Ben Pauling has confirmed JLT Novices’ Chase favourite Willoughby Court won’t run at the Cheltenham Festival.
Having provided the trainer with a first Festival winner in the Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle last year, the seven-year-old was a clear market leader for his Cheltenham target this term but has unfortunately been ruled out of contention.
Pauling revealed on Tuesday the seven-year-old had pus in a foot and they’ve lost the battle to have him ready in time.
Speaking to sportinglife.com, Pauling said: “Basically time has gone against us. His infected foot is grumbling on and we’re losing more and more time. It doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to get on with him until next week. We’re going to miss too much work and basically it would be careless to try and get him there.
“You may cause more damage than good. It’s very likely you’ll see him at Aintree. In one way it’s a huge relief it’s nothing serious and it’s basically a bit of bad luck. He’s not a horse who’s had any lameness in the past and they can’t even find where the infection came from which is even more annoying.