Dee Ex Bee can finally step out of Stradivarius’ shadow and gain a deserved Group 1 success in the 2m 4f Prix du Cadran on Arc weekend at Longchamp this Saturday (16:35).
Trained by Mark Johnston, the four-year-old looked a top class stayer in the making last season when finishing second and fourth in two British Classics.
Although the campaign came and went without a win, connections had every faith the son of Farhh would come into his own when given tests of stamina.
That view was confirmed when Dee Ex Bee scored on both of his first two starts this season.
After landing the 2m Group 3 Sagaro Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths at Ascot on reappearance, he followed-up when making all at a relentless gallop under a penalty in the Henry II at Sandown.
That marked Dee Ex Bee down as a serious contender for the Gold Cup. He has run into champion stayer Stradivarius at Royal Ascot and on two subsequent starts, however.
In almost any other era, Dee Ex Bee would be mopping up the top prizes in the British staying division.
However, Stradivarius always finds enough to win, so his absence here opens the door.
Runs in the Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup at York when chasing home John Gosden’s stamina laden star set a clear form standard in the Prix du Cadran.
Dee Ex Bee is also clear of his rivals on Racing Post Ratings. He stays the marathon trip and handles cut in the ground with forecast going soft.
With the French staying division lacking a star and question marks over the home team’s horses, Dee Ex Bee is 11/8 with Paddy Power and strongly fancied for this.
Home contingent much of a muchness
The main French challengers include last year’s winner Call The Wind who hasn’t scored since.
Trained by Freddy Head, the five-year-old was a fine third in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on his second start this season.
What we’ve seen in two subsequent runs from Call The Wind at this venue are cause for concern, however.
He was on and off the bridle when a well-held third behind Called To The Bar and the re-opposing Way To Paris in the Group 2 Prix Vicomtese Vigier over 1m 7f.
Call The Wind was then a fading fourth to the latter in the similar grade Prix Maurice de Nieuil next time out.
The George Strawbridge owned son of Frankel shaped better when last in action and chasing home Marmelo in the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville.
Although held by three-quarters of a length, Call The Wind was giving 4lb to the winner who is Australia bound for another tilt at the Melbourne Cup.
Now meeting his French rivals off level weights is in his favour, but the worry is there’s been nothing of Dee Ex Bee’s calibre on that side of the Channel this season.
This year’s is a stronger renewal of the Prix Du Cadran, so Call The Wind and Way To Paris both look worth taking on.
The latter is a six-year-old that has run a string of solid races this season but his sole victory was controversial.
Way To Paris bumped Call The Wind in the Prix Maurice de Nieuil and that arguably cost Marmelo the race. French stewards threw out an appeal from Hughie Morrison’s team, though.
This demands even more from Way To Paris and he’s plenty short enough for a horse who has only won one of his last 19 starts.
Who Dares Wins overpriced on pick of form
Dual purpose trainer Alan King sends versatile British raider Who Dares Wins and he’s another who will relish the marathon trip and a soft surface.
Although a seven-year-old, this Jeremy gelding is officially rated 151 over hurdles and won the ultra-competitive Northumberland Plate on the all-weather at Newcastle this summer.
Connections of Who Dares Wins have targeted the Prix du Cadran as they report him in great shape and believe he’s getting optimum conditions in Paris.
The pick of his National Hunt form gives him stronger claims than odds of 20/1 with 888Sport suggest.
That includes when a fine 4 1/2 lengths third to subsequent multiple Grade 1 winning hurdler Supasundae in the 2017 Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Who Dares Wins was also fifth to Gordon Elliott’s Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Delta Work when giving him 10lb in the 2018 Pertemps Final over 3m.
He has also placed third and second in the last two renewals of the 2m 2f Chester Cup on the level.
Taking all that into account, his official Flat mark of 104 may underestimate Who Dares Wins and he looks a bit of each-way value.
Irish raider Falcon Eight is still unexposed as a stayer, so is another to consider for the frame at 16/1 with Betfair.
Trained by Dermot Weld, this four-year-old Galileo colt caught the eye when a fast-finishing runner-up to subsequent Curragh Cup hero Twilight Payment in a Listed Leopardstown race.
Falcon Eight then scored by a head in the similar grade Coral Marathon on Eclipse day at Sandown when back up to 2m. He finished 4 3/4 lengths ahead of the re-opposing Cleonte there.
Although disappointing when last in the Lonsdale Cup, Falcon Eight retains plenty of scope for further improvement as he’s lightly-raced.