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Rite Of Passage lifts Long Distance Cup

20 Oct 2012

An amazing training performance by Irish trainer, Dermot Weld, saw Rite Of Passage, the 2010 Gold Cup winner, return to the track after an absence of 510 days to win the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.

Rite Of Passage with jockey Pat Smullen and trainer Dermot Weld on the right. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

To bring a horse back from injury after 510 days is hard enough, but to do so in top class race like the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup against the best stayers in Europe is remarkable.

That’s what Dermot Weld, one of the shrewdest and best trainers in Ireland, achieved with Rite Of Passage in the first race on QIPCO British Champions Day today.

When the winner of this race a year ago, Fame And Glory, who also won last year’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, struck the front on the turn for home, it looked like a repeat was on the cards.

But then the challengers came thick and fast and the well-backed Aiken looked like the winner after he took it up with over a furling to run.

It was Rite Of Passage, however, weaving his way through under jockey Pat Smullen, who got the better of Aiken in the dying strides to claim a memorable triumph.

Askar Tau, the Artemis Goodwood Cup runner-up, was third with Electrolyser in fourth and Fame And Glory fading into fifth.

The winning trainer said: "He’s just a special horse and deserves to come back.

"You must remember he set a track record when he won the Gold Cup, but he’s had serious ongoing tendon problems, so it is a special day to bring him back.

"A lot of times I thought he’d be retired but he’s always had this great will to win and it was a matter of me keeping him sound trying to get him fit.

"We’ve had such a wet year and wet autumn. It was very difficult.

"We would have liked to have had him away to work and on grass gallops but we didn’t get to do it. I had a huge concern on his fitness.

"The plan was to take our time with him and hunt and see if we could ride him to come home and we had Pat to do that.

"I just had a message from Sir Peter O’Sullevan who said he thought it was one of the best training performances he had ever seen, so that means a lot to me.

"I’ve won two Melbourne Cups, but when he came here and broke the track record in the Gold Cup it was one of my most special achievements.

"Today was a great day and provided he is sound we will look to bring him back here for next year’s Gold Cup."