Can Noel Fehily land a final Festival winner on Gold Cup day?

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Things hadn’t been going that great this week but what a brilliant experience it was winning on Eglantine Du Seuil in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle!

To get a winner at Cheltenham is just magic. I was absolutely cantering on Kalondra earlier and when he got injured at the third last I thought that was my chance gone of riding a winner this year. Luckily Eglantine Du Seuil came good.

I’ve had some injuries this season and a couple of weeks ago it didn’t look like I was going to make the Festival. Thankfully I did.

I would have been very disappointed if I didn’t get up because I had to come from a long way back. I was fairly sure her head was down when I got to the line.

I enjoyed that win especially for Jared Sullivan, who has been a great supporter, as well because it is probably going to be my last Festival. That will be it now I think.

I’m not getting any younger and it’s a young man’s game. I’ve probably been thinking about it for a couple of weeks. I just thought it was time to let the young lads get on with it.

I spoke to my agent, my wife and my kids. I’ve haven’t spoken to the trainers I ride for. I will probably ride for a couple more weeks. We’ll play it by ear but this will be my last Festival.

Obviously I was hoping I would get a winner here to say it then but it’s a very hard place to get a winner. You can’t take it for granted.

Friday

I have two rides on the final day of the Festival, but I am not involved in the Triumph Hurdle in which I think Sir Erec probably is the one they all have to beat.

The fact that his stablemate Band Of Outlaws went and won the Fred Winter as impressively as he did, then if Sir Erec is a lot better than him, which they say is, he must be a very good horse.

His run at Leopardstown was very good so I think he is the one they all have to beat and is a worthy favourite.

I ride Cut The Mustard (2.10) in the County Hurdle. She produced a good run at Leopardstown, jumping the last looking like she was going to win and then pulled up in front and got chinned close to the line.

She won’t mind the slower ground. I will probably have to try to deliver her late but I think she has an each way chance. Although it wasn’t a bad run last time she is probably not too badly handicapped.

I have another Willie Mullins horse in the Albert Bartlett in Dorrells Pierji (2.50).

The three mile trip won’t be a problem for him and he has had plenty of racing which you need for a race like this. He has a lot of experience and is a six-year-old. He ticks a lot of boxes.

On form he has to improve a lot but in a race like that, being six and having done plenty of racing will stand him in good stead.

It’s not always the best horse that wins this race. You need one that is battle-hardened because it’s a tough race and some of the horses that have had one and two runs won’t be able to cope.

Last year’s winner was a seven-year-old and I am pretty sure his form coming into the race wasn’t that strong. You just need a battle-hardened horse.

In the Gold Cup I still think Native River is the one they have to beat. He is tough and he stays. If anything gets past him they will know they have had a race. If he is on song that is going to be hard to do.

His run in the King George at Kempton wasn’t too bad on quick ground and a sharp track. Haydock was the same. There is nothing to suggest he has gone in any way.

They were respectable races in conditions that wouldn’t suit him. With conditions suiting him this time he will be hard to beat.

In the Martin Pipe, Willie Mullins keeps telling me he thinks Getareason is well handicapped.

He did run well for me at Naas behind Battleoverdoyen and Sams Profile in a Grade 1. He wouldn’t look too badly handicapped on that form.

Noel

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Noel Fehily

Noel Fehily is one of the finest jump jockeys in the business. Winner of the famed King George VI and a two-time victor of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Noel will be bringing you his thoughts in the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival exclusively on Ladbrokes.