Friday 20 July 2018

Johnston hopes Dee Ex Bee can confirm Epsom placings

Mark Johnston
Mark Johnston

Michael Verney

Mark Johnston is confident that "guaranteed stayer" Dee Ex Bee (7/2) can confirm his Epsom superiority over Aidan O'Brien's hot favourite Saxon Warrior (4/7) after being supplemented into Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

The English raider, second in the Epsom Derby behind Masar, was three lengths in front of Saxon Warrior (fourth) when they met earlier this month and Johnston expects the son of Farhh to improve on a flatter track in the €1.5 million Irish Classic.

"I have got the utmost respect for Aidan O'Brien and he wouldn't be running Saxon Warrior if he didn't think he could reverse the form, but we are the one guaranteed to stay so we are going there more than hopeful that Saxon Warrior can't reverse the form," Johnston said yesterday.

Confident

"We are hopeful the Curragh will suit him better and that we will see the best of him on Saturday. He is a big horse and I'm sure he will enjoy the Curragh a lot more, I'm pretty confident he'll handle fast ground as well."

Charlie Appleby's Royal Ascot winner Old Persian (8/1), owned by Godolphin and set to be ridden by William Buick, was also added to the 14-runner field - along with Michael Halford's Platinum Warrior (16/1) - and his trainer holds no fear that the Irish Derby comes just eight days after his King Edward VII Stakes victory.

Appleby said: "The signs are all very positive, you can't fault the way he's come out of Ascot. He's eaten up and exercised well.

"He bounces back from his runs very quickly, and we are confident that the horse is going to be very competitive."

O'Brien holds six of the 14 remaining entries as he seeks his 13th Irish Derby winner with Saxon Warrior set to be joined by The Pentagon (25/1), while decisions will be made later in the week about the participation of Queen's Vase winner Kew Gardens (10/1) and his other recent Ascot runners - Delano Roosevelt (16/1), Rostropovich (25/1) and Nelson (25/1).

Donnacha O'Brien will partner Latrobe (25/1) for his brother Joseph while Harry Dunlop is confident of securing the services of Frankie Dettori - winner on Balanchine in 1994 - to ride the other English challenger Knight To Behold (16/1).

Knight To Behold only beat one home at Epsom, trailing in 33 lengths behind Masar, but Dunlop is hoping new tactics will see an improved display from the Lingfield Derby Trial winner.

"We are going to ride him a little differently. We are going to try to get him to relax so he can get home. He was doing too much at Epsom and we will be more conservative this time," Dunlop said.

While Masar will not be attempting a Derby double this weekend - instead targeting next month's Coral-Eclipse - O'Brien's Epsom Oaks heroine Forever Together will be in action at the Curragh with his trainer eyeing a tilt at Sunday's Group One Pretty Polly Stakes.

Penalty

Meanwhile, Willie McCreery is more hopeful than expectant as Mary Tudor looks to defy a penalty in this evening's Listed Oaks Trial (7.0) at Naas.

"I hope she proves hard to beat and that we go on to the Oaks. Truth be known, her Listed win hasn't really worked out but she's a big filly and is still growing - she'll be a nice four-year-old," McCreery said.

Ger Lyons runs the unbeaten Espere in the Snow Fairy colours of Anamoine Limited and racing manager Patrick Cooper said: "She's progressing nicely, working her way up the ladder and this is the natural next step.

"It's a fairly big step but it is the obvious one to do so we'll find out. She couldn't have been more impressive on her first two starts."

O'Brien and Dermot Weld have shared the six runnings and both are double-handed with Ballydoyle represented by Easter Lily and Sizzling, while Weld saddles Hasimiyya and Romiyna, tipped to score following her effortless debut win at Gowran Park.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport