Istabraq starts his holiday

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Istabraq will not be risked at the spring festivals at Aintree and Punchestown and will not race again until next season, it was announced yesterday.

A statement from the Ballydoyle stable of his trainer, Aidan O'Brien, said: "The Champion Hurdle hero Istabraq is to be put away for the summer. Connections were considering the Martell Aintree Hurdle and the Shell Champion Hurdle at Punchestown but have decided that he has done more than enough for the season."

Istabraq very nearly didn't run at Cheltenham last week after blood was found in the horse's nose on the eve of the race. But the J P McManus-owned gelding was allowed to take his chance and joined Arkle and Golden Miller as the only horses to win at four consecutive Cheltenham Festivals.

Ashley Park, fourth in the Champion Hurdle last week, could return to action on the Flat at Doncaster on Saturday.

The six-year-old, beaten less than seven lengths by Istabraq despite only one previous run over timber, is entered for the Doncaster Shield. His trainer, Mark Pitman, said: "We might try and nick a Flat race before the Flat gets into full swing."

Brahms and Monashee Mountain, two of Aidan O'Brien's Classic hopefuls, could run at the Curragh on Sunday. They are entered for the Loughbrown Stakes.

Brahms was second to Distant Music in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, while Monashee Mountain is unbeaten in two starts.

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