AN emotional Noel Fehily has announced he plans to retire from the saddle in the coming weeks after a career lasting more than 20 years.
Speaking after riding Eglantine Du Seuil to victory in the mares’ novice hurdle on Thursday, Castletownkenneigh native Fehily said: “I’m not getting any younger and it’s a young man’s game.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while. We’ll see about the rest of the season, but to ride a winner is brilliant.
“When you ride a horse for Willie Mullins around here, you always have a chance.”
The 43-year-old got up in the shadow of the post for a superb win.
Sire Du Berlais delighted favourite-backers with a last-gasp victory under an inspired Barry Geraghty in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.
Trained by Gordon Elliott and owned by JP McManus, the seven-year-old had caught the eye when finishing sixth in a Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown in December and was a heavily-backed 4-1 market leader for what was his first start since then.
It was a quick double for Geraghty in the McManus colours, after Defi Du Seuil won the opening JLT Novices’ Chase.
He said after what was his 38th Cheltenham Festival winner: “I thought I was in trouble three out, I got tight for room, but he rallied and rallied, and it was a good performance.
“There was plenty of traffic, but he responded and was a willing partner.”
Top amateur Derek O’Connor kept out of trouble to steer Any Second Now to a stylish victory in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup to bag his first win in the race and a third on the day for owner JP McManus.
The grey Kilfilum Cross took the lead on the home straight but the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now appeared to relish the extra yardage as O’Connor cajoled his mount to draw clear for a three-and-three-quarter-length victory and a belated first win over fences.
The Young Master and Crievehill both ran big races to fill the third and fourth position, but the well-backed favourite Measureofmydreams never figured under Jamie Codd.
O’Connor said: “Ted gave me great encouragement to ride Any Second Now and everything worked out brilliantly.
“He’d been mixing it with good horses in Graded chases and relished the extra trip on that ground — he really galloped all the way to the line.”