Saint-Cloud or Sandown next on the horizon for White Birch after setback rules out Ascot trip

Auguste Rodin favourite for Prince Of Wales’s Stakes clash with Inspiral on Wednesday

Colin Keane and White Birch coming home to win the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May 2024. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

A trip to Paris on Sunday week for the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud or an Eclipse date at Sandown six days later appear the options for White Birch after the Group One winner was forced to miss Royal Ascot.

The John Murphy-trained star had been due to renew rivalry with Auguste Rodin in Wednesday’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, and a potentially fairy-tale outcome this week for the grey colt trained in west Cork, only for a late setback to rule it out.

“We had a blood result come back yesterday and it wasn’t perfect so we said we’d leave the trip,” explained the trainer’s son and assistant George Murphy. “We’ll have a chat with the owners now before we decide where to go. He’s in the Eclipse and he’s in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at the end of the month so it’s probably one of the two of those. The ground [at Royal Ascot] wasn’t a concern for us.”

Behind Auguste Rodin in both the Epsom and Curragh derbies last year, White Birch comprehensively reversed that form with a first top-flight victory in last month’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. The Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud would mean a first start of the season over a mile and a half, while the Eclipse option could result in the clash with the Derby winner City Of Troy.


Auguste Rodin will tackle nine opponents in Wednesday’s feature race although one is his stable companion Hans Andersen. The five-time Group One winner is a general 5/4 favourite, with bookmakers rating the mare Inspiral his biggest threat.

Also out of this week’s action is Adrian Murray’s star sprinter Bucanero Fuerte who had been among the market leaders for Friday’s Commonwealth Cup. His fellow Group One winning two-year-old Vandeek has also been forced to miss the race.

A statement from Bucanero Fuerte’s owners, AMO racing, said: “After arriving in Ascot yesterday he was showing signs of travel sickness and was subsequently transferred to Newmarket Equine Hospital as a matter of caution where he has been monitored overnight.

“He spent a comfortable night there and remains well this morning, but he will be forced to miss his intended engagement on Friday. We now look forward to his swift recovery and the rest of the season ahead.”

Vandeek will be aimed at Newmarket’s July Cup after an abnormal blood count ruled him out of Ascot.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column