Irish hopes remain with Istabraq as Ned Kelly is withdrawn from the Champion Hurdle on veterinary advice

Ned Kelly, a 6-1 chance for Tuesday’s Smurfit Champion Hurdle, misses the race after the mucus and blood levels in the horse had given cause for concern over the weekend.

He has been withdrawn on veterinary advice.

There had been strong rumours in Ireland last week that Ned Kelly would not run because he is owned by John and Sue Magnier, friends and business associates of JP McManus, owner of Istabraq, the favourite who is attempting to win a record fourth Champion Hurdle.

It had been suggested that the Magniers did not want to beat Istabraq but they vigorously denied the allegations.

Trainer Edward O’Grady said: “His absence is outside the remit of everyone associated with the horse. It is gut-wrenching. The correct call has been made in the interests of the horse.”

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