Limestone may face Istabraq at Aintree


Limestone Lad could make a return visit to Britain on Grand National day as owner/trainer James Bowe is considering a tilt at the Martell Aintree Hurdle.

The gelding, who got a hero's reception in the unsaddling enclosure after his second place in the Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham last week, will be having the 12th race of a very busy season in which he has won eight times and only once finished worse than second.

But if the going is not too firm Limestone Lad could be back for Aintree's Grade One event, in which he could renew rivalry with three-time champion hurdler Istabraq - whom he famously beat at Fairyhouse last November.

Bowe's son, Michael, said yesterday: "It is just in the back of our minds that he could go to Aintree, though a lot depends on the ground.

"We are giving it consideration but we don't have to make any decision until the end of the month.

"There is always the Punchestown Festival but that isn't until the first week in May this year and the ground might have firmed up by then.

"Limestone Lad is in tremendous order, he came out of the race brilliantly - better than I did!

"I was exhausted as it was a very long drive - and I did more celebrating than the horse did!"

Limestone Lad went down by a length to Bacchanal at Cheltenham last Thursday and Bowe added: "I was thrilled with the horse.

"Some people were disappointed that he didn't win but for us he is always a star and I thought he ran a great race on ground that didn't suit him after being away from home for a few days, which also didn't suit him."

Keynote can make a winning return to Folkestone today. The occasionally dodgy jumper will benefit considerably from being brought back to a track which has some of the easiest fences in the country.

It certainly worked the trick last month when he put in an error-free round in a competitive novice handicap and scored by a comfortable six lengths.

Such was the favourable impression he created that the eight-year-old started favourite for an open handicap at Leicester 12 days later, only to fall at the eighth fence - on a track with notably more daunting obstacles.