Brilliant Yeats is all gold

Yeats sealed his place in the stayers' hall of fame as he lifted a record-equalling third Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Sent off the 11-8 favourite, the Irish ace was bidding to match Sagaro's achievement of winning three back-to-back renewals between 1975 and 1977.

And he duly completed the feat in style for trainer Aidan O'Brien and jockey Johnny Murtagh, with the former hailing the achievement as "unbelievable".

Murtagh initially sat a little off the early pace, which was set by Le Miracle, before sending Yeats to the front around half a mile from home.

Stephane Pasquier, alive to the threat, soon sent market rival Coastal Path in pursuit and that pair briefly looked to be going the better as they swung for home, with Jamie Osborne's Geordieland also travelling strongly in third.

The latter actually took over soon after the principals turned in and appeared to find for pressure until Yeats dug deep to regain the initiative.

Having got back in front there was no stopping O'Brien's star stayer and he powered on to defeat a leg-weary Geordieland by five lengths, with Coastal Path a further four and a half lengths away.

An elated O'Brien said: "It's unbelievable and I didn't really think it would happen.

"The lads (at home) did a great job to get him here for one Gold Cup and then he came back for a second one and now a third one - it's unbelievable.

"It's down to a lot of hard work from a lot of people and Johnny gave him a wonderful ride.

"He got him into a great rhythm before letting him go and his timing was perfect."

He added: "He's a very straightforward, clean-winded and very sound horse and the lads say he gets very aggressive when he's fit.

"He's a great mover with massive lungs and he has a massive heart."

Asked about the possibility of a record-breaking fourth triumph next year, O'Brien said: "I don't know when the time will come to preserve his genes and that is the reality as we've never had a horse with as big a pair of lungs and as big a heart as he has - they are physical things.

"This is very special for everybody involved. I am very privileged to have these special horses to train."

Murtagh said: "He stays the trip well, he has the heart of a lion and I knew that.

"He has big lungs and I knew that if we got there at the four-marker it would take something special to beat him.

"He's just got that extra bit of class to come back here and win a third Gold Cup. I'm just delighted to be involved with the team."

Of Geordieland, Osborne said: "He's run a great race again, coming away being beaten by a better horse at this trip.

"We might drop him back to a mile and a half for a shot at the King George as he has so much class it might be worth a try."

His rider Shane Kelly added: "For a moment turning into the straight I thought we might beat him, but he (Yeats) showed his class in the last furlong. I don't know what we could do to beat him - maybe tie his legs together!"

Andre Fabre, trainer of Coastal Path, said: "That was one of Yeats' most impressive performances."

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, added: "Coastal Path has run a super race, but he's probably still a little bit immature for a race like that.

"He came with his chance, got a good run through the race and stayed on fine. Hopefully we can bring him back next year."

Allegretto finished well to claim fourth, delighting Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud.

He said: "It was a vintage race. She's the type of filly who would have preferred a slightly higher tempo.

"She travelled well, but she just would not settle in the early part of the race and was a bit anxious.

"She stayed on and put her last run behind her though."