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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 29 January, 2020

2017 Cheltenham Festival winner put down after surgery

Willoughby Court was the winner of the 2017 Neptune Management Novices’ Hurdle.

Willoughby Court ridden by David Bass en route to victory at Cheltenham in 2017.
Willoughby Court ridden by David Bass en route to victory at Cheltenham in 2017.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

TRAINER BEN PAULING has paid tribute today to 2017 Cheltenham Festival winner Willoughby Court who has been put down following surgery.

Willoughby Court was Pauling’s first Cheltenham Festival winner, a 14/1 shot that triumphed in March two years ago with David Bass on board.

“Unfortunately, the infection in the bone had flared up again and despite the best efforts of the fantastic team at Bourton Vale Equine Clinic, sadly we had no alternative but to put him down,” Pauling told The Racing Post.

“Willoughby was a huge character around the yard. His brilliance was that he was that bit different and that bit sharper than any other horse I have ever trained.

“He was a fabulous jumper who very quickly became an incredibly tough competitor, which was proven in many of his races, none more so than when he won the Neptune at Cheltenham.”

Willoughby Court last ran at Cheltenham in January 2018 when he finished third, having won his five previous races between December 2016 and December 2017.

A comeback was planned for Newbury last November but he was prevented by an infection in his joint and that problem flared up again.

Ahead of a huge weekend of Heineken Champions Cup action, Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey assess the provinces’ chances of putting a foot in the last eight:

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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