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Sire Sadler's Wells
Dam Betty's Secret
Damsire Secretariat
Sex Gelding
Foaled 1992
Country Ireland
Colour Bay
Breeder Shadwell Estate Co.
Owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum
John P. McManus
Trainer Aidan O'Brien
Record 40: 25-7-0
11: 2-4-0 (Flat)
29: 23-3-0 (Hurdle)
Earnings £1,053,385
Major wins
Champion Hurdle (1998, 1999, 2000)
Irish Champion Hurdle (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001)
Future Champions Novice Hurdle (1996)
Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1996)
Deloitte Novice Hurdle (1997)
Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle (1997)
Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle (1997)
Hatton's Grace Hurdle (1997, 1998)
December Festival Hurdle (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001)
Aintree Hurdle (1999)
Punchestown Champion Hurdle (1999)
John James McManus Memorial Hurdle (1997, 1998, 1999)
Timeform rating: 180
Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown
Last updated on December 18, 2006

Istabraq (born 23 May 1992) is a retired Irish Thoroughbred racehorse who was most famous for his hurdling. He won the Champion Hurdle on three occasions. He was trained by Aidan O'Brien and owned by John Patrick McManus. Jockey Charlie Swan rode him in all of his 29 races over jumps.

Early life[edit]

Istabraq was bred for the flat, being by Sadler's Wells, who won the Irish 2,000 Guineas over 1 mile. Istabraq was tried unsuccessfully over a mile and failed to please his handlers and owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Shadwell Racing and a partner in his family's Godolphin Stables.

Jumps racing[edit]

The horse was sold to John Durkan who had been an assistant to John Gosden with the Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle as the target for the Cheltenham Festival. Durkan started training the horse but was diagnosed with leukemia and suggested that Aidan O'Brien train Istabraq while he was ill. The agreement was that when Durkan recovered, he would take over the training. However, he died just before Istabraq won the 1998 Irish Champion Hurdle. O'Brien continued to train the horse afterwards, and Durkan remained in the thoughts of the horse's connections. When riding the horse back after his 1998 Champion Hurdle win, jockey Charlie Swan said, 'This one's for John,' in an interview with Channel 4's Lesley Graham.

Debut season[edit]

Istabraq was beaten in his hurdling debut, finishing a short head second of ten over two miles. He won his next three races before taking the 2m5f Royal & Sun Alliance Novice hurdle at Cheltenham. He ran one more time that season, beating the Sun Alliance 5th Soldat by 9 lengths at Punchestown.


In the next season, Istabraq won at Cheltenham by 12 lengths. He was then upset at Aintree by Pridwell over heavy ground. He did not race again that season.


The following year, Istabraq was unbeaten going into the Cheltenham hill in March for his second champion hurdle. He finished the season with wins at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals.


In this season, Istabraq was turned over by Limestone Lad on soft ground. At Cheltenham, he won by 4 lengths from Hors La Loi III. This victory was his fourth straight win at Cheltenham. He was put away for the season


On his reappearance at Leopardstown the following season, Istabraq looked slightly heavier than usual. He then fell for the first time ever. In his next start, he won, although the winner of the race in which he fell, Moscow Flyer, had this time fallen himself. In Istabraq's next start, Istabraq again fell at the final flight, with Moscow Flyer taking the race. Before the 2001 festival, cases of foot and mouth disease started to appear in Britain. The festival was therefore aborted.


Istabraq reappeared the following season to defeat Bust Out by a head in December.

He attempted to defend his title at the 2002 Cheltenham Festival but his jockey, Charlie Swan, pulled him up just before the end of the first circuit saying he was never happy with the horse, who was later found to have pulled muscles in his back. The race was won by Hors La Loi III. Istabraq was retired after the race.


Istabraq currently lives at the Martinstown home of owner JP McManus.

See also[edit]