Thursday 22 February 2018

O'Neill turns to Fehily for National hope

Noel Fehily (Getty Images)
Noel Fehily (Getty Images)

Thomas Kelly

Noel Fehily has picked up a plum spare ride aboard leading Coral Welsh National contender Upswing on Sunday.

With owner JP McManus' retained jockey Barry Geraghty riding elsewhere, connections have moved to secure Fehily's services for the ride on the Jonjo O'Neill-trained seven-year-old, rated an 8/1 shot prize.

"We knew that Barry (Geraghty) wasn't going to be there," explained O'Neill. "So we had to look for somebody else that was going to be available to ride at Chepstow which Noel is.

"Although he has not sat on the horse lately, he sat on him a while back and was in schooling with him."

Upswing will be the sole contender for McManus in the extended three-mile-five-furlong prize after trainer David Bridgwater ruled out the McManus-owned Wyck Hill which will now be aimed at the Eider Chase at Newcastle in February, a race he won in 2014.

Meanwhile, Douvan will star in a small but select field for the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Unbeaten since arriving at Willie Mullins' yard from France, the five-year-old was an impressive winner of the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham last March and gave every indication he will rise to the top over the larger obstacles when successful on his first crack at fences at Navan.

Henry de Bromhead's Sizing John heads the opposition and arguably sets the standard over fences thanks to last month's triumph in the Craddockstown Novice Chase, but he was put in his place by Douvan on no less than three occasions last term.

Like Sizing John, Jessica Harrington's Ttebbob is two from two over fences and landed a Grade Three recently. The field is completed by easy Naas scorer Velvet Maker.

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