Premier Irish horse trainer Dermot Weld could possibly have uncovered this year’s Melbourne Cup winner when his galloper Rite Of Passage won the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup in record breaking time on Thursday.
Rival trainer Aidan O’Brien had previously enjoyed a four year winning streak in the Ascot Gold Cup, taking out the prestigious staying race from 2006 – 2009 with the magnificent Yeats, but Weld broke O’Brien’s stranglehold this week when Rite Of Passage scored a sizzling win in 4:16.92 over the 4023m race.
Rite Of Passage held on after a tense battle to win the two and a half mile marathon by a neck over Age Of Aquarius with 2007 Melbourne Cup runner-up Purple Moon finishing third, giving Weld his maiden Ascot Gold Cup victory. He had previously run Vinnie Roe and Vintage Crop in the historic race.
Weld is already a dual Melbourne Cup winning trainer, having won the world’s richest handicap race with Vintage Crop in 1993 when he became the first overseas trainer to win the race, and then with Media Puzzle in 2002.
Weld’s six-year-old Danehill mare Profound Beauty is already on her way to Flemington for the 150th Melbourne Cup on Tuesday November 2, and is the master trainer is being coy about whether six-year-old Rite Of Passage will also have a Cup campaign.
Giant’s Causeway gelding Rite Of Passage will either head towards the Melbourne Cup or return to jump racing, while third placegetter in the Ascot Gold Cup, Luca Cumani’s Galileo gelding Purple Moon, could also make another appearance in the 2010 Melbourne Cup.
Early betting markets for the Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au will open around nomination time in August.