Dee Ex Bee out to prove stamina at Ascot
Dee Ex Bee looks sure to improve for a step up in trip on his seasonal return at Ascot in today's Longines Sagaro Stakes.
Last year's Epsom Derby runner-up - the mount of William Buick - will tackle two miles for the first time in the Group Three race, which is the second of eight qualifying legs for the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers' Million bonus.
Although failing to win any of his eight starts last season, the Mark Johnston-trained son of Farhh was placed three times at Group One level, along with finishing fourth in the St Leger at Doncaster on his penultimate start.
Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said: "We are looking forward to getting Dee Ex Bee back out. He was second in the Derby last year and often these kind of horses would probably be campaigned at the Coronation Cup or King George at four, but we always felt Dee Ex Bee would improve for a step up in distance.
"We won't know if he stays the trip until afterwards, but we are pretty certain he will get it. Hopefully he has got that mix of class and stamina that will make him a competitive cup horse."
Connections of the John Gosden-trained Weekender are hoping a gelding operation can help bring about a bit more improvement from the five-year-old.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: "Weekender was supposed to go out to Dubai, but he got a little nick. He has come back fine and he should be up to being competitive, but it looks tough enough for a Group Three."
The Nicky Henderson-trained Verdana Blue returns to the Flat, where she will be partnered by Oisín Murphy for the first time, having run out a decisive winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr last time.
Murphy said: "She won very well in the Scottish Champion Hurdle the last day at Ayr and the step back up to two miles on the Flat will help her.
"She was beaten by Gumball last time on the Flat, but that was over a mile-and-a-half and she will be better over further back on turf. It looks a very competitive renewal and I think Weekender is a very good horse, so we will see how we go."
Richard Hannon has both Raymond Tusk and dual course winner Danehill Kodiac, who will be making his first start since finishing third in last year's Ormonde Stakes at Chester.