White Birch skips an option at Kempton on Monday but connections have high hopes there are plenty of nice prizes for him to win next season.
Third in the Derby to Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel, his only disappointing effort was in the Irish equivalent when he was hampered by an injured rival.
After that he went close at Leopardstown in a Group Three behind Adelaide River and he was entered in the Listed Floodlit Stakes at Kempton.
However, he is now finished for the season but all the major middle distance races will be on his radar next term.
George Murphy, assistant trainer and son of trainer John, said: “We decided he wouldn’t travel and that looks like the end for this year.
“He stays in training and we’re really looking forward to him. It’s easy to put a line through the Irish Derby and other than that, he ran some massive races.
“We’re really looking forward to next year, when he should be able to compete in a lot of nice races and do very well.
“Something like the Tattersalls Gold Cup will be an option, there are lots of races we can aim at so we’ll sit down and make a plan over the winter.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/271610910-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/geegeez_banner_new_170x78.pngGeegeez News2023-11-05 12:54:332023-11-05 12:54:33Murphy team retain full faith in White Birch
Connections of Derby third White Birch are eager for another crack at Auguste Rodin in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby next Sunday.
And should all go well at the Curragh, a possible Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe bid may be on the cards.
Trainer John Murphy has floated the idea of a trip to ParisLongchamp in October after seeing plenty of improvement in three runs this term.
The grey landed the Group Three Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown to start his Classic campaign, before a slow-starting, fast-finishing runner-up spot in York’s Dante Stakes.
White Birch tackled a mile and a half for the first time at Epsom where, despite again being slowly away, he made up plenty of ground under Colin Keane to stay on behind Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel in the Betfred Derby.
Murphy is keen to take on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Derby winner again and is a general 5-1 chance to lift the Irish Classic.
“He is in great shape,” said the County Cork-based handler. “I think we are happy enough to have another crack at him. It is going in the right direction.
“I think we fancy our chances. He’s going the right way, definitely. We are going to be looking forward to a very nice run.
“The ground is heading as though there might be some juice in it, which won’t bother him either. He’ll have no bother with ground – he’s very versatile ground-wise.
“I think that would inconvenience others more than him, because in the trial (Ballysax) it was heavy.”
Owned by Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez, the strapping son of Ulysses is expected to improve as he matures and a possible tilt at the Arc could be in the offing at the end of the season.
“He has been a bit unlucky in the Dante and the Derby,” Murphy added. “He could do with winning a big one, which would be lovely for us all.
“It would just completely turn around our profile maybe. It would put a smile on everybody’s face for sure and a pep in the step.
“And I’ve no doubt he will improve with age, given his physique. He is a big horse, he’s getting stronger. I’ve not any doubt he will improve.
“He is in the Champion Stakes and I think he is going to be put into the Arc. We’ll see how he progresses. We will discuss it with the owners and we’ll see what they want to do, but we’re really looking forward to next weekend first.”
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John Murphy is feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement as he prepares White Birch for a tilt at Betfred Derby glory at Epsom on Saturday week.
The veteran trainer has had plenty of high-class performers pass through his hands over the years, perhaps most notably the 2006 Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Newmill.
Murphy considers Tuscan Evening, who was beaten just a head into fourth place in the Irish 1,000 Guineas in 2008, as his best Flat horse to date, and admits finding a horse capable of competing in the world’s most famous Flat race is something dreams are made of.
He said: “It’s a lot of people’s dream and it’s our dream. We just got lucky, the owners agreed to buy the horse and we’re delighted.
“It’s exciting, absolutely. We’re looking forward to it. It’s huge for us, definitely, we’re excited and apprehensive.”
After finishing fifth as an 80-1 shot on his racecourse debut at Naas in November, White Birch opened his account with a wide-margin win on the all-weather at Dundalk before being given a winter break.
The Ulysses colt may have been a surprise winner of a heavy ground Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on his three-year-old debut, but he proved there was no fluke about that victory when powering home to be beaten just a head by The Foxes on much quicker ground in last week’s Dante Stakes at York.
Murphy added: “We had a very good filly called Tuscan Evening. It was a long time ago, but she was very high class from the start.
“This guy had a run in a maiden at Naas, it was a lovely start, he did it easily in Dundalk and there was no place to go really other than take a step further (in the Ballysax). We were confident going into it that he would run really well.”
Reflecting on the decision to send his charge to what is widely considered as Britain’s leading Derby trial, he said: “It was very soft in Ireland, we didn’t want to run him again on heavy and we hoped there’d be better ground in York, so that’s what we did.
“We were very happy with how he ran. He was a bit unlucky at the start, he just kind of fly-leapt out of the stalls and lost at least a length. Everything counts at that level.
“It wasn’t the plan to track them all, but he stayed on well and finished the race really strong.”
Like most of the horses in the Derby field, White Birch will need to prove his stamina for a mile and a half and his ability to handle the idiosyncratic nature of the Epsom track.
Murphy is not overly concerned about either variable, adding: “We’ve been delighted with him since York, no issues. It looked like he stays, but I don’t think anybody can answer that question.
“We have a lot of undulating gallops and he’s a balanced horse who can travel. Every day you go to war it’s a concern, but he’s a good traveller, which is very important in the Derby.
“He has a great mind, he’s sound and has all the qualities you need in a good horse.”
Another question mark hanging over White Birch is who will ride him on the big day.
Shane Foley was in the saddle at Leopardstown and York, but he looks set to partner Leopardstown Derby Trial winner Sprewell for his boss Jessica Harrington, leaving Murphy to consider his options.
He said: “It’s in the air still, we’re undecided.
“There’s a few options and nine days is a long time for all of us. You never know who is going to drop out and who is going to become available, so we’ll take a few more days before we make that decision.”
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