Weld's exciting Passage back on track for hurdles debut
Dermot Weld's exciting prospect Rite Of Passage could make a belated hurdling debut at Leopardstown towards the end of the month.
The chestnut was third to Dunguib when 5/2 favourite for the Cheltenham Champion Bumper and returned to the Flat in the autumn to win the Leopardstown November Handicap.
Weld had lined him up to start off jumping at the Foxrock venue over Christmas but he cut himself when he banged his head in the horsebox on his way to the races. "He's OK, in good form now, and he will probably go to Leopardstown in two weeks' time -- that's the plan anyway," said Weld.
Rite Of Passage is a 16/1 shot for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Thurles, meanwhile, is holding out hopes for a return to racing this week with manager Pierce Molony stating yesterday that he is "more optimistic" that their two-day meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday will go ahead.
"It's unraceable at present and there's about an inch of snow on the track," Molony said. "However, the Met Office are forecasting a band of heavy rain that could change things dramatically. You can definitely feel the thaw and I would say I'm a lot more optimistic than I was yesterday."
Saturday's meeting at Naas, due to feature the Grade Two Woodland Park Novice Chase, remains in doubt as conditions have been slow to improve.
Across the water, officials at Ffos Las have revealed that the Welsh Champion Hurdle will not be run following the abandonment of the race last weekend.
The contest had been the intended target of Nicky Henderson's Champion Hurdle hero Punjabi, but last Saturday's card had to be called off.
There had been hopes that the race could be rescheduled for this Sunday's meeting, but clerk of the course Tim Long has said that has been ruled out.
Long says he will have a better idea about the prospects of Sunday's card going ahead in the middle of the week.
Fontwell and Musselburgh look set to stage additional jump racing fixtures on Saturday, with the latter also optimistic that its scheduled meeting on Friday will go ahead.
Kempton will have another inspection tomorrow morning to see whether Saturday's jumps meeting can take place. The snow and frost has been plaguing the Sunbury venue's grass track and officials are keen to play it by ear.
"We will have another inspection at 10.0 on Wednesday and we'll take it from there," said Barney Clifford, Kempton's clerk of the course.
Should Kempton fall by the wayside, the track will instead stage an all-weather seven-race bumper fixture. Ordinarily under the Rules of Racing, horses which have run in chases or hurdle races are ineligible to compete in NH Flat events. But given the run of abandonments, the BHA have modified the rules. Clifford added: "This is an enterprising move and demonstrates the modern approach of all parties -- our aim is to provide ground that reflects between good and good to soft on turf.
Warwick's track is starting to thaw -- but it may not be in time for Saturday's totesport.com Classic Chase meeting.