The 2010 G1 Gold Cup winner Rite Of Passage (8g Giant’s Causeway-Dahlia’s Krissy, by Kris S) made a triumphant comeback after a break of over 500 days at Ascot on Saturday when winning the G3 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Dermot Weld’s charge, who was bred by Newsells Park Stud, battled hard under Pat Smullen to defeat a field that included two other previous G1 Gold Cup winners.
“He is a special horse and he deserved to come back. People must remember that he set a track record when he won the God Cup but he has had ongoing tendon problems – serious tendon problems – so it is a special day to bring him back,” said trainer Dermot Weld.
“Most of the time I thought that he would be retired but he has always had this great will to win and it was a matter of me keeping him sound and trying to get him fit. We have had such a wet year and a wet autumn, which has made it very difficult. We would have liked to have him away to work or even work on our grass gallops, but I didn’t get to do it.
“I had a huge concern over his fitness and the plan was to take our time with him, hunt early on, see if it came up for him and ride him to come home – there’s nobody better than Pat to do that. There was no pressure on Pat, I love this horse and just wanted him back in one piece.
“It’s one of those very satisfying days. Every trainer has only got a limited number of good horses and we have horses like Famous Name and this horse. We have to get the maximum out of them. You have got to mind them and have them right for the big days.
“This was probably one of the biggest tests that I have faced and I just delighted that he has come good on the day. We had everything – the horse, the jockey and we got the answer. He set the track record when he won the Gold Cup on fast ground and now on soft so he’s a special horse. Today was a great day for him and we hope to have back here for the 2013 Gold Cup.”