Mark Johnston is pleased with Goodwood Cup contender Dee Ex Bee but the Middleham handler admits halting the hat-trick hopes of Stradivarius is going to prove very tough.
John Gosden’s superstar stayer is firmly on course to win the race for a third straight year, having retained his crown in last month’s Ascot Gold Cup, where Dee Ex Bee was a battling second although no match for the Frankie Dettori-ridden winner.
Stradivarius is now favourite to become the first three-time winner of the Goodwood Cup since the hugely popular Johnston-trained Double Trigger in the 1990s. Dee Ex Bee is coming towards the Goodwood Cup in fine shape although Johnston knows the scale of the task in front of his charge.
“I’m very, very happy with Dee Ex Bee. He hasn’t done anything fast (since Ascot) but he’s looking really well,” said the trainer.
“We know it’s a tall order and we know it’s not ideal coming back in trip. Going into the Ascot Gold Cup the extra half-mile was a question but he confirmed he got every inch of the trip and wouldn’t have minded a bit more.
“There’s absolutely nothing we can do about Stradivarius. You can’t belittle him in any way. Somebody asked me the other day if we were looking for chinks in his armour but I’m not sure he’s got any chinks in his armour.
“He’s won two Ascot Gold Cups, so you couldn’t question his stamina. All you could say is maybe Dee Ex Bee has got more.” Stradivarius is 1.83 to win another Goodwood Cup, with Dee Ex Bee priced at 6.00 to reverse the Ascot form.