|St. Steven can stitch up his second successive Champion Jumper award
by winning Saturday's Hiskens Steeplechase (3700m) at Moonee Valley.
One of two high class runners for powerful kiwi jumps trainer John
Wheeler, St. Steven is set to start a warm betting and crowd favourite as he attempts to
win back to back runnings of the feature jumping event.
Twelve months ago, before he was an international jumping
star, St. Steven scored a dashing four and a half length win over Built Him in the
$125,000 Hiskens. That was a year after he finished fifth at his first attempt at the race
in 2000, when won by Logician.
St. Steven's form this time in has been first class. First
up since his triumph in the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan, the son of Hula Town ran a
slashing fourth behind the highly rated staying prospect Badger's Wood.
His Hiskens preparation took another step forward when he scored
just his third flat win at Moonee Valley, a win which was followed by a dashing win the
Steeple ran in his name last start.
Brett Scott, who won last weekend's Grand National Hurdle
in Adelaide aboard Eric Musgrove's Super Cobra, will again be aboard St. Steven on
Wheeler has booked another leading kiwi, Clayton
Chipperfield, to ride his other entrant in the race, the in form Crafty Dancer.
Crafty Dancer, a son of Just a Dancer, has taken the next
step by scoring wins in the Australian and Grand National Steeples in Melbourne in recent
times, and he could cause an upset by beating his popular stablemate.
Jim Houlahan is staking his claims by throwing Classic Prince in the
field, in an event which will be his first jumps race this preparation.
Classic Prince, who'll be ridden by the brilliant local
cross country jockey Craig Durden, has only raced once since April 2, and that was on the
flat over 2030 metres at Caulfield. On that occasion the gelding by Little Brown Jug
finished a 9.3 length seventh behind Stolen Crown.
Meanwhile, John Wheeler isn't the only trainer with two
runners in the Hiskens. Michael Zampatti, who scored a winner at Sandown yesterday, will
also have two starters.
Zampatti will saddle up both Built Him, a runner-up last
year to St. Steven, and Sir Ritchie in the Hiskens on the minimum weight.
Recent Valley steeple winner River Boy, the dashing grey
Kickit and the proven jumper Regal Royal are also among the ten final runners in the
$136,000 race which is sponsored by Dominant.
PICS - Quentin