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25/07/02 St. Steven Hot for Hiskens
r4johnwheeler.jpg (10292 bytes)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.

r4wheeler&scott.jpg (12272 bytes)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 Saturday.

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.

r1jhoulahan.jpg (11599 bytes)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 Lang.

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