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Top News in Sunday's TDN
Giant's Causeway's Rite of Passage Kicks Off Champions Day
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13.45 at ASCG3 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup  [2m (T)]Winner: Rite of Passage (GB), g, 8 by Giant's Causeway
Saturday, Ascot, Britain
QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS LONG DISTANCE CUP-G3
, £200,000, Ascot, 10-20, 3yo/up, 2mT, 3:.35.98, sf.
1--RITE OF PASSAGE (GB), 133, g, 8, by Giant's Causeway
        1st Dam: Dahlia's Krissy (SP-US), by Kris S.
   
     2nd Dam: Dahlia's Image, by Lyphard
   
     3rd Dam: Dahlia, by Vaguely Noble (Ire)
(20,000gns yrl '05 TATOCT). O-Dr Ronan Lambe; B-Newsells Park Stud; T-Dermot Weld; J-Pat Smullen; £113,420. Lifetime Record: G1SW-Eng, 5-4-0-1, £288,079. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2--Aiken (GB), 133, c, 4, Selkirk--Las Flores (Ire), by Sadler's Wells. O/B-George Strawbridge; T-John Gosden; £43,000.
3--Askar Tau (Fr), 133, g, 7, Montjeu (Ire)--Autriche (Ire), by Acatenango (Ger). (145,000gns yrl '06 TATOCT). O-Nurlan Bizakov; B-Gestut Zoppenbroich & Aerial Bloodstock; T-Marcus Tregoning; £21,520.
Margins: NK, HF, 1HF. Odds: 8-1, 4-1, 33-1.
Also Ran: Electrolyser (Ire), Fame and Glory (GB), Saddler's Rock (Ire), Ile de Re (Fr), Opinion Poll (Ire), Colour Vision (Fr).
Click for the Racing Post chart or the brisnet.com PPs. Video, courtesy attheraces.com.
   
Despite an absence of more than 500 days, the 2010 G1 Gold Cup hero Rite of Passage was able to upstage the season's leading stayers and make a winning comeback to cap a stellar training performance by Dermot Weld here. Starting off in the national hunt sphere, the chestnut has been restricted to just 11 runs in total despite his advanced age. They include third placings at the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival in the Champion Bumper in 2009 and Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle the following year. After the latter performance, he was next seen at the Royal meeting here in June 2010 when besting Age of Aquarius (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) by a neck in a thrilling renewal of the Gold Cup, and had only one start in the interim when third in the Listed Saval Beg S. at Leopardstown last May. Settled in rear early by Pat Smullen, he was still in the final three turning for home, where Jamie Spencer committed last year's winner Fame and Glory (GB) (Montjeu {Ire}) on the front end. Threaded through gaps up the inner, he still had a trio in front as his momentum built passing the furlong pole, and Aiken looked to have done enough after wearing down Fame and Glory. Smullen kept working, however, and there was just enough room for him to squeeze into the clear inside the final 100 yards, and he was the ultimately comfortable scorer at the line. "He set a new track record in the Gold Cup and is just a special horse, so he deserved to come back," his trainer said. "He's had ongoing serious tendon problems, but has always had a great will to win, and it was a matter of me keeping him sound and trying to get him fit. I had a huge concern on the fitness side, as I'd have liked to take him away for a gallop, but with all wet weather we didn't get to do it. This was one of the biggest tests I've faced, but we had the horse, the jockey and the answer." Smullen added, "I think this was one of the most impressive training performances I've ever seen, as 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. Toughness is a rarity in horses, and this lad has it in abundance. Most horses would have given up at the furlong pole, but he fought his way through a gap and won well."

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