Racing: Confidence is restored in Istabraq

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The Independent Online
THE IRISH bookmaker Paddy Power, satisfied by Aidan O'Brien's assurances that all is well with Istabraq, yesterday reopened their betting on Sunday's Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. The Dublin firm had suspended betting as support for the Ferdy Murphy-trained French Holly coincided with reports from other layers that Istabraq would not run.

On Wednesday evening O'Brien issued a categorical denial of the scare story, reporting Istabraq to be "fine" and insisting that there is "no change" in connections' running plans for Sunday.

Power's Stewart Kenny said: "It was one of those situations where rumours swept across the Irish betting industry that Istabraq was not going to run."

The rumour mill is also working strongly in Britain with William Hill giving credence to the notion that Bionic has suffered a recurrence of a foot problem by demoting her from the head of their betting for the 1,000 Guineas. Prince Khalid Abdullah's racing manager, Grant Pritchard- Gordon, yesterday refused to deny reports that all is not well with the filly.

William Hill reacted by clipping the Lowther Stakes winner Bint Allayl to 4-1 market leader and pushed Bionic out a point to 6-1.

The firm's David Hood explained: "We have made our changes because we have seen little nibbles of money for Bint Allayl over the last few weeks, and, although it appeared insignificant, Bionic has a history of niggling problems and anything that may occur at this time of year is not ideal for her Guineas preparation."

1,000 GUINEAS: William Hill: 4-1 Bint Allayl, 6-1 Bionic, 10-1 Moiava, 12-1 Etizaaz, 16-1 Crystal Charm, 20-1 others.

AIG EUROPE CHAMPION HURDLE: Paddy Power: 8-15 Istabraq, 2-1 French Holly, 12-1 Theatreworld, Zafarabad, 50-1 Black Queen, 66-1 Shantarini. "With a run": Nomadic 8-1, Commanche Court 10-1. Liam Cashman: 4-7 Istabraq, 2-1 French Holly, 16-1 Zafarabad, 22-1 Theatreworld, 100-1 Black Queen. "With a run": 12-1 Nomadic, 14-1 Commanche Court, 66-1 Shantarini.

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