Gold Cup contender Dee Ex Bee heads Mark Johnston trio in Henry II Stakes

Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes (Group 3) | 2m | 4yo+ | RTV

Five go to post in one of the key trials for the Gold Cup, with Mark Johnston responsible for more than half of the field. 

The race has produced that season's Ascot hero on six occasions since 2000, with Mr Dinos (2003), Papineau (2004) and Big Orange (2017) all doubling up. 

Dee Ex Bee proved his class in 2018 when finding only Masar too strong in the Derby before running below that form in five subsequent starts. 

Arguably the best of those efforts was when a distant fourth to Capri in the St Leger and a first attempt at two miles brought a return to winning ways in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot first time out this season.

Dee Ex Bee is ably backed up by Chester Cup winner Making Miracles and the progressive Austrian School.

"Dee Ex Bee is the team leader and he'll take a lot of beating, whether by our horses or anyone else's," said Johnston. "But at the same time, the other two deserve to be there. It's ideal timing as a prep race.

"It was a great run from Making Miracles at Chester and he's clearly on the upgrade but he has a bit to find with Dee Ex Bee and even Austrian School.

"Austrian School made what looked like a very decisive move with half a mile to go and then that was an effort too much."

Classy combination are worth noting

A three-time winner last season, including twice over a mile and three-quarters, Mekong tries an extra two furlongs on what will be his seasonal reappearance. 

The combination of Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore will ensure the market keeps a close eye on the Frankel four-year-old.

The Nick Littmoden-trained outsider Fearsome ran with credit last time, but has plenty to find with Dee Ex Bee on all known form.