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Istabraq's chances of winning a third successive Smurfit Champion Hurdle have been hit by an 11th-hour scare.

Aidan O'Brien's star was found to have a trickle of blood in his left nostril after he had settled in at Cheltenham this afternoon.

A statement issued from Ballydoyle tonight read: 'Istabraq arrived safely at Cheltenham today after travelling over without incident.

'After the horse had settled in the head lad noticed a trickle of blood in his left nostril.

'Aidan O'Brien will inspect Istabraq early tomorrow morning after which a decision will be made as to whether or not he takes his chance in the Champion Hurdle.'