Colour Vision leads home Godolphin Gold Cup 1-2
Report: Royal Ascot, Thursday
Gold Cup (Group 1) 2m4f, 4yo+
RELIEF etched across his face in an ear-to-ear grin, an inspired Frankie Dettori claimed a dramatic Gold Cup in a driving finish as Colour Vision came off best from Opinion Poll in a Godolphin one-two - but not until he had survived a stewards' inquiry.
Saddler's Rock took third place a further neck behind the 6-1 winner, but odds-on favourite Fame And Glory was a bitter disappointment, coming home down the field as if something was amiss.
Godolphin followers will be more than aware of the significance of the result of the Royal Ascot showpiece given their woeful form in Europe so far this season and the recent uncertainty over Dettori's position as top dog at Sheikh Mohammed's team, where he has always been the undisputed number one.
On board the runner-up was none other than Mickael Barzalona, the new kid on the block whose recruitment by Godolphin had prompted suggestions - firmly rebutted by Dettori - that the Italian was on the verge of retirement.
"First and second is a great result for us," said Dettori, who has now ridden 46 Royal Ascot winners. "Mickael Barzalona and I are great friends, but you always want to win for yourself."
Formerly trained by Mark Johnston, Colour Vision is now with Godolphin's long-term trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, for whom the victory was equally welcome as his own position has come under persistent discussion with the rise of colleague Mahmood Al Zarooni, who trained Opinion Poll, a 5-1 chance.
The result wasn't confirmed until after a stewards' inquiry as Dettori's mount bumped his rival inside the final furlong. The ebullient jockey, though, seemed pretty confident he would keep the race as he performed his trademark flying dismount before even talking to the stewards, and soon after Colour Vision's half-length victory was confirmed.
"That was my best chance of the week," added Dettori, who had deserted Opinion Poll in favour of Colour Vision after the latter's impressive win in the Sagaro Stakes on the all-weather at Kempton.
"It was a very hard decision to make between Colour Vision and Opinion Poll," added Ascot's favourite son. "Both are great horses, great warriors. But I've finished the best, though only by a short margin. I'm delighted for the team and myself - it's been a hard week."
Sheikh Mohammed was also overjoyed. "To bring the horses here and finish first and second is a great thing," he said. "The horses have done very, very well. They are both going to improve.
"You have to wait a year to prepare your horse to come here and even the second horse ran a great race."
Speaking about the jockey situation, he added: "They are two good jockeys. Frankie is great and Mickael is coming up this year."
The heavens having opened 20 minutes before the start, the Gold Cup was run at an absolute crawl in softish conditions, reflected in a time of 4m42.05s - 25secs outside the track record.
Outsider Gulf Of Naples made the running, with the Irish pair Saddler's Rock and Fame And Glory among those who could be seen pulling for their head until the pace finally began to quicken at Swinley Bottom.
Dettori had settled Colour Vision in third place on the rail before committing the gelded son of Rainbow Quest after they turned for home but Opinion Poll looked sure to collect as he was produced to hit the front inside the final furlong.
Dettori, however, was having none of it and he compelled Colour Vision to regain the advantage close home for an ultra-popular victory.
Opinion Poll just held the fast-finishing Saddler's Rock for second place and Gulf Of Naples kept on well enough to retain fourth.