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Farewell Noel Fehily

Saturday’s racing at Newbury will be an emotional day for Noel Fehily and everyone connected to him.

He’s ridden huge winners on the most important days, and we’ve been very lucky to have been able to call upon his services. He’ll be sorely missed.

Opening Batsman winning what was formerly known as the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton stands out as one of our best memories with Noel.

He was absolutely brilliant on him that day, hugging the inside the whole way round and landing me a big winner in my first season with a license.

The other one I’ll never forget is Unowhatimeanharry in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.

We were outpaced at the top of the hill, but Noel didn’t panic and he worked hard to get back into contention before hitting the front coming over the last.

There have been plenty of occasions where you think that if it hadn’t have been for Noel we wouldn’t have won.

One of Noel’s best traits is that he’s totally unflappable.

He’s cool, calm, can read a race remarkably well and always knows where to be at the right time. As a person, he’s laid-back and takes everything in his stride.

He’s been a huge part of what we’ve achieved to date and hopefully will continue to be going forward. Although he retires from the saddle, we’d like him to continue having an input in what we do.

I’ve already sent him a couple of three-year-olds that need to be broken in, so we’ll see how he gets on with that.

Whether he’ll be getting up on them, I’m not too sure!

Last week

The decision was made to retire American after Uttoxeter on Saturday.

He’s a talented horse but the Cotswold Chase last season was about the only good run he’d put together in the last two years, and he was becoming harder to keep right.

He’s given us and the owners some very exciting days, including on the biggest stage of all at last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. It’s just a shame he’s as fragile as he was.

Deadringerforlove had been a little bit disappointing in bumpers, so we were very pleased to see her show good improvement to win over hurdles at Chepstow on Thursday.

She obviously showed signs of inexperience, no more so than when running about a bit in front at the last, but she did it nicely in the end and landed a £10,000 Goffs bonus in the process.

She’s a fine big mare and we’ve still got time to go and run again under a penalty. Hopefully there are a few more nice races to be won with her.

She’ll have no problem jumping fences in due course either.

Looking much further ahead, she’s now a winning half-sister to former Gold Cup winner Sizing John, which must make her a pretty valuable broodmare.

Definitelyanoscar was third over two miles at Ludlow, also on Thursday. The winner was very well in at the weights and we were just placed to get a nice run under her belt.

She wasn’t beaten all that far and the plan now will be to head to Cheltenham in April.

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Newbury

Outofthisworld  runs in the EBF Mares’ Final (15:15).

We’ve found no explanation for her performance when pulled up at Ludlow last time out, so we’re going to put a line through that.

If she bounces back to the form of her two runs before that then she can be competitive off her current mark.

We’ve got the cheekpieces on for the first time to help her travel a bit better and make Noel’s life a bit easier.

Get In The Queue  running in Goffs UK Spring Sale Bumper (17:00) takes on a bit more importance than we initially planned!

We’re trying to win the race for the third time on the bounce, but that pales into insignificance with it now being Noel’s last ride.

This has been the plan since he made his winning debut at Uttoxeter, and that’s why we stuck to our guns and chose this over last week’s Champion Bumper.

We didn’t know then that this would be Noel’s last ride, but I’d like to think that we couldn’t have picked a better one.

Even though we’re conceding weight all round, he has a very good chance of sending Noel off in style and is certainly my most likely winner this weekend.

The form took a boost earlier this week when the runner-up from Exeter, Sheshoon Sonny, came out and won at Wetherby on Tuesday.

The only slight concern is that the ground is drying out all the time.

Kelso

Up at Kelso we’ve got two live chances, starting with Winston C in the valuable two-mile handicap hurdle (14:35).

We decided not to run him in the Country Hurdle and go for this instead.

I don’t imagine it will be quite as competitive as the County Hurdle, but it still looks a good race and we’ve got to carry top-weight.

It’s slightly frustrating that we went up 11lbs for winning at Sandown last time. I’d be a lot more confident if we didn’t have the majority of that on our back.

We’ll need to see him improve again given the rise in the weights, but I think the way that handicap races tend to be run will suit him and he’s got a good chance.

Captain Drake then goes in the 3m2f handicap hurdle (15:35).

We were originally going to go straight to the Challenger Series Final at Haydock, but he likes a bit of give in the ground and we’re not sure we’ll get that in April the way things are.

Despite being raised 6lbs by the handicapper for his win at Southwell, he can still be competitive and will hopefully be there or thereabouts.

Worthy Farm of Paul Nicholls looks the main danger.

Sunday at Exeter

Sir Ivan goes in the 2m2f handicap hurdle (15:15) having lost a bit of confidence over fences recently.

We’re just trying to get a confidence-boosting run into him at this stage.

He’s got some nice bits of form in the book so hopefully we can get him back to his best soon.

Sean Bowen takes the ride there, as he does with the two up at Kelso on Saturday.

We’ve been using Sean through the season and we’ll be continuing to use his services moving forward.

He rode a nice winner for us in the week so hopefully he can get a few more this weekend.

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