Emotional scenes at Newbury as Noel Fehily signs off with a winner
Noel Fehily's final day at the office did not begin as he might have planned.
The rider's superb career came to an emotional close at Newbury on Saturday when his friends and family packed into the winner's enclosure to toast one of the weighing room's most stylish operators.
He enjoyed the perfect ending as well with Get In The Queue – his final mount before retirement – staying on strongly to win the bumper.
But if Fehily, who signed numerous autographs, posed for selfies and rode in three races, was flagging, he didn't show it – even if he had good reason to.
"We foaled a Getaway filly at 3.30am," said the jockey's wife Tash. "I woke him up, but he did go back to bed, while I stayed up for a bit."
Fehily, the most sympathetic of horsemen, has some mares and foals at his home near Melksham in Wiltshire, although training is not something he is likely to do.
"I won't be rushing into anything," said the 43-year-old, whose first winner under rules came at Clonmel in 1998.
A cold beer might be the only thing he would immediately be rushing into.
"I'll be having a couple tonight for sure and will probably wake up with a headache," he pondered.
A brace of King Georges, two Champion Hurdles and a Champion Chase have followed for one of the sport's most popular figures, who was overwhelmed by the reception he got from his peers who lined Newbury's paddock for the fondest of farewells.
Fehily, who has – in his words – had no serious injuries despite a catalogue of breaks that would give Casualty script writers months of material, continued: "I've been absolutely overwhelmed and heard from people I've never spoken to, in racing and out of racing. It's been amazing.
"I got a message from William Haggas, who said, 'This is William Haggas here, I don't know if you know me but I train a few Flat horses in Newmarket . . .'
"I thought, 'A few Flat horses?!' It's really nice people like that taking the time to send me messages and wish me well."
Fehily, whose longtime agent Chris Broad and mentor Charlie Mann were present for his send-off, had his modern-day main ally Harry Fry to thank for his goodbye victory.
Fry said: "I said to my wife Ciara last night that I couldn't cope with this not happening or going right and she said, 'You thought you'd win the Champion Bumper last week, so calm down!'
"I'm delighted for Noel."
If one thing was for sure on a fairytale finale it was that Fry was not the only one saying that.
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