Dee Ex Bee delivers Sagaro success on Ascot return

Mark Johnston’s charge secures stylish win in staying prize

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Dee Ex Bee claimed his first race since his juvenile days when running out an impressive winner of the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.

Mark Johnston’s colt finished second in last year’s Derby before disappointing in the Irish equivalent, but he ran several other good races in defeat, including when fourth in the St Leger.

That race at Doncaster proved staying trips could be his forte this season and William Buick was keen to keep the revs up on the son of Farhh.

Sat on the shoulder of Weekender and Frankie Dettori, Buick made his challenge early in the straight and gave those in behind a target.

Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Verdana Blue appeared to be going well when a little tight for room, but when the gap eventually appeared, she failed to pick up.

Dee Ex Bee fairly powered home though, beating Raymond Tusk by three and a quarter lengths to earn a quote of 14-1 with Betfair for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.

Johnston said: “William said it is not surprising looking at that performance that he was getting beaten in Group One races over a mile and a half as he settles into a rhythm and that is it.

“He plugs away and keeps finding a little bit more, but no sudden turns of foot.

“That is why this is a trial and I think looking today – as some times you look at races and think what would have happened if he had gone a bit further – if we had of gone further, the margin would have been bigger.

“If he stayed in training with me, it was always going to be the intention (to go over staying trips). I said that in the winner’s enclosure at Doncaster. We were thinking about it long before the St Leger.

“There has been a lot of nonsense talked about his form and the second half of the year after the Derby, and of course it was disappointing as we were dreaming he was going to win the St Leger, but he finished fourth.

“He was beaten by some very good horses and mixed it at the very highest level. When he was beaten at Goodwood, everyone was shocked, but they were not so shocked when he (winner Cross Counter) won the Melbourne Cup.

“It has been frustrating me no end as we are known for having stayers, but it has been a long time since we have had one that is top of tree.

“Double Trigger can maybe claim some credit for putting staying races back on the map, but it has got tougher and tougher. You need a proper Group One horse and ideally a Classic horse as a three-year-old, which is what he was.”

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