After the defeat of Dunguib yesterday, Irish backers will be hoping for better from RITE OF PASSAGE and he can provide compensation by beating Finian's Rainbow, Quel Espirit and Peddlers Cross. Dermot Weld's charge took third behind Dunguib in last year's Champion Bumper before disappointing at Punchestown, but he's done nothing but improve since returning this season. After winning a decent handicap on the level, the talented six-year-old made a winning start over timber and has followed that up with victory since. He's yet to be tried at the top level but on what we've seen has the engine for the job, whilst the fluency he showed over the obstacles last time will stand him in good stead. He's no ground concerns and should get the trip with the minimum of fuss, so gets our confident vote. There are dangers though; Quel Espirit wasn't far behind our pick in the bumper here last year and can be forgiven a poor run last time whilst Peddlers Cross is unbeaten and remains the apple of his trainer's eye. The concern with both is that this ground will be the fastest they've encountered, so perhaps a bigger danger is Finian's Rainbow. Nicky Henderson's charge arrived at Seven Barrows with a tall reputation and, as a point-to-point winner, this trip should serve him well. He's done very little wrong under rules either with a sole defeat coming on bottomless ground, so having prepared well for this with a victory last time out he must be taken seriously. His defeat at Chepstow came courtesy of Reve de Sivola, so Nick Williams' animal is considered but with ground conditions entirely different the form should be reversed. Summit Meeting could enter the frame at a decent price but may need to improve upon his win last time and again this ground could be on the fast side, so of more interest at prices are Ghizao and Manyriverstocross. The last-named ran well at Newbury last time out behind yesterday's Supreme Novice second Get Me Out Of Here but should be much more at home over today's trip, whilst Ghizao is well regarded and his sole defeat came at the hands of a smart rival. Some Present is another who shouldn't be ruled out entirely as his placed form is working out well, but this top class race can go to the potentially top class Rite Of Passage.
Baily Rock (IRE) 14-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, 2nd halfway, led 3 out, ridden and kept on well from before last, won at Leopardstown 2m Novice Handicap Hurdle (8Evens16) (4yo+) in Dec beating Vinnes Friend (10-12) by 2l, 18 ran.
Consulate (IRE) 3-1 (11-8) Raced very wide, always prominent, mistake 4 out, ridden to chase leader approaching 2 out, kept on one pace flat, 3rd of 8, 8l behind Don't Panic (10-12) at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (3) sft in Nov.
Finian's Rainbow (IRE) 4-11fav (11-8) Tracked leader, challenged 2 out, led going well before last, drew clear on bit flat, unextended, won at Ascot 2m 3f nov hdl (3) gs in Feb beating Arkose (11-5) by 3l, 7 ran.
Ghizao (GER) 1-5fav (11-4) Chased leaders, challenged 3 out, led approaching 2 out, soon clear, pushed out flat, easily, won at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Jan beating Rock Celtic (11-4) by 13l, 11 ran.
Gus Macrae (IRE) 4-7fav (11-1) With leaders, led 4th, ridden clear approaching last, won at Hereford 2m 1f NH mdn hdl (4) sft beating Mr Syntax (11-1) by 3 1/2l, 16 ran.
Hollo Ladies (IRE) 3-1 (11-8) Chased leaders in 3rd, 4th and mistake 4 out, ridden and no extra 3 out, weakened approaching next, 4th of 5, 43l behind Luska Lad (11-2) at Punchestown 2m nov hdl G2 hvy in Jan.
Manyriverstocross (IRE) 6-1 (10-6) Held up, in mid-division, headway from 2 out, stayed on flat, went 3rd near finish, 3rd of 23, 8l behind Get Me Out Of Here (10-6) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Feb.
Peddlers Cross (IRE) 11-8 (11-8) Made all and set modest pace, quickened before 3 out, in command when not fluent 2 out, well clear last, impressive, won at Haydock 2m nov hdl G2 (1) sft in Jan beating Scriptwriter (11-4) by 16l, 4 ran.
Quartano (GER) 7-2fav (10-7) Raced in mid-division, appeared to go wrong and pulled up soon after 3 out, in a race won by Arctic Magic (10-2) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-120 (2) sft in Jan, 16 ran.
Quel Esprit (FR) 3-10fav (11-6) 3rd early, 2nd from 3rd, led before 5 out, ridden and strongly pressed from before last, kept on well under pressure, headed close home, 2nd of 7, 1/2l behind Coole River (11-3) at Leopardstown 2m 4f nov hdl G2 hvy in Jan.
Reve de Sivola (FR) 15-8 (11-7) Held up in mid-division, hit 5th, headway and hit 3 out, chased leaders after 2 out, challenged last, stayed on gamely to lead near finish, won at Newbury 2m 5f Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec beating Restless Harry (11-7) by 1/2l, 11 ran.
Rite Of Passage 2-7fav (11-12) Chased leader, closed from before 4th, led before last, unextended, very easily, won at Punchestown 2m 4f hdl sft in Feb beating Healys Bar (11-12) by 1l, 7 ran.
Sleepy Hollow 5-2 (10-12) Jumped left at some flights, led, mistake and headed 4th, ridden and outpaced approaching 3 out, rallied before last, kept on into 3rd after last, stayed on, 3rd of 16, 3l behind On Borrowed Wings (11-5) at Ffos Las 2m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Dec.
Some Present (IRE) 16-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, ridden in 3rd 3 out, close 3rd next, narrowly led briefly entering straight, headed and no extra in 3rd before last, 3rd of 7, 14l behind Dunguib (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 2f nov hdl G2 hvy in Feb.
Summit Meeting 2-1 (11-11) Chased leaders, 3rd halfway, headway to 2nd before 3 out, led briefly entering straight, ridden to lead before last, kept on run-in, strongly pressed close home, won at Fairyhouse 2m nov hdl hvy in Feb beating Arvika Ligeonniere (11-11) by 1/2l, 11 ran.
The Giant Bolster 13-8fav (11-5) Held up towards rear, headway 3 out, soon chased leading pair, kept on same pace, no impression, 3rd of 10, 16l behind Ravenclaw (10-12) at Fontwell 2m 6f nov hdl (4) hvy in Feb.
The Knoxs (IRE) 85-40 (11-4) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 4th, led 3 out, soon hard pressed, ridden and held on well flat, won at Newcastle 3m nov hdl (3) sft in Jan beating Wymott (11-4) by 1 1/4l, 12 ran.