Noel Fehily is hoping for big things from Black Op

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It’s been a frustrating few days on the track after missing a winner at Leopardstown on Friday due to a flight delay but at least those I did get to ride ran well.

I thought Monalee ran a blinder to be second in the Savills Chase, that was a good run, and Bapaume ran a good race to be third in the Christmas Hurdle, so I was happy with that.

I see the new year in at Cheltenham where I start with The Druids Nephew (12.50) who has been off the track for a couple of years. I am hoping he will run a nice race but it is a long time since he ran.

That was in the 2017 Bet365 Gold Cup in which he ran okay, and he won at the Festival in 2015, but after so much time off I’d say he is best watched.

Black Op (1.25) was one of my big winners of last season when he landed the Grade 1 novices’ hurdle at Aintree after finished second to Samcro at Cheltenham.

I didn’t ride him when he made his chasing debut at Exeter but Topofthegame, who was second when Black Op was third, came out and finished second in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase so the form doesn’t look too bad.

Black Op would have sharpened up a lot for the run and I would be expecting a better performance here.

It’s a good race as he takes on Defi Du Seuil, who won the Exeter race, again but I would be hoping he would run a big race.

I would be slightly worried about the ground not being slow enough for Acting Lass (2.00). He won his first three over fences and likes soft ground, which it was when he won at Ascot last year.

It was too quick for him when he ran in the Betdaq Chase at Kempton last February so I would be concerned if conditions dry out.

It is good to soft and I wouldn’t like to see it get quicker than that. Hopefully he can run a nice race.

Wotzizname (2.35) ran OK at Southwell the last day but he is well held by the handicapper and doesn’t have an ounce in hand. He runs his race every time but he is handicapped to the hilt.

Black Op would be my best chance of starting the year with a winner.

My goal for 2019 is simple – to stay in one piece, ride as many winners as I can and hopefully ride a couple of good winners along the way. It’s the same every year.

Happy New Year,

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.