• World Hurdle at Cheltenham is also an option
Rite Of Passage was reported in perfect health on Sunday, having won the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday in his first start for 510 days. The horse has been plagued with tendon trouble since winning the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2010 but his trainer, Dermot Weld, was relieved to find no sign of a recurrence after he returned to his Curragh stable.
"The good news is he seems 100%," Weld told At The Races. "This morning I was happy with him when I looked at his tendons; they seemed perfect. Right now, I would say the priority is to keep him sound and win the Gold Cup again in 2013.
"Yesterday meant a lot to me because we had to overcome huge problems with Rite Of Passage. There were many times I even thought myself I should stop with this horse.
"Unfortunately, when he set the track record, when he won the Ascot Gold Cup in 2010, he came back with a lot of heat and damage to his tendons. It was just a long process to get those tendon fibres to repair. We thought we had him right when we ran him nearly a year later but unfortunately we damaged them again.
"We had them re-treated again and it was a long time. If we had a clear run with him, we'd have won the last two Gold Cups in my opinion. I'm pretty confident he would have."
Weld also opened up the prospect of running the horse over hurdles again this winter. "If he did go back, it would be for the World Hurdle," he said, referring to the Cheltenham Festival race that has been won by Big Buck's for the past four years.
It is just possible that he could meet Get Me Out Of Here in that Cheltenham contest, as Jonjo O'Neill is thinking about stepping the horse up in trip after his win over two miles here on Sunday. The gelding has a frustrating run of seconds in major races to his name and has been runner-up in different races at the last three Festivals.
"I always keep saying he wants further than two miles but he looked to have plenty of pace today," O'Neill said. "We'll go to two miles three furlongs next [at Ascot next month]. We'll have tried him over three miles [by the next Festival]."
O'Neill said the horse would probably not be tried in novice chases, having struggled when schooled over fences at home.