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Weld wonders about Rite thing to do at Cheltenham

Nothing is set in stone regarding Cheltenham plans for Rite Of Passage.

Third in last year's Champion Bumper and successful on the Flat in the interim, the chestnut's odds for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle tumbled after he made a successful hurdling debut at Leopardstown last month.

"The horse is very well but Cheltenham is five weeks away," warned trainer Dermot Weld.

"He'll be entered in both the two-mile and the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdles and we'll make a decision near the time -- if we decided to run him.

"I'd like to run him at Punchestown next Wednesday in a two-and-a-half mile conditions hurdle race and that will tell us a lot more about him."

Continuing his thoughts about Cheltenham, Weld added: "I have a totally open mind about it.

"I want to run him next week over two-and-a-half miles to see if he stays.

"He's a good ground horse, a very good-actioned horse and a horse who would never want the ground too heavy or too testing.


"He is a much stronger horse this year than last year.

"Cheltenham was a little bit sticky last year and that told a bit on him, equally he ran into a very good horse in Dunguib."

Weld similarly advised punters not to make hasty bets on his two Weatherbys Champion Bumper contenders.

"I saw Elegant Concorde was favourite for the race and he's hopefully going to run in the race providing the ground is good," he explained.

"They are totally different horses. Hidden Universe is very adaptable on soft ground, Elegant Concorde is a yielding to good ground horse. So depending on the ground, we'll possibly decide the day before which horse we run.

"It's over a month away and there's no need to make any decision. Who knows? They both have to stay sound, they both have to stay healthy. It's a while away yet."

Weld said the other bumper horse at his yard, Fort Defiance, was likely to wait for a race at Leopardstown rather than run at Thurles on Thursday and was not in contention for Cheltenham at present.