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Coral Charge Preview: Steps can rise to the occasion

Steps has been better than ever this season and, with Kieren Fallon in the saddle, looks the answer to a wide open renewal of the Coral Charge at Sandown today (2.05).

Roger Varian trained gelding Steps is an ultra-consistent sort who showed a good turn of foot to land a Listed contest at Haydock back in May, by a cosy neck from Eton Rifles.

The six-year-old then ran a stormer under top weight in the “Dash” at Epsom, finishing strongly to be beaten just 3/4 of a length into fourth after being slowly away. Steps then posted a career-best effort last time out when sixth of 16 to Sole Power in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on ground that was quicker than ideal.

He got outpaced in the early stages of the latter, before staying on strongly to be beaten just 2 1/2 lengths and, although the son of Verglas finished behind Stepper Point and Ahtoug, this track will play to his strengths.

The stiff uphill finish and slightly slower ground will be ideal, and if Steps gets the breaks at the right time from a potentially tricky draw in stall one he is going to be tough to beat.

Ahtoug and Stepper Point look the obvious dangers. The former is an improving sprinter who posted some solid efforts at Meydan earleir in the year, including when beaten just a head by Shea Shea in a Group 3 contest, and a neck by Amber Sky in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.

A repeat of those efforts would give the Charlie Appleby trained six-year-old major claims in this Group 3 contest, but the son of Byron needs quick ground to be seen at his best and any rain would be a negative.

The same applies to the William Muir trained Stepper Point, who is a really speedy sort but needs rattling fast ground to be seen to maximum effect.

This gelding ran a stormer when runner-up to Sole Power in the King’s Stand, but whether the five-year-old will be as effective over today’s stiff 5f is debatable.