Micky Hammond’s Cornerstone Lad will attempt to retain his Fighting Fifth Hurdle crown before embarking on a chasing career.
The six-year-old returned to winning ways on the Flat at Redcar on Tuesday, claiming a one-mile-six-furlong handicap by a neck from Jackamundo.
Redcar was also the scene of the gelding’s seasonal reappearance in October, when he finished fourth in another handicap on the level over the same distance.
“We did it last year,” Hammond said of the decision to run the Grade One-winner on the Flat in the early part of the season.
“He won on the Flat at Catterick before he won at Wetherby and then went on to the Fighting Fifth. That shows he’s well capable of winning on the Flat, but obviously he’s a far better jumper than a Flat horse.
“That was our thinking behind it really, but it was great that he got his head back in front.”
Hammond is now aiming for a repeat of last season’s Fighting Fifth success on November 28 before he begins to campaign his stable star over fences.
“He’s going to the Fighting Fifth, he’ll be going back to Newcastle for that,” he said.
“I think the long-term plan would be to go steeplechasing, he’s been schooling over fences as well as hurdles and I think that’s probably the route he’ll go down, that will happen after Newcastle.”
The Middleham trainer does not have a specific starting point in mind for the bay’s switch to fences, preferring to see how he schools after his recent exertions and go from there.
“We’ve not got any plans really,” he said.
“We’ll just see how he comes out of the Redcar race and then just build up from there.”