GBI RACING

Fehily chooses Newbury as ‘right place’ to retire

Noel Fehily at Cheltenham

Noel Fehily views Newbury as the perfect place to bring his riding career to an end this weekend.

The leading jockey made made the shock announcement of his impending retirement after steering the Willie Mullins-trained Eglantine Du Seuil to a narrow victory at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday.

The 43-year-old did not give a retirement date at Prestbury Park, but then confirmed on Monday he will hang up his saddle this weekend.

Noel Fehily won his first Champion Hurdle on Rock On Ruby
Noel Fehily won his first Champion Hurdle on Rock On Ruby (David Davies/PA)

Fehily said: “Saturday will be my last day riding. I didn’t want to drag on my retirement once I had made my announcement. It was always going to be sooner rather than later.

“I lived in Lambourn for nearly 16 years, and Newbury has always been a local track. It seemed like the right place to do this when I looked at the fixture list.

“I know a lot of people locally, and it gives them the opportunity to come racing.”

Fehily, who has won the Champion Hurdle twice on Rock On Ruby and Buveur D’Air, as well as the Champion Chase on Special Tiara, has been struggling with illness this season.

In January he had his appendix removed, but suffered complications and needed to return to hospital.

Charlie Mann provided Fehily with his first winner after arriving in Britain in 1998 – when Ivy Boy scored at Plumpton – as well as his first Grade One success aboard Air Force One at the 2008 Punchestown Festival.

The Lambourn handler was keen to pay tribute, saying: “We got Noel over from Ireland. He actually went to David Nicholson’s for two weeks, but didn’t like it, so he went home and then came back to our place.

“Noel was with us for a long time, and I’ve always felt he didn’t get the recognition he deserved.

Trainer Charlie Mann (right) with Noel Fehily
Trainer Charlie Mann (right) with Noel Fehily (David Davies/PA)

“He’s always been a good rider and should have been riding Champion Hurdle winners 15 years ago. It wasn’t really until seven years ago that people started to realise how good he is, and I’ve never been able to understand it.

“He’s a top-class jockey and a great fella, and it’s very sad he’s packing up. But I think it’s the right decision, and it’s great that he’s getting out in one piece.

“Any of the young lads we have riding for us, I always say Noel is the one they should look up to.”

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