Le Chiffre is a horse going the right way for David O’Meara having won his last two, but he’s yet to race on ground faster than good so today’s conditions will be an unknown for him. One who won’t be inconvenienced by good to firm ground is Helovaplan. Two of his three turf wins have come on a quicker surface, latterly off a mark of 80 and more recently he’s won on the all-weather off 82. Following a tricky spell towards the end of last season and the start of this, he’s been dropped to a rating of 78, so is handicapped to win. He’s gone well fresh multiple times before, finished runner up on his only start at Beverley and hopefully a return to turf can see Helovaplan back in the winners enclosure.
Sea Of Marmoon didn’t show a great deal in a couple of starts last season, consequently gaining a very workable handicap mark. She exploited that on her reappearance at Newcastle when despite racing a little keenly, fought on gamely to win over this trip. A complete no show followed at Yarmouth next time where she probably wasn’t suited by that 1m6f distance at this stage. Back down to 1m2f having generously been dropped 3lbs from last time, I’d be surprised if she didn’t have more to offer from a rating of 63.
3.45pm Down Royal
A race full of unexposed three year olds where Ger Lyons appears to hold a strong hand. On jockey bookings, Marchons Ensemble appears the stable second string, but he’ll be no back number in here. He boasts some good form from last year, including a length defeat by subsequent Group 3 winner Crossfirehurricane. A flying home second from an impossible position at Leopardstown on seasonal return, he built on his earlier promise and looked as though he was crying out for a step up to this trip. Up in the weights for that effort, the third and fourth have both gone close from higher marks which gives the form a nice look and Marchons Ensemble should have more to give at this distance.
It pays to be prominent round the bend at Ripon, and that is exactly the position Groveman will be in. A horse who likes to get on with things, this track should very much suit his style of racing. It appears a stint hurdling has done him the world of good, with recent form figures on the flat reading 2141. Continuing to find for pressure at Thirsk last time, that victory has been well advertised by the runner up, Cape Coast, who won at the Newmarket July Festival and a 3lb rise for Groveman doesn’t look particularly harsh on the face of that for a horse who seems to be getting better and better with racing.