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Cheltenham Festival winner Willoughby Court put down following surgery

Willoughby Court: has sadly been put down
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Willoughby Court, winner of the 2017 Neptune Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, has been put down following surgery after an infection of the sesamoid bone flared up.

The Ben Pauling-trained eight-year-old had been due to run at Newbury last November but was a late non-runner owing to a joint infection. Despite treatment at Bourton Vale Equine Clinic, the Paul and Clare Rooney-owned runner had to be put down. 

“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 said.

Willoughby Court: won the Neptune Novices' Hurdle in 2017

“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.”

The son of Court Cave was last seen finishing third to Yanworth in the 2018 BetBright Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham having previously won the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Novices' Chase at Newbury.

Injury ruled him out of the JLT Novices' Chase that season and Pauling believed there was more to come from the striking-looking horse.

He said: "Being our first festival winner will mean he’ll always be very fondly remembered. Frustratingly, he never actually had many races and we all felt that there was a huge amount of improvement to come.”

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His brilliance was that he was that bit different and that bit sharper than any other horse I have ever trained
E.W. Terms