DERMOT Weld has revealed it is "more likely" Rite Of Passage will be trained for next year's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot than take his chance in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The master of Rosewell House produced one of his most magnificent training performances to nurse the 2010 Gold Cup hero back from injury to win the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October, his first racecourse appearance in well over a year.
He has moved to prominence in ante-post lists for the World Hurdle following the shock news four-time winner Big Buck's will miss the rest of the season with injury but while Weld admits his charge could return to the jumping game one day, he does not believe he will head to Prestbury Park in March.
"He's back, he's sound, he's very well and in exercise daily. I spoke with Dr Lambe (owner) and we decided we'd have one more crack at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot with him in 2013. That remains his target," Weld told At The Races.
"I will speak with Dr Lambe over Christmas about the possibility of rethinking about the long distance hurdle (World Hurdle), but I think it's more likely we'll stick to our plan.
"He's a very talented horse. The only risk for the Gold Cup is the ground, that it could get too firm at Ascot in the summer time.
"We could always go back in 2014 and train him for the long distance hurdle at Cheltenham. That was the decision and I would say we'll probably stick with it."