WEST Cork native and veteran rider Noel Fehily stole the show at the Cheltenham Festival again on Wednesday when he landed this year's Champion Chase just 24 hours after the 41 year old was successful in the Champion Hurdle.
Fehily was seen at his brilliant best when riding Special Tiara to victory in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The win topped up his success on the opening day in the Stan James Champion Hurdle on Buveur D'Air, a championship race that he has now won twice.
Special Tiara won by a head from Fox Norton who was ridden by fellow West Cork man, Aidan Coleman with the outsider Sir Valentino six lengths back in third. The shock in the full result is the absence of raging hot favourite favourite Douvan, who lost his unbeaten record when finishing a very disappointing seventh.
Fehily, who lead from flag fall to the winning post, said: "I've just won the race I always wanted to win - the Champion Chase is the best speed race over fences and it's a great one to have on the CV.
"I was wondering where Ruby was and thought he would be stalking me, but I got into a great rhythm down the back straight and my horse jumped better than he has ever done. He's a wonderful horse and deserved that, because he's been knocking on the door a few times he has been third in this twice” said the victorious jockey.
Noel Fehily is blessed with buckets of talent, he possesses a terrific racing brain, he is always in the right place at the right time during a race and his ability to judge pace is second to none.
"It's difficult to make all in the Champion Chase, especially going at that speed, and you're worried you're a sitting target for something else. When I jumped the ditch at the top of the hill I thought Douvan might come past me, but I didn't think anything else would.He's always been a fantastic jumper, but today he settled lovely and got into a really good rhythm.
"Henry De Bromhead, does a great job, and the better ground helped. He won at Kempton and showed he was in good form this season, but he's been bogged down in other races. If you said to me at the start of the week 'you can win the Champion Hurdle and Chase' I'd have taken that." added Fehily.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead admitted that Special Tiara's Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase victory by a head from Fox Norton hadn't quite sunk in yet.
The Co Waterford trainer said: "It was super; I am delighted with him. I thought he jumped the best I have ever seen him ,lower and much slicker. He was five or six lengths in front on the top of the hill and then got a nice run down. Obviously we were waiting for Douvan to come out of the pack, among others, and when I saw him back-pedal after the third-last I thought we were in with a chance, and then it was whether we could get home or not - he was amazing.
"Noel Fehily rides him so well - he's won two Grade Ones on him now."
Asked about his expectations coming into the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, de Bromhead answered: "I thought our season was going pretty well when he won the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, and if we could get placed here it would have been a fantastic run. It's incredible."
After weighing in the successful jockey was full of genuine praise for the victorious handler.
"The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a fantastic race to win. Fair play to Henry for getting this horse back; he had a couple of runs here in the winter on soft ground and you could almost be disappointed with him. Then he had that good run at Kempton on better ground that showed he was still in good form."
I have been saying it for over 20 years that Noel Fehily is one of the best in the business, ever since his fruitful point to point days on the Cork and Waterford circuit the remarkable horseman has improved season by season , he may be reaching the end of career, but there are still plenty of big race successes to come from the Coppeen native.