Retiring jockey Noel Fehily says riding 50-1 shot Eglantine Du Seuil to victory at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday “seems like the perfect ending”.
The 43-year-old Irishman has ridden 1,350 winners over jumps in Britain and Ireland since his first in 1998.
Fehily’s biggest victories came in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, on board Rock On Ruby in 2012 and again with Buveur d’Air in 2017.
“It’s a young man’s game, you can’t go on for ever,” he said.
“I will be 44 this year, I’ve had a great time, loved every minute of it and I’ll miss it like hell.”
Fehily’s other notable successes include victory on Special Tiara in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham two years ago, along with back-to-back triumphs in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Silviniaco Conti in 2013 and 2014.
Fehily announced his decision shortly after leading Eglantine Du Seuil to a surprise victory in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
He feared he would miss the Festival after needing keyhole surgery to remove his appendix in January.
“I could go on but I was very ill in January and February and it didn’t look like I would make the Festival for a while,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.
“So to come here and ride a winner seems like the perfect ending. I will carry on for the next couple of weeks and then I’ll decide when to stop.
“I’m lucky and had some great days. I’ve ridden some lovely horses and had great support.”
Andrew Thornton, jockey and BBC Radio 5 Live analyst:
What a fantastic career Noel Fehily has had.
He has been through so much in the last six weeks health-wise, I’d imagine just to get himself here would have been hard.
He’s got a great family, two lovely children and a good set-up with good youngsters coming through.
You could hear the emotion in his voice as he came down the walkway. It could well have been a spur of the moment thing at the top and he thought ‘it won’t get much better than this’.