Friday, February 3, 2012

Featherbed set to face step up in class

The rapidly improving handicap hurdler Featherbed Lane looks set to take his chance in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock in mid-February on his way to a tilt at either the Coral Cup or County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival a month later, writes Elliot Slater.

Terry Warner, owner of the exciting seven-year-old, suggested that trainer Philip Hobs has earmarked the Haydock event (set to be run this term under the banner of the Betfred Goals Galore Trial Hurdle), after seeing his charge fail by the narrowest of margins to complete a hattrick of wins this term when beaten a nose by the progressive mare Swincombe Flame in the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton in January. Those following the best Cheltenham festival betting will have been impressed.

Having shown promise in his two previous seasons without having made any great impression, Featherbed Lane has improved significantly this term, starting out off a mark of 120 and winning on his seasonal bow at Ascot in November, beating the decent Decoy by two-and-a-half-lengths. A 9lb rise in the weights failed to prevent the gelded son of Saddler’s Hall following up at Aintree three weeks later when slamming Donald McCain’s Reindeer Dippin by 14-lengths to earn a further 15lb rise in his official mark to 144.

At Kempton everything looked set for a third successive win as the James Best-ridden market fancy stormed to the front before the last, but after going a length clear on the run-in he began to idle and opened the door for the relentless Swincombe Flame to come and nab him on the post in the very last stride. Now a 16/1 co-second favourite for the Coral Cup and a 20/1 shot for the Vincent O’Brien Handicap hurdle back at the minimum trip, Hobbs is keen to see just how far his inmate has improved and clearly believes that the Rendlesham Hurdle, set to be run on Featherbed Lane’s preferred testing ground, will provide him with all the answers he needs.

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