Frankie Dettori recorded a fairytale victory on his final Gold Cup ride, with the aptly-named Courage Mon Ami showing plenty of grit to down Coltrane in a titanic battle through the final furlong of the Royal Ascot showpiece.
It was a ninth Gold Cup for the Italian, who will hang up his boots at the end of the year.
Courage Mon Ami was having only his fourth lifetime start, having won his three previous races for John and Thady Gosden.
Stepping up in trip, the 15-2 chance was settled near the back of the pack as Subjectivist, the winner two years ago, made most of the running.
But Dettori took a risk and waited on the rail before sweeping through beaten horses and switching outside Coltrane’s withers.
The four-year-old son of Frankel kept finding to beat the 11-4 favourite, who was ridden by Oisin Murphy. Subjectivist stuck on well to finish a gallant third.
“Unbelievable! I thought it was a bridge too far from handicaps, but I had the perfect race,” said a jubilant Dettori, who returned to a tremendous reception and even gave the Queen a kiss at the presentation ceremony.
“He’s still a baby, but when Coltrane came back he picked up again. I can’t hear myself talking!”
He went on: “I didn’t expect it. The last five years I had Stradivarius so the pressure was on, this one I thought was a bit of a chancer, coming from handicaps, but John was confident.
“I didn’t believe it, but I said to him he’s pulled a rabbit out of the hat. He’s a great trainer and he does things like that. Sometimes if I don’t believe it I just go along with it!
“I rode him cold and it just happened. I got the splits when I wanted to and in fairness he showed a turn of foot.
“In the last half a furlong I couldn’t get rid of Oisin and I thought ‘no, we’ve got this far, please keep going!’.
“Nine Gold Cups, what can you say? I’m speechless, to be honest.”
John Gosden said: “He’s been mature at home but he didn’t run at two, he was a backend three-year-old winning on the all-weather and Mr Oppenheimer was very patient. He has a stud to run which is very expensive, hence this horse has been gelded so he sold him.
“He won well in a handicap and while we weren’t coming here for fun, it was Thady and Peter Shoemark’s (racing secretary) decision to enter him, not mine.
“The form is solid – you’ve Coltrane in second, a former winner in third and Emily Dickinson in fourth, so it was a superb performance.
“It was a great ride by Frankie, he saved every inch and slipped through and showed his nerves were better than ours.
“Whether he’d have ridden him if Haskoy had run I don’t know. I can’t claim him, I’ve never retained him, I never have and he rides for me when he can. He might well have ridden the filly as she had the St Leger form, how could he have ridden this? There were too many questions
“Luckily for him I was there as back up. I got the call and as soon as she wasn’t right, he’s like Lester Piggott that way.”
He added: “Rab Havlin had ridden him in all his other races, he’s like the guy who sets the car up for the Formula One driver. He’s been doing it for years and is patient about it. He just wishes Frankie would get the odd cold and flu!
“The owners had Gregory win the Queen’s Vase yesterday and it would be wonderful if they both ran in the Gold Cup next year, I’m sure the owners would run both as they are very sporting – but that’s a year ahead.
“This day last year wasn’t pleasant, there was a disagreement between owner, trainer and jockey. Things get heated, it wasn’t pleasant but we sorted it out within five days. In a 30 year marriage we’ve only had one argument which isn’t bad. I adore him, we adore each other and he’s a phenomenal character.
“Emotionally he can go to another level and this place brings the best out in him. He lets the crowd lift him, you see it in football and cricket matches, he responds to it. He’s not so good anymore on wet afternoons on a Monday.
“He’s 52 and he has always said he’s one accident away from retirement. He’s no fool, he’s wanted to go out at the top and he’s achieved that and that’s essential. I never wanted to see him like a boxer coming back in the ring taking punishment. We wanted him to go out at the top and that is what has been achieved.”