Ben Pauling planning Dipper date for Willoughby Court

Thu 7 Dec 2017

Ben Pauling is looking forward to Willoughby Court getting a sighter of the Cheltenham fences in the BetBright Dipper Novices' Chase.

The six-year-old made his mark when claiming the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in March and has made a fine start to life over the bigger obstacles, winning at Huntingdon and Newbury.

The most recent of those victories at the Berkshire track saw him beat classy hurdler Yanworth in some style and he is set to run on the New Year's Day card at Prestbury Park. 

Pauling said: "He could not be any better and he has literally bounced out of Newbury. It really didn't look like he had much of a race at all. Obviously we were delighted with the result and the way he went about it. We are very happy.

"I think the Dipper is the obvious choice, really. At the beginning of the season I was thinking the Feltham, but I probably ought to keep him left-handed and that probably rules that out. I think something would have to happen for us to go there.

"It never hurts to get a bit of practice around Cheltenham and he has won there before.

"It would be nice to go back there and have a look around."

Pauling also had news on plans for High Bridge, winner of the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury.

He said: "He only went up 3lb and considering the way the race was run, that was all right. You have to remember he went up 4lb for standing in his box when Elgin won, so in effect he has gone up 7lb.

"With that in mind, we will probably look at the Betfair Hurdle back at Newbury as he loves the track and handles any ground and Alex (Ferguson) can take a useful 7lb off his back.

"He is 148 and not really rated high enough to mix it with the big boys, as you need to be in the early 160s if you are thinking of being competitive against seasoned pros and pitching him into Champion Hurdle trials.

"To be honest, I think at the moment he is better off in handicaps."

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