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Noel Fehily: Career Profile

Noel Fehily will ride Siviniaco Conti in this year's Grand National
Noel Fehily will ride Siviniaco Conti in this year's Grand National
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Continuing his series of profiles the UK and Ireland's leading jockeys as we build up towards the 2016 Grand National, Russell Smith takes a look at the career of Noel Fehily...

"After a brief spell as stable jockey for Emma Lavelle's Hatherden stables, near Andover in 2012, he enjoyed a successful three-year association in the same role with Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon, clocking up his first century of winners in a season."

Noel Fehily knows that at the age of 40 there won't be too many more Grand National rides - and certainly few with better chances than his mount this year, Silviniaco Conti.

It's not often the opportunity comes along to partner a dual King George VI Chase winner in the world's greatest steeplechase.

But that's the mouth-watering prospect that awaits the veteran rider in the Crabbie's-sponsored marathon at Aintree on April 9.

Fehily was in buoyant mood after the ten-year-old gelding bounced back to his best with an exhilarating display in the Betfair Ascot Chase last month.

Following treatment for sarcoids, Silviniaco Conti jumped with all his old fluency in first-time blinkers to slam Dynaste by 20 lengths and record his seventh Grade 1 success.

With trainer Paul Nicholls electing to bypass the Cheltenham Festival where his charge has never sparkled, he now heads to Aintree a fresh horse and the 10/1 second favourite with Betfair.

It's set to be Fehily's 14th National ride with his previous-best finishes being a brace of fifths on Risk Accessor in 2006 and Rocky Creek two years ago.

The son of a farmer, Fehily, from Macroom in County Cork, started his riding career on the Irish point-to-point circuit where he clocked up 80 winners.

Moving to England, he joined Upper Lambourn trainer Charlie Mann in 1998, riding his first winner on Ivy Boy at Plumpton in the November of that year.

Known for his patient riding style, he went on to become champion conditional jockey in 2000/01 with 42 winners.

But despite consistently returning solid tallies each season, it wasn't until later in the decade that he really started to get aboard the classier horses.

And even then frequent injuries hindered his progress - none more so than when he was due to partner Kauto Star in the 2010 King George VI Chase only to be ruled out with a damaged wrist.

A first Cheltenham Festival winner arrived in 2008 aboard 50/1 shot Silver Jaro in the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle for County Tipperary trainer Tom Hogan.

Four years later, Fehily enjoyed one of his career highlights when the Nicholls-trained Rock On Ruby captured the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Another big-race win for the champion trainer came on Master Minded in the 2010 Tingle Creek Chase rerouted to Cheltenham after Sandown was abandoned.

An old friendship from his days with Mann led to Fehily becoming Silviniaco Conti's regular rider, as he teamed up again with Jared Sullivan, whose Potensis Bloodstock jointly own the gelding with Chris Giles.

As well as back-to-back William Hill King George VI Chase victories at Kempton in 2013 and 2014, the pair combined to take the Betfair Chase at Haydock in 2014 and the last two runnings of the Betfred Bowl at Aintree.

After a brief spell as stable jockey for Emma Lavelle's Hatherden stables, near Andover in 2012, he enjoyed a successful three-year association in the same role with Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon, clocking up his first century of winners in a season.

Having moved on this term, the Lambourn-based rider has posted another ton to stand third in the jockeys' table.

On the way, he achieved a notable milestone with his 1,000th winner in Britain coming on Lamanver Alchemy for Herefordshire trainer Tom Lacey at Warwick in November.

He also added another Cheltenham Festival success when Unowhatimeanharry, from Harry Fry's Dorset yard, claimed the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

Now he'll be looking to crown the campaign by becoming a National hero with his old ally, Silviniaco Conti.

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