Rite likely to go for Gold Cup, says Weld


RACING:Rite Of Passage continues to be quoted as low as 7 to 1 for a return to jumping in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle in March but trainer Dermot Weld yesterday stressed that current plans revolve around the horse reclaiming his Ascot Gold Cup crown in the summer.

Even before Big Buck’s was ruled out of the big Cheltenham prize through injury, a return to National Hunt action was mooted for Rite Of Passage on the back of his remarkable winning comeback at Ascot on Champions Day in October.

However, discussions between Weld and owner Ronan Lambe resulted in a priority being put on the staying star lining up in the top cup events later in 2013, and not a third trip to the Cheltenham festival. Rite Of Passage has been placed in both the Champion Bumper and the Neptune Hurdle in the past.

Ascot bound

Significantly the World Hurdle sponsors don’t quote the Irish star for the Day Three festival highlight and Weld said yesterday: “It remains much more likely he will go for a repeat in the Gold Cup rather than go back hurdling. Dr Lambe and myself will discuss things again I’m sure but it is most likely we will stick to the plan.”

A much more likely Weld hope for Cheltenham is Waaheb, a general 16 to 1 shot for the Supreme Novices Hurdle after a second to Jezki on just his second start over flights in the Future Champions at Leopardstown over Christmas.

“I have an open mind where we go next. There are no definite plans. But he is a good ground horse so we won’t over do him in January,”the trainer said.

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