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Limestone Lad may revert to hurdling.

Byline: Tony O'Hehir

Limestone Lad, who lost his unbeaten record over fences when fourth to Sackville in the Grade 1 Pierse Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse yesterday, may be switched back to hurdles, according to Michael Bowe, son of the eight-year-old's owner-trainer James Bowe.

On the same day 12 months ago, Limestone Lad was the toast of Fairyhouse after he had upset Istabraq in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle. But yesterday the big-race favourite never jumped with anything like the fluency he showed over hurdles.

Bowe said: "We'll have a family discussion tonight and consider switching him back to hurdles. He's nowhere near as confident jumping fences as he was hurdles, and while that problem could be ironed out by a sharp schooling session over hurdles, we may decide to concentrate on the good staying hurdles."

Limestone Lad, who had won his four previous starts over fences, got in close to most of his fences. The spectacular leap he threw at the open ditch in the back straight brought a gasp from the crowd, but the ground he lost at the other fences told in the closing stages.

Bowe added: "Let's be honest, today was his first real test as a chaser. He would need to get a lot more confidence if he was to progress over fences. It's a relief in a way that his unbeaten record is gone, as it takes the pressure off.

"He ran his heart out and he's come back without a scratch, and that's the main thing."

Cashmans reacted by making Limestone Lad their 6-1 joint second favourite for the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Jockey Barry Cash, who took over from last season's pilot Shane McGovern and has ridden Limestone Lad in all his chases, said: "Against top-class novices you can't afford to give ground away at nearly every fence. Maybe a few schooling sessions over hurdles might sharpen him for chasing."

When asked who would ride Limestone Lad if he reverted to hurdling, Michael Bowe replied: "That's a question for another day."3

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James Bowe - "Family discussion"
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2000
Words:345
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