Royal Ascot trials day review: Dee Ex Bee wins Sagaro Stakes

Dee Ex Bee wins the Sagaro Stakes under William Buick
Dee Ex Bee wins the Sagaro Stakes under William Buick

A review of the rest of the action from trials day at Ascot including a taking success for budding stayer Dee Ex Bee.

Bee buzzes into Gold Cup picture

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 12/1 with Sky Bet 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 the 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."


Rebel spoils American party

Ventura Rebel floored odds-on favourite Lady Pauline in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes at Ascot.

All eyes were on the Wesley Ward-trained juvenile, who is a half-sister to multiple Group One winner Lady Aurelia, as she attempted to back up her debut success at Keeneland last month in the five-furlong contest.

Everything looked to be going to plan for the 4/11 favourite at the two-furlong pole, with John Velazquez sitting confidently at the head of the field.

That picture quickly changed when Velazquez asked for Lady Pauline's finishing effort though, and as her stride began to shorten, she was eventually reeled in by the Richard Fahey-trained Ventura Rebel, who went on to claim victory by a length at odds of 20/1.

Winning jockey Paul Hanagan said: "Ventura Rebel is such a dude - he has got such a good mind.

"He was probably a little outpaced early on, but he came good and I was able sit on him to give him the chance to come home, and he really came home. He gave me a proper feel there and took a bit of pulling up, which is always a nice sign. I really like him, especially his temperament, and hopefully he has a big future, all being well.

"Richard's horses are in great form and everyone is happy."

Ventura Rebel (far left) wins at Ascot from Lady Pauline (right)
Ventura Rebel (far left) wins at Ascot from Lady Pauline (right)

The winner, who was claiming a second career success, was introduced at 14/1 for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and Tom Palin, spokesman for owners Middleham Park Racing, said: "I don't there was any fluke about that.

"It was a nice, honest race and it probably rode like a nice race. We did it on debut in the same manner and we have really put them to the sword today.

"Since his debut he has sharpened up a lot. He did a really nice piece of work a week and a bit ago, and Richard rang me and said that Ascot race is where you go and you will run well. I've never heard Richard talk about one of ours like that.

"I think he is a proper horse. He is not a slow horse by any stretch of the imagination. I think Paul was suggesting it took him a long to pull him up and with the manner he was finishing it off - all roads lead to the Coventry with him now."

As for Lady Pauline, Velazquez pointed to the long trip as a possible reason why she came up just short.

He said: "I thought she ran well. It seemed like she got tired in the last 16th of a mile. She has only been here a few days and part of the trip might have knocked it out of her a little bit."


Zaaki beats Barney

Zaaki made a winning return to action for Sir Michael Stoute in the Ascot Shop Paradise Stakes, completing a treble for jockey Frankie Dettori in the process.

The four-year-old gelding found just enough to hold 2017 St James's Palace Stakes winner Barney Roy, who was making his return to racing having proven infertile at stud, by a neck in the mile Listed prize.

Stoute said of the 9/1 winner: "I think he is quite versatile trip wise. He ran some cracking races last season and just tapered off towards the end. We've cut him and he has bounced back, so it is very pleasing.

"I looked at the race a little while ago and I thought he wasn't going to come in time for it, but I took a chance. We will stop and think about things, but he will run before then (Royal Ascot)."

The Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting is firmly on the agenda for the runner-up, who was making his first start for Charlie Appleby.

He said: "We are delighted first and foremost. We are pleased with the run and it is great to have him back on track. More importantly we have learnt a bit more about the horse.

"William said two and a half down he was just travelling too well. He would have liked to have been coming from behind running into the last furlong.

"William said he would be quite happy to stick at the mile. Whether we take another race before Ascot, I don't know. On the back of that run he wouldn't look out of place in the Queen Anne."

Zaaki gets the better of Barney Roy at Ascot
Zaaki gets the better of Barney Roy at Ascot


Much the best under Dettori

Frankie Dettori judged his fractions from the front perfectly aboard Muchly to initiate his treble, and a double for trainer John Gosden, when holding on by a short head in the Naas Racecourse Royal Ascot Trials Day British EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes.

Gosden said of the 9/1 winner: "He was going to his own pace and set up his own pace how he wanted it. He cleverly rode it and he has a certain wisdom with age.

"Sean (Levey) didn't have enough horse (on Ajrar) to attack us early, which left us able to hold off the favourite.

"She is very much bred to be a seven-furlong filly. She has got this stiff mile well and there is the Sandringham here. We could talk to the jockey later about whether a mile and a quarter is a possibility."

Muchly beats Queen Power at Ascot
Muchly beats Queen Power at Ascot

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