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Ascot

  • 13:45 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup 2m

  • (Group 3) £200,000 added 3yo+ 9 ran
  • Winner £113,420 2nd £43,000 3rd £21,520 4th £10,720
  • Going: Soft (Round Course: Soft (Heavy in places))
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 3m 35.98s
  • Off time: 13:46:41

Rite Of Passage lands the Cup

Amazing training performance by Dermot Weld

Last Updated: 20/10/12 3:08pm

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Rite Of Passage gets the better of Aiken

Rite Of Passage gets the better of Aiken

Rite Of Passage (8/1) defied a 510 day absence to win the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.

The former Ascot Gold Cup winner, one of three in the race, had most recently been seen in the 2011 Saval Beg Stakes at Leaopardstown but was as fresh as a daisy for this reappearance.

Having been held up in the early stages, the Dermot Weld-trained eight-year-old stayed on too stoutly for young rival Aiken (4/1) to grab the lead in the final 50 yards.

John Gosden's charge had hit the front with a furlong to run but found the Irish runner, ridden by Pat Smullen, just too strong in the closing stages.

Marcus Tregoning's Askar Tau (33/1) ran a blinder in third, staying on from off the pace, whilst the well-fancied Godolphin pair of Colour Vision and Opinion Poll were both well-beaten in the heavy conditions.

Last-year's winner Fame And Glory travelled well but tired badly in the final two furlongs.

Reaction

Weld 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."

Jockey's view

Smullen said: "I think this was one of the most impressive training performances I've ever seen.

"This horse has had a lot of problems and the boss has worked extremely hard to get him cherry ripe for a race like this.

"I was always going to help the horse as long as I could. Obviously my concern was fitness as the boss said, so I helped him for the first half of the race.

"As soon as we came out of Swinley Bottom and he met the rising ground, he was back on the bridle and I was confident he'd run a huge race.

"I took the chance to go down the inside and it came off for him.

"He showed his courage when he won the Ascot Gold Cup to outbattle a very good horse (Age Of Aquarius) on the day and to come back on totally different conditions - 99.9% of horses would have given up at the furlong pole, but he went through the gap and won well at the line."

John Gosden said of Aiken: "I thought when Rite Of Passage got out he flew and he would have been an unlucky loser.

"My horse still ran a wonderful race."


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