HOT favourite Battaash was only fourth as Alpha Delphini sprang a 40-1 shock in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes on day three of the Ebor Festival at York.

The seven-year-old, trained by Bryan Smart and ridden by Graham Lee, edged out Tom Eaves and Mabs Cross by the smallest of margins after the pair looked inseparable as they crossed the line.

It was several minutes before the result of the photo finish was announced, adding to the incredible tension.

There was a blistering pace from the outset with speedsters Take Cover and Caspian Prince blazing the trail, and Alpha Delphini and Battaash hot on their heels.

Battaash hit the front about a furlong and half out, but could not put the race to bed and Charlie Hills' sprinter was left standing in the final 100 yards, as the Michael Dods-trained Mabs Cross and Alpha Delphini fought it out, with just a nose separating them.

Blue Point, winner of the King's Stand Stakes, was third.

North Yorkshire-based Smart said: "That was the longest five minutes of my life!

"I backed him this morning, I had a tenner each-way at 80-1 because I thought that was an insulting price.

"I knew I had him the best he'd ever been, I'd trained him for this race as it was one I'd always wanted to win.

"I'd told the wife months ago that he was going to be absolutely spot-on for this, he was just coming right.

"There was a difference today, he was so relaxed, he wasn't sweating or anything.

"Credit must go to Graham Lee, it was his idea to take the cheekpieces off as he felt that that he couldn't see the other horses when they came at him.

"What with Kevin (Ryan) winning the Gimcrack it will be some night in Hambleton tonight!"

He went on: "My wife treats this horse like a king at home, he has back problems and gets treated like he owns the place.

"I've had a lot of his family, his half-brother Tangerine Trees got better with age and it looks like he is.

"We've put him in the Abbaye and there's a good chance he'll go for that. We did have the Beverley Bullet as a back-up, but we can skip that now."

Lee - who won the Grand National on Amberleigh House in 2004 - said: "The longer we were waiting I was sure it was a dead-heat. Obviously I'm delighted, but sorry for Tom.

"He's been running in cheekpieces and he's been running his heart out. When he's been getting passed he's been rallying late on, so I just suggested taking them off so he could see what's coming and I'm delighted."

Dods was gracious in defeat and said: "She's run a super race. Obviously we'd rather have won, but what can you do.

"As I said to Bryan Smart waiting for the result, I would have settled for a dead-heat and he said the same.

"When it's that close you're disappointed to get beat, but I'm very pleased with her.

"She's in the Flying Five at the Curragh. Whether we go there or go straight for the Prix de l'Abbaye, we'll see.

"We may just wait for the Abbaye, I think."

To rub salt into the wounds for Eaves, he was given a four-day whip ban by the stewards.

Charlie Appleby said of third home Blue Point: "I'm pleased. We beat the horse that everyone thought was the one to beat."

Elsewhere on the Knavesmire, Frankie Dettori grabbed the spare ride on Emaraaty Ana with both hands to win the Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes.

Dettori, replacing the ill Jamie Spencer, dictated affairs in the Group Two for juveniles to complete a big-race double after steering Stradivarius home in the Lonsdale Cup.

He had the Kevin Ryan-trained colt out of the stalls smartly and led all the way over six furlongs to give the Hambleton Lodge handler a fourth Gimcrack triumph.

Legends Of War made late gains on the leader, but was still half a length down on Emaraaty Ana (5-1) at the line. Shine So Bright was three-quarters of a length back in third.