Horses To Follow » Featherbed Lane

Featherbed Lane

All the talk after the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday was of the winner Swincombe Flame, but the runner-up, Featherbed Lane, may well be the horse to take out of the race.

He travelled well right on the inside, he was ninth or 10th early, before moving into a share of sixth over the last hurdle down the side of the course, three from home. He crept closer as they turned out of the back straight, he nipped through into third around the home turn, and he moved right through to take it up at the second last and went on to try to win his race, despite the fact that he got the second last all wrong. Will Kennedy didn’t go for Swincombe Flame until after the second last, despite Featherbed Lane having moved up and gone past, and with Swincombe Flame not jumping the last as fluently as Featherbed Lane, it looked as though Featherbed Lane would win (he traded at the minimum price in-running). Philip Hobbs’s horse started to idle on the run-in, however, and James Best took a while to get his reins straight, and he didn’t come over to the stands rail in front of Swincombe Flame, an oversight which left the door open for Nick Williams’s mare. She duly took the opportunity, getting up on the stands rail to win by a nose under a power-packed ride from Kennedy, with the front pair finishing clear of the talented Act Of Kalanisi, who was in turn clear of the remainder.

With all the focus post-race being on the winner, Featherbed Lane may just be a little under-rated next time. He may well have been the best horse in the race though, he was attempting to give Swincombe Flame 14lb, even with James Best’s 7lb claim, so he was actually racing off a 21lb higher mark than the winner. He was raised just 6lb by the handicapper for this, which is fairly lenient, and he is improving all the time, he has progressed in each of his three runs for Philip Hobbs, this being just his third for the trainer, and he has only just turned seven. Also, higher weighted horses do not have a good record in the Lanzarote Hurdle, only one winner in the race’s history has carried more than 11st 7lb and that was Trying Again who won a four-runner renewal in 1995 as an odds-on favourite when the race was still a two-mile contest, so Featherbed Lane’s effort in going so close off 11st 11lb, less his rider’s claim, is a highly commendable one.

On top of that, Featherbed Lane had won on testing ground at Aintree on his previous run, and his only win before this season had come on heavy ground, he is at his best on at least an easy surface, so the good ground here was probably lively enough for him. He should be even better back on easier ground now.

He is a brother to Master Of The Hall, and he has recorded two big personal bests when stepping up to around two and a half miles on his last two runs, this looks his trip now, and he may get even further. It is therefore interesting that Philip Hobbs revealed last week that he gave him an entry for the World Hurdle. He wouldn’t have to improve miles to warrant a crack at that race, especially if the ground were to come up on the soft side. The World Hurdle aside, he should be worth keeping on side wherever he goes next.

14th January 2012