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BBC Sport's Cornelius Lysaght
"Istabraq looked as brilliant as ever"
 real 14k

Charlie Swan
"He was even better than I thought he would be"
 real 14k

Owner JP McManus on Istabraq's win
"I'm just pleased he didn't let any of us down"
 real 14k

Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 14:16 GMT
Istabraq back on course
Istabraq on his way to winning at Leopardstown
Istabraq is back on track to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham for a fourth successive year.

Three weeks after falling at Leopardstown, the famous Irish horse returned to the course on Sunday to win the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle.

Set off as a hot 11-4 on favourite, the Aidan O'Brien-trained nine-year-old came home in a canter for his fourth consecutive triumph in the race.

Istabraq moved into the lead when Moscow Flyer fell at the second last and went on to win by four and a half lengths from Mantles Prince (11-1).

Charlie Swan
Charlie Swan was pleased with Istabraq

Istabraq will bid for another Cheltenhan victory in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle on 13 March 2001.

Ladbrokes have made him 2-1 on from evens for Cheltenham.

There had been rumours that Istabraq's fitness was a concern in the run-up to the race.

He had fallen on his seasonal debut at Leopardstown on New Year's Eve.

But the doubters were silenced by the emphatic manner of Istabraq's latest success.

This horse is just a little bit different from any other horse
  Istabraq's owner JP McManus

"He was very sharp," said jockey Charlie Swan.

"I do not know where the rumours came from, but they were wrong.

"He jumped very well."

Istabraq's owner JP McManus said he was relieved the horse had returned to the winners' enclosure.

"This horse is just a little bit different from any other horse," he said.

"He means a lot to so many of us and I am just pleased he did not let us down."

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18 Jan 01 |  Other Sports
Race is on for Cheltenham Festival
19 Jan 01 |  Northern Ireland
Istabraq fancied for fourth AIG Hurdle
01 Jan 01 |  Northern Ireland
Istabraq may make quick return
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