Thursday, 23 June 2011


To commemorate the achievement of Ascot’s greatest equine legend, the four-time Gold Cup winner Yeats, celebrated sculptor Charlie Langton was commissioned to create a ten per cent over life-size bronze of the horse who dominated Royal Ascot from 2006 to 2009. The statue was unveiled by Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Devonshire and Charlie Langton on Tuesday 14th June 2011 at Royal Ascot. The statue will reside permanently in the Parade Ring at Ascot Racecourse for everyone to see.
Yeats, now standing at Coolmore Stud in Ireland, was owned by Mrs John Maagnier and Mrs David Nagle, trained by Aidan O’Brien, and ridden by Kieren Fallon (2006), Michael Kinane (2007) and Johnny Murtagh (2008 and 2009). The statue will be unveiled at Royal Ascot and in his own words Charlie Langton talks in glowing terms of the challenge:

“The process began last summer with a week of measuring, sketching and sculpting at Coolmore Stud. This was the most important stage as I was able to get to know Yeats from watching him in his daily routine and then spend time speaking to the lads and all those that know him well. It was vital that I gained a complete picture of the horse from those closest to him as I was keen to capture the horse’s character as well as his physical dimensions.

“I had my own very strong mental image of Yeats parading around the ring at Ascot to add to this information and therefore I could establish a pose that married all these elements. He always carried his head in a very distinctive way and later on in his career, as his neck developed, he became instantly recognisable. He is beautifully proportioned. From the side he is deep and powerfully built, especially through the shoulder he is sinuous and yet every line flows with an effortless grace. From the front he is streamlined and slender - even his ears are close together when pricked. It is easy to see why he had so much success when considering this combination of power and aerodynamism.

“But the thing that really strikes me about Yeats is how he moves. He is almost regal in his head carriage and he glides over the ground effortlessly. I could not have had a better subject for my first life-size bronze.
“Having made a one quarter scale maquette of Yeats I began work on the ten per cent over life-size version in October 2010. The process involves a steel armature, on top of which I added clay - over forty bags were needed (more than one tone). Over sixty measurements taken from Yeats were used along with video footage, my sketches and maquettes, and I also made trips back to Coolmore to refresh my eye. He took over eight hundred hours to sculpt.

“I built a new studio especially for working on this scale so that, vitally, I could have the room to stand back and see the work from a distance. However, it is a very large space to keep warm and it was a constant battle against the cold to prevent the clay from freezing. Every night my Yeats was wrapped up in a New Zealand rug and sleeping bags. Once I was getting close to being happy with the sculpture, the mould making could begin. This was done over the course of ten days by three highly skilled mould makers. He was moulded in seven sections (the four legs, head, tail and body). The moulds were then taken to the foundry and a combination of the lost wax process and sand casting were used to create the bronze.

“I hope more than anything that my sculpture does justice to Yeats and that those who know him best will think that I have captured his presence and character. Yeats is an Ascot legend and I feel extremely privileged to have been chosen to sculpt him.

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