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White Birch top of middle-distance tree after Tattersalls Gold Cup win

3 minute read

White Birch established himself as one of the leading middle distance horses in the UK and Ireland with an emphatic victory in Sunday’s Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Curragh Racecourse.
Curragh Racecourse. Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Winner of his previous two starts over course and distance, the John Joseph Murphy-trained grey faced significant opposition in the form of Aidan O'Brien's Auguste Rodin. Jockey Colin Keane settled White Birch midfield on the inside of his main rival, and appeared to be in trouble exiting the back straight, with the four-year-old coming off the bridle briefly. Ryan Moore made his move up the outside as the field straightened up for home, but White Birch was always travelling well and he kicked clear of the Ballydoyle horse, finishing three lengths ahead at the line. Crypto Force was a further eight lengths back in third.

"This is special. He's a joy to have, they've done a great job with him, we're lucky to have him," said trainer John Joseph Murphy, alongside son and assistant George in an interview with Racing TV.

"It was exciting for sure, he travelled around super, quickened up well and won nicely in the end," added George Murphy.

"We were just playing it by ear. The owners were keen to come back here after some very good form in the last couple of runs and it was a cause of taking our chance.

"He's definitely more relaxed, I suppose it's just maturity really. He's a year older and he hadn't got a lot of experience last year – he went to a few big occasions, Epsom is a big deal and a lot of atmosphere – maybe a few of those things gave him stage fright on a few of those occasions. He's definitely matured.

"We'll go home and enjoy today first. We'll chat to the owners and see where we go from here."

The victory caused a shake-up in all of the big middle distance races for the coming year, with Paddy Power shortening White Birch from 25/1 to 7/1 for the Prince of Wales's Stakes, 20/1 to 7/1 for the Coral-Eclipse and 66/1 to 33/1 for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

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