Willie McCreery and Billy Lee pictured with Up Helly Aa after winning at Gowran
© Photo Healy Racing
The regally bred Up Helly Aa will be aimed at some big middle-distance prizes later this year with trainer Willie McCreery reporting the four-year-old to have done very well over the winter.
The Galileo colt is the first foal out of Fiesolana, who provided McCreery with his first Group 1 success when landing the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes under a cool ride from Billy Lee at Leopardstown in 2014.
“Up Helly Aa is a lovely horse. He might take a bit of time just to come to hand and we are waiting for the autumn with him. There are a lot of big races that we could aim him at,” said the Curragh trainer.
“He’s wintered well. He looks well and is cantering away at the moment. There is not a bother on him. He’s a big horse, like his mother, and then Galileo’s aren’t small either.”
Up Helly Aa didn’t make his debut until May last year when finishing strongly over ten furlongs at Cork before going one better to open his account in a maiden at Gowran Park the following month.
The imposing colt was stepped up to Group 3 company next time when runner-up in Leopardstown’s Meld Stakes and rounded off the campaign with a cosy neck win over Pincheck in the Listed Navigation Stakes at Cork.
McCreery is hopeful there is plenty of improvement to come given the four-year-old's physique and the way the dam progressed with age saying, “Fiesolana is showing that she can pass on a good level of ability, and she was nothing until she was four or five.
“I wouldn’t say he would like it too soft. The dam just liked a tiny bit of juice in it. She was a big mare and it would have been unfair to run her on ground too fast. Galileo’s go on any ground.
“We’ll probably be looking at races from a mile and two to a mile and a half. The dam herself really only stayed seven furlongs. I know she won over a mile but I thought it was a great ride that day (in the Matron).
“He has loads of options. We’ll take our time and let him come to hand.”