Hadrian's Approach mowed down Burton Port to claim a thrilling renewal of the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
The well-handicapped Burton Port travelled incredibly well in the hands of Tony McCoy, carting the champion jockey to the lead down the back straight while most of his opponents were being ridden along.
Burton Port, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, was still hard on the bridle rounding the home turn, but 10-1 shot Hadrian's Approach, Scottish Grand National runner-up Godsmejudge and Restless Harry all rallied to the cause.
Hadrian's Approach eventually emerged as the only serious threat to Burton Port at the final fence and after a titanic tussle up the hill, Nicky Henderson's charge saw out the three miles and five furlongs best under Barry Geraghty to claim the traditional end-of-season highlight by three-quarters of a length.
Godsmejudge ran a fine race in third, turning out just a fortnight after his excellent effort at Ayr, with Restless Harry also running with plenty of credit in fourth.
Henderson said: "It always looked as if AP (McCoy) was going the better of the two, but Barry wasn't for giving up. They were both tough, as it was a tough race in that ground.
"I thought it would be too soft for our horse, but he does stay - he stays really well.
"He might not be the most predictable character and he was disappointing at Cheltenham.
"He ran very well in this race last year (finished fifth) and we took him to Scotland a couple of weeks ago for the Scottish Grand National. The ground was very soft on the morning of the race, so we took him out and decided to bring him back here.
"To be honest, the ground is only marginally better, but Barry gave him a wonderful ride.
"He just let him creep into it and I don't think he knew he was in a race until he had to ask him.
"He had to dig pretty deep for it, but he got it.
"He's got his own style of doing it. He might not be flamboyant, but he stays and his jumping has improved.
"He started in the Hennessy Gold Cup last year and I would think he'll do so again next season, but we'll see.
"I don't think Aintree (the Grand National) beckons for him next year.
"We've got a bit of time to enjoy today."
O'Neill said of the runner-up: "It was brilliant and I'm thrilled. He did everything right and just got beaten by a better one on the day.
"He jumped liked a buck, he travelled great and there are no excuses, unfortunately!
"He didn't stop, he kept going but he's as cute as a fox. He's good on his day."
Alan King, trainer of Godsmejudge, said: "He ran a tremendous race only two weeks after Ayr, he's probably a little bit better going left-handed but he was still coming back and he kept digging.
"I always hoped the Grand National would be his target this year, but hopefully we'll train him for it next year."