Michelangelo landed the Cocked Hat Stakes crown at Goodwood yesterday.
But the three-year-old almost blew his chance of Listed glory in his first few strides on the Downs.
Supporters of John Gosden’s colt were fearing the worst when the son of Galileo – backed in to favouritism at 4/6 – emerged sluggishly from the stalls.
Jockey William Buick rousted him along to make up the ground before Jimmy Fortune pressed for home on rival Expense Claim.
Buick soon began to call a tune out of Michelangelo – whose only previous start saw him finish third to Noble Mission earlier this month.
And he eventually collared Expense Claim in the final furlong to win by half a length.
There were a few relieved glances in the winners’ enclosure after the race, before connections turned their attentions to Royal Ascot.
The Derby at Epsom was the original target for Michelangelo but – after time has gone against the colt – he will head for the King Edward VII Stakes in Berkshire.
Bloodstock agent Charlie Gordon-Watson, who was representing owner Bjorn Nielsen, said: ‘I spoke to Bjorn in his office in Connecticut and he’s delighted.
‘I know the owner is thinking that way (Royal Ascot).
‘He’s a work in progress, this horse, and his future is ahead of him going into next year.
‘The Derby was the original plan but time went against us and John ran in the race at Newmarket due to lack of opportunities.
‘He’s out of a Darshaan mare – a classic mile-and-a-half pedigree – and if they are by Galileo as well and show a bit of speed, they are on the right track.
‘William said he had a fantastic attitude.
‘Everything went against him but he still won nicely.’
Richard Hughes steered 5/2-favourite Tommy’s Secret to success in the opening race – the Goodwood Maiden Auction Stakes.
The Sakhee’s Secret juvenile was fifth on debut at Chester but showed plenty of promise on the Downs for trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam.
Blanc De Chine justified his place at the head of the market with success in the TurfTV For Betting Shops Bonus Handicap at 7/2.
Liphook handler John Bridger then saddled Shifting Star to a surprise win in the Willis Lease Finance Corporation Handicap at 18/1.
The IBA Handicap went to the Lee Carter-trained Chilli Green at 8/1.
Figaro landed the TurfTV Bonus Handicap, beating fellow 2/1 joint-favourite Lady Rosamunde into second spot.
And the final race on the card – the Golf At Goodwood Fillies’ Handicap – was taken by Amber Silk at 13/2.