Ulysses’s White Birch In Ballysax Upset

Conspicuous by his colour if not his presence in the betting market, Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez’s recent acquisition White Birch (GB) (Ulysses {Ire}–Diagnostic {GB}, by Dutch Art {GB}) overhauled the customary representation of the O’Briens and Bolger in Leopardstown’s G3 P W McGrath Memorial Ballysax S. to provide the John Joseph Murphy stable with a red-letter day. Anchored at the tail of the field early by Shane Foley, the almost-white grey who had opened his account by 6 1/2 lengths over seven furlongs sporting Murphy’s own silks at Dundalk in November loomed large out wide as Ballydoyle’s TDN Rising Star Alexandroupolis (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) made his move in early straight. Hampered as that 4-5 favourite lugged right approaching the furlong pole which also affected the Joseph O’Brien-trained Up And Under (Fr) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) before they went clear, the 22-1 shot had that bit extra inside the dying strides to prevail by half a length. There was eventually four lengths between Up And Under and Alexandroupolis, who could fare no better than third as he failed to bring up a Ballydoyle trial treble.

“We were very excited coming in, as we always thought he was a very serious horse and his work had been super,” the winning trainer said. “He was very impressive in his maiden and he did what we hoped he could do today. There is a fair bit more to come, as he has a big engine and I couldn’t thank the owner enough for keeping him with us. His first run was on heavy ground at Naas and he finished out strong, so I was confident he’d get through it and the good ones can do it on anything. With the pace he showed at Dundalk, we weren’t 100 per-cent confident he’d get a mile and a quarter but I don’t think we’d be too worried going anywhere with him now. He’s very well-balanced and moves very well, so I wouldn’t be worried about going to Epsom–we’ll have a serious chat with the owner and make a plan.”

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