De Sousa to partner Johnston's Dee Ex Bee in Derby

CHAMPION jockey Silvestre de Sousa has been booked to ride Yorkshire challenger Dee Ex Bee in the Investec Derby this Saturday.

Dee Ex Bee ridden by Silvestre de Sousa (centre) wins The Qatar EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes.

Fourteen horses – headed by 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior – have been declared for Flat racing’s showpiece race at Epsom.

It comes after the in-form James Doyle was given permission by the Godolphin operation to keep the ride on Young Rascal, trained by Skipton-born William Haggas, which he partnered to victory at Chester over, among others, Dee Ex Bee.

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Now a freelance, Brazilian-born de Sousa has enjoyed a successful association with Mark Johnston’s Middleham yard when his career was taking off in this country.

Dee Ex Bee is viewed as an outsider in the big race and Johnston’s son and assistant Charlie said: “I think it suits everyone involved.

“Obviously James has ridden Dee Ex Bee, but I’m quite sure he was keen to ride William’s horse, having been to ride him at Breakfast with the Stars.

“Silvestre won on Dee Ex Bee first time out and he has a great record at Epsom.

“I think all parties are happy with how it’s turned out and we’re all set for Saturday.”

Johnston is hoping the forecast of rain materialises during the week to aid Dee Ex Bee’s chances.

He said: “There’s a chance of some rain through the week, which wouldn’t harm his chance at all.

“He won at Epsom as a two-year-old in very heavy ground. That would inconvenience others more than it would inconvenience him.”

Extreme conditions would certainly test the aforementioned Saxon Warrior as trainer Aidan O’Brien chases a joint-record seventh Derby success.

The other Ballydoyle hopefuls are Delano Roosevelt, Kew Gardens, The Pentagon, Nelson, Rostropovich and Zabriskie, with final declarations on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Johnston remains perplexed by Elarqam’s disappointing sixth in the Irish 2000 Guineas.

The impeccably-bred son of Frankel out of Attraction, who was favourite for the Classic, was said to be sound yesterday.

“He’s fine this morning. He just went out for a trot this morning. He’s sound and came out of the race fine,” said Johnston. “We won’t make any hasty decisions on the back of that. Obviously it wasn’t his running. He beat Gustav Klimt by two lengths at Newmarket and he finished well behind that horse on Saturday, so we know it was too bad to be true.”