficient going left-handed.

The other novices' chase, over three miles, was notable for some pretty disorderly jumping, but Tony McCoy managed to pull the prize out of the fire on Darkness, who was going nowhere for much of the race but finally gathered momentum on the hill. Coral contrived to halve his Royal & SunAlliance Chase odds to 5-1, in the process grossly inflating the curious defence offered by his trainer. "He looked awkward in the air," Charlie Egerton said. "But he was actually all right by the time he landed."

CHAMPION HURDLE (Cheltenham, 14 March) Tote: 4-1 Harchibald, 5-1 Hardy Eustace, 11-2 Arcalis, Brave Inca, 7-1 (from 20-1) Feathard Lady, Lingo, 14-1 Essex, 16-1 Faasel, 20-1 Accordion Etoile, Back In Front, Macs Joy, 25-1 Al Eile, 33-1 Akilak, Ambobo, Intersky Falcon, Mighty Man, Penzance, United, 40-1 others.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Bridgewater Boys (Southwell 3.20)

NB: Yenaled

(Southwell 12.35)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England