Gospel Choir justified favouritism when edging out chief market rival Tac De Boistron in the Sky Bet Yorkshire Cup.
Winner of the Jockey Club Stakes last time out, the five-year-old was stepping up in trip under the unstoppable Ryan Moore.
Sent off at 7-2, Moore was keen not to hit the front too early on Michael Stoute's charge and there were plenty in with chances with a furlong to run, including last year's winner Glen's Diamond.
As Cubanita's effort flattened out, Moore took over, closely pursued by Ahzeemah and Tiger Cliff.
Gospel Choir went a length clear but Tac De Boistron, racing on ground faster than he prefers and over a trip short of his best, came from out of the pack and was closing with every stride.
Fortunately for favourite-backers Gospel Choir clung on by a neck, with just half a length back to Tiger Cliff.
Moore said: "I'm not sure he wants a mile and six really, but he was good enough today."
Stoute said: "He's a very admirable, competitive horse, he sticks his neck out and doesn't like to get beaten.
"Ryan had doubts about the trip and he gave him a very good ride.
"That was a very good horse he's beaten, albeit he was getting 4lb from him. What's very important to him is the ground, he doesn't want bad ground.
"I would think the Hardwicke would be favourite. We've got some options, he's versatile, he ran very well in the Earl Of Sefton over nine furlongs."
Tac De Boistron's trainer Marco Botti said: "I think the drying ground and the drop in trip were not ideal, but we have to be very, very happy.
"The Gold Cup is the priority, but we would want cut in the ground, ideally.
"There is also the Irish St Leger later in the season and then back to France for the Cadran and the Royal-Oak."
Royal Ascot is also on the mind of Alan King, who said of Tiger Cliff: "That rules out handicaps.
"He's in the Gold Cup, but that will be very much ground dependent."