Last year’s Queen’s Vase winner, trained by Michael Stoute, rallied gamely under Ryan Moore to edge out the Willie Mullins trained Simenon and Top Trip in a thrilling finish.
The four-year-old had been prominent in the ante-post markets since she started off at the same course in May and took the Sagaro Stakes, even if Stoute believed an improvement in the form book was required.
Patriotic support from a packed Ladies’ Day crowd elevated Estimate to the position of 7-2 favourite and a huge crowd flocked to the winner’s enclosure to join the celebration.
There had been a moment of great poignancy just half an hour earlier in the Ribblesdale when Riposte delivered her epitaph to the career of Henry Cecil, who died only last week.
The manner of Estimate’s victory only heightened this moment, with Moore in an advanced position behind leader Earl Of Tinsdal and seemingly ready to make history with a couple of furlongs of the two and a half miles remaining.
But she was caught amid a maelstrom of challengers, with last year’s hero Colour Vision taking the gauntlet first, before Top Trip and Simenon appeared on the outside.
Inspired to break the oppression of the grey clouds above, Moore somehow managed to get Estimate past the line in front and Berkshire erupted.
Stoute said: “She had to show a lot of courage as she had to beat one and then stave off another. I really felt it was a seriously tough task for her, I couldn’t be confident at all taking on the boys that are proven over this trip and she can be a pain in the backside at times.”
Stoute is one of the most decorated of all trainers but this achievement clearly meant a huge amount.
“It’s a special thrill for the Queen,” he said.
“She said it gave her great pleasure and she thanked everyone involved.”
Estimate, was a gift to the Queen from the Aga Khan, is bred to win the race being a half-sister to the Aga’s 1999 winner Enzeli.
Moore got a two-day careless riding ban (July 4 and 5) from a messy final couple of furlongs, while Johnny Murtagh (Simenon) got four for using his whip above the permitted level and in the wrong place and Mickael Barzalona (Top Trip) three for careless.
It will not have mattered to the triple champion jockey, who said: “It’s fantastic to ride a winner here for the Queen and in the Gold Cup, it’s very special.”
Willie Mullins, the trainer of Simenon, said: “He’s run a career-best, which I said he might have to, and we’re very pleased.
“It’s probably a fantastic result for racing. I would have loved to have won and I’ll probably never be in this position again – hopefully one day.
“We want to take our horse to the Melbourne Cup. It’s going to make November a little busy.”
The late Henry Cecil’s precision planning for his beloved Royal Ascot shone through when Riposte provided an expectant crowd with an emotional triumph for his widow Lady Jane Cecil in the Ribblesdale Stakes.
The British public’s favourite trainer enjoyed some of his greatest triumphs at this meeting, wracking up 75 Royal winners in total, and though he died last week he left his mark yet again on the greatest show in Flat racing.
A slow start for the Prince Khalid Abdullah-owned filly did not augur well, but Tom Queally found Riposte (9-2) a willing partner to make up the lost ground easily and she quickened in some style to beat Just Pretending by two and a quarter lengths.
Lady Cecil said: “It’s for Henry, the Prince and the staff at Warren Place. I don’t have the words to say what I’m feeling.
“He was adored by so many people. People who had never met him just loved him.
“Henry adored Ascot – he was so looking forward to Royal Ascot with a good team of horses. I am just so pleased team Cecil managed to get this win for him.”
Just Pretending’s jockey Seamie Heffernan was banned for two days (July 4 and 5) for careless riding.
No Nay Never propelled American trainer Wesley Ward back into the Royal Ascot winner’s enclosure in the Norfolk Stakes.
No Nay Never (4-1) did not break as well as jockey Joel Rosario wanted, but after two furlongs he had hit the front.
Headed just after halfway by Mick Channon’s Ambiance, Rosario, who won the Dubai World Cup on Animal Kingdom, did not panic and let his mount have a breather.
When the favourite Coach House threw down his challenge No Nay Never pulled out more and won going away from the Aidan O’Brien runner and Wind Fire, with the winner smashing the two-year-old track record.