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)

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's First World War footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during the war. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end