Frankie Dettori proved he is still a masterful rider at Royal Ascot as he secured a stirring triumph in the Gold Cup on 6-1 chance Colour Vision.
Dettori, 42, survived a stewards' inquiry after bumping into fellow Godolphin runner Opinion Poll, who finished runner-up, in the closing stages.
The Italian-born jockey, who dismissed rumours of his retirement earlier in the month, edged into Mickael Barzalona's mount before prevailing by half a length.
Irish challenger Saddlers Rock was third as odds-on favourite Fame and Glory finished down the field.
Dettori lost his status earlier in the year as the only retained jockey for the Godolphin team, owned by Sheikh Mohammed, as younger riders Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa were recruited.
But he saw off the challenge of 20-year-old Barzalona aboard the Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Opinion Poll, on whom Dettori had finished second in the race to Fame and Glory last year.
Dettori switched to Colour Vision, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, earlier in the week and his decision paid off as the most successful current jockey at Royal Ascot clocked up his 46th career win at the big meeting, returning to big cheers from a bumper crowd on Ladies' Day.
"That was my best chance of the week," he said afterwards. "It was a very hard decision to make between Colour Vision and Opinion Poll - both are great horses, great warriors.
"But I've finished the best, though only by a short margin. I'm delighted for the team and myself - it's been a hard week."
Dettori insisted there was no extra enjoyment from beating his fellow Godolphin jockey.
"Mickael and I are good friends, but when you're out there you're by yourself. You always want to win for yourself. It doesn't matter who's in the finish with you, you always try to win," he said.
Asked if he felt the victory re-established his seniority within the Godolphin set-up, he added with a smile: "No. We'll have to prove it in the next one - you only remember the last one."
When asked if he had read any of the speculation about Dettori, Sheikh Mohammed said: "I don't care, I have my own ideas.
"I know how good Frankie is and we do need more than one jockey for Godolphin."
The jockey had performed his trademark flying dismount before attending the stewards' inquiry, where he denied any deliberate interference with the runner-up.
"The horses were very tired and running around a lot," he said.
Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien was hoping for his sixth Gold Cup in seven years but Fame and Glory never challenged in a race which started slowly in the rain-softened ground.
Earlier, the Irish-trained filly Princess Highway won the Ribblesdale Stakes as the Queen's horse Momentary finished down the field.
The Ribblesdale featured the Epsom Oaks second, third and fourth - Shirocco Star, The Fugue and Vow - but it was a filly who skipped the race who triumphed.
Princess Highway (17-2) had subsequent Oaks winner Was back in third at Naas last time and proved the form was no fluke with a devastating six-length win from The Fugue And Shirocco Star.
The horse, ridden by Pat Smullen, was giving Irish trainer Dermot Weld his 15th career win at Royal Ascot.
Leading female jockey Hayley Turner was seeking her first Royal Ascot victory on Momentary, but her mount was bumped and hampered in the early stages.
With Carlton House having finished second in the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday, the Queen is still looking for her 21st winner at the royal meeting.
Earlier on Thursday 4-1 shot Reckless Abandon won the opening race, the Norfolk Stakes, despite taking a less than direct route along the far rails.
Ryan Moore became the first jockey to ride two winners this week following his triumph on Fast Or Free in the Britannia Stakes, before German colt Energizer made history in the next.
Jens Hirschberger's three-year-old claimed the Tercententary Stakes by three lengths to claim a first Royal Ascot win for Germany.
The day's final race saw Fennell Bay, ridden by Joe Fanning, take the King George V Stakes.