No Stayers' Hurdle tilt for Paul's Saga after Auteuil defeat

The flickering hope that Paul's Saga might add a French flavour to the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham was all but extinguished after David Cottin's charge ran a respectable second behind Polirico in the Grade 3 Prix Juigne at Auteuil on Sunday.

The seven-year-old mare's owner, Gerald Laroche, had cooled on the idea of a trip to the festival after Paul's Saga suffered a defeat at Warwick on her British debut three weeks ago. 

The daughter of Martaline is as tough as she is classy and a win here might have revived the ambition to head back to Britain, but although Paul's Saga showed no fatigue from her recent trip she was unable to reel in Polirico, to whom she was conceding 8lb. 

"I was a little worried turning in but she came home really well and it's hard to make up ground on a good horse like the winner when the going is like this," said Cottin. "She will follow the classic programme here – probably the Prix Hypothese next – although she won't really have her favoured ground till the autumn. She is in good form so we won't stand in her way."

Cottin also revealed that last season's champion four-year-old over fences, Le Berry, will reappear at Compiegne on April 1 as he starts out on the road to the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, with the intention to take in the Prix Ingre in between. 

Polirico was last seen when pulled up in a Grade 3 at Compiegne last November but has good back class, and would have been a good second to stablemate Autonomie in the 2019 Prix Renaud du Vivier as a four-year-old but for unseating at the last. 

"He wasn't 100 per cent today but he showed he is a good horse and it's great to have him back in form," said jockey Gaetan Masure. "He's a horse that can be a bit keen and I was helped by the fact there was plenty of pace on and so he never looked like pulling."