Tragedy as Cheltenham Festival winner Willoughby Court is put down after surgery following joint infection
- Eight-year-old gelding Willoughby Court has been put down after joint infection
- He won the 2017 Neptune Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival
- The Ben Pauling-trained horse raced in the colours of Clare and Paul Rooney
Willoughby Court, who gave trainer Ben Pauling with his first ever Cheltenham Festival winner when landing the 2017 Neptune Management Novices’ Hurdle, has had to be put down following surgery.
The eight-year-old appeared to have been successfully treated for a joint infection which prevented him from running at Newbury in November but the infection re-emerged and had also spread.
Pauling said: ‘Sadly, we had no alternative but to put him down. We did everything possible to save him.
Eight-year-old Willoughby Court has been put down after surgery on a joint infection
‘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.’
Willoughby Court won seven of his 11 races. Since his 2017 Festival win, he had run in three novices chases, winning two.
His last run came when third to Yanworth at Cheltenham on New Year’s day last year. A hoof infection ruled Willoughby Court out of last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
The gelding raced in the colours of Clare and Paul Rooney, who hit the headlines over the new year after instructing their trainers not to enter horses at Cheltenham.
The 2017 Neptune Management Novices’ Hurdle winner was owned by Clare and Paul Rooney