By Caroline Whelan.
Noel Fehily is the epitome of evergreen; at 38-years-of-age, he is riding better than ever, with 106 winners to his name so far this season, effortlessly surpassing his previous best tally of 89.
In addition to this, the Cork man has a live chance of winning his first Gold Cup on the Paul Nicholls trained Silviniaco Conti – the current second favourite for jump racing’s Blue Riband – on which he has already claimed the King George this season.
Fehily, who now works as stable jockey to Oxfordshire trainer Charlie Longsden, is originally from Dunmanway in West Cork and hadn’t any connection with horse racing as a youngster. He attended a local riding school at the ripe age of six where his talent was spotted. This prompted his father to purchase two ponies and with that, he officially caught the bug.
Inevitably the local pony racing scene beckoned and when he finished school, a stint as an amateur. Following a few seasons riding on the home circuit for a number of trainers in his locality, Fehily decided to make the break and ply his trade across the water, joining trainer Charlie Mann in Berkshire.
The jockey, who now lives in Lambourn with his wife and young daughter, recalls his move to the UK as being extremely overwhelming for a young lad from rural Ireland. It’s no doubt something that many fledgling riders who have travelled the same path will identify with.
For more see this week’s edition of the Irish World