Stradivarius enhanced his reputation as one of the all-time staying greats when he sauntered to a third successive Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Thursday.

Doubts had surfaced in the hours leading up to the race as to whether the six-year-old would be able to handle the soft conditions that prevailed at the Berkshire track. But those fears were more than put to bed with the manner of Stradivarius’ victory.

Never has jockey Frankie Dettori travelled so well on the six-year-old, as Nayef Road led the eight-runner field at a decent pace. With the fancied four-year-old Technician struggling on his seasonal return, Stradivarius was asked to put his seal on matters a furlong out. The response was electric as the entire’s turn of foot proved decisive.

Clear of his rivals with half a furlong left to run, Dettori was already celebrating on his mount and they secured a ten-length victory over Nayef Road, with Cross Counter back in third.

Despite there being no members of the public present for Stradivarius’ third Gold Cup victory, those working at the track in an official capacity ensured the son of Sea The Stars was afforded a fitting return to the winner’s enclosure, as he joined Sagaro and Yeats in winning three editions of the race.

Dettori, full of delight after the pair’s success, said: “It’s an amazing achievement. The rain this morning was against him, but he did it well. I’m very proud of the horse and he took off in the straight. I’ve ridden some good horses and he’s one of the great stayers.”

Stradivarius’ trainer John Gosden said: “For a horse to do that, I mean Sagaro was trained by a great friend of mine, Francois Boutin, and ridden by Lester Piggott. I remember watching all his races and he was something. Yeats was a phenomenon.

“To have a horse mentioned in that bracket is what it is all about. We are very proud to have won the race three times and it is great for the owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen.

“It was a superb performance today from Stradivarius. I think the benefit of running in the Coronation Cup in a track record time meant he was fully fit. I was concerned about the bounce factor and him maybe not being fully fit, but he was full of himself when I was saddling him.

“We will look towards the Goodwood Cup and a fourth win there. He has won three of them already. We will have a look at that and if we run there, we might then take a pull. There is talk of running in an Arc. He ran brilliantly in the Coronation Cup and maybe an Arc on autumn ground is not out of the question.”

Varian’s hot spell continues

There was a quickfire double for trainer Roger Varian on Thursday when Mountain Angel proved far too good in the Listed Wolferton Stakes and Molatham captured the Group 3 Jersey Stakes.

On Mountain Angel’s success, Varian said: “He had everything in his favour today, he goes well fresh, gets the trip well, appreciates some dig in the ground and had been training well. He ran well in the race last year when shuffled back early, it was probably a stronger race last year, and he’s done it well in the end.

“He doesn’t need over-racing, I think we’ll bide our time with him. He ran well in Group races in France last autumn, and I think it’ll be a similar campaign. When he gets his conditions he’s up to winning good races.”

Molatham’s victory in the Jersey was another victory for the in-form combination of jockey Jim Crowley and owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who have now notched five winners at this year’s meeting.

Crowley said: “He had the one run on soft ground last year and didn’t fire, but his form before that was very strong – he beat Wichita and we were thinking of the Guineas for him.

“He stuck it out well, he got headed but in fairness to him he came back. I probably got there too soon but he arrived and was going so well. On this ground it’s hard to sit and expect to quicken.

“The reason we came back to seven is we weren’t sure he’d get a mile. On that run you’d say he would, but if we’ll go ten furlongs, I’m not sure.”

Crowley was on board for Varian’s third winner and the jockey’s sixth victory of the week when Khaloosy scored an impressive success in the Britannia Stakes Handicap.

Coles strike with Highland Chief

There was plenty for father and son duo Paul and Oliver Cole to celebrate on Thursday as Highland Chief became the first winner at Royal Ascot to be trained by dual licence holders with a staying-on performance to land the Golden Gates Handicap.

The significant rainfall at the Berkshire track played into the hands of the three-year-old, who had won in soft conditions on his debut at Newbury last year, and it was in the home straight that the son of Gleneagles picked up in fine style to deny Tritonic by half a length.

Oliver Cole said: “It is fantastic, isn’t it? Highland Chief is a very good horse; he won at Newbury on soft ground and was only beaten a few lengths by Pinatubo. He got bashed in that race and then made another run, so he has got ability.

“We would always have liked the ground today – luckily the heavens have opened. We could not be happier. He is a very good horse, but he only just does what he has to, so he is potentially unexposed.

“At the same time, he has come all the way up the rail and done a lot more than anything else. Dare I say, he is still a bit babyish – probably not quite the full racehorse yet. Obviously, the further he goes the better he’s getting.

“He is an exciting horse and probably very good. His mother was good. Sadly, my father is at his best friend’s funeral today [Ben Leigh], which is why he didn’t come. I did say to him today I thought we’d get an Ascot winner.”

It was also a first Royal Ascot success for jockey Rossa Ryan, who said: “It has not really sunk in yet. I am a bit shocked that it has happened. I cannot thank everyone enough who has supported me to get here today. To ride a winner for the Coles and for Mrs Fitri Hay is incredible.

“I was a long way back on Highland Chief, but the plan going out was to just get this lad to relax, travel and ride him to come home. Because it was his first run of the year, he was going to be a bit fresh and unknown at this trip.”

In the Listed Chesham Stakes, Battleground, the first foal out of outstanding performer Found, was an impressive winner and looks an exciting prospect for the rest of the season for Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore partners.

Hayley Turner struck in the Sandringham Handicap for the second year in a row when she guided the Charlie Fellowes-trained Onasiss to victory at 33-1.