sport

Shu to test big-race waters

Big Shu is on course to make his seasonal return at Punchestown early next month ahead of a big objective at either Cheltenham of Aintree.

Trainer Peter Maher is giving the Crabbie's Grand National consideration for last year's Cheltenham and Punchestown Festival cross-country winner, but Big Shu's spring targets depend on how he fares on his comeback run.

That will be in the same race as last winter when he was only beaten a length by Arabella Boy.

"You'll see him on February 2 for the banks race at Punchestown. I can't give him a run in a point-to-point, but I think he'll run well enough first time," said Maher.

"He's coming along nicely. He's had an away day in Fairyhouse and I was happy with him.

"I haven't decided whether to send him to Liverpool for the Grand National or to Cheltenham. It all depends how he runs in Punchestown.

"I don't know how he'll go as he had a hard race in the La Touche (last year). If goes well there he'll go back to Cheltenham or to Liverpool."