Posted by Hopwood Wendy
Date: 9th April 2019
Handicaps for the 138th edition of the Stawell Gift Carnival are in! Check out where you, and your competition, are starting from in this year’s carnival.
The Victorian Athletic League has announced the handicaps for all athletes competing in this year’s Stawell Gift Carnival, held over Easter from Saturday April 20 to Monday April 22.
A total of 159 men have been given handicaps in the prestigious Visit Grampians Stawell Gift and 112 women have been given handicaps to compete in the Strickland Family Women’s Gift. The fields include defending champions Jacob Despard and Elizabeth Forsyth, and for the the first time in the history of the 138- year-old event, athlete Maddie Coates has been given a mark of -1m for the Strickland Family Women’s Gift.
“It’s so encouraging to see the strong numbers continuing at Easter. It’s exciting because there are so many new junior and female athletes that will be experiencing their first time at Stawell. The Visit Grampians Stawell Gift and the Strickland Family Women’s Gift are shaping up to be thrilling after a number of outstanding performances through this season,” said Tom Burbidge, CEO, VAL.
“I think it’s brilliant that Maddie is the first athlete to be allocated a mark behind scratch at Stawell. It’s a tremendous badge of honour. Maddie is an exceptional athlete and we’ve enjoyed her success in the VAL in recent years. She’s has won numerous races in pro running whilst continuing to improve along the way, which ultimately has led to her mark at Stawell.”
Olympic sprinter and two-time Stawell Gift winner Josh Ross (2003/2005) will run off 2m and will return to attempt a record making treble.
“I am extremely excited to be coming back to Stawell for another chance to create history by attempting to win my third Stawell gift, 16 years after my first win. We may not ever see someone take out three Stawell gifts in our life time, so this could be an extraordinary moment in Australian sporting history. As always, I’ll be there to win and to put on a show for my fans,” said Ross.
“Stawell remains my favourite race of the year and I will always have a very strong connection with the race and the people who know what it takes to prepare for one of the greatest races in the world,” added Josh.
Reigning champion Jacob Despard, with 0.75m, is the backmarker for the men and quietly confident he could become only the second back to back winner of the Stawell Gift. “I’d comfortably say I’m the quickest guy in the field so I’m ready for the challenge. When I was younger as soon as the marks would come out I’d always search through and see who the back mark was, I’d always look up to that person over the weekend. Now I am that person.”
Despard rates Ross’ chances, along with Jason Bailey (10m) and Queenslander Jayden Gilfillan (8m).
“Jason Bailey is the one to beat this year in my eyes. Lining up off the limit on 10m. He’s been around a while now so should know how to get the job done. Jayden Gilfillan from Qld is another to watch, I feel this year could be his year. Josh Ross has been gifted 0.5m lift since last lining up at the Parkdale Gift where he finished 3rd off 1.5m so he will definitely be in the mix too.”
2017 Stawell Gift Open winner Matt Rizzo (2.75m) believes the mens’ field will be competitive this year, also rating Jason Bailey as one to beat as well as Jack Newman (8m) from Newcastle. “On the day he is going to be dangerous.”
“It would be awesome if Josh Ross could get the job done for a third time, he just could be that dark horse, with his mark he has the experience and is in good form,” said Rizzo.
Rizzo also fancies his own coach Matt Carter (3.5m) and for the women – last year’s winner Elizabeth Forsyth (1.25m), Gold Coast rival Bree Masters (4m) and his training partners Sofia Fighera (5m) and Alexia Loizou (5.75m).
“I would tip EJ to make history and become the first woman to win back to back titles, I believe she has the ability to do that based on her form over the past year.”
Elizabeth (EJ) Forsyth said it will be very difficult given her mark has changed from 7m to 1.25m. “I’m not surprised however everyone always hopes for a bit more, it will be super tough to make the double.”
Luke Versace, former Stawell Gift winner in 2014 and current Patron of the Stawell Athletic Club favours Jason Bailey, Jack Newman as well as Dhruv Rodrigues Chico trained by Tom Morehouse and running off 7m.
“In the women’s I get the feeling we will be seeing someone from the stables of coaches Brett Robinson or Peter O’Dwyer.”
Three days of action-packed racing, activities and entertainment make up the 2019 Stawell Gift Carnival. The off-track action is headlined by Fashions on the Field which takes centre stage on Easter Saturday (April 20). Easter Sunday is Family Day at Stawell with The Cadbury® Easter Egg Hunt headlining a fantastic schedule of child-friendly activities including an athletics clinic run by Matt Beckenham, helped by a handful of elite athletes including Lauren Wells fresh from her success at the National Athletics Championships last weekend in Sydney where she won her 12th title in the 400m.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance of the Stawell Gift here. Adult concession tickets start from just $15, while Child tickets are free on Stawell Family Day.
The 2019 Stawell Gift will be broadcast on Channel 7 from 11.30am – 2.30pm AEST on Monday April 22. http://www.stawellgift.com/news-media/tv-broadcast/
Posted by Hopwood Wendy
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