ITV Races

Alan Dudman Antepost Tips: Back Birch to claim the Sandown scalp of Troy

City Of Troy
Derby winner City Of Troy is set to take on his elders this weekend at Sandown

Alan Dudman is on antepost duty this week and previews Saturday's big race at Sandown with a look at the Sportsbook prices...

  • Eleven confirmations for Sandown Group 1 on Saturday

  • City Of Troy looking to emulate the greats at short odds

  • Alan Dudman picks out a 9/25.50 selection

City Of Troy clash on

Aidan O'Brien's Derby winner City Of Troy was named in the 11 confirmations on Monday morning to ensure the clash of the generations is on for Saturday's Group 1 Coral Eclipse.

Ballydoyle haven't exactly missed either with Luxembourg and Continuous in there with Hans Anderson too.

As such, City Of Troy is in as the 2/51.40 favourite when the Sportsbook went up on Monday morning and it wouldn't be much of a column to tip him up at this stage and leave it there. Thanks Alan for all your hard work!

While the Epsom Classic lacked any of the trial race winners (notably Dante winner Economics), the second Ambiente Friendly's third in the Irish version this weekend doesn't lead me to knock the Classic crop and Timeform nudged up his master rating from 123 to 127p.

I guess backing at those prices, and plenty do, you want everything in your favour. He's down in trip and the possibility of genuine fast ground is another unknown as it was good to soft at Epsom. Plus, it appeared he was taken off his feet in the 2,000 Guineas, and you have to be top quality to drop down from 1m4f to 1m2f to emulate "The Greatest" Sea The Stars - who achieved the feat back in 2009.

While I didn't back him for the Derby, I like seeing good horses win big races and the cruel moniker of "The Wooden Horse Of Troy" was put to bed.....for now anyway.

White Birch surely has to be the bet at 9/25.50?

What a shame the Royal Ascot patrons didn't get to see White Birch in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes, as the 4yo missed the chance to encounter some genuine fast ground over 1m2f due to his blood results being unsatisfactory.

His trainer John Joseph Murphy's son George said at the time: "We had a blood result come back yesterday and it wasn't perfect so we said we'd leave the trip.

"We'll have to 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."

I think that final part of the ground is crucial, as we have no fears about him on soft at 1m2f either, so we don't have to worry too much about the weather forecast with rain forecast on a couple of days this week.

White Birch 1280 .jpg

His performance in winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh was superb - travelling powerfully as he always does and firmly putting Auguste Rodin in his place.

That was a high class run, and the win was backed up by the time too. Indeed, Timeform rated him 128 and no Flat horse in training in Europe has a higher figure (Kyprios is also rated 128). The 1m2f distance looks his metier now, a real 10f specialist, and with him recording a personal best last time - and the fact he's reeled off three 1m2f wins this year, I rate him as a massive player at 9/25.50 on the Sportsbook.

Put simply, he could have too much pace for Troy.

Is there an outsider bet?

Luxembourg at 10/111.00 and he would have more pace than his stablemate and former St Leger winner Continuous, and with the two places on the Sportsbook on the ante-post book, you're backing City Of Troy to go out of the money.

Luxembourg was a revelation when switched to front-running tactics last year, and he benefitted from a Ryan Moore masterpiece from the front when winning the 2023 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

He looks the pace angle here for sure, and the spell abroad in the winter chasing the riches didn't quite materialise, but he proved himself in good shape with his win at Epsom in the Coronation Cup over 1m4f - again with a beautiful ride from Moore.

O'Brien's comments afterwards concern me slightly with the trip. He said: "A mile and a half is probably the trip he loves, though he has good form over a mile and a quarter too. The better the ground the better he'll be, so we think he'll hopefully be a King George horse."

Is it enough to tempt you for a two-place each-way play?

I cannot get excited about Ghostwriter, as much as I am fan of Jeff Smith the owner, and I don't really know what his best trip is. He had a rough old race in France last time too, but won't mind quick ground.

There's no Godolphin runner in the 11, which for a breeding and training operation of its size is quite ridiculous really.

Good luck for Saturday.

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