A one-time hot favourite for the Epsom Derby, Yeats went on to become the greatest stayer of his generation, arguably of all time.
Owned by Coolmore supremo John Magnier, the son of Sadlers Wells captured the Ascot Gold Cup four years in a row, during a period of total domination. His fourth success at the age of eight, was possibly his most impressive. The outstanding colt won 14 of his 22 career starts, earning more than a £1m in prize money. He was a powerful stayer who possessed gears, with the ability of producing a burst of acceleration, but then maintaining the gallop all the way to the line.
After that final success at Ascot, his trainer Aidan O’Brien spoke of the star’s physical qualities, saying: “It's been proven at home that his lung capacity is way greater than any other horse ... and he's not a gelding, so we can tap into those genes.”
He was duly retired to stud at the end of 2009, though there was concerns over the demand for a top-class staying stallion, in a breeding industry leaning towards speed over stamina.
Initially settled at Coolmore’s headquarters, his impact on the Flat racing scene proved nominal, and he now stands at their National Hunt breeding farm. It’s no surprise that his influence on Jump racing is set to be substantial, with his progeny making their mark in bumpers last season. This could be an exciting winter for Yeats followers, as several useful types embark on a hurdling career.
Plenty of powerful yards are investing in Yeats offspring, and the early signs are certainly promising.
One race that highlighted the potential, was the mares’ bumper at Aintree in April. Yeats produced three of the first six home, with Augusta Kate finishing runner-up for Willie Mullins, and Shattered Love third for Gordon Elliott. The latter has twice finished second over hurdles already this season, and looks sure to get off the mark soon.
Augusta Kate has also got her jumps career underway, and was impressive when winning comfortably at Thurles last week. Ireland’s champion trainer has a yard full of classy mares, and it’s difficult at this stage to assess where this useful five-year-old stacks-up among the rest. She was slick over her obstacles on debut, and looked to have the tell-tale Yeats engine. She’s an exciting prospect.
One from the Yeats early production line, that is successfully plying his trade across the English Channel, is the French trained gelding Capivari. He has already struck at Grade 1 level, when winning the valuable Prix Renaud du Vivier Hurdle at Auteuil. The race will have been watched by many UK fans, due to the inclusion of various well known four-year-olds from Britain and Ireland. Footpad finished second for Willie Mullins, with the Paul Nicholls trained Adrien Du Pont back in third.
Jonjo O’Neill has a nice hurdling prospect owned by the ‘Coolmore Boys’, in five-year-old gelding Utility. He stepped up on his seasonal debut, when winning with plenty in hand at Chepstow recently. He travelled beautifully throughout, and though his jumping had been patchy, he was spring-heeled at the last when it mattered. He’s entered at Sandown this weekend, and it will be interesting to see if he can take a further step in the right direction.
Nicky Henderson has a pair of exciting Yeats progeny in the yard. Thomas Campbell looked to be coming off second best, or maybe third best at Ascot recently, before finishing with a flurry. He still looked green in running, but when Geraghty gave him a few cracks to get him going, the response was dramatic. He stormed to a four-length victory, and should improve markedly for the run.
His stable companion that caught the eye recently was the four-year-old Burbank. He was sensational in winning a bumper at Newbury. He also needed to be shaken-up, but once the penny dropped he shot clear. A slight reservation over the form, would be that the race was a rather slowly run affair. Nevertheless, he looked special, and is set to switch to hurdles, with an outing at Exeter or Sandown later this week. I can’t wait to see him again.
It’s interesting that many of the above travelled powerfully through a race, and found plenty when asked for maximum effort. A ‘chip off the old block’ one could say. This looks likely to be an exciting winter for the Yeats dynasty. It’s still relatively early days for the stallion, but it appears that Jump racing will be all the richer for his influence.