Victory for White Birch ensured that Ulysses supplied successive winners of the Gr.3 Ballysax Stakes, a leading Derby trial, at Leopardstown. The near-white coat of John Joseph Murphy’s three-year-old colt could be spotted making stealthy progress from the rear as the field straightened up for home. Although unbalanced by the wayward Alexandroupolis approaching the final furlong, White Birch knuckled down to draw away in the closing stages with the eventual runner-up.
After the race Assistant Trainer George Murphy said, “We always thought he could be a serious horse. His work had been super coming into today and he was obviously super impressive in his maiden at Dundalk. We’re delighted he’s done what we had hoped he could do and I think there could be quite a bit more to come as well. He has a big engine…He’s a lot of options and I don’t think we’d be too worried going anywhere with him. He’s very well balanced and moves very well, so I wouldn’t be worried about going to Epsom anyway.” White Birch was added to the Epsom Derby at the second entry stage this week.
Hewas bred by Cheveley Park Stud out of the All-Weather Fillies’ & Mares’ Championship Stakes winner Diagnostic (Dutch Art). She is out of the unraced Pivotal mare Holistic, from a line that extends back to the 1966 Kentucky Oaks winner Native Street (Native Dancer). This is also the extended family of last year’s Gr.1 winning juveniles Auguste Rodin (Deep Impact) and Victoria Road (Saxon Warrior), who are also on the Classic trail. White Birch was sold to Tally-Ho Stud for 75,000gns at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale and he now races in the colours of Mrs C C Regalado-Gonzalez.
Piz Badile (Ulysses) saluted the judge in this contest twelve months ago for Donnacha O’Brien before going on to finish a gallant second in the Irish Derby. His season was subsequently cut short by a minor setback, but he returns to training this season and has already been nominated for several Group races, including the Gr.1 Tattersalls Gold Cup.