Willie McCreery is hoping Up Helly Aa can handle another step up in class when he graduates to Group Two company in the Prix Guillaume D’Ornano at Deauville.
The Galileo colt justified the decision to move from maidens to Pattern races when finishing a creditable second in the Meld Stakes at Leopardstown last month on only his third start.
He treads a path similar to his dam Fiesolana – also trained by McCreery – whose sole run at Deauville resulted in third place in the Prix Maurice de Gheest in 2014.
“He seems in good form. He’ll have to improve again to win it, but we hope he’s on an upward curve,” said County Kildare-based McCreery.
“He’s improving physically the whole time, so I hope he will do so on the track.”
British raiders have won the last two editions of Thursday’s race, with the Martyn Meade-trained Eminent in 2017 and Harry Dunlop’s Knight To Behold 12 months ago.
Flying the flag this time is the Roger Charlton-trained Headman, who made a successful raid across the Channel to land the Group Two Prix Eugene Adam at Saint-Cloud seven weeks ago.
He will be ridden by Jason Watson, who is expecting another prominent display from the son of Kingman.
“We’ve been happy with how he came out of his last race in France,” Watson told Sky Sports Racing.
“He did win quite nicely and encouragingly, so we’ll try our luck out there again.
“It’s a small field. He’s already beaten Flop Shot, who is running, so I hope he’s going out there with a good chance.”
Andre Fabre is doubly represented with Roman Candle and Prix Eugene Adam third Flop Shot as he bids to improve on his record tally of 11 wins in the mile-and-a-quarter contest.
The Godolphin-owned Roman Candle won the Group Two Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud in May, and was a close fourth to Japan in the Grand Prix de Paris on his latest outing.
Lisa-Jane Graffard, of Godolphin, told their website: “Roman Candle is in good form, and we know a bit more about him now as regards to his level of ability.
“He is entitled to show a bit of improvement on softer ground if he gets it in this race. On ratings, that should give him a chance – but the race looks very competitive, especially given the presence of Headman.”
Taos and Talk Or Listen complete the six-runner field.