Noel Fehily eases himself back into action at Cheltenham

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It was good to be back in the saddle at Huntingdon on Friday after two weeks out of action due to illness.

It will take a few days to get back into proper shape so I have limited my rides this weekend and I am sticking to my main horses until I get myself back to full fitness and full strength.

As a result I have only taken one ride at Cheltenham and will have one at Fontwell on Sunday as well.

In Black Op (3.35) I am riding one of the best horses I have to ride and I am looking forward to him switching back to hurdles after two runs over fences.

He ran well last time at Cheltenham behind Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil. He was only three lengths off them turning in but he just jumped terribly over fences.

It was still a very good run considering how poorly he jumped all the way round against decent horses, but that wouldn’t be good enough to win championship races jumping like that.

Myself, owner Roger Brookhouse and trainer Tom George spoke about what to do and it was Roger’s call to revert to hurdles and I think it is the right one.

Back over hurdles I would like to see him show some of his novice form from when he was second to Samcro at the Festival and won a Grade 1 at Aintree so we can see the real Black Op again.

He is taking on more seasoned staying hurdlers now but he has quite a bit of experience.

He has won the Grade 1 and was second in the Ballymore last year so he has plenty of experience and he has age on his side too. I don’t see it being a problem stepping into the company, it’s just we can see where we are with him.

On Sunday I go to Fontwell to ride Lee Side Lady (4.00). She was third the last day at Plumpton and on that evidence she will have a small each-way chance

Noel

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.