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The Aiden O’Brien-trained Yeats joined the pantheon of great stayers to have won a second Ascot Gold Cup earlier today when he ran out a comfortable winner of this year’s race, the traditional highlight of Ladies Day at Royal Ascot.

Ridden by Mick Kinane, Yeats swept to the front two furlongs out with a burst of speed seldom possessed by horses with the stamina to get two and a half miles. For such a long race, it was over in a few strides.

Geordieland emerged from the pack inside the last furlong to briefly threaten but Yeats was idling in front and he picked up again to win by a length and three quarters.

The disappointment of the race was the popular Sergeant Cecil. He clearly had an off day, running in snatches, and finished last of the 14 runners.

The Gold Cup was first run 200 years ago and Yeats is worthy of any of his illustrious predecessors. Such was his superiority there is no reason to suppose that he won’t go on to emulate Sagaro, the only horse to ever win it three times, if he returns next year.

“He was more impressive this year,” said his trainer Aidan O’Brien. “He’s got more speed, he quicker and stronger. We may go to the Melbourne Cup again but that’s a long way away.”

Jimmy Fortune all but wrapped up the jockeys’ title for the meeting when Winker Watson, a two-year-old named after a Beano comic character, won the Norfolk Stakes. It was the jockey’s fifth winner of the meeting.

Horse & Hound columnist Michael Bell won the Britannia Stakes with Eddie Jock, a 33-1 surprise for the Newmarket trainer. “I thought it was mission impossible off top weight today and the first thing I did when he came in was check the weight-cloth! He was a bit of a scamp before we had him gelded – a bit like me whan I was 21.”

The main talking point of the first two days were the crowds (or lack of them), down 10,000 on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Today bucked the trend, however, with 74,000 turning out for the Gold Cup, just short of a full house for the ‘new’ Ascot and up 2,000 on last year.

Keep up to date with all the action from Royal Ascot on horseandhound.co.uk, and don’t miss Horse & Hound’s full report complete with fantastic photos in next Thursday’s magazine (28 June, ’07)