Racing: McManus' last hopes in Istabraq

ISTABRAQ, IN today's Shell Champion Hurdle can surely ease the pain for J P McManus who has endured a miserable Punchestown Festival week. On Wednesday his top novice hurdler Joe Mac collapsed and died, while yesterday his expensive French import Le Coudray had to be pulled up in the Champion Stayers' Hurdle behind David Nicholson's Anzum.

Anzum, the Stayers' Hurdle winner at Cheltenham, repelled the challenge of Khayrawani in McManus's second colours under strong driving from Richard Johnson.

"That is nearly the riding performance of the season," the winning trainer, David Nicholson, said. "I told Richard to make it, try to get a breather into him after the third last and kick again if he was able."

Charlie Swan still looked to be travelling well on Le Coudray, the odds- on favourite, going to the third last, but his mount was suddenly in trouble as Anzum quickened again.

Nicky Henderson's Katarino followed up his Triumph Hurdle win by taking the pounds 70,000 Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle, stretching his winning run to five as he outbattled Golden Rule by one-and-a-half lengths.

In the La Touche Cup Risk Of Thunder give his trainer-rider, Enda Bolger, the best possible farewell to a record-breaking riding career. Running in the colours of Sean Connery, Risk Of Thunder took the marathon for the fifth time in a row.

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