YEATS is reportedly “flying” ahead of his bid to secure a record-equalling third Gold Cup at Royal Ascot today.
Ballydoyle’s star stayer has won the two-mile-four-furlong showpiece for the past two seasons and hopes are high he can join Sagaro as a three-time winner with Aidan O’Brien and Johnny Murtagh in irresistible form.
The pair have already combined to win the Queen Anne, St James’s Palace and Prince Of Wales’s with Haradasun, Henrythenavigator and Duke Of Marmalade, handing Yeats the chance to put the icing on the cake.
“He had a perfect start to the season and all has been well since then,” said O’Brien. “He has often had a run between his first run and Ascot, but we decided to come straight here this time.
“We will see tomorrow if that was the right decision, but he is in good form and is older and wiser than last year.”
Murtagh, meanwhile, is in a confident frame of mind, and added: “I’ve sat on him at home and he’s flying.”
Bookmakers believe Andre Fabre’s unbeaten Coastal Path is the biggest threat to Yeats and connections of the exciting colt believe he has plenty of ticks in the relevant boxes.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said: “Coastal Path has come on really well and he is unbeaten, but this will certainly be his biggest test.
“Stamina should be OK, but you never know. He stays two miles, but whether he will stay that extra four furlongs we will just have to wait and see.
“He does switch off well in his races though so I would hope he’d have a good shot at it and most of the horses in the race probably won’t have run on ground so quick.
“I don’t think it will be a problem for him as he has a nice action and we’ve actually always thought he might want it faster.”
Geordieland finished second behind Yeats 12 months ago and Shane Kelly, who was on board when Jamie Osborne’s grey secured the Yorkshire Cup last time, is hoping he can keep up his winning momentum.
“I’ve worked out my tactics for Ascot. I found the key to him at York and hope I can do so again tomorrow,” said the jockey.
“The first time I rode him was at York and it was great. I’ve not sat on him since then, but Jamie’s happy with him and if he’s happy, I’m happy.
“He deserved to win a race a like that. He’d been competing in all the top level races. York was great and hopefully it will have given him a bit of confidence.”
Finalmente finished fourth in last year’s renewal and returned to action with a bang this year by winning the Henry II Stakes.
Trainer Simon Callaghan said: “He has come out of his Sandown win very well. We think he has improved for the race from a fitness point of view.
“We are very hopeful. He does have ground to make up on Yeats but we feel he has progressed from last year.”
Allegretto, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was only ninth last year and finished behind Finalmente on her reappearance.
“She’s come on for her first run, but I suppose there is a question mark over her staying this trip,” said Chris Richardson, managing director for owners Cheveley Park Stud.
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