Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee faces lightly raced Frankel filly in Gordon Stakes
Qatar Gordon Stakes | 1m4f | 3yo | ITV/RUK
Derby second Dee Ex Bee has not hit the heights he scaled at Epsom in two outings since, making this four-runner Group 3 both an excellent opportunity to record a victory for the first time this season and a key test of his credentials.
Just Masar beat Dee Ex Bee in the Derby, in which the Mark Johnston-trained colt showed plenty of stamina and tenacity to reclaim second in the closing stages.
However, he has failed to build on that striking performance, finishing just seventh in the Irish Derby and then a well-beaten third in the Grand Prix de Paris.
Connections will walk the track on Saturday morning to confirm whether Dee Ex Bee will run, but assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said existing conditions looked favourable, especially with overnight watering taking place.
He said: "This wasn't really plan A off the back of the Grand Prix to be out so soon, but after there were only six entries on Monday and then four decs yesterday it was a bit of a no-brainer really.
"We'll walk the track tomorrow morning as we're conscious we left Paris saying we weren't going to run him over a mile and a half on fast ground, as he looked like he wanted either some give in the ground or a step up to one mile six furlongs.
"When this race presented itself it looked too good to miss. We'll check the track and make sure we're 100 per cent happy, because we don't want to do anything that jeopardises the St Leger, which is his main target for the year."
He added: "It looks a good race for him, he won at the meeting last year and we're hopeful he should take all the beating."
Sun Maiden, the only filly in the line-up, is an eyecatching runner for Sir Michael Stoute, who has won this five times in ten years.
This will be just her fourth start, and her third of the season, following a wide-margin novice victory at Salisbury and a third-placed finish in the Ribblesdale, in which Wild Illusion, Thursday's Nassau winner, finished second.
A daughter of Frankel and half-sister to Midday, she is beautifully bred and entitled to step up on her previous form given her lack of racecourse experience.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to her owner Khalid Abdullah, said: "She ran really well in the Ribblesdale. She didn't quite get the run of the race – she certainly wouldn't have won but she might have been a bit nearer.
"It was a very pleasing run, especially for a very lightly raced filly. She's progressed well, physically and mentally, but she's got to step up again to take on the colts."
Godolphin are represented by the progressive Cross Counter, fourth in the King George V at Royal Ascot before landing a good handicap at the same track three weeks ago.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: “We were very pleased with Cross Counter’s victory at Ascot and he brings a progressive profile into this race.
“He's stepping up in class but we feel he's capable of taking on better horses now and this should hopefully give us a pointer for the rest of the season.”
The field is completed by the James Fanshawe-trained Bombyx. He landed a novice race at Doncaster by almost four lengths a month ago and would have to improve significantly to triumph stepped up into classy company.
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