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RACING: NOW LAD IS INJURED; Limestone Festival bid is derailed.

Byline: DAVE MITCHELL

THE Cheltenham Festival almost certainly lost another star performer yesterday when Irish-star Limestone Lad was injured in his paddock.

A legend in his home country, the leading Stayers' Hurdle contender pulled muscles in his back when he got stuck in paddock rails on owner-trainer James Bowe's farm.

News of Limestone Lad's injury comes a day after Francois Doumen confirmed top chaser First Gold would miss the Gold Cup through injury.

"I'm worried at this stage," said Bowe's son Michael, who rides Limestone Lad in his work.

"He should fully recover in time but, having missed Cheltenham last year because of the cancellation, I'm devastated that we might not make it this year either. I'm sorry for all the people in the locality who have booked trips to the Festival."

Bowe will have Limestone Lad's injuries scanned next week and that inspection should determine the horses immediate future.

The spectre of betting tax came back to haunt punters yesterday at a bookmakers seminar in London.

From May 1 the BHB are looking for bookmakers to pay 1.75% of their turnover to them for the use of racing data when the The Levy funding system is replaced.

The money has to come from somewhere and leading layer Barry Dennis admitted that the punter will have to pay.

"I am making a gross profit of four per cent and net of two per cent. The BHB want 1.75 per cent of turnover for the use of the racing data and, if that happens, I will have to make a two per cent deduction," he said.

"Who will be the losers in this? It will be the tracks and the punters. My margins are getting lower and my hand will be forced."

-TODAY'S meeting at Leicester has been abandoned owing to waterlogging."

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BLOW: Limestone Lad has back injury
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 30, 2002
Words:311
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