It is the start of a big month in the UK for the David Cottin yard and their star mare Paul’s Saga is set to take a significant step towards a tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next month when running at Warwick on Monday.
The seven-year-old daughter of Martaline gained her first success at the top level when getting the better of the top-class l’Autonomie in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil in October, no mean feat given her rival was coming into the race on the back of eight consecutive successes for Champion Trainer Francois Nicolle.
The third that day, Galop Marin, turned the table on the Gerald Laroche-owned mare in the Grade 1 Grand Prix d’Automne back at Auteuil at the end of November, but it came at the end of a very long year and there is a strong case to be made that she will improve again this season.
With quarantine rules ensuring regular pilot Kevin Nabet has to stay at home in Chantilly, Cottin has secured the services of Champion Jockey Brian Hughes for Paul’s Saga’s engagement at Warwick, which was moved to Monday from its original Saturday slot after the track failed an inspection for tomorrow’s meeting earlier today.
The ex-Willie Mullins-trained Eglantine Du Seuil, now in the care of Paul Nicholls, is yet to replicate the sort of form she was showing a couple of seasons ago when landing the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, so Paul’s Saga looks the clear form pick for the Listed St Marys Land Mares’ Hurdle and a comfortable success would be the perfect preparation for the big one at Cheltenham next month, for which she is a short as 12-1 with PaddyPower, Betfair and Boylesports (generally 14-1).