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Horses Americans Should Know IV: Yeats

We don’t breed many horses like Yeats in North America; while his sire, Sadler’s Wells, has plenty of familiar Northern Dancer blood, his dam, Lyndonville, is entirely European. Yeats also has a half-brother, Tsukuba Symphony, who won over $2 million in Japan and is now at stud there, and another Group-winning half-brother named Solskjaer who resides in South Africa. (Let me take a moment here to appreciate Solskjaer’s footballing namesake — hey, the naming convention worked for Van Nistelrooy).

Like his siblings, Yeats is well-travelled; he has raced in his native Ireland, in Britain, France, Canada, Australia…but let’s start at the beginning. Bred by Barronstown Stud, Yeats was born in April, 2001.

He began his racing career with three wins at three and was considered a strong contender for the Epsom Derby, but had to sit the race out with an injury. He returned to Epsom victorious the following year with a win in the Coronation Cup (1 mile, 4 furlongs), but he had not found his ideal distance yet at age four.

Coming back at five, Yeats collected his first Gold Cup win in his first start of the year; he followed it up by taking the Goodwood Cup. (Incidentally, that race was shortened in the 1990s– to 2 1/2 miles). He then made the long trip to Australia for the Melbourne Cup, but as with his trip to Canada the previous year, he did not find success — it would seem that the slow pace that year was not to his liking.

At six, he started the year at home, with two wins in Ireland, went on to get a second Gold Cup victory and finally won the Irish St. Leger (on his third attempt). This year, at age seven, he warmed up with another Irish win before his Royal Ascot success last week. Although he has found his greatest success in 2 mile+ races, Yeats began his career as a miler and occasionally drops back to that distance.

All told, at this point Yeats has 12 wins out of 19 starts and it would seem there is more to come — he may try the Melbourne Cup again this year, and there is a chance he will aim for a fourth Gold Cup next year at age eight.

Susan Magnier & Diane Nagle, his co-owners (Susan Magnier is married to John Magnier, of Coolmore fame, and Diane Nagle co-owns Barronstown Stud with her husband), will be making the decision as to when Yeats retires to stud; it’s been a great ride thus far. Trainer Aidan O’Brien summed him up thusly after his Gold Cup hat trick:

“I’ve got affection for them all, but he’s very special as he’s been around for such a long time,” O’Brien said. “You’ve got to remember, he’s not just a plodder, he was the favourite for the Derby at one stage and he had the class to win a Coronation Cup as well.

“His heart and lungs are massive, and these are physical things, not just things that you believe. We’ve never had a horse with such a big heart or lungs. Most horses that have gone a mile and a half are starting to get to the end, but this one’s heart is only just starting to get up to 180 beats, which is unbelievable.”

“It would be great [to attempt a fourth win] if he’s around next year, but I don’t know when the time is going to come for his genes to be preserved.”

Here’s hoping for a bit more.

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