It was close but not close enough as John and Thady Gosden’s Stradivarius finished third in his attempt to win a fourth Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Chasing a record-equalling victory in the race, and a fifth at the meeting overall, the eight-year-old was sent off second-favourite behind eventual winner Kyprios.
In scenes reminiscent of 12 months previously, Frankie Dettori constantly had every avenue close on him whenever he looked to make a move.
While it was not quite to the extent of last year, by the time Dettori eventually got into the clear he had to make his move widest of all.
By then Kyprios and Mojo Star had first run on him and as brave as Stradivarius was in trying to chase them down, the first two are both four years younger and the fresher legs prevailed with Stradivarius beaten just over a length in third.
Dettori said: “He ran good, I had an inside draw so I had to be careful what I was doing.
“I was tracking the winner, but the pace wasn’t that strong and in the end I had nowhere to go so I had to take him on the outside and that cost me a little bit.
“I don’t think it cost me the race. The young horses had fresher legs, I didn’t make too much headway when I pulled him out, maybe half a length, but as I hit the line they were going stronger than me.
“I had every chance to get him at the end, but they were stronger than me.
“He owes nothing to racing, he’s been a magnificent horse and even though he got beaten today he went down fighting.
“He is eight and I laboured a bit in the end and I was never going to get him. He tried hard.”
“He’s been a star, but he’s got to pass the baton to the younger ones.”
Speaking to ITV Racing, Gosden senior said: “I think there was obviously no real pace and I was a bit surprised being in the box seat we dropped back so far and the problem is when they sprint, you’ve got to get a run and he had to come widest of all, so his head was turned around to get a run.
“He had a chance the last furlong, but the race had just slipped on them. They had gone a pretty steady old pace.
“Great horse to get here and to turn up now in five Gold Cups, just to be here, and to have the longevity he’s had. He has come back in and he’s had a neigh, he seems happy. So a great credit to the horse and to the owner-breeder for keeping him racing.
“There are younger horses there who are first and second, but I think I just wish we’d been a little handier and not had to go through a wall of horses.”
Asked if he felt it was a race that had got away, he said: “Potentially.”
Reflecting further, he added later: “I felt it was a very slowly-run race to be dropping back. They were only cantering the first time and he had a nice position. I couldn’t understand dropping back. Because once you do that, you know it will be a sprint and then you have got to get around them and I’d be happier if he stayed where he was.
“If there was a strong pace, I get it, but they were hack-cantering.”