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Royal Ascot 2008

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Yeats wins the 2008 Gold Cup
Yeats wins The Gold Cup on the third day of the 2008 Royal Ascot race meet

Yeats (left) wins The Gold Cup on the third day of the 2008 Royal Ascot race meet

© Julian Herbert/Getty Images
The Gold Cup (G1) is one of the oldest and most prestigious events at Royal Ascot, first run in 1807 as a stiff test of stamina. Contrary to popular opinion it is not called the "Ascot Gold Cup". It is run on the third day of the meet, a day which has become known as "Ladies' Day" with fashion often distracting from the racing. A field of 10 older horses contested the grueling 2 1/2 mile trip around the Heath on Thursday for a purse of £250,000 (about $489,200 US). 7-year-old Yeats, winner of the last 2 Gold Cups, was sent off as the 11-8 favorite over 2-1 second choice Coastal Path.

28-1 Le Miracle led the field for the first two miles while being stalked by Coastal Path and Yeats. With a half mile remaining, jockey John Murtagh asked Yeats to challenge for the lead, as pacesetter Lr Miracle tired and faded out of contention. 15-2 Geordieland put in a strong rally into the stretch, but at the quarter pole Yeats found another gear, drawing off to win by 5 lengths in 4:21.14 over the good-to-firm course. It was another 4 1/2 lengths back to Coastal Path third. Yeats is only the second horse in the Gold Cup's long history to have won it 3 consecutive years, the other being Sagaro in 1975-1977.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien said, "I didn't really think it could happen. It's incredible, it's marvelous. To come here and win it a second year and then a third is just beyond belief. Whether he comes back next year depends on (owner John Magnier) because there will come a time when we need to preserve his genes. He really is the horse with the largest heart and lungs I have ever been associated with, and I mean physically."

Jockey John Murtagh added, "He has the heart of a lion. I knew he would kill them. This horse is different, he has that touch of class that sets him apart."

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