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Noel Fehily retirement - Five of the best horses top jockey Noel Fehily has ridden in his career

Brian Healy 19 Mar 2019
CHEPSTOW, WALES - NOVEMBER 07: Noel Fehily poses at Chepstow Racecourse on November 07, 2018 in Chepstow, Wales. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

We look at five of the best horses to have been ridden by retiring jockey Noel Fehily and who have contributed to his top-class career in the saddle.

In the wake of steering 50/1 chance Eglantine Du Seuil to win the Grade Two Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on Cheltenham Festival Thursday, winning rider Noel Fehily shocked the racing world when he announced that he would be retiring from the saddle.

"It's a young man's game, you can't go on for ever," he said in his interview. "I will be 44 this year, I've had a great time, loved every minute of it and I'll miss it like hell."

Fehily, who missed out on both the 2010 and 2011 Cheltenham Festivals through injury also revealed that he feared he might miss what turned out to be his final Festival after needing keyhole surgery to remove his appendix in January.

"I could go on but I was very ill in January and February and it didn't look like I would make the Festival for a while; so to come here and ride a winner seems like the perfect ending. I will carry on for the next couple of weeks and then I'll decide when to stop.”

Since arriving in the UK in 1998 and being crowned Champion Conditional Jumps Jockey in 2001, Irish-born Fehily, 43 has enjoyed a long and successful career in the saddle where he has ridden more than 1300 career winners which include 27 Grade One wins. 

Two of those top-level successes came in the Champion Hurdle, and he also rode a Champion Chase winner. He has been associated with a host of big name horses, and we detail five of the best horses to have helped contribute to Fehily’s fantastic career.

SILVINIACO CONTI


Trained by Paul Nicholls, Silviniaco Conti ran often in the same colours as Eglantine Du Seuil despite being joint-owned by owners Jared Sullivan and Chris Giles, and the Dom Alco gelding was a seven-time Grade One winner which included two King George VI Chases, two Betfair Chases and two Aintree Bowls.

Silviniaco Conti also ran in three Cheltenham Gold Cups and was sent off 3-1 favourite in 2015, but he was never able to show his best form at Prestbury Park. 

Six of his Grade One wins came with Fehily on board, the other with Ruby Walsh, and the last of those top-level successes came when routing Dynaste by twenty lengths to win the 2016 Ascot Chase. He also contested the Grand National that year, although he pulled up behind Rule The World having been hampered earlier and losing too much ground.

His final season saw him fail to win in five starts, beaten behind both Valseur Lido and Cue Card prior to relinquishing his King George VI Chase crown to Thistlecrack when bidding for a third win in the race. 

With his best days seemingly behind him, he made his final outing in the 2017 Aintree Bowl where he finished sixth of seven runners behind Tea For Two and was retired. He had won 16 of 36 starts, winning more than £1million in prize money throughout his career.

Fehily enjoyed a hugely successful partnership with Silviniaco Conti.


ALTIOR


When Nico de Boinville was injured during the 2016/17 season, trainer Nicky Henderson turned to Fehily as the ideal partner for superstar chaser Altior, and the pair combined on three occasions. 

Fehily was the man on board when the High Chaparral gelding made a winning transition to chasing, and he then steered Altior to his first chasing Grade One win in that season’s Henry VIII Novices’ Chase. 

The pair enjoyed a third success when Fehily steered Altior, who had gone off at odds of 1/9, to win the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton; but he relinquished the ride for the Denman Chase when Nico de Boinville returned, and the two have never been reunited since.

Despite their relatively short association, the pair still managed to win more than £50,000 together and Fehily can be credited with helping to shape the Altior we all know today as a chaser.

Fehily rode Altior to each of his first three winning starts over fences.


BUVEUR D’AIR


Through his association with owner JP McManus, Fehily built up an early partnership with Buveur D’air, and Fehily was on board the Crillon gelding for his first six starts after moving to Nicky Henderson from France.

Fehily and Buveur D’air would win three of this first six races, culminating in a Grade One success at Aintree when beating Petit Mouchoir having earlier finished third to Altior in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The pair were reunited ahead of the 2017 Champion Hurdle where Fehily steered the then-six year old to the first of his two Champion Hurdle wins, beating My Tent Or Yours by four lengths; but the pair wouldn’t team up again with JP McManus’ retained rider Barry Geraghty riding him in all starts since.

Fehily and Buveur D’air won four of their seven starts together, and like Altior, Fehily can be credited as an instrumental cog in the Buveur D’air machine, helping to develop the dual-Champion Hurdle winner into the horse he is today.

Buveur D'air won the first of his Champion Hurdle titles under Noel Fehily.


SPECIAL TIARA


Fehily and Henry De Bromhead’s star would strike up a hugely successful partnership once Fehily got the ride on a regular basis; but the jockey had sat on the horse as early as 2013 when the pair finished third in the then-Listed Shloer Chase at Cheltenham behind Kid Cassidy.

The pair would really kickstart their relationship at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival where Fehily steered the Kayf Tara gelding to third place in that season’s Champion Chase behind Dodging Bullets. The pair were together for 11 of their next 12 starts, with only Barry Geraghty interrupting the sequence.

The pair would combine for two Grade One successes, beating Sprinter Sacre in the 2015 Celebration Chase at Sandown and then the 2017 Champion Chase when denying Fox Norton. That was to be Special Tiara’s final win, but he would continue to run with credit although his best days looked firmly behind him during the 2017/18 season and he pulled up behind Altior in defence of his crown twelve months ago.

Having contested three times in the current 2018/19 season, once under Fehily at Kempton when finishing third in the Desert Orchid Chase; but the twelve-year old sadly broke down fatally in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown.

Special Tiara gave Noel Fehily a Champion Chase win.


ROCK ON RUBY


Trained firstly by Paul Nicholls, and then later by Harry Fry, Fehily steered Rock On Ruby to Listed bumper success at Cheltenham back in November 2010 when deputising for Ruby Walsh; but the pair would be reunited in the 2012 Champion Hurdle where Fehily and the Oscar gelding would see out a surprise win over Overturn, scoring by almost four lengths.

Fehily would keep the ride in the wake of that success, and the pair combined for five more wins from 16 starts which included twice over fences as well as the 2014 Relkeel Hurdle. He had also finished runner-up to Hurricane Fly in the 2013 Champion Hurdle and filled the same position behind The New One in the 2014 Aintree Hurdle.

Rock On Ruby won 12 times in total, seven of which came under Noel Fehily, and the rider scored his final win on Harry Fry’s star when steering him to a victory over Vaniteux on New Years’ Day 2015.

The pair ended their long-standing and successful partnership with consecutive runner-up finishes at Aintree and Wetherby before Barry Geraghty notched the final win of Rock On Ruby’s career at Ascot when deputising for Fehily to beat Court Minstrel in the Grade Two Coral Hurdle.

Rock On Ruby and Noel Fehily won the 2012 Champion Hurdle.


These are just a few of the many good horses that Noel Fehily as ridden, and the list could easily have contained the likes of Celibate on whom Fehily scored twice as well as steering him to sixth place in the 2002 Grand National; or Silver Jaro, who gave Fehily his first Cheltenham Festival success.

Fehily also rode the great Master Minded to two of his career wins, scoring on Paul Nicholls' Champion Chase winner in the 2010 Amlin 1965 Chase and the 2010 Tingle Creek Chase which was run at Cheltenham that year. He also guided Minella Rocco to a Cheltenham Gold Cup silver medal in 2017, the closest he got to winning chasing's Blue Riband. 

Summerville Boy gave Fehily a Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner in 2018, and Bags Groove has been a constant source of winners for the retiring jockey with the pair having combined for 8 of the Oscar gelding's nine career wins to date; and with over 1300 winners to choose from and a host of top name horses, it is difficult to narrow down any list to just five. 

But if one were to ask Noel about the five best horses he has ridden in his career, then this list probably won't be too far from his response.


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Noel Fehily retirement - Five of the best horses top jockey Noel Fehily has ridden in his career

We look at five of the best horses to have been ridden by retiring jockey Noel Fehily and who have contributed to his top-class career in the saddle.

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