Newbury's emotional farewell to Noel Fehily who retired with a final winning ride
Newbury, Saturday, March 23: 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.
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 favouriteGet In The Queuein 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 leaving 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. 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."
Harry Fry had a successful association with Fehily - including a Grade 1 Punchestown Festival victory with Unowhatimeanharry: “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 his 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 from County Cork of 22 members of Fehily’s family who had flown over from Ireland.
Natasha Fehily called the days since Noel announced his retirement 'amazing': “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 with three more of trainer Nicky Henderson's Cheltenham Festival winners: “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.”