EVEN though he won’t be riding at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Noel Fehily still hopes to be actively involved in the four-day spectacular in March.
The legendary Coppeen jockey was inducted into the West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame recently at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery.
It was a special evening for the local sporting great who retired from the saddle last March after a success-laded career.
Over the years Fehily rode some big winners at Cheltenham, including successes on Rock On Ruby (2012) and Buveur D'Air (2017) in the Champion Hurdle, and Special Tiara (2017) in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, as well as another four Cheltenham winners.
It was at last year’s Festival that Fehily, now 44 years old, announced his retirement after winning the 2019 Mares' Novices' Hurdle on Eglantine Du Seuil.
All things going well, he’ll have more than a passing interest when Cheltenham rolls around this March (10th to 13th).
When asked about his future, Fehily told the Star Sport Podcast: ‘I won’t be training. I buy and sell a lot of young horses, I’m breeding a lot of horses, I’m pre-training a lot of horses and I’m running the Noel Fehily Syndicate which has started really well,’ he said.
‘We are looking to have some runners at the Cheltenham Festival and if we can pull that off, that would be really exciting, and we’ll try and build that a bit more.’
Fehily flew back to West Cork on Saturday from home in England and was on a flight back across the water on Sunday, so it was a short trip home – but it’s one that he wanted to make after being honoured with the West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame Award.
‘It’s a big achievement to be recognised locally and that’s why I always make the effort to get home for these awards,’ Fehily said.
‘I’ve won monthly awards in the past and now I’ve the Hall of Fame, and I always try to make the effort to fly home because these awards are important to the people of West Cork so it means a lot.’
Even though his new venture is keeping him busy, the Christmas just gone was a lot different to what he has been used to. There was no Kempton on December 26th.
‘I didn’t go racing on St Stephen’s Day, there was a lot of good racing on so I watched it on television whereas normally I’ve been to Kempton over the last few years, King Georges, and stuck in the action,’ he said.
‘It was nice this year to have a more relaxed Christmas and I was able to enjoy it a bit more with the kids, and to watch the racing on TV was quite nice for a change.’