Racing: Westender pulls out of clash with Istabraq

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Istabraq heads the list of 20 horses left in the Champion Hurdle following yesterday's confirmation stage. Aidan O'Brien's 10-year-old remains on course to attempt a fourth success in the contest.

The only notable absentee was the 25-1 shot Westender. Martin Pipe's six-year-old will instead run in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. "If he had a chance in the Champion, he should certainly win the novice race," Pipe said.

In the Champion Hurdle, Pipe runs Valiramix, the mount of Tony McCoy, Mr Cool and Rodock. The Irish trainer Willie Mullins said Assessed will run in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, also on Tuesday.

The going report from Cheltenham yesterday was "good to soft, good in places" on the Old course, and "good to soft, soft in places" on the New course.

But Worcester's fixture next Friday has been abandoned. Parts of the track were yesterday still under two feet of water after the River Severn burst its banks last week.