Rite Of Passage lands the Cup
Rite Of Passage defied a 510-day absence to win the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
The former Ascot Gold Cup winner, one of three in the race, had most recently been seen in the 2011 Saval Beg Stakes at Leaopardstown but was as fresh as a daisy for this reappearance.
Having been held up in the early stages, the Dermot Weld-trained eight-year-old stayed on too stoutly for young rival Aiken (4/1) to grab the lead in the final 50 yards.
John Gosden's charge had hit the front with a furlong to run but found the Irish runner, ridden by Pat Smullen, just too strong in the closing stages.
Marcus Tregoning's Askar Tau (33/1) ran a blinder in third, staying on from off the pace, whilst the well-fancied Godolphin pair of Colour Vision and Opinion Poll were both well-beaten in the heavy conditions.
Last-year's winner Fame And Glory travelled well but tired badly in the final two furlongs.
Weld said: "He's just a special horse and deserves to come back. You must remember he set a track record when he won the Gold Cup, but he's had serious ongoing tendon problems, so it is a special day to bring him back.
"A lot of times I thought he'd be retired but he's always had this great will to win and it was a matter of me keeping him sound trying to get him fit.
"We've had such a wet year and wet autumn. It was very difficult. We would have liked to have had him away to work and on grass gallops but we didn't get to do it.
"I had a huge concern on his fitness.
"The plan was to take our time with him and hunt and see if we could ride him to come home and we had Pat to do that."
"I just had a message from Sir Peter O'Sullevan who said he thought it was one of the best training performances he had ever seen, so that means a lot to me.
"I've won two Melbourne Cups, but when he came here and broke the track record in the Gold Cup it was one of my most special achievements.
"Today was a great day and provided he is sound we will look to bring him back here for next year's Gold Cup."