Sport

Legendary jockey Noel Fehily races into the West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame

January 16th, 2020 10:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Noel Fehily onboard Special Tiara celebrates winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

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HE’S one of the greatest sportspeople that West Cork has ever produced and now he will take his place in the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame.

Noel Fehily is a legend, both at home and across the water.

The Coppeen jockey, 44 years old since Christmas, retired from the saddle last March after a success-laden career that saw him rack up over 1,350 victories between 1998 and 2019, including almost 30 Grade 1 winners and also seven Cheltenham successes (between 2008 and 2019).

His triumphs are many, varied and all brilliant.

On the big days, Fehily was the go-to man for a lot of trainers, and his CV is decorated with glorious triumphs that light up his highlights reel.

He won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham with Rock On Ruby in 2012 and with Buveur d’Air in 2017. He enjoyed magnificent back-to-back wins in the King George VI Chase on Silviniaco Conti in 2013 and 2014, a horse he had a special relationship with as they won seven Grade 1 races together.

Add in Fehily’s win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Special Tiara in 2017, another incredible day.

Clonakilty man Richie Forristal, Racing Post Ireland’s editor, recently spoke to The Southern Star about Fehily’s incredible career.

‘He will be remembered as one of the best big race drivers that we have produced in recent times,’ Forristal insists.

‘You only have to look at the legacy that he has left to see that. In the space of a ten-year period he rode nearly 30 Grade 1 winners, he won a Champion Chase, two Champion Hurdles, two King Georges and he was second in a Gold Cup as well.

‘You must remember too that he didn’t ride a Grade 1 winner until he was 32 years of age and he retired when he was 43, so he was a late bloomer in that sense.’

A late bloomer alright, Fehily was 22 when he first rode as an amateur for Charlie Mann, and he had to wait another ten years for his first winner at Cheltenham, on board Silver Jaro in the County Hurdle at 2008.

There was no looking back after that and his success sees him ranked inside the top ten jump jockeys in Great Britain and Ireland. That list also includes Tony McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Richard Dunwoody and Davey Russell; fine company indeed for Fehily.

He caught everyone by surprise when he announced he was bowing out after guiding Eglantine Du Seuil to win the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Nine days later at Newbury it was all over. Fittingly, Fehily went out on a high after riding 1-3 hot favourite Get In The Queue to victory.

It was a short goodbye, but his legend is assured and now he will be rightly remembered as one of West Cork’s greatest sports stars and finest ambassadors when he enters the West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame.

 

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