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21/06/02 Weight No Worry for St Steven

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Australian based New Zealand international jumping star St. Steven gets his chance to return to the winner's stall in tomorrow's Ian Macdonald Steeplechase at Moonee Valley.

John Wheeler's Victorian foreman and leading cross country jockey Brett Scott is predicting the gelding to be hard to beat.

This comes despite the fact the gelding is required to carry 71.5 kilograms, a weight which at first alarmed Scott.

"I couldn't believe the weight when I first read it," Scott said. "At the time I thought Jarl (a Von Doussa Steeple winner) was thrown in."

"But now with Jarl out I guess it's not quite so bad," the brilliant jumps jock said.

0416brettscott.jpg (16451 bytes)St. Steven, a winner of the world's richest jumping event - the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan on April 13, has not raced over the fences since his international victory.

"He schooled at Sandown recently and then again at Moonee Valley early in the week," Scott said. "The improvement between the two was noticeable."

A son of Hula Town, St. Steven ran an eye catching fourth (of eleven) on the flat at Sandown recently before tragedy nearly struck on the return home from the races.

"He got his leg up into the feed bin in the float on the way back," Scott said. "He just knocked and bruised his tendon a little, we were  very lucky it wasn't serious."

Scott has said that he expects the most opposition to come from last start Flemington winner Big Bonus and the debut fencer River Boy.

"River Boy is having his first start over the fences and he schooled very well at the Valley," Scott said.

0416ststeven2.jpg (10510 bytes)Meanwhile, the Wheeler and Scott combination is looking to capture the jumps double at Moonee Valley.

They will also be represented with the promising hurdler Wilson Road in the Ted Best Hurdle earlier in the afternoon.

"We had to go more forward than I would have liked last start," Scott recalled. "He's going to be hard to beat tomorrow."

Both jumpers are hoping to follow in the footsteps of last Saturday's Australian Steeple winner Crafty Dancer who scored a narrow win over Ballata.

That steepler is on track for the Grand National at Flemington and is reported to have pulled up perfectly since Sandown.

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