Two separate races were taking place across the wide expanse of the Rowley Mile, with 6-4 favourite Kingman ending with clear superiority on the far rail, while Aidan O'Brien's Australia, next best in the betting at 5-2, finished purposefully close to the stands.
Night Of Thunder began challenging next to Kingman and ended up on Australia's shoulder as he swerved across the track. But the three-year-old was still able to earn Richard Hannon an unexpected Classic at his first attempt and end a far longer wait for renowned jockey Kieren Fallon.
Kingman, ridden by John Godsen, finished half-a-length adrift with Australia a head further back and another Hannon horse, Shifting Power (50-1), coming in fourth with Frankie Dettori on board.
Even Hannon, who took over the licence from his champion trainer father at the start of the year, fielded a legitimately stronger candidate than Night Of Thunder in the shape of 2013 champion juvenile Toormore, who led the stands' side pack under stable No 1 Richard Hughes.
Toormore faded at around the same time as the Spanish colt Noozhoh Canarias, who had been on front-running duties for the smaller group on the opposite rail until the final furlong.
"It's the stuff of dreams," Hannon said. "It is a shame dad couldn't be here but he left for Goodwood this morning. I think dad's clever, I think he has a feeling when something is going to happen. He did it with me with Sky Lantern [last year's 1000 Guineas winner] as well.
"I can't say winning the Guineas was in the air, and we wouldn't have been too worried if it hadn't happened, but it makes a big difference to everyone at home. We'll have to talk to Bruce Raymond [racing manager for Night Of Thunder's owner Saeed Manana] but I'd imagine [his next race] will be either the Irish Guineas or the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot."
For Fallon, who appeared to be in the twilight of his career, it was a first Classic since the Oaks in 2006, the same season he won his fourth 2000 Guineas. "It's a great race to win and it kick-starts our confidence for the year," said the 49-year-old.
Kingman was in trouble as soon as he was drawn in stall one and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah, said: "The field splitting was not ideal, but that's racing and we accept that. He won his side if you look at it and we'll have bigger disappointments than finishing second in a Classic. The ground was fine and the winner's the winner, he won it fair and square."
Australia, by a Derby winner and out of an Oaks winner, not surprisingly hardened as ante-post favourite for Epsom. "Obviously I'd have preferred the field to stay together and we maybe had to get racing a little earlier than we would have liked to, but he ran a great race," O'Brien said. "He's still a baby and the Derby trip should not be a problem."
A great day continued for Hannon when Barley Mow (14-1) held on, and survived a stewards' inquiry, to win a messy Makfi Newmarket Stakes.