In the process he maintained his unbeaten record at the track and claimed a sixth victory, to join Tim Easterby’s Copper Knight and Wednesday winner Dakota Gold, of the Michael Dods yard, as the winning-most horses in Knavesmire history.
York being York, officials had already put a plaque up to commemorate the other pair and it will have to be quickly updated to add one of the greatest horses in history to the inscription.
The eight-year-old son of Sea the Stars, trained by John and Thady Gosden and ridden by regular jockey Dettori, was a drifter at the top of the market overnight, but was still sent off the 6-4 favourite ahead of Dermot Weld’s well-backed Irish raider Search for a Song.
The Mark and Charlie Johnston-trained Thunderous led the way under Franny Norton, with Dettori happy to bide his time in the five-runner field.
As the pace quickened, Dettori’s three-time Ascot Gold Cup winner hit a bit of a flat spot, but when a gap opened between the leader and Max Vega, Stradivarius moved smoothly through – accompanied by a huge roar from the York spectators.
It was then a battle to the line with Middleham’s Thunderous who fought back and kept the Stradivarius honest to the post where he prevailed by a length for a twentieth career success and eighteenth in Group company.
Afterwards, Dettori and the horse, on his last appearance at York, paraded in front of the stands where they lapped up the applause of the crowd.
Gosden said the seasonal plan for the eight-year-old had been York, Ascot and Goodwood, adding: “It was tremendous, he’s a great one for the crowds, isn’t he? It’s great to be six from six on the Knavesmire and be the leading Group-winning horse of all time in Europe, that takes some doing.
“As long as the ground doesn’t go soft or heavy then we hope to go on to Ascot which has always been the plan – one run, then Ascot. We always said here, Ascot Gold Cup and Goodwood. That, hopefully, is our season, we’ll see.”
Dettori added: “John and Thady have got to take all the credit really.
“They changed different things to get him interested and motivated as he’s been going on those gallops for six years.
“My mouth is a bit dry and I’m emotional, but what an incredible story.
“All roads lead to Ascot for one more roll of the dice. Let’s hope the ground stays dry.”
The final day of the richest Dante Festival ever proved a profitable one for Yorkshire trainers as they won six out of the seven races.
The day got off to the perfect start for the White Rose as the in-form Karl Burke’s Pillow Talk (5-1) ridden by Danny Tudhope led home a stable 1-2 beating Clifford Lee’s Yahsat by a neck in the five furlong Marygate Fillies’ Stakes.
Middleham’s Burke struck again in the Paddy Power “Fill Thi Boots” Handicap over a mile and three furlongs when Al Qareem (9-2) defeated favourite Wild Crusade, under Lee.
“It was a great ride, he’s always been very good from the front has Clifford, he knows our horse well and he’s given him a lovely ride,” said Burke.
“All being well he’ll go to Royal Ascot for the mile-and-a-half three-year-old race (King George V Stakes) and maybe come back here for the Melrose, onwards and upwards from there.”
And the handler completed a remarkable 165-1 treble when 4-1 favourite Korker obliged in the last race of the meeting – the Longines Irish Champions Weekend Handicap over five furlongs.
Kevin Ryan’s Hambleton-trained Fonteyn (6-1) won the Fillies Stakes by a head from favourite Grand Dame, trained by the Gosdens and ridden by Dettori.
Tim Easterby, York’s leading trainer last year, struck in the Paddy Power “I Love Steak” Stakes handicap as Bollin Joan (12-1) held off the challenge of favourite Rogue Bear to prevail by a head.
The Yorkshire run was interrupted by Stradivarius – who else? – but normal service was resumed in the penultimate race as James Horton’s joint-favourite Il Bandito won the seven-furlong Yorkshire Equine Practice Handicap for the John and Jess Dance operation at Middleham.