Stradivarius became the first horse to win the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup three times when edging out Spanish Mission in a tremendous finish at York.

Five other top stayers, including Further Flight and Persian Punch, had won the race twice - and Stradivarius showed the fire still burns bright with a battling performance under his regular pilot Frankie Dettori.

Spanish Mission and William Buick made the John and Thady Gosden-trained seven-year-old fight all the way and was narrowly in front at one stage, only for Stradivarius to find that little bit extra in the dying strides to win by a head.

The paid had the Group Two stamina test to themselves after The Grand Visir had taken the four-runners into the long straight.

Stradivarius (4-6 favourite) knuckled down when it looked as though Spanish Mission might lower his colours to record his 18th victory.

Dettori and Stradivarius paraded in front of the packed stands and were given a tremendous reception all the way back to the winner's enclosure, where the jockey gave his trademark flying dismount.

Frankie Dettori riding Stradivarius (R) vying with William Buick and Spanish Mission (L)

"When we went across the line and they announced the result there was a big roar from the crowd, an explosion," the Italian said.

"I love the horse so much. He's not getting any younger, it was always going to be a messy race and I was using Richard (Kingscote on The Grand Visir) as a reference point, but when William came I had to go straight for home.

"He only does enough when he hits the front and William wouldn't go away! He passed me, I passed him back then he passed me again - but I think he knows where the line is as he popped his head out just in time!

"My heart lost a few beats, I'll be honest, but it was a tremendous horse race and the reception he got was special."

He went on: "I didn't want to kick too early, but I didn't want to get jumped on either. Strad is a horse who likes a target and unfortunately we didn't have it, so I pushed Strad close to William to make him race.

"Every time he's run here I think he's run below par. I feel he's much better at Ascot, but we got the job done so I won't criticise him.

"John, Rab (Havlin) - the whole team have done a great job with him, he's a joy to have as he's such a character. I'm feeling emotional."