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Last Updated: 17/04/14 1:29pm
Stepper Point: Ready for the Sprint
View from connections ahead of Friday's bookmakers.co.uk All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.
William Muir believes Stepper Point is ready to silence the critics and prove he stays six furlongs when he does battle in the bookmakers.co.uk All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield on Friday.
The five-year-old has shown smart form at the minimum trip, winning the Listed Beverley Bullet on the Westwood last summer.
He booked his place in this line-up when lifting the fast track qualifier over five furlongs last month, despite Muir having concerns about his fitness.
"He's in good shape and he's improved fitness-wise," said the Lambourn handler.
"First time out I made it plain he'd only had the one piece of work and we went there (to Lingfield) thinking he'd never won first time out in any of his three years before and he did it with a penalty.
"He's looking great, he's been working well and it's happy days.
"There should be stacks of pace in the race and he's comfortable whatever you want to do with him in a race. I don't think stall eight will make a difference to him.
"As a two-year-old he won over the extended five at Warwick and he got the trip quite well that day. He won by five lengths going away drawn 14 of 14 and stayed wide all the way.
"They may have been an inferior bunch, but George Baker who rode him that day said he'd have no problem getting further.
"Just because he's been quite good over five I haven't had to change him. When he went to the front at Lingfield it looked like he could have stayed there another furlong.
"Until you go and win at that trip people will always ask the question but I'm quite comfortable.
"He made all in the Beverley Bullet and York Glory took us on from half a furlong out and we battled all the way to the line to win. Beverley's a stiff track and York Glory had won the Wokingham.
"He's been working brilliant, so I'm going to enjoy the day and see what's what."
Valbchek won a fast track qualifier in November but has not run since having suffered a setback when out in Dubai.
"He went to Dubai but unfortunately three weeks into his stay out there he picked up an injury, so we brought him home and this was always the number one target," said trainer Jeremy Noseda.
"We've prepared him for this. He can have his going days and his none going days.
"At the moment he's two for two at Lingfield. The race should be set up with plenty of pace. He's in good order and ready for action.
"He has had a little hiccup with an abscess in a foot, but he's in great nick and it won't bother him.
"He's fresh and he's well. If he's got his going head on then he'll run big."
Lancelot Du Lac was third to Valbchek in November and his trainer Dean Ivory has been happy with the four-year-old's preparation.
"The horse is very well. I was pleased with his performance at Kempton when they broke the track record," said Ivory.
"He likes to sit about third or fourth and then make his dash in the final furlong. He's come out of the race in great nick and worked lovely yesterday.
"Obviously I'm very excited. The race at Kempton put him spot-on.
"He's got a good draw (stall two) and hopefully everything will fall into place. You need a bit of luck on the all-weather, especially round the turns, but he should have a good chance."
Hawkeyethenoo has been a regular at this track over the winter without getting his head in front.
His trainer Jim Goldie has fingers crossed the eight-year-old will get the rub of the green this time.
"He was drawn wide last time and we elected to try and run wide, but it didn't work out," said the Glasgow handler.
"He is one of the best horses in the race but the track doesn't play to his strengths.
"Over a straight course, you can drop him out and come with a rattle, but unfortunately there is a bend at Lingfield.
"He is the second-fastest horse over the six furlongs at Lingfield, so I think we are capable of winning it if we get luck in running."
Even Stevens is a seven times winner at Southwell, but adapted well to Lingfield when third to Stepper Point last month before disappointing on the turf at Doncaster.
"We ran him at Doncaster which was probably a mistake, but we haven't needed to do a lot with him since that day," said trainer Scott Dixon.
"He's fit enough from a lot of runs on the all-weather including two fantastic wins.
"We've freshened him up and he did his last serious bit of work the other day over six just to let him settle bit. He did it nicely and we're looking forward to it."
Addictive Dream was fourth that day and his trainer David Nicholls feels his charge is not out of it if he can get the run of the race.
"He's a good, fast horse. The start is important to him. He loves to dictate," said the North Yorkshire handler.