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Limestone Lad hits the mark again - and the Bowes may have a long-term successor; Durable Solerina completes a remarkable double for her four-horse stable.

Byline: Tony O'Hehir

RETIREMENT may be the last thing on the minds of

connections of Ireland's evergreen staying hurdler Limestone Lad, but at least in tough stablemate Solerina the remarkable Bowe family could have a top-class replacement when they do decide to hang up his saddle.

The pair, half of a stable string totalling just four, gave the Bowes a day to cherish

yesterday when landing a big-race double at Navan, the first brace achieved by the extraordinary clan from Gathabawn in County Kilkenny.

Limestone Lad has long been the standard bearer for permit-holder James Bowe and he notched up win number 34 of his amazing career with another professional job.

His front-running and fluent jumping in the two-and-a-half-mile Giltspur Scientific Hurdle relegated Liss A

Paoraigh to second place for the third time at the track this season.

Solerina's emergence as a mare of rich promise continued later when she completed a hat-trick after making all for an eight-length win in the Grade 3 Barry & Sandra Kelly Memorial Novice Hurdle over the same trip. It was her fifth race since the beginning of November - the sort of campaign with which Limestone Lad has become synonomous.

Both horses are heading for the Leopardstown Christmas meeting, with Limestone Lad going for the three-mile Woodys DIY Christmas Hurdle and Solerina bound for either a two-mile or a two-and-a-half- mile novice event.

Sean Graham cut Limestone Lad to 4-1 second fav-ourite (from 6s) for the Bonus- print Stayers' Hurdle after he had brought his Navan score to eight wins with a four-length success, while Paddy Power and Cashmans both cut the ten-year-old to 6-1 (from 7s) for the same event.

As Limestone Lad was

being led away from the number one spot to loud cheers, Michael Bowe said: "I think he's stronger than ever this season and, while it's almost impossible to believe - he is only two weeks off being 11 years of age - I honestly think he's still improving.

"We left him a bit short for today's race with Christmas in mind. You can't have a horse peaking for every race. Paul [Carberry] said he gave a big blow before the third-last. I thought Liss A Paoraigh had a big chance at the weights

today, and giving her 15lb and a four-length beating was some performance.

"As things turned out, the biggest problem we had was getting him here through the Christmas shopping traffic at Newlands Cross!"

Carberry was also aboard Solerina later in the day, when she easily accounted for Kicking King and Pizarro, who proved a big disappointment, finishing 25 lengths adrift in third place.

Bred by Michael and owned by his brother John, Solerina was cut to 16-1 (from 22s) by Cashmans for the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle.

John Bowe said: "If we do decide to send her to Cheltenham it will be for the Royal & SunAlliance, but we won't run her on fast ground.

"She's totally different to Limestone Lad. He needs plenty of work but she's very easy to train. She does very

little at home.

"We held her up when Pizarro beat her here last month and it seemed to affect her jumping. She was much happier today, being allowed bowl along in front."

STAYERS' HURDLE

William Hill: 7-4 Baracouda, 5 Limestone Lad (from 6), 6 Bannow Bay, 7 Galileo, 14

Classified, Ilnamar, Le Sauvignon, 16 Brother Joe, 20 Liss A Paoraigh, 25 bar.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2002
Words:567
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