Racing: Farewell to Istabraq as retirement is confirmed

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The Independent Online

The epic tale of Istabraq's racecourse career drew to a close yesterday when Aidan O'Brien confirmed what most had suspected and what his true fans had hoped for, that the ageing champion would not be asked to step on to a track again.

The decision followed a detailed veterinary examination of the injury he sustained to his off-hind hock in trying to win his fourth Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last week.

His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, said: "Istabraq has given us wonderful memories to cherish and all who were associated with him feel especially privileged.

"We would like to thank all those who sent letters, cards and messages of goodwill. The outpouring of affection and appreciation for him has been overwhelming."

Istabraq, the winner of 23 of his 29 races and the leading money earner over jumps in Britain and Ireland with £1,035,440 in prize-money, will see out his days at the Co. Limerick stud of his owner, JP McManus, who said: "He's finished his career safe and well and I'm very pleased to be having him home for hopefully a long and happy retirement."

Charlie Swan, who rode Istabraq in all his races over timber, said: "It's farewell to a fantastic horse. I'm unlikely to come across one like him again."