Aidan O'Brien's Japan got the better of Crystal Ocean in a titanic tussle for the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.
In what turned into a bob of heads in front of the packed Knavesmire stands, it was the three-year-old Japan (5/1) under Ryan Moore who held sway by a head from the gallant 11/10 favourite Crystal Ocean.
Mark Johnston's supplemented Elarqam, bidding to provide Yorkshire with a first winner in the great race, was a length further back in third in the hands of Jim Crowley.
Japan's stablemate Circus Maximus set the pace with Crystal Ocean alongside him. Stoute's admirable five-year-old hit the front a long way out, but could not get sufficiently clear of the opposition.
Although he knuckled down in typically game fashion, Crystal Ocean was caught by Japan in the dying strides and succumbed by a head, giving O'Brien a record-equalling sixth win in the race, along with Stoute.
O'Brien said: "Ryan was over the moon with him, he's got better and better. We saw he got a mile and a half and we didn't want to bottom him today which is why we came back to a mile and a quarter today with the autumn coming.
"We couldn't be happier and the team back home have done a magnificent job. He had an easy race in Longchamp, it was a steadily-run race and he quickened and got to the front. It was very easy for him and we knew he wouldn't go and win by far.
"He's a lovely relaxed horse and loads of class. The first time he showed us that real class was when he won the Beresford when he beat two or ours which we knew were good horses.
"We rushed him to get back ready for the Dante but every rung has been a step up. The three-year-olds are better than anyone thinks. The King George was a bit of a disaster with the soft ground and it didn't work but that wasn't a true reading of the three-year-old form.
"The lads will see what they want to do but it'll be something like that (straight to the Arc) and we'll maybe take in the Irish Champion Stakes on the way."