Roaring Lion, the 2/1 favourite, enjoyed his fourth successive top level win since his third in the Investec Derby when coming from an impossible looking position to collar I Can Fly in the £1,156,250 G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes [Sponsored By QIPCO] at Ascot on Saturday, but conditions were far from ideal and it was a close run thing as Oisin Murphy came late on the outside to triumph by a neck.
John Gosden, saddling his second winner of the afternoon and repeating last year's success (with Persuasive), said: "My reaction is that the owners (Qatar Racing) were very game and brave to run because they had everything to lose and nothing to gain.
"Roaring Lion had won all those G1 races at a mile and a quarter on fast ground, and we brought him here today on soft over a mile.
"He has proven his class and his guts to get there, but I think he was hating every second of running on that ground. You could that see from his action and the way he was carrying himself - I would not work him on that ground. He has got the job done and full marks to the horse, the jockey and the owners for being brave enough to run here.
"He probably goes to stud now and what a class horse he is. He has got better and stronger through the year, and has now won a top mile race on ground he probably loathed."
Murphy, who has enjoyed an extraordinary year, added: "He hated the ground and I was never on the bridle. He was all heart in the finish as I was running on empty through the last furlong, having had to use him between the three and the two just to get him into the race. He was very tough in the finish.
"There was a lot of pressure on today. I was on the best horse in the race on paper and it's just relief and total joy."
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, one of the owners, indicated later that Roaring Lion may go to the Breeders' Cup in America next month or the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin in December.
Her Majesty The Queen presented the trophy.
There were jubilant scenes following Roaring Lion's victory in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO).
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani owns the John Gosden-trained winner, and is a member of the Qatar-based family whose QIPCO business sponsors British Champions Day. Members of Qatar Racing celebrated in style, and their three-year-old colt will make a welcome addition to the stallion ranks when he eventually heads to stud. He is an American-bred horse by the sire Kitten's Joy, and therefore gives breeders of racehorses some fresh blood to tap into.
David Redvers, who advises Sheikh Fahad, bought Roaring Lion for $160,000 as a yearling, and will one day stand him at his Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire. Redvers said: "That's my best moment in racing. You saw a brilliant horse and a champion do something he is not meant to do - he wasn't bred to gallop on such a soft surface and he hated it, but still won.
"This will be the most exciting horse to go to stud for many a year. It was marvellous to buy Dunaden before he won a Melbourne Cup for Sheikh Fahad, and this is another of those great moments that we all dream about.
"Funnily enough there is a very stark similarity between Roaring Lion and Dunaden in that they are both incredibly intelligent horses - they both knew they were in a horse race and both wanted to win. That cannot be said for 99 per cent of the horse population, they just do what they do, but these horses know they are racing.
"That was just highly emotional, as you can imagine."
Winning jockey Oisin Murphy rode the 2/1 favourite Roaring Lion, who beat I Can Fly (33/1) and Century Dream (25/1) by a neck and half a length.
Murphy said: "He hated the ground and was never on the bridle, but he wanted it and showed his resolution and toughness. What a great stallion he will make.
"Sheikh Fahad and his brothers put a lot of money into British racing and we are very lucky to have them, and I am delighted to win on their horse on the biggest day of the year. I didn't really get to enjoy the race because it was nip and tuck in the final furlong and my fellow had little petrol left, but he stuck at it.
"I'm riding in Italy tomorrow, but my mother is here and I'll leave her to do the celebrating for me."
The John Gosden-trained Roaring Lion capped a memorable season with his fourth G1 success fending off the late challenge of 33/1 shot I Can Fly in the mile contest.
Ridden by Donnacha O'Brien for his father Aidan, I Can Fly ran on strongly in the closing stages but could not peg back the 2/1 favourite, ridden by Oisin Murphy, who held on to score by a neck.
Donnacha O'Brien said: "She's run a cracker. Everything went smooth and I'm delighted with her - there's no excuses.
"You're never sure whether you are going to get to the front in these big races, but she has showed big improvement today and she has run really well."
O'Brien was suspended for seven days and fined £2050 for using his whip above the permitted level.
Century Dream, a 25/1 shot, took third place for trainer Simon Crisford and jockey William Buick.
It was a career-best for the Cape Cross-sired four-year-old colt, who won an Epsom Group Three in June and a Listed race here at Ascot in May. Century Dream finished half a length behind second-placed I Can Fly (Aidan O'Brien/Donnacha O'Brien), who was a neck behind the winner, the 2/1 favourite Roaring Lion, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Oisin Murphy.
Newmarket-based Crisford said: "I thought at the furlong pole we were going to win - my heart was beating like you can't imagine. I'm delighted with him; he's continued to improve. We freshened him up after the Arlington Million [in which he finished fourth in August], hoping that this race would cut up and that it would be desperate ground. It didn't cut up, but he has run with great, great aplomb.
"I think we will prepare him for the Duty Free in Dubai [next March at the Dubai World Cup meeting] - I think a mile and one [furlong] round Meydan would suit him very well. He's getting better as he gets older; he's just such a super horse and a great flag-bearer for the stable."
Jockey William Buick said: "That was a great run; he travelled beautifully and quickened up really well."
Recoletos (7/2), trained in France by Carlos Laffon-Parias, and ridden by Olivier Peslier, finished fifth.
Peslier commented on his race: "It was a perfect race, we were just behind the leader. I had a chance to come on the outside and follow the big favourite [2/1, Roaring Lion] who was coming well on the bridal. But he found it a little bit heavy in the end and faded."
Laurens, sent off at 7/1 , came home in eighth under P J McDonald, who said: "She is just tired.
"It has been a long season for her and it has taken its toll on her.
"We had a super position and she travelled beautifully and everything went to plan until I let go of her head. There was nothing there, which isn't like her.
"I picked her up and nursed her home - she will stay in training next year and we have a lot to look forward to."
3.15pm £1,156,250 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
(Sponsored by QIPCO) (Group 1) 1M
1 (15) Roaring Lion (USA) John Gosden 9st 1lb Oisin Murphy 2/1 Fav
2 (5) I Can Fly Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 8st 12lb Donnacha O'Brien 33/1
3 (4) Century Dream (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Simon Crisford 9st 4lb William Buick 25/1
4 (11) Stormy Antarctic Ed Walker 9st 4lb Gerald Mosse 40/1
5 (3) Recoletos (FR) Carlos Laffon-Parias, France 9st 4lb Olivier Peslier 7/2
6 (2) Lord Glitters (FR) David O'Meara 9st 4lb Jamie Spencer 8/1
7 (13) Lightning Spear David Simcock 9st 4lb Mickael Barzalona 20/1
8 (6) Laurens (FR) Karl Burke 8st 12lb P. J. McDonald 7/1
9 (1) Romanised (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Ken Condon, Ireland 9st 1lb Shane Foley 40/1
10 (7) Hey Gaman James Tate 9st 1lb Frankie Dettori 50/1
11 (12) Beat The Bank Andrew Balding 9st 4lb Jim Crowley 16/1
12 (9) Addeybb (IRE) William Haggas 9st 4lb James Doyle 15/2
13 (10) Gabrial (IRE) Richard Fahey 9st 4lb Paul Hanagan 100/1
Non-Runners: Aljazzi (Travel), Happily (withdrawn, unruly in stalls - deduction of 5p in £1 on all winning bets)
Winner owned by Qatar Racing Limited
Breeding: 3 gr or ro c Kitten's Joy (USA) - Vionnet (USA) (Street Sense (USA))
Bet With Ascot - Win £2.40; Places £1.30, £8.30, £4.90 First Two: £61.20
Distances: nk, ½, ¾, hd, 1, 4½, 4, 1, 7, ½, 2, nk
Time: 1m 42.48s
Sixth QIPCO British Champions Day success for John Gosden
First QIPCO British Champions Day success for Oisin Murphy