Noel Fehily is relishing his reputation as a big-race jockey as he aims to follow up a hugely memorable outing at last month's Cheltenham Festival with success in the 170th edition of the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday (8 April).
The Corkonian rides the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained 16/1 shot Blaklion in the world-famous steeplechase having won both the Stan James Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase in Gloucestershire. He earned second place in the Gold Cup aboard Minella Rocco, who will not run in the National.
"It was obviously amazing to win both the Champion Chase and the Champion Hurdle and I'm still on a high from it," Bet Bonus Code ambassador Fehily told IBTimes UK.
"Two fantastic races and it was a dream to win them. I've got no problems with developing a reputation as a big-race jockey – that's what I've always wanted to be. I like riding good horses – that's what gives a buzz."
Blaklion finished second behind race favourite Vieux Lion Rouge in the Grand National Trial at Haydock, although Fehily believes the eight-year-old bay gelding – winner of the 2016 RSA Chase – has what it takes to triumph on the big stage this weekend.
"I wouldn't swap Blaklion for anything else in the race," he said. "He's a lovely jumper, stayer and has that bit of class that you need to win a Grand National. I think we've got a big chance, but obviously you've got to get round over anything.
"As I said, the main thing is to get round, which we've just seen isn't that easy with the number of fallers in the Topham Chase. We're a few pounds better off with Vieux Lion Rouge and as long as we jump well then I think there's a good chance we can reverse the form."
Fehily is a veteran of 13 Grand Nationals, completing the gruelling 30 fence, four-and-a-half mile race on three previous occasions and securing two fifth-place finishes to date. So just what is it like to take part in such a prestigious event?
"Whenever you tell someone that you're a professional jockey, they ask; 'have you ever ridden in the National?', 'have you ever won the National?' – it's the race that everyone wants to ride in and I'd love to win it.
"The atmosphere is massive. It's important to keep your horse cool in the parade ring, which is always buzzing, as there's over four miles to travel in the race – you can't afford for your horse to burn up energy before the race."
You may be interested in: