Yeats etched his name in history June 18 by becoming the first horse to win the prestigious Gold Cup (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot for the fourth straight year.
The 8-year-old son of Sadler's Wells also became the oldest horse to capture England’s premier distance contest since 1900, when Merman, who was also an 8-year-old, won.
The Aidan O’Brien trainee disappointed when finishing a lackluster sixth in his seasonal debut, the listed Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan in April. The Ballydoyle conditioner mentioned after that race that Yeats was harder to get fit, and that the testing conditions that day in Ireland did not play to the horse’s strengths.
Yeats has shown a great affinity for Royal Ascot, literally blossoming when the middle of June rolls around. Today was no different, as the grand warrior rolled to a commanding 3 1/2-length victory under Johnny Murtagh.
Settled in comfortably behind the early leaders in the 2 1/2-mile marathon, Murtagh sent Yeats to the front earlier than in previous runnings, this time over three furlongs from the wire. Yeats quickly put plenty of distance between himself and his rivals, with only Patkai providing any challenge.
Patkai made a threatening move two furlongs out, but get no closer than the final winning margin, as Yeats was much the best. Geordieland, runner-up to Yeats in the Gold Cup the past two years, had to settle for third this time, 15 lengths behind Patkai.
Final time was 4:20.73 over the good to firm course.
O’Brien was jubilant after the race, telling reporters: “Unbelievable - that's all I can say.” He continued, “I was so sick this morning as I really believed this couldn't happen.
“History is very hard to change, we knew we had a wonderful horse but usually fairy tales don't come true. You dream and dream and dream…we were in this position and we never would be again - great things can happen.”
Murtagh added, “This is one the greatest days of my riding career and the feeling I had coming past the line for the horse alone was incredible.”
“It's good for racing, and Yeats is everything that's positive about racing.”
Yeats, who was bred in Ireland by Barronstown Stud and Orpendale, is out of the Top Ville mare Lyndonville. He is owned by Susan Magnier and Diane Nagle.