06/21/2007 12:00AM

Yeats takes second straight Gold Cup


Yeats reconfirmed his status as Europe's best stayer at Royal Ascot on Thursday as he rolled to a second consecutive victory in the $447,000 Ascot Gold Cup, the 2 1/2-mile Group 1 marathon that has been England's ultimate test of stamina for the last 200 years.

Content to sit eighth in the 14-runner field for most of the way, the 8-13 Yeats was moved into striking position by Michael Kinane approaching the final turn. A 6-year-old horse by Sadler's Wells, Yeats hit the front at the quarter pole and found something extra when challenged by Geordieland, who rallied from last to be second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. German invader Le Mircale was third, 3 1/2 lengths farther back, but second choice Sergeant Cecil was virtually eased in coming home last. Yeats's winning time on good to firm ground was 4:20.78, just 0.33 of a second slower than what he clocked last year.

Yeats becomes the 15th horse to win consecutive Gold Cups, joining a list that includes such legendary names as Touchstone, Isonomy, Le Moss, Ardross, and Royal Rebel. Trainer Aidan O'Brien said he would like to bring him back for a third go-round next year in an attempt to equal the record of Sagaro, who won three consecutive Gold Cups from 1975 to 1977 for Francois Boutin.

Ribblesdale: Silkwood scores

Earlier, Silkwood added her name to the list of leading 3-year-old fillies with a handy score in the Group 2, $258,000 Ribblesdale Stakes. Withdrawn from the English Oaks on the eve of the race, Silkwood, a daughter of Singspiel who went off at 4-1, defeated Oaks third All My Loving by five lengths while traveling the 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.23. Dalvina, who had been a dull 11th in the Oaks, improved to finish third, two lengths behind Silkwood, who could go next in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh on July 15. Silkwood is trained by Michael Jarvis and owned by Sheikh Mohammed.

Norfolk: Fifth win for Fortune

Jimmy Fortune won for the fifth time at the Royal Meeting as he cruised to victory aboard Winker Watson in the Group 2, $139,000 Norfolk Stakes, a five-furlong dash that has been won in recent years by Johannesburg, Dutch Art, and Superstar Leo. Trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, Winker Watson is a Piccolo colt who had won a five-furlong Newbury maiden at first asking. In the Norfolk he defeated Art Advisor by 1 1/4 lengths as the 2-1 favorite, getting the straight five furlongs in 1:00.83.