Warwick: Court justifies support to land Neptune trial

David Bass: made all aboard Willoughby Court in the Grade 2 novice hurdleDavid Bass: made all aboard Willoughby Court in the Grade 2 novice hurdle   PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)  

 By Jack Haynes 3:12PM 14 JAN 2017 

Report: Warwick, Saturday

Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2), 2m5f, 5yo+

BEN PAULING’S Willoughby Court justified a significant market move to land the Grade 2 novice hurdle under an aggressive ride from the front by David Bass.

The son of Court Cave, owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, was available at 8-1 on Saturday morning and returned 11-4, defeating Gayebury by eight lengths.


Paddy Power introduced Willoughby Court into their Neptune market at 16-1, while the six-year-old is now 12-1 first show for the Albert Bartlett with connections admitting both races are options.

Jason Maguire, racing manager to owners Paul and Clare Rooney, said: “Ben (Pauling) was very keen to come here with Willoughby Court. He was up against it on official ratings, but loves it here and acts well. Whether he’s ground dependent, I’d like to think he’s not, but I suppose he handles it well.

“I don’t know where he goes next but the Neptune and Albert Bartlett are options and he’s done it well. He might go straight to Cheltenham as he likes to be fresh and I imagine he’ll be over fences next season.”

From pillar to post

The five other riders were happy to let Bass and Willoughby Court bowl along in front and his jumping was efficient throughout, gaining lengths on some of his rivals at several flights.

As Ballyhill, Get On The Yager and favourite Geordie Des Champs failed to make any impression down the back straight, Peregrine Run appeared the most likely challenger to the front-runner.

Peter Fahey’s seven-year-old made stealthy headway, but as the field turned into the straight, Willoughby Court held a six-length lead and was not for catching, with Gayebury eventually finding a second wind to claim second.

It may not have been a vintage renewal of a race won by The New One and Carruthers in previous years, but the winning rider was delighted with the victor.

Bass said: “That was really impressive. I can’t believe how much he’s improved from the run here before. He was relentless on this ground. He’s an improving horse and I wouldn’t be surprised if he could handle better ground.”

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