Willoughby Court wins the Neptune in a thriller

Willoughby Court, with David Bass

Willoughby Court, with David Bass

Willoughby Court showed stunning bravery to land the Neptune Investment Management Novice’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The 14-1 chance, trained by Ben Pauling and ridden by David Bass, had looked a sitting duck once Neon Wolf made his move.

But try as he might along the run-in, the 2-1 favourite could not get on level terms with the front-running Willoughby Court, who was announced the winner after a photo-finish, getting the nod by a head.

"My horse drifted right and drifted left again," said Bass. "It's brilliant for Ben and his team.

"I'm so grateful to him and his owners to ride a nice horse like this."

Messire Des Obeaux finished third at odds of 8-1.

Bass continued: "I thought I was always holding him (Neon Wolf).

"This lad stays well and it's fantastic for Ben, who is a really good trainer."

Owner Paul Rooney said: "Ben and his team got this horse on top form.

"You never know how things will work out, but he came here with a good chance."

Pauling was claiming a first Cheltenham Festival victory and said: "It feels as good as I ever hoped it would, if not better.

"It means a huge amount."

 

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