Emotional Newbury send-off for Fehily who retires from the saddle with win on final ride
Noel Fehily delivered the perfect ending to an illustrious career in the saddle when he bowed out as a jockey with a victory on his final ride at Newbury on Saturday.
Cheered on by family and friends, many of whom had flown in from Ireland for the occasion, he secured the success they had all hoped to witness by steering home the 1-3 shot Get In The Queue in the Goffs UK Spring Sale Bumper.
Fehily, 43, had announced he was retiring after riding his seventh Cheltenham Festival winner last week, calling a halt to a career of more 1,300 wins including two Champion Hurdles, two King George VI Chases and a Champion Chase.
After exiting the weighing room to a guard of honour from fellow riders and receiving a special presentation from the racecourse, the pressure was on for Fehily and the Harry Fry-trained Get In The Queue. Neither were to disappoint, triumphing by four and a half lengths.
“I think my career would have been deemed a failure if I’d got beat on a 1-3 shot in the last,” he said. “I think he is a very good horse and he is one of the ones I will miss next season.
“It was a fantastic send-off. The lads have been very good. They’ve been taking the mickey out of me all day. That’s what I am going to miss about the whole job, the craic we have in the weighing room.
“I have held it together pretty well, not like at Cheltenham the other day. It’s been great with the whole family here, my wife and kids and so many friends have made the effort to be here. It’s been a very special day and one I won’t forget for a long time.”
Fry, whose successful association with Fehily included a Grade 1 Punchestown Festival victory with Unowhatimeanharry, said: “I am delighted for Noel. He has been a brilliant jockey, a great friend and it’s been a honour to provide him with his last ride and come away with a winner in a good race on a lovely horse for the future. It was a perfect fairytale ending.”
It was a long day for Fehily who had been up with wife Natasha at 3.30am foaling a Getaway filly out of Little Acorn, one of the mares he keeps at his home near Swindon.
They then had to prepare for the arrival of 22 members of Co Cork native Fehily’s family who had flown over from Ireland.
“It’s amazing,” said Natasha Fehily. “The amount of phone calls and messages have been overwhelming. I don’t think he actually realised how many people thought he was so good.
“The whole family have come over from Ireland, his mother and father, both his brothers, both his sisters and nieces and nephews. His mother and father don’t like flying. It is like a wedding but as we were leaving it felt like a funeral.
“It’s sad but I think it’s his time. He doesn’t regret hanging his boots up now. He’s ready.”
One of Fehily’s former winners Altior, the dual Champion Chase winner, was at Newbury to parade before racing. Fehily also rode Buveur D’Air to the first of his two Champion Hurdle wins.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “Noel rode Altior in his first three novice chases. There is no better man to give a horse a nice introduction. He is a lovely sympathetic rider. It is lovely to be able to say thank you for helping put Altior’s chasing career on the map.”
Hughes reveals his love for Annie Mc after mare claims Mares’ Series Final
Love Island star Chris Hughes revelled in an “unbelievable” victory at Newbury on Saturday after Annie Mc, the mare owned by the Coral Champions Club of which he is the ambassador, landed the Grade 2 EBF & TBA Mares Novice Hurdle Series Final.
Between TV and other commitments Hughes regularly rides out the Jonjo O’Neill-trained five-year-old and so had a personal connection to the mare who ran out the emphatic eight lengths winner of the £40,000 contest under the trainer’s son Jonjo Jnr.
“This is unbelievable,” he said. “What a result for her. It means a lot. I love that horse. It’s nice to have a relationship with the horse by riding them out. She runs her heart out every time.
“She was apparently giving weight today but it didn’t look like it. What a horse, what a talent. She is five-years-old and next year chasing is the aim.
“The Club has three horses so I am down at Colin Tizzard’s a bit and Tim Vaughan’s. Every couple of weeks I ride Annie Mc and she is brilliant. I first sat on her the second day she got to Jonjo’s when she was settling in. She was a very good purchase.”
There was further reason to celebrate the success as the win secured for Jonjo Jnr a £500 cheque for finishing the Newbury jumps campaign as leading conditional rider, having claimed the opening Insure With Be Wiser Handicap Chase on the Richard Hobson-trained Chic Name.
Stars on parade
Altior brought some stardust to the final Newbury jumps meeting of the 2018-19 season when the dual Champion Chase winner led a parade of trainer Nicky Henderson’s heroes of the Cheltenham Festival.
The jumping superstar, unbeaten in 18 starts over hurdles and fences, was joined by Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills, Coral Cup winner William Henry and Beware The Bear, who captured the Ultima Handicap Chase.
Henderson, who finished leading trainer at Newbury, said: “Everyone at Newbury has been very helpful to me during the season and we are delighted to bring them to support the racecourse.
“Looking ahead to Aintree I think Altior will run there and we will up him in trip to two and a half miles. We have been told we need to up him in trip to be considered a true champion but he has won 18 out of 18, he can’t do much more.”
Dickie at the double again
Richard Johnson, who rode a double at the track on Friday, repeated the feat to finish off in style with wins on The Knot Is Tied in the Be Wiser Insurance Handicap Hurdle and Gala Ball in the Doom Bar Handicap Chase to claim the track’s leading jockey title.
Trainer Neil King had another reason to remember his first winner at Newbury since February 2008 as The Knot Is Tied became his 34th victory of the campaign, equalling his best ever score
Gala Ball was trained by Philip Hobbs whose yard collected the Best Turned Out Award for winning the most prizes during the season.