Istabraq pulled up in Champion Hurdle

 

Istabraq made a sad exit from racing at Cheltenham today when the three-time Champion Hurdler jumped just two flights in this year's renewal before being pulled up.

A stunned crowd reacted with a round-of-applause as Charlie Swan eased the gelding passing the stands.

Aidan O'Brien's superstar never looked happy from the start and began dropping behind after the first hurdle.

Swan wisely decided to spare his mount when he dropped out of contention after the second.

"I jumped the first and his action went. I jumped the second and thought he might get a bit better but he didn't and I just thought, for the good of the horse, to pull him up," said Swan.

"In his fast paces he didn't feel good. It's unlike him not to take me along and he just didn't take me."

Hors La Loi III was crowned the new Champion.

The James Fanshawe-trained gelding, a 10-1 chance, was sent into the lead at the second last flight by Dean Gallagher and the combination kept going in resolute fashion to hold on by three lengths from Marble Arch (25-1) with the French-trained Bilboa (14-1) finishing well to take third place half a length away.

Hors La Loi III won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in 1999 and finished second to Istabraq in the Champion Hurdle the following year.