Noel Fehily talks Cheltenham, retirement and his weekend rides

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It is so hard to get winners at Cheltenham and it was looking unlikely until Eglantine Du Seuil delivered in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle on Thursday.

As I said yesterday I thought Kalondra would win until he got injured at the third last and that my best chance had gone.

I have been thinking about retirement for about the past ten days. I spoke to my agent Chris Broad about it and it has developed since then.

When I was ill in January and February it was looking like I wasn’t going to be coming back in time for the Festival, even the rest of the season at one stage, and I was thinking that was me done. It got me thinking then.

Since I came back I have been quietly tipping away okay but I knew I was going to have to retire at some stage and between myself and my agent we decided that if I was lucky enough to get a winner at the Festival I would announce it then and make a plan from there.

I know I have been lucky to get a winner so to be able to make this decision on my terms was very important to me.

I don’t know for sure how much longer I will ride because I haven’t had a chance to speak to the likes of Harry Fry, Neil Mulholland and lots of other people that I ride for as well and discuss it with them.

I don’t want to just pull up stumps and let people down. I will have to talk to them and make a plan from there. I won’t go on too long though because I don’t want to be talking about retirement and not doing it.

I have a lot of young horses at home and breed a few, break in a few and pre-train a few, so I will try to build that business a bit more. I will take a bit of time out too and see what else is about for me.

When you are riding it is very difficult to think too far ahead. I love working with the horses and will continue working with horses but training them is probably not something I will do.

I am lucky to have ridden so many great horses during my career.

I have had seven Cheltenham Festival winners and my victories on Rock On Ruby and Buveur D’Air in two Champion Hurdles and Special Tiara in the Champion Chase were fantastic days. My two King George VI Chase wins on Silviniaco Conti were very special too.

I also rode Altior and Master Minded in the past. I have ridden some great horses for some great people.

A lot of people would die for the chance to sit up on some of those horses and I got a chance to ride a lot of them.

Saturday

I am going to Uttoxeter for two rides, both trained by one of my big supporters in Harry Fry.

Jolly’s Cracked It (3.00) will love soft ground. I thought he ran okay the last time at Wincanton when the ground would have been too quick for him then. He wants proper soft ground which hopefully he will get and I think he can run well.

American (3.35) ran in the Gold Cup a year ago and I think the Midlands National trip will suit him.

He loves soft ground, that’s why he is coming here. He has struggled all season because he hasn’t had it soft enough. If he is anywhere near his old form on soft ground he will run very well.

Sunday

I am heading to Ffos Las on Sunday to ride one for Jared Sullivan, the Olly Murphy-trained Doncesar De Pretot (2.30).

He disappointed last time, although I know he finished second at Fakenham. Softer ground and a more galloping track will suit him. We need to see more from him.

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.