Jockey Noel Fehily to retire

Jockey Noel Fehily will retire from race riding today, Saturday, at Newbury at the age of 43.  He has had an impressive career as a jockey, during which time he rode 477 winners in the last five seasons alone, and a remarkable 976 placed horses. But health issues have influenced his decision to retire.

Born in Ireland in 1975,  the son of a Cork farmer, he didn’t have racing in his blood. He started out riding on the point-to-point circuit in Ireland and moved to the United Kingdom in 1998, when he was already in his early twenties.

He rode for Charlie Mann, for whom he won on Ivy Boy in 1998, and clocked up 13 winners in that first season. The following season he had 16 winners and turned professional in 2000.In 2005 he was appointed second jockey for Jonjo O’Neill whilst also riding several horses for Charlie Mann.

It was another three years before his really made his mark, winning his first Group/Grade One race riding the Charlie Mann-trained ‘Air Force One’ to victory in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown in 2008.

Winning jockey Noel Fehily, pictured here at Plumpton,  to retire         Photo: Jeannie Knight

Noel Fehily ended an impressive 2008/09 season with 89 winners in Great Britain, finishing fourth in the race for the Champion Jockey title, whilst amassing overall prize money of just over £900,000. The ensuing 2010-11 season was a poor one for him through injuries ranging from several shoulder problems, a broken leg and wrist problems.

He became first jockey to Emma Lavelle in 2012 and achieved a 21 per cent winning strike rate aboard her horses. He also rode several horses for Paul Nicholls, mainly when Ruby Walsh was forced to miss action, with a high level of success.

But he recovered to ride more than 100 winners in a single campaign in Great Britain. His total of 127 winners in Great Britain with a strike rate of 21 per cent was without doubt his most successful campaign, as he also accumulated total prize money of over £1 million for the first time.

Noel Fehily won more than £1.5million in total prizes the following season, despite only having 85 winners. He has achieved more than that amount again this season and is currently in fourth place in the Champion Jockey title race with 118 winners, whilst he has also ridden more than 100 second places.

His most recent winner in a Group One race was on the Nicky Henderson trained Buveur D’air in a top novices hurdle at the Aintree Grand National festival at the start of April. Altogether he has ridden more than 1,000 winners in Britain during almost 20 years.

Off the track, Fehily married his wife Natasha in County Cork in 2007 and they have since had a daughter, Niamh, who was born in 2012. Health issues have affected him this season, including appendix surgery in January which has had its complications.

Despite returning to win at the Cheltenham Festival this year aboard Eglantine Du Seuil, the 43-year-old has decided to retire at the top on Saturday, when he hopes to add to his tally of winners at Newbury.

Goodwood looks forward to a new racing season

Horseracing has been a part of Goodwood since 1802, when the 3rd Duke of Richmond introduced the sport for the amusement of local army officers.

Fast forward 200 years and Goodwood’s racing season now consists of 19 unique racedays, including the flagship event, the Qatar Goodwood Festival, affectionately known as ‘Glorious Goodwood’.

Qatar Goodwood Festival Photo: George Gunn

This year, 19 days of racing take place at the world’s most beautiful racecourse between May and October including one of the undoubted highlights of the season, the Qatar Goodwood Festival – widely known as Glorious Goodwood.

The festival takes place from July 30 ending on August 3 this year. It consists of five days of thrilling horse racing action set in an unmatchable downland setting.

Elegant fashion combines with some of the greatest races in the world to create a festival week like no other.

Goodwood has played host to the Sport of Kings for more than 200 years., having been launched as a flat horseracing course for local officers by the third Duke of Richmond in 1802.

Framed by views of the Sussex Downs to the north with the Chichester Plains and the Isle of Wight to the south, Goodwood Racecourse has a reputation as being one of the most beautiful in the world. The finishing straight is lined by the bright white pavilions of the grandstand, where everyone gathers to cheer the horses home.

Racing at Goodwood for 2019 opens on Saturday May 4.

Goodwood also has two racing groups within Goodwood Racehorse Owners’ Groups, known as Grog. The two Grog horses are trained by William Knight and Ralph Beckett.

William Knight has confirmed that Goodwood Sonnet is in fine fettle and enjoying his exercise on the long sand gallop.  He has recently had his winter flu and equine herpes vaccinations without any recourse and is now ready to step up to faster work.

Goodwood Sonnet enjoying a washdown after racing Photo courtesy Chichester Observer

His first piece of work will be on Friday, March 29 and he will then work weekly leading up to his intended debut at Goodwood on May 4.

Ralph Beckett has confirmed that Goodwood Rebel is in good health and doing plenty of upsides work on the short canter.   He is very happy with the colt at this stage and continues to think of him as an early type.   Goodwood Rebel will have his ‘flu & EH vaccines next week.




Spring Jumps Raceday at Plumpton tomorrow

Sky Sports Racing Spring Jumps Raceday takes place tomorrow, Monday March 18 at Plumpton racecourse.

Blow away those Cheltenham blues by joining everyone at Plumpton for this brand new raceday for 2019.

Expect plenty of close racing action at Plumpton
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Take advantage of this bonus fixture and enjoy a competitive six race card, featuring the Class 3 Sky Sports Racing Handicap Chase.

Spend a day at the races in the heart of East Sussex in the Paddock Restaurant, where Dave Crosse will take everyone through the card and escort you down to the final fence where you will experience the thrilling final stages up close.

Come rain or shine, you will be in prime position to enjoy the day  if you take up this offerm which consists of a three course meal, table for the day, racecard, tipsters talk, tea/coffee and table service – there isn’t a better way to enjoy your day.

You can ring  01273 890383 to discuss the options and make a booking for what should be a highly competitive raceday.

Good crowd at Plumpton’s Anglo Irish Raceday

The Anglo Irish Raceday at Plumpton on Monday this week was a good preliminary to the Cheltenham Festival, with some competitive races on the card. In addition a Cheltenham Preview panel was a big attraction, with some top racing personalities taking part.

These included local jockey Joshua Moore, Cheltenham winning trainer Jamie Snowden,  Colin Brown, who was former jockey of Desert Orchid, as well as Sky Sports Racing commentator Tony Ennis, along with PR director for Coral, Simon Clare.

One of the highlights of the day was when Bryony Frost rode her 100th racing career winner, partnering Myplaceatmidnight for trainer Neil King in the National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Race. She led from the start and after the last was five lengths clear and held on under competition to win by three and a half lengths.

Winning jockey Bryony Frost with My Place At Midnight
Photo: Plumpton Racecourse

Trainer Seamus Mullins does well at Plumpton and saddled up Micquus to win the Novies Handicap Chase  overtaking the long-time leader Champion Chase at the last and going on to win by a comfortable three and a half lengths.

Marc Goldstein, who has ridden many winners of his racing career at Plumpton, won the Handicap Hurdle of the day riding Steel Bob for trainer George Baker. This horse was sent off at 16-1 and put in a great performance, going on to win by three quarters of a length from Ballymagroaty Boy.

Steel Bob and Marc Goldstein on the way to victory on the right. Photo: Plumpton Racecourse

A local winner came when Lewes trainer Suzy Smith sent out Rosy World at 7-1 to win the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles.
This was a notable victory since Rosy World is the offspring of Material World- a grand racing mare trained by Suzy and bred by her late father Robin, to gain some good victories on local tracks.
This offspring put in a sound performance under rider Ben Godfrey to win by a comfortable five lengths from 66-1 outsider  Tsundoku, trained by Alexandra Dunn in second place, while the 3-1 favourite, Ruby Yeats, trained by Gary Moore, could finish only third.
Bath trainer Grant Cann teamed up with jockey Joshua Moore to win the Handicap Chase over three miles one furlong with French bred gelding Cadeau Du Bresil, beating 12-1 shot Dan’s Wee Man, trained in Gloucestershire by Jennifer Mason, into second place.

King Muro, blue and red stripes

The final race of the day- a handicap hurdle over two miles – saw King Muro win at 8-1 for trainer Michael Roberts under a good ride from Jeremiah McGrath. The winner beat 3-1 favourite Bolister, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by son Joshua by two and a half lengths.
The next meeting at Plumpton is on Monday March 18. Gates open at 12 noon, with the first race at 2.20pm and the last at 4.55pm.

Goodwood’s new bonus scheme with Stockholm

Goodwood Racecourse and Bro Park Racecourse, Stockholm, are delighted to announce a new bonus scheme to encourage horses to compete at both racecourses.

This exciting partnership will allow owners with horses competing in either country the opportunity to experience the unique atmosphere of running their horse at either the Qatar Goodwood Festival or The Stockholm Cup Day at Bro Park, two of Europe’s premier race meetings.

Any horse which wins a qualifying race at Bro Park on Stockholm Stora Day, Sunday June16 will be entitled to free travel and entry to a reciprocal race at The Qatar Goodwood Festival July 30 to  August 3.

In a reciprocal arrangement, any horse winning certain races during the Qatar Goodwood Festival will gain free travel and entry to selected races at the Stockholm Cup meeting,  September  22 2019.

Glorious Goodwood

Dennis Madsen, Head of Racing, Svensk Galopp, commented; ‘It’s a huge honour for Swedish horse racing to be associated with Goodwood Racecourse. However, we would not have accepted the relationship unless we thought we had something to offer towards it. It’s a great opportunity for Swedish owners to travel aboard and get a unique experience and, obviously, we believe we can give something back to British owners who want to run their horses at the valuable Stockholm Cup meeting.’

Ed Arkell, Goodwood Clerk of the Course said; ‘We’re delighted to be working with Bro Park and Svensk Galopp. This is a wonderful opportunity for Swedish owners to experience the unique charm of The Qatar Goodwood Festival and, equally, for British owners to run at Sweden’s most prestigious and valuable meeting.’

David Menuisier, trainer of last years’ Stockholm Cup winner, Thundering Blue, said; ‘This is a great initiative by Goodwood and Bro Park. We were looked after brilliantly at Bro Park last year and it’s a really well run racecourse. We will certainly look to support this initiative and would encourage others to do so and experience racing in Sweden.’

Pulborough trainer David Menuisier

Roy Arne Kvisla, top trainer at Bro Park and in Scandinavia in 2018 said: ‘This can be a great opportunity for us to broaden our views. It is normally costly to go on a long journey with the horses, but this is a golden opportunity to do so. Goodwood is a great racecourse and the track is very fair. If I have the right horse, I will be happy to go.’


Cheltenham likely to go ahead despite forecast

ALTHOUGH winds of up to 50mph are forecast for the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, organisers of the event say they are confident the meeting will go ahead.

Wednesday, was the day racing was cancelled due to high winds 11 years ago and the current forecast is for winds of 40 miles per hour this Wednesday, but forecasters say that the predicted 50 mph or more from midday this year has time to change in the next few days.

They are hopeful it may change for the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Meanwhile there are hopes that Nicky Henderson’s horse Santini, will be able to take part in the RSA Chase. Santini is second favourite for the race – but he has been suffering from a foot problem.

Trainer Nicky Henderson
Photo: John Simpson

A decision will be  made tomorrow morning about whether he will be fit to take part- although he has been reported to be doing well and has been out cantering.

Other news is that Philip Kirby Racing has decided that  Lady Buttons runs in the OLBG Mares Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday, ridden by Tommy Dowson.

Meanwhile runners in the Racing Post Arkle Chase include Articulum, Clondaw Castle, Duc Des Gebievres, Glen Forsa, Hardline, Kalashnikov, Knocknanuss, Lalor, Ornua, Paloma Blue, Slate House, Us and Them.








Setback to plans to transform Chester Racecourse

Plans for a £100 million revamp of Chester racecourse were rejected on Tuesday over fears the project would harm views of the historic city.

The proposals for a new grandstand, conference centre, boutique hotel and administration office, multi-storey car park and expansion to the nearby Holiday Inn as well as two new green spaces were turned down.

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) officers had supported approval for the development, but the planning committee itself turned down the plans saying the scheme would have an adverse impact on views and the historic skyline.

“The planning committee decided there were elements they didn’t like. We need to take advice before deciding whether to resubmit the plans or appeal the decision.

“They spoke about not particularly wanting us to expand into the city centre, yet they deferred our plans to build an events building, which is a main part of the proposed expansion.”

He added: “It’s not all doom and gloom. Our determination is still there. We’re ambitious and want to secure the best possible racing here.”

Competitive racing at Fontwell Park

Bredon Hill Lad ridden by Lucy Gardner won the opening race at Fontwell Park yesterday by 15 lengths on heavy ground. Trained by Sue Gardner, and sent off at 5-2, the 12-year-old appeared to relish the going and was a well-justified favourite.

Bredon Hill Lad (right) on the way to winning the opening race at Fontwell
Photo: Fontwell Racecourse

In second place was 13-2 shot Yourholidayisover , trained by Lady Susan Brooke and ridden by Lucy Brooke, with third place going to Edgar (11-4) ridden by Mitchell Bastyan.
Captain Tommy, a five-year-old trained by Harry Whittington justified evens favourite spot when winning the Maiden Hurdle over two miles one furlong in good style under jockey Gavin Sheehan.
The winning margin was 16 lengths from Uncle O, trained by Clare Hobson at Royston, and ridden by Jeremiah McGrath. Sprincombe Joe, trainer by Bill Turner and ridden by was 64 lengths further back in third place, ridden by  7lb claimer Mr Ryan Withey. Five ran.
Conditional jockey Stan Sheppard impressed when bringing home 5-2 shot Acaro, trained by Robert Walford, to win the two mile three furlong handicap hurdle.  Marmont, trained and owned by Jo Davis, who is based in Berkshire by 12 lengths.  The Lucy Wadham trained  8-13 favourite could only finish third.

Acaro and Stan Sheppard on the way to victory in the two mile three furlong handicap hurdle. Photo courtesy of Fontwell Park.

The novice hurdle over two miles five furlongs turned out to be a match, with only two runners.   Even so it was a good contest with 4/11 favourite Urca De Lima ridden  by Aidan Coleman for trainer Anthony Honeyball  beating David Bridgwater’s Little Rich, sent off at 9-4 by just over a length.

Wiltshire trainer Milton Harris won the two mile three furlongs handicap chase with 7-5 favourite Away For Slates, ridden by Kevin Jones, and the final race,  a national hunt flat race was won  by 7-2 shot Eglantier, trained  by Mark Bradstock and ridden by Nico De Boinville.

The next meeting at Fontwell Park is on Sunday March 16 with a St Patrick’s Raceday.


Good day’s racing at Plumpton

Plumpton Racecourse had the largest turnout at a February meeting since 2003, with 1,900 attending yesterday’s meeting. They were rewarded with some competitive racing at this popular jumps track.

Brandon Castle impressed when scoring his third victory on the trot over hurdles at the meeting.

Brandon Castle. with Bryony Frost up, on the way to victory
Photo: Plumpton Racecourse

Trained by Neil King and ridden by Bryony Frost, the 5-6 favourite won the RABI/Joan Collinson Memorial Handicap Hurdle over two miles.

Trainer Neil King
Photo: Jeannie Knight

The victory came at the expense of Arthington, trained by Seamus Mullins and ridden by 3lb claimer Kevin Jones, nine lengths further back in runner-up spot. Royal Hall, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Jamie Moore filled third place.

There was compensation for Seamus Mullins later in the card when he sent out 5-2 favourite Plantagenet ridden by Mr Matthew Fielding to win the Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase over three miles one furlong and a half furlongs by five lengths. The seven-year-old was scoring his second victory over fences and there should be more to come.

Trainer Seamus Mullins

Plantagenet beat French bred Tzar De L’Elfe, a nine -year-old gelding trained at Sullington  by Richard Rowe and owned by Lord Clinton and Captain Adrian Pratt, ridden by Miss Gina Andrews. Tzar De L’Elfe seems suited to fences and has been runner-up twice, but is capable of a decent win.

The opening race of the meeting, a Mares’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles four furlongs, attracted 14 runners- but none of them could compete with course specialist Ding Ding, an eight-year-old chestnut mare trained at Lewes by Sheena West.

Ding Ding, Marc Goldstein up- a winner for trainer Sheena West Photo: Jeannie Knight

Ding Ding seems to love Plumpton and won comfortably by six lengths under a good ride from Marc Goldstein.

Dorset-based trainer Keiran Burke sent out the 5-1 winner of the Peter Earl Memorial Novices’ Chase, run over 2m3½ furlongs. His runner, Mine’s A Pint, ridden by Tom Bellamy, won by four lengths from 1-8 favourite Grassten, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Josh Moore.

Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico De Boinville teamed up to win the Maiden Hurdle with four-year-old gelding Pentland Hills, which beat 8-13 favourite The Flying Sofa ( trained  by Gary Moore ) in impressive style by 14 lengths.

A cool down for winner Pentland Hills, trained by Nicky Henderson, following his Plumpton victory.   Photo courtesy of Plumpton Racecourse

Trainer Chris Gordon and jockey Tom Cannon rarely go away from a race meeting empty-handed. This meeting was no exception for they took the three miles one furlong handicap hurdle in fine style with 5-1 shot Jimmy,  relegating another Gary Moore runner, 9-4 favourite Ruby Yeats, into second place.

There should be more to come from the winner, which came to the race fresh from a decent break and should continue to progress.

The next Plumpton meeting is on Monday March 11.

Vision Des Flot wins the National Spirit Hurdle

The £80,000 National Spirit Hurdle meeting at Fontwell Park attracted a huge turnout on Sunday and crowds were rewarded with competitive racing.

The feature race proved to be a great success story for trainer Colin Tizzard, for he sent out Vision Des Flos to in the NetBet Casino National Spirit Race in good style.  The six-year-old had been knocking on the door of victory with placings in four of his six races this season. One of these had been as runner-up to Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air at Sandown.

Vision Des Flos, with trainer Colin Tizzard and jockey Tom Scudamore following his superb victory in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell Park yesterday Photo: Jeannie Knight

VisionDes Flos has run well throughout the race and went on in earnest from the second last, going on to beat the favourite for the race, The Cap Fits, by a length and a half.

Trainer Colin Tizzard is in fine form at present and revealed he had run Vision Des Flos three times in February because  his wind was not very good and he felt the fitter the horse was, the better he would be. He has now entered Vision Des Flos for the Champion Hurdle and the Coral Cup

“He stayed on well here. He travelled really well. He is in the Champion Hurdle and the Coral Cup, and on that running I’d say he would go for the handicap. You never know, if there are not many in the Champion Hurdle we may go there yet.”

As for the runner-up, trainer Harry Fry remains keen on stepping The Cap Fits to Grade One level at Aintree, despite being disappointed with his effort.

He said: “Noel (Fehily) said he never really travelled. It was frustrating we couldn’t run in the Kingwell last week. He wasn’t good enough today and Noel did well to finish second the way he was travelling.

“We vaccinated him last week. It was not the plan in such close proximity to a race. Hopefully his run was just down to that.

“He is not entered at Cheltenham and we have six weeks until Aintree and we still plan to go there. He was beaten a length and a half giving the winner 4lb.”

Josh Gifford Memorial Chase winner Whatswrongwithyou,, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville

The Josh Gifford Memorial Novices Steeplechase was won impressively by Whatswrongwithyou trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville. The eight-year-old gelding justified was sent off at evens and came home 17 lengths clear of the remaining two runners in this race. He will now be aimed at the Grand Annual Chase.

Local jockey Leighton Aspell won the Novices Hurdle race by ten lengths on board an up and coming youngster, Tarada, trained by Oliver Sherwood. A Kayf Tara gelding, Tarada was sent off at 9-4 and impressed with a positive run, moving into second and taking the lead in the closing stages of the race.

The next meeting at Fontwell Park is on Wednesday March 6. Gates open at 12 noon and the first race is at 2.10pm and the last at 4.40pm.