THE Ballydoyle team started the third day of Royal Ascot with a bang, taking the opening Norfolk Stakes with Sioux Nation who, racing on the far side of the track with just three other horses, came home by half a length from Santry at 14/1.

American-trained 13/2 joint-favourite McErin, who raced among the main stands' side group and made most of the running, finished seventh.

It was a third winner of the meeting for jockey Ryan Moore and a second for Aidan O'Brien.

O'Brien said: "Scat Daddy [sire of Sioux Nation] is an incredible stallion - the pace that they have make them very different. It's pure, raw speed and this horse has that as well.

"He's a massive horse, a big, powerful horse and to be doing this at this time of his career is incredible, really."

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Sioux Nation hits the front at Royal Ascot. Pictures: Sue Orpwood.

Saeed bin Suroor registered his 36th winner at the Royal Meeting after 9/2 chance Benbatl gamely landed the 10-furlong G3 Hampton Court Stakes, giving Godolphin a fourth victory at Royal Ascot 2017.

Benbatl took the lead a furlong and a half out and kept on well for Oisin Murphy’s urgings to fend off the late challenge of O’Brien’s well-backed 10/3 favourite Orderofthegarter, to score by half-a-length.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Mirage Dancer (7/1) was a further three-quarters of a length behind in third.

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Benbatl takes the lead on day three at Royal Ascot.

Coronet's last-gasp victory at 9/1 in the Ribblesdale Stakes was the 42nd Royal Ascot win for her trainer John Gosden - but his first of this year's Royal Meeting.

The Dubawi filly snatched triumph in the shadow of the post by a neck from 2/1 favourite Mori, denying Sir Michael a record-breaking 76th Royal Ascot win.

"My God, I've never seen a pace like that for a mile and a half race," said Gosden. "Coronet is a lovely filly. It was a great run and I'm delighted with her."

Big Orange put up the performance of the meeting to win the feature race, the G1 Gold Cup, at 5/1.

The Michael Bell-trained six-year-old is well-known for his front-running style, and he made virtually every inch of the two and half mile trip under James Doyle.

But last year's winner, odds-on (5/6) favourite Order Of St George, came late on in the race under Ryan Moore and the two horses battled to a thrilling finish in which Big Orange beat the O'Brien-trained five-year-old by a short-head.

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Big Orange (yellow) storms to victory in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Pictures: Sue Orpwood.

"He's just absolute superstar," said Bell. "He gives his all and he's got a heart as big as himself.

"I can't praise his attitude enough; he wants to race and he's a colossal racehorse. On fast ground in the middle of the summer, he's a monster."

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Michael Bell at Royal Ascot.

Bless Him's Britannia Handicap success was only a second Royal Ascot career winner for trainer David Simcock - but a second for the week for jockey Jamie Spencer.

Bless Him was a 25/1 shot and won by half a length from Ronald R, trained and owned by the Gold Cup winning team of Bell and Bill and Tim Gredley.

The Roger Charlton-trained 7/1 shot Atty Persse, provided his sire Frankel with a first winner at Royal Ascot and owners Godolphin with their fifth victory of the week, following an impressive success in the concluding race of day three of Royal Ascot 2017, the King George V Handicap.

Ridden by apprentice jockey Kieran Shoemark, the talented three-year-old found plenty for pressure in the closing stages to register a three-length victory in the 12-furlong event.

Charlie Appleby's First Nation (8/1), also owned by Godolphin, held on to take second, with Mark Johnston's Bear Valley (20/1) a head behind in third. There was a further neck back to Andrew Balding's Drochaid (14/1) in fourth.