DUAL-PURPOSE runner Rite of Passage was the toast of Royal Ascot on Ladies’ Day after springing a surprise in the Gold Cup.
Sent off at 20-1 in the hands of Pat Smullen, the Dermot Weld-trained six-year-old outpaced Age of Aquarius in a thrilling sprint finish to win in a record time.
It was his third straight win on the flat, and now Weld has his sights set on a hat-trick of victories in the Melbourne Cup, where he will start as a 10-1 shot.
“It’s a long way away but it’s always been a target of mine for this horse,” he said.
Of his Ascot success, Weld added: “The plan was hatched a long time ago. It’s a race I’ve always wanted to win and two previous runners, Vinnie Roe and Vintage Crop, finished second so I thought it could be third time lucky.”
Purple Moon stayed on strongly to claim third, ahead of the fancied Manifest in fourth
and favourite Ask, who disappointed in fifth.
Earlier, Saeed bin Suroor completed back-to-back wins in the Ribblesdale Stakes after 4-
1 joint-favourite Hibaayeb followed in the footsteps of Flying Cloud 12 months ago to complete a three-and-a-half length success.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori and wearing the Godoplhin colours, Hibaayeb finished ahead of Eldalil, while Gallic Star hold on for third.
Dettori said: “I know my way around here. I had the horse to do it for me and she gave me a fabulous ride. It’s nice to win a big one on Ladies’ Day so the team is happy and we’re all happy.”
Father-and-son team Barry and Michael Hills picked up their second winner of the meet when 9-1 shot Ransom Note claimed the Britannia Stakes ahead of outsiders Invincible Soul (33-1) and Greyfriarschorista at 40-1.
William Haggas’ Approve (16-1), was a surprise winner of the Norfolk Stakes.