Stiffer test for Saturnas

Saturnas could step up in trip at the Cheltenham Festival after taking in next month's Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Saturnas could step up in trip at Cheltenham

The French import looked another exciting recruit for Willie Mullins after making a successful start to his Irish career at Naas in November.

He was immediately stepped up to Grade One level in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, where he finished a clear second to prolific stable companion Airlie Beach.

The six-year-old went one better with a smart performance in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown over the festive period, earning him quotes of around 20/1 for both the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Neptune at Prestbury Park in March.

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He is set to tackle two and a quarter miles at Leopardstown on February 12 and owner Nicky Peacock expects him to go up in distance again at the Festival.

He said: "We were obviously delighted with him at Leopardstown and the handicapper has put him up 7lb, so he obviously felt it was a good performance.

"Paul (Townend) felt the winner got a bit of a soft lead at Fairyhouse. They let her get away and they couldn't peg her back. Time will tell on that one.

"Our horse won nicely in the end the other day, hopefully he'll continue to progress and I think his next race will be the Deloitte.

"We'll see where we go after that. We're hoping to go Cheltenham and I think the Neptune would be more likely than the Supreme, but we'll leave it up to Willie.

"We'll see what else Willie has nearer the time, but hopefully he'll be shuffled into the pack somewhere."

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