Mark Johnston admits he would be “disappointed” if Dee Ex Bee had to tackle Stradivarius in Friday’s Magners Rose Doncaster Cup on Town Moor.
Dee Ex Bee has finished second behind John Gosden’s staying star on each of his last three starts, with connections hoping he could get his head in front again in the two-and-a-quarter-mile heat on day three of the St Leger meeting.
However, Gosden has made a surprise entry for Stradivarius, although the handler had previously indicated next month’s Champions Day at Ascot would be a likely target.
Johnston is still looking to Doncaster with his charge though and said: “I think that is still our plan.
“I’d be disappointed if we were up against Stradivarius again at Group Two level, but I think that is still our plan.”
Last year’s second Max Dynamite in the mix again for Willie Mullins while the seven contenders also include Aidan O’Brien’s Cypress Creek, Cleonte, Barsanti and Sneaky Getaway.
A’Ali could try to get his campaign back on track in the Wainwright Flying Childers Stakes.
The Simon Crisford-trained colt won both the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Prix Robert Papin at Deauville earlier in the season but came unstuck when upped to Group One level in the Prix Morny.
After finishing a five-length fifth, he could drop back to Group Two company on day three of the St Leger meeting.
Other entries in the five-furlong heat include Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Alligator Alley and Lady Penelope.
The seven-furlong Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes has drawn 20 entries, headed by Angel’s Hideaway for Gosden and owners Cheveley Park Stud.
Johnston’s Visinari, who has fallen short twice in Group race company, could drop back to Listed level in the Weatherbys Global Stallions App Flying Scotsman Stakes.