O'Brien cleared in Hotel Minella inquiry

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The Independent Online
Aidan O'Brien was last night fully exonerated by a Jockey Club inquiry into the withdrawal of Hotel Minella at the Cheltenham Festival.

The trainer and the horse's owner, John Nallen, had been referred to Portman Square by Cheltenham's stewards who had not accepted their explanations as to why the horse was declared for, but withdrawn from, the Coral Cup. The gelding had finished ninth in the Champion Hurdle on the meeting's opening day and was top weight for the following day's Coral Cup. His presence among those declared stopped the weights rising at the overnight stage and left 15 of the 23 runners out of the handicap proper, prompting suggestions - which O'Brien strenuously denied - that he had been left in to benefit others at the top of the weights.

Nallen said: "We were always confident of the right result here, but I hope we won't be back to the Jockey Club in a hurry." O'Brien, who has broken all records in Ireland and has made his mark in Britain this year, said: "We are very relieved with the outcome. My wife, Anne Marie, is due to have a baby this evening so I just want to get home as quickly as possible."