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An Interview with Ex-jockey Noel Fehily

Noel Fehily was one of the most determined and cool jockeys of all time. He grew up in Dunmanway, County Cork, and rode eighty winners at home as an amateur before coming over to the UK to work for Charlie Mann in 1998. He was crowned Champion Conditional in 2001.

Noel rode 1353 winners, of which twenty-seven were Grande 1s; his first was for Charlie Mann at Punchestown in 2008 on Air Force One. He clocked up six Cheltenham Festival winners, including Champion Hurdles on Rock On Ruby in 2012 and Buveur d’Air in ’17. He claimed a Champion Chase in gutsy front-running style on Special Tiara in ’17; a partnership that had previously won a Celebration Chase at Sandown two years earlier. There was a Tingle Creek on Master Minded. Yet, it’s his lengthy collaboration with Silviniaco Conti that stands out, including two King Georges, an Ascot Chase and two Betway Bowls.

Whilst running a successful yard in Wiltshire, Noel, 46, is also involved with the syndicates that share his name. He says these syndicates have ‘given people the chance to dip their toe in the water of racehorse ownership, giving them a small way in. Maybe some will own their own racehorse one day.’

Noel is supported by wife Natasha and children Niamh and Michael. They have three dogs, which Noel describes as more family pets, Woody, Sweep and Poppy.

One of two King Georges on Silviniaco Conti

Photo credit: Racing Post

Did you have horsey childhood?

At the age of six, I started on ponies at a riding school. We then got a pony at home and I never stopped.

How did you get into racing?

I started pony racing at seven on a pony belonging to Ned and John Barret. I worked in racing and rode in point-to-points. I love the buzz of racing – I found showjumping boring.

Favourite racecourses?

I loved Ascot, Kempton and definitely Sandown, but anywhere I could ride a winner.

Favourite meeting?

That's pretty simple – the Cheltenham Festival.

Favourite racehorse?

I suppose it must be my association with Silviniaco Conti. I rode him from a four-year-old to his two King Georges. But I was lucky to ride a few nice ones.

What were your best days in racing?

Any day at the Cheltenham Festival.

What was the best advice you were given?

I was going through a spell when I wasn't happy with my riding and Yogi Breisner told me, ‘keep your head down going into an obstacle’.

What type of yard are you running now?

Breaking and pre-training. I love working with youngsters.

How did the Noel Fehily Racing Syndicates Begin?

Myself and Crossy (David Cross) decided to set up the syndicates when I finished riding. I thought we'd only have a couple of horses but now it's about twenty-four. Last season, we had twenty-one winners and Love Envoi’s Cheltenham Festival win was the icing on the cake.

Favourite drink? A pint of Peroni.

Favourite meal? I love a good steak.

Favourite holiday destination? Portugal - I absolutely love it there.

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