Dee Ex Bee puts his Gold Cup credentials on the line in the Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes at Sandown on Thursday.
The Mark Johnston-trained four-year-old is generally the 10-1 third favourite for the Royal Ascot showpiece over two and a half miles after winning on his seasonal debut at the Berkshire course three weeks ago.
His five rivals in this Group Three heat over an extended two miles include two stablemates. Making Miracles won the Chester Cup in emphatic fashion while Austrian School was sent off the 3-1 favourite that day, but could not handle the rain-softened ground and was well-beaten.
Last year’s winner Magic Circle, trained by Ian Williams, returns on the back of a pleasing comeback when third in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Mekong and Fearsome, from Nick Littmoden’s stable, complete the sextet.
Johnston has a leading contender in Matterhorn after six were declared for the Group Three Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes.
The progressive four-year-old took his impressive all-weather form onto the turf when second to Forest Ranger in the Huxley Stakes at Chester.
Andrew Balding’s Here Comes When has a 3lb penalty to concede while Regal Reality, Bombyx, Danceteria and Elwazir make up the runners.
John Gosden took the Matchbook Is Commission Heron Stakes 12 months ago with subsequent St James’s Palace winner Without Parole and has two interesting candidates this time in King Of Comedy and Lord North. Both hold that Group One entry at Royal Ascot.
Stoute is represented by Sangarius, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Dewhurst Stakes behind Too Darn Hot.
Others in an intriguing eight-runner Listed contest include 2000 Guineas also-ran Dark Vision and highly-promising once-raced winner Bell Rock.
Seven speedy types bid for Listed honours in the Matchbook Commission Free On All Sports National Stakes.
They are headed by the David O’Meara-trained Full Authority, who made a big impression when scooting up by six lengths on his debut at Chester.
Bryan Smart’s Proper Beau and Robert Cowell’s Strive For Glory are others who have also won their only start so far.