Yeats ensured his place in the pantheon of racing greats when he became the first horse to win four Ascot Gold Cups at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
First run in 1807, only Yeats and Sagaro had managed to visit the winner’s enclosure three times, but Aidan O’Brien’s veteran went one better than the 1970s champion in an emotional afternoon on the third day of the Royal meeting.
Jockey Johnny Murtagh always had Yeats handily placed and bustled his mount up to lead passing the 600m mark as the sell-out crowd started to roar home the 6-4 favourite.
The Ballydoyle raider swung the bend in command and after opening up a substantial lead he ran strongly to the line to pass the winning post more than three lengths clear of Patkai and Geordieland.
“He is an amazing horse,” trainer Aidan O’Brien told Racing Post UK. “We knew we had a wonderful horse but usually fairytales don’t come true. It’s never been done before and I didn’t think it could be done. I was afraid of the disappointment for everyone if it didn’t happen.
“Johnny had a lot of pressure on his shoulders and the way he handled it, and the way he rode it, it was something else.”
Yeats (8h Sadler´s Wells – Lyndonville byTop Ville) has been installed a 5-1 favourite for a fifth Gold Cup in 2010 but O’Brien wouldn’t be drawn into whether the veteran would return in twelve months.
“I don’t think he will be back but it is not my decision. He has an amazing heart and lung capacity. He is not gelded so we can tap into those genes, and I’d be afraid to race him again after today.”
Coolmore supremo John Magnier suggested Yeats may not be retired. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” Magnier beamed. “It’s as good as it gets in the game.
“There will be no decision about his future for now. But why not go to somewhere like Goodwood with a horse that is enjoying himself?”
Yeats is by Sadler’s Wells (28) who, although in retirement at Coolmore, remains a potent force in the stallion ranks. Yeats is his second Group 1 winner this season following the victory of Ask in the Coronation Cup, and one of 71 individual Group 1 winners overall.
Bred by Barronstown Stud out of the winning Top Ville mare Lyndonville, Yeats represents the same cross that produced Montjeu.
Lyndonville is also the dam of classy Japanese performer Tsukuba Symphony and Group 2 winner Solksjaer who stands in South Africa. She is a half-sister to G1 Fillies Mile winner Ivanka and is also closely related to G1 Prix Royal-Oak winneer Alcazar.
Yeats visited Australia in 2006 but was unplaced in the G1 Melbourne Cup won by Japanese raider Delta Blues.