Like many of Mark Johnston’s horses, Dee Ex Bee was ready for racing first time out when making his debut at Goodwood in August 2017. He wasn’t missed by the market and went off the 5/2 favourite, staying on past beaten rivals to win by over two lengths. That victory was taking enough for Johnston to pitch him into Group 3 company on just his second start, where he was outpaced over seven furlongs that would prove way too short for this dour stayer, finishing sixth of 11 runners.
He subsequently finished third in the Listed Ascendant Stakes at Haydock before winning a minor conditions race at Epsom, a track where he would enjoy plenty of success. His final two-year-old start was arguably his most encouraging, finishing second in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket behind subsequent Classic winner Kew Gardens.
After a 193-day break, Dee Ex Bee returned to Epsom for his first start as a three year old, finishing third in the Listed Blue Riband Derby Trial behind Crossed Baton for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. That was followed up with a very solid second-place finish in the Group 3 Chester Vase behind Young Rascal, despite being taken wide throughout on what is a tricky course to navigate if you are stuck wide.
That was enough to convince Mark Johnston to send Dee Ex Bee to the Epsom Derby and he was duly rewarded. With stamina assured, Silvestre De Sousa sent his mount on to chase the leaders with three furlongs to race, finishing a superb second at 20/1 behind Masar but ahead of fancied rivals Roaring Lion, Saxon Warrior, Hazapour and Young Rascal.
His subsequent runs as a three-year-old would not match the run in the Epsom Derby, finishing seventh in the Irish equivalent, before a decent third at ParisLongchamp in the Grand Prix de Paris. Subsequently there was a disappointing second behind future Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Dee Ex Bee rounded off his three-year-old campaign with a good fourth behind old rival Kew Gardens in the St. Leger at Doncaster Racecourse and picked up further Group 1 place money in the Grosser Preis von Bayern, finishing third in Munich.
It was clear Mark Johnston felt that he had a stayer on his hands in 2018, and unleashed him onto the track in 2019 with great effect. He returned in May with a taking success in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, picking up smartly in the closing stages to see off Raymond Tusk, Weekender and Grade 1 winning hurdler Verdana Blue. Under a 3lb penalty for that victory, Dee Ex Bee was sent to Sandown three weeks later on Brigadier Gerard night to tackle the Henry II Stakes, another Grade 3 event.
Despite giving weight away, it was no issue for the tough four-year-old who fought off stablemates Austrian School and Making Miracles as well as Mekong from the Sir Michael Stoute yard to win by just under two lengths. That would set him up for his biggest test yet - the Ascot Gold Cup and Stradivarius.
In the Group 1 at Royal Ascot, Dee Ex Bee led throughout and threw down a major challenge to Champion Stayer Stradivarius, but it wasn’t enough to halt Frankie Dettori who made it a fourth winner on the day. Dee Ex Bee kept on gamely towards the line and reclaimed second place from Joseph O’Brien’s Master Of Reality, picking up the £107,500 prize money in the process.