Noel Fehily: Special Tiara's Champion Chase win the perfect way to bring up my century

The Irish News' guest columnist Noel Fehily celebrates with the trophy after winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase onboard Special Tiara
Noel Fehily

THIS week is quickly turning into the best week of my career and it feels like I'm living a dream.

Like everybody else on the planet, I didn't think Special Tiara would get anywhere near Douvan in yesterday's Champion Chase, but in racing there's always a chance that any horse, no matter how special, can have an off-day.

That's exactly what happened with Douvan yesterday and it was the only way that he was going to get beaten. I did think that we had a great chance of taking second but as it turns out Special Tiara only had to run to the same level as he did when he was third in last year's race to win.

Special Tiara has one way of running and that's flat to the mat and jump – I just let him get on with it.

I got over the last and was surprised something hadn't come to me, but I knew he wasn't stopping and I just managed to repel the challenge of Aidan Coleman and Fox Norton to take my second feature race of the week, and in the process give me my 100th winner of the season.

I've always loved two-mile chasers, the Champion Chase is the one you want to win. To win it is fantastic.

With Unowhatimeanharry to come in today's Stayers Hurdle, things could hardly be going better for me. Let's just hope nobody wakes me up any time soon.

THERE'S plenty more to look forward to after the unbelievable highs of the first two days. It could have been even better for me had Neon Wolf and/or Divin Bere managed to prevail in tight finishes yesterday, but I can hardly complain and having Unowhatimeanharry to look forward to in today's Stayers Hurdle will help me not to dwell too much.

No horse is bombproof at Cheltenham and ‘Harry' is far from a certainty. You only have to look at Douvan to realise than anything can happen.

However, ‘Harry' totally deserves his place at the top of the market today.

I rode him throughout his novice hurdle season, and from winning a novice handicap at Newbury in November to the Albert Bartlett at last year's Festival, he did nothing but progress.

However, if you had told me after the Albert Bartlett that he'd be going off a short-priced favourite for the Stayers, I'd have been very surprised, to put it mildly.

But his upward curve has continued to such an extent that that is where he is and that is where he deserves to be and I certainly wouldn't be putting anybody off backing him.

He really is a wonderful little horse. He's not very big and not very flashy but he's got the right attitude and he keeps on winning. He also has the best form in today's race, and is the one they all have to beat.

The ground at Cheltenham is drying out all the time and while it wouldn't concern me that he can't handle it, his absolute best form is on softer ground. A little drop of water on it overnight will have been appreciated.

I schooled him during the week and the horse is in the form of his life. He will run a massive race and hopefully his (and my) winning run will continue.

I ride the outsider of the field, Vaniteux, for Nicky Henderson in the Ryanair Chase today.

He's a good horse who has form in the Supreme Novices from 2014 and would have been second to Douvan in last year's Arkle, but for coming down at the final fence.

He's in great form but has a bit to find to trouble the fancied runners.

One of those is Uxizandre, who gave Tony McCoy his final Festival winner two years ago, and I think he has a great chance of a repeat today.

Unlike the favourite, Un De Sceaux, the drying ground will be in Uxizandre's favour, and with Willie Mullins's horses running below form, I'm sure a lot of punters will be looking for alternatives to the favourite.

Uxizandre ran a cracking race last time out at Cheltenham behind Un De Sceaux and with drying ground and the headgear back on, he can reverse the form.

Mark Walsh was due to ride him, but won't now after his injury yesterday. I wish Mark all the best in his recovery.


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