Stradivarius claimed victory in a thrilling renewal of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, the four-year-old was a 7-4 joint-favourite as he stepped up to two and a half miles for the first time in his career.
Torcedor led the field into the home straight ahead of Stradivarius, French challenger Vazirabad and 2016 Gold Cup hero Order Of St George, the other 7-4 joint-favourite, and it was Stradivarius who came home best.
Stradivarius was bidding for his second Royal Ascot success, having won the Queen’s Vase at last year’s meeting.
The four-year-old was beaten a length into third place by Order Of St George in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot last October, but a winning return in last month’s Yorkshire Cup suggested he could be an improved performer this season.
With Order Of St George under a pressure a long way from home on this occasion and eventually finishing fourth, Stradivarius travelled strongly for much of the way and saw out the extra distance well to score by three-quarters of a length.
Vazirabad just beat Torcedor to the runner-up spot by a head.
Dettori told ITV Racing: “That’s 60 wins here, six Gold Cups and I’m only 47, in case you forget!
“He was a lion today. He had to see off Order Of St George, Torcedor and then Vazirabad and in the end he took off – it went perfectly.
“I come alive here, I love it. I think the crowd lifted him. The Gold Cup is the showcase of the week and to win it again, my first one for John Gosden, it’s great for the team.”
Gosden said: “It was an extraordinary race. Frankie said they didn’t go that quick and his heels were down which means the horse was taking him on.
“Frankie got himself out of the pocket, which was essential with the pacemaker coming back, it was a good move because as usual Mr (Christophe) Soumillon (on Vazirabad) was waiting to pounce on the French horse. It was a hell of a good finish.
“It was a real proper finish. I thought the French horse was going to gobble us up as usual and the Aga Khan was going to win, but the little fellow stuck his neck out and went again.
“He loves the ground and he can quicken off it, we call him Mighty Mouse, he looks like a mini Double Trigger with his four white socks. He’s a gorgeous horse.
“I think he has to go for the Stayers’ Championship now. The owner has bred horses for years and has always tried to breed a Derby horse. He hasn’t won that, but when you try to breed a Derby horse, you tend to breed a two-miler.
“The rumours at the Derby about Frankie retiring actually upset him. It was one of those nasty fake news things, I said to him normally they are true about him!
“He’s as fit as anything, riding with hunger and enjoys his riding now. He keeps telling me Mike Smith is 52 and just won the Triple Crown, I thought, ‘oh no, that’s another few years yet’.
Alain de Royer Dupre said of runner-up Vazirabad: “He does what he has to do. Sometimes he doesn’t like to fight too long. This is why he has had a long career because he doesn’t have to give the maximum. He is a nice horse.
“If he comes back well, we will think about Goodwood. They have a long straight and the course could be interesting for him.”
Torcedor’s trainer Jessica Harrington said: “He has run a brilliant race. He saw the trip out very well today and kept on finding all the way to the line.
“He goes on that ground, but on soft ground, he probably goes on it better than other horses. It was a great performance and hopefully we’ll bring him back again next year.”
Derrick Smith, part-owner of Order Of St George, added: “We are happy enough. He just didn’t pick up when Ryan (Moore) wanted him to.”