One-time Classic hope Dark Vision won for the first time in nearly two years when claiming the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.
The Mark Johnston-trained colt was bought by Godolphin after lifting the Group Two Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in July 2018 but had been beaten in all his 13 subsequent races, including the 2000 Guineas last year.
Ridden by William Buick, Dark Vision (15-2) finally got his act back together as he came with a strong late run to win one of the most competitive one-mile handicaps in the calendar.
Montatham (8-1) was beaten length and a half in second, with Pogo (25-1) another half a length away in third and the winner’s stablemate Vale Of Kent (22-1) fourth.
Johnston said: “He’s been nothing but a frustration since he changed hands, so I feel great for Sheikh Mohammed, who bought the horse as a two-year-old and has had nothing but disappointments until today.
“It’s a drop in class to a handicap, but it’s the best of handicaps and he’s done it well. He’s been working brilliantly at home, so we’re not surprised. He’s a Group Two winner already – whether we go back into Group company, we’ll let the handicapper decide.
“It’s very different this year. There’s no great atmosphere and I’ve been wondering about the logic of having so many runners when the prize-money is so low and the racing is still competitive, but it’s still great to get one on the board.
“It was great to say we had a winner when Royal Ascot was at York and it’s great to say we had a winner when Royal Ascot was behind closed doors.”
Buick said: “He was bought by the connections to be a good horse and now he has rewarded them with a Royal Ascot win, which is always nice.
“He travelled through the race beautifully today. I was always happy where I was in the race really – tracking the right horses.
“It was all about getting the split at the right time and once we got the split, he quickened up very well.
“Today we got a glimpse of what we saw from him as a two-year-old. From his Newcastle run we saw that he was nearly back to his best and today I think we did see the true horse.”
On racing behind closed doors, he added: “It’s not ideal at all, but it’s fantastic that we’re racing and it’s great racing, as Royal Ascot always is.
“It’s very well organised from all the parties responsible. We’ve got the show on the road, which under the circumstances is great.
“But of course, we can’t wait for normality to come back and the crowds to come back.”