CHAIRMAN'S Prize hero Red Ruffian takes a major step on the road towards that important end-of-season showdown when he tackles the featured ATV Cup at Sha Tin today. It has been a troubled season for David Hill's classy English sprinter but that's behind him and victory today would set up a tremendous clash with Sound Print in the Chairman's Prize. Sound Print, with two wins in the first two rounds of the inaugural Sprint Championship, can obviously win it but impressive Red Ruffian, in form and fully fit, will be a massive obstacle. And retaining the Chairman's Prize is the prime target for Red Ruffian as trainer Hill explained. ''That's the one we are after now. He has had problems this season with cracked heels and we had to take him out of work and his whole programme was messed up. ''But we have got over that now and I was pleased with his last run and since then he has been doing exactly what we have wanted.'' Red Ruffian did take part in the first leg of the Sprint Championship, the Happy Valley Trophy, but he was nowhere near his best form and beat only one home. It had been an interrupted preparation leading up to that race and the troubles with his heels continued although he ran better over 1,400 metres at Sha Tin. But it was his last run at Happy Valley which really stamped him as one to almost immediately follow. Coming from well off the pace, Red Ruffian flew home to finish a length third to stablemate Compradore with King Prawn between them and the step up to the 1,400 metres of today's ATV Cup is perfect for the five-year-old. At this stage of his career, Red Ruffian is ideally looking for this trip rather than the longer sprint at either course and he has continued to work along most impressively for this event. Champion jockey Basil Marcus, who is doing less riding for Hill as the partnership winds down, is on Red Ruffian and will get the best out of the gelding. There is a full field of 14 but not that many clear cut chances although there will be plenty of support for topweight Optic Empire. The New Zealand galloper is a good type of horse and Darren Gauci got up in the last stride to win on him last time out - but has paid the penalty. Optic Empire will have to carry 139 lbs and it's not going to be easy. On top of that, the gelding's best distance is almost certainly 1,600 metres and with this weight and over this distance he may find it difficult to really sprint. The weight could anchor him. However, if Optic Empire is given a chance so, too, must Magnified who went under by the official minimum margin last time and is definitely weighted to reverse that form. Magnified disappointed over 1,800 metres last time and is losing admirers. It may be that the in-between distance of 1,600 metres is what he's after. Or it may be that he's simply not quite as good and determined as connections think. Although he is badly drawn again, Innovation does make appeal as a solid quinella and each-way chance. He was out in the wilds last time in a similar event and put up a tremendous performance to finish just a length and three parts away from Optic Empire and Magnified. But trainer Lawrie Fownes has been done no favours by the draw (13) and was shaking his heads when declarations came out. It's difficult to know what to do with Champman River. The Brian Kan Ping-chee galloper is a gutsy type with plenty of ability - but is he quite up to top class? His last run suggests he is as Champman River finished second to Wonderful Moment, albeit there were four lengths in it. But he looks to be a horse who has thrived recently and John Marshall should have no problems getting him well placed from barrier four. Mount Hansen never really got warm last week down the straight 1,000 metres but was just over four lengths away from Sound Print. He is much better suited here and could make his presence felt with a late surge under Lester Piggott. Leading trainer Ivan Allan brings Derby runner-up All Thrills back to 1,400 metres with his excellent claimer, Stanley K.M. Chin, up and they should not be overlooked.