|Brilliant steeple chaser St. Steven has become only the second horse
in history to win the Hiskens Steeplechase after he scored a dashing and popular win in
todays 2002 running at Moonee Valley.
international winner of the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan earlier this year, St. Steven
followed in the footsteps of the former champion fencer Crisp by taking the Hiskens in
Winning trainer John Wheeler, who freely admits to being
one of Crisps biggest fans, was unwilling to try and compare the jumping stars.
"Crisp was just a
champion," Wheeler said after his gelding scored his six length win.
"This fellow is pretty special as well, but its
hard to try and compare them."
"He (Crisp) was a very high jumper, whereas St. Steven
just flies over them, I much prefer that in a jumper as it gets them over the jumps
quicker and helps conserve energy," the kiwi master trainer added.
In winning todays Hiskens Steeplechase St. Steven
must have also wrapped up the honour of being crowned Australias Champion Jumper for
the Season, an award which will be presented at the Australian Racing Champions Night at
Crown Palladium on Tuesday.
Winning jockey Brett Scott, who had done much of the work
on the gelding from Wheelers Mornington base in Victoria, revealed after the race of
the pressure which had been mounting on connections before todays attempt at
"Theres been a fair bit of pressure on the whole lot of
us to try and equal Crisps record," Scott said. "So its just
fantastic to be able to come out and do it in such an easy fashion here today."
Scott was also amazed at the amazing reception the gelding
got when he firstly flew over the final fence and then crossed the line six lengths clear
of Regal Royal.
"The crowd was incredible," Scott said minutes
after the win. "We got a huge roar when we cleared the last and coming back to scale
was really sensational."
Connections were given plenty of time to savour the win
while the large Moonee Valley crowd was in raptures cheering home Australias jumping
St. Steven will return to
New Zealand on Friday with a group of stablemates before being set to go back to back on
the international circuit in Japan.
"Wed really have to go back," Wheeler said
referring to the Nakayama Grand Jump, the worlds richest jumps event St. Steven won
this year in great style.
While, St. Steven was faultless in his brilliant win, the
effort of the runner-up Regal Royal drew praises from his in form trainer.
"It was a great effort," Regal Royals
trainer Robbie Laing said. "We got beaten be something pretty special."
Regal Royal was eight lengths in advance of the third
placegetter Built Him ($13-$16), last years runner-up. He was able to hold out River
Boy in a photo finish for the minor end of the prize.
The race was robbed of
some gloss when the reigning Grand Annual winner Hibernian Prince was destoryed after
suffering serious injuries in a fall during the treble on the final lap.
The tragedy extended a rotten run of luck for leading
trainer Eric Musgrove in recent features. Another top class member of the stable Blue
Star, a winner of this seasons Australian Hurdle at Sandown, was destroyed after
falling in the Grand National Hurdle at Flemington last month.
Cyberhorse punters would have enjoyed a great result
from the Hiskens Steeplechase. St. Steven was selected to win the race, while the $21
runner-up Regal Royal was also selected for second. The Cyberhorse best bet on
todays Melbourne Cup, Shaye Spice was also a comprehensive winner. The exacta paid a
massive $41.80 for a $1 outlay.
PICS - Quentin