Weld targets Ascot for long-awaited return of Rite Of Passage


RACING: RITE OF Passage enjoyed his finest hour in the 2010 Gold Cup and Dermot Weld plans to take him back to Ascot on Saturday week for his long-awaited return to racing.

The star stayer has been out of action for almost a year and a half due to leg trouble and missed out on last weekend’s Prix Du Cadran in France where ground conditions were very soft.

However the Group Three Quipco Long Distance Cup over two miles is now the intended target for the gelding who beat Age Of Aquarius in a memorable finish to the Gold Cup over two years ago.

Another well-known Weld stayer, Hidden Universe, skips the English Cesarewitch this Saturday but will run instead in the Curragh version the following day.

Weld confirmed the plan yesterday after Hidden Universe was left in the Hacketts Irish Cesarewitch along with other high class dual purpose horses such as Missunited and Shadow Eile.

Missunited’s Co Cork trainer Michael Winters is hoping to saddle his first winner at HQ and said yesterday: “We gave her a break after her win at Listowel and she has come back stronger and is spot on for the race this Sunday.

“She has plenty of stamina so the soft ground should not inconvenience her.”

Ground conditions at the Curragh yesterday were described as “soft to heavy.” Among the black type events at the Curragh will be the Staffordstown Stud Stakes in which Aidan O’Brien has six of the 14 entries left in after yesterday’s forfeit stage.

They include the experienced pair of Greek Goddess and Snow Queen as well as Giant’s Causeway’s half-sister Hanky Panky who was runner-up to Salhooda on her previous start.

Last year’s Cesarewitch winner Minsk is among 14 left in the Finale Stakes.

Sunday’s Limerick feature is the €80,000 Ladbrokes Munster National in which last year’s winner Muirhead features among 31 hopefuls trying to get into the maximum 16-strong field.

The Galway Plate winner Bob Lingo is among the topweights while Gordon Elliott has left in his Cheltenham festival winner Carlito Brigante.

Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud team could give last season’s leading novice Rathlin a return to action in the Grade Three PWC Chase on the same card.

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