Noel Fehily on his recovery and his early Cheltenham Festival fancies

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I am on the sidelines again as having recovered from having my appendix removed and ridden at the Festival Trials meeting at Cheltenham I fell ill again and had to return to hospital.

I am glad to say I am on the mend again but I only narrowly escaped having to have further surgery which would have put me out of action for a lot longer.

I had begun to not feel 100 per cent again after riding at Cheltenham on Saturday and I didn’t ride Sunday. I went back to the hospital for a check-up and they sent me home saying I was fine.

Monday was worse and I didn’t get out of bed all day, Tuesday was worse still and when I contacted the surgeon who performed the original surgery he told me to come in straight away.

What I had was a twisted gut. It’s something that can happen after the appendix is removed. I spent the rest of the week in hospital. I was nil by mouth, on a drip, painkillers and everything else.

The doctor was sure the problem could be sorted out with medication but when it came to Thursday and nothing seemed to have worked the surgeon told me that night that he was going to have to operate.

At this stage I felt so ill I just wanted him to get on with it but he decided to give it until morning. I knew if I had surgery I was going to be looking at a minimum six week recovery.

The next morning there had been snow and the surgeon had to perform another operation first because some of his colleagues didn’t make it in, so I was pushed down to second on the list.

I had seen the anaesthetist, signed the papers, everything was good to go. I was half an hour away from being on the operating table but by the time they came to get me I was fine. Luckily the problem had sorted itself out and I didn’t have to have the operation, but I came very close.

I came home on Sunday and went back to see the surgeon on Thursday night and he was happy. Things have improved a lot this week and I will be looking at resuming riding out in the middle of next week and see how that goes.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is going to be much going on with this shutdown for equine flu. It’s hard to know which way this will go. So many people have horses that have snotty noses this time of year there is a fair chance something else could have it. The mild winter won’t have helped.

We don’t need it after such a stop-start season. In September, October, November the ground was too quick. We got a little bit of better ground in December. It’s been a very short winter.

Racing didn’t really get going till the Ladbrokes Winter Festival when we started to get some ground that was decent enough to run good horses on. There hasn’t been a lot of slower ground to run soft ground horses.

A Special horse

It was very sad to lose Special Tiara at the weekend. He was a fantastic horse. I had a great day with him when he won the 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase and he was placed in two others.

We also won the Celebration Chase, the Desert Orchid Chase twice and just got touched off in the Tingle Creek by Sire De Grugy.

He ran against some great two milers and always turned up and ran a race. He was a hell of a good horse. It was so unfortunate to see him go like that.

Fehily’s Festival five

As I have had some time on my hands I have been thinking about some of the horses that I think will go well at the Cheltenham Festival.

Angels Breath – Nicky Henderson

He was due to run at Huntingdon on Friday. I thought he looked quite good the last day. Nicky Henderson has a great record in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and I do like him for that race.

Ask For Glory – Paul Nicholls

He was going to run at Newbury on Saturday in the Listed Bumper before it was cancelled. He was very impressive at Chepstow and very impressive in his point-to-point in Ireland and looks a real Cheltenham Bumper type.

Black Op – Tom George

I like him for the Stayers’ Hurdle, each way possibly. I do think he will improve for that run at Cheltenham behind Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park.

The Cleeve Hurdle was pretty much his first proper race of the season after running over fences. You will see a better Black Op in March.

Sir Erec – Joseph O’Brien

I was very impressed with this horse at Leopardstown and I think he looks a proper horse.

He looks like a big juvenile and the amount of daylight he put between himself and the rest from the last was striking. And they were good horses in behind him. He’s the best juvenile I’ve seen so far this year.

Carefully Selected – Willie Mullins

He was a point-to-point winner who was second in the Cheltenham Bumper last year and third in the Punchestown Bumper.

He’s a big horse and I think he could be a proper horse for the Albert Bartlett. He hasn’t run yet because he hasn’t had the ground but he has had entries in the last week.

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.