Australia Post Stawell Gift wide open, Punters Pal ‘exclusive’ guide

Date: 31st March 2013

Former world record-holder Asafa Powell, two-time winner Joshua Ross and three other former winners all feature in the semi-finals of the Australia Post Stawell Gift tomorrow ahead of the finale at 2.45pm.

The 2013 Australia Post Stawell Gift is sure to be a hotly contested affair with only 0.10s separating the 11 fastest from Saturday’s heats, making it one of closest contests in recent years.

Only the winner of each of the six semi-finals will earn a place in the final of Australia’s richest and most prestigious footrace, where $40,000 and a place in the annals of Australian sporting history await the victor.

Here’s a preview to tomorrow’s 2013 Australian Post Stawell Gift semi-finals from renowned tipster Punter’s Pal.

Australia Post Stawell Gift – SEMI 1

BibNameFromHandicapHeat Time
RedGary FINEGANQueensland5.5m12.29
WhiteDean SCARFFNew South Wales7.5m12.21
BlueCarl MOREHOUSEChealsea Heights7.5m12.38
YellowNicholas MACGIBBONPreston8.75m12.29
GreenLuke WHITNEYTasmania9.75m12.40
PinkSimon JACKSONBentleigh11.7512.10
BlackRyan CAMILLEWheelers Hill12m12.25

Bentleigh business manager Simon Jackson (11.75m) had a leaky heart valve repaired last year and 12 months on he’s hoping the new improved ticker can withstand the elevated heart beat a Gift semi-final is sure to deliver.

He’s the second-fastest qualifier from the heats and is one of the favourites in the betting ring at $5. Australia Post Stawell Gift debutant Dean Scarff will be well suited if it’s chilly at Central Park and from 7.25m looks likely to provide the only challenge. Luke Whitney, off 9.75m, will need to be on song if he wants to dance with somebody at the Gift Hotel on Monday night.

Punters Pal Tips:
1.   Jackson     2.   Scarff     3.   Finegan

Australia Post Stawell Gift – SEMI 2

BibNameFromHandicapHeat Time
RedAaron STUBBSGold Coast5.25m12.15
WhiteDavid AFATHReservoir7.5m12.26
BlueJohn NICOLOSIMalvern8.25m12.41
YellowShaun HARGREAVESWerribee9.25m12.30
GreenEdward WAREMelbourne10.25m12.27
PinkJosh TIUDoncaster10.5m12.20
BlackNick MAGREEMitcham12m12.41

Queenslander Aaron Stubbs (5.25m) knows what it takes to win a Stawell Gift. Known trackside as “Huge Calves” somewhat ironically given his skinny lower limbs, in 2009 the cocky beach sprinter won with the fastest time seen at Central Park in the last 18 years.

He’s a better sprinter now and drawing former finalist Josh “ah” Tiu (10.5m), who has a reputation for tightening under pressure, probably makes his job of winning through to the 132nd running of the prestigious event a lot easier.

Former cheerleader Edward Ware (10.25m) the runner-up in 2011, is Stubbs’ closest rival – he needs to leave the pom poms at home to have a chance.

Punters Pal Tips:
1.   Stubbs     2.   Ware     3.   Tiu

Australia Post Stawell Gift – SEMI 3

BibNameFromHandicapHeat Time
RedMatt CARTERMornington4m12.49
WhiteSam JAMIESONWilliamstown6.25m12.32
BlueBen MISPELHORNGold Coast8m12.35
YellowJames LOBLEYBrighton9m12.52
GreenTim ESCHEBACHNewscastle9.5m12.19
PinkPaul TANCREDIOak Park10.25m12.35
BlackShane WOODROWBallarat12m12.15

Primary school teacher Shane Woodrow (12m) was heavily backed before the heats and a confident looking 12.15s had his fans rubbing their hands at the thought of collecting some of their own booty if he wins through to the $40,000 final.

The Ballaratian formally read the sports news on Win TV so has a legion of fans in Western Victoria. Paying $8 for the final, Woodrow runs off the front mark of 12m and won the 550m here in 2011 so should have plenty of strength at the finish. He looks set to stave off the only likely threat – lifeguard Tim Eschebach (9.5m). 2008 winner Sam Jamieson (6.25m) will keep them honest.

Punters Pal Tips:
1.   Woodrow     2.   Eschebach     3.   Jamieson

Australia Post Stawell Gift – SEMI 4

BibNameFromHandicapHeat Time
RedMitchell WILLIAMS-SWAINGold Coast4.5m12.08
WhiteIain McFARLANESydney7.25m12.34
BlueKevin BRITTAINGrovedale8m12.29
YellowPaul CARCROFT-WILSONGold Coast9m12.28
GreenJohn ADAMSLavington9.25m12.25
PinkRobert SPENCERBrisbane10.25m12.36
BlackIsaac DUNMALLEssendon10.5m12.12

Mitchell Williams-Swain survived a hamstring tear to take victory in 2011. A long name for commentator Peter Donegan to spit out if it’s close, the “Swain Train” looks on track to win here.

Running off 4.5m, the nuggety Gold Coast beach-turned-track sprinter’s mark is 2m tighter than two years ago but yet in the heats ran 0.10s faster than his winning time. He is a red hot chance to join Ross, Foley and Howard as the event’s only two-time winners. The bookies think so too and have installed him as the $4 favourite.

The only threat appears to be the bolter from Saturday’s heats, fellow Queenslander Isaac Dunmall. The 19 year-old commerce student couldn’t progress into the semis at Noble Park 1 month ago but now is 3rd fastest of the qualifiers and $6.50 on the tote. His improvement is remarkable, so remarkable that he will be tagged the Stawell Bandit if he wins the big cheque.

Punters Pal Tips
1.   Williams-Swain     2.   Dunmall     3.   Brittain

Australia Post Stawell Gift – SEMI 5

BibNameFromHandicapHeat Time
RedJoshua ROSSHawthorne1m12.39
WhiteTom GAMBLEQueensland6m12.27
BlueJames VINEGlen Iris8m12.27
YellowBenjamin WEAVERFrankston8.75m12.18
GreenDaniel STEINHAUSERAlbury9m12.35
PinkGus CARTY-COWLINGWest Footscray10m12.30
BlackAdam COOTEElwood11m12.19

Josh “The Boss” Ross (1m) owns the sheffield distance of 120m with victories in all of Australia’s classic races, perhaps justifying his proclamation that he is “the greatest pro runner in history”. He has also said he was ‘born to run at Stawell’.

With two winner’s sashes, including one off scratch, it’s hard to argue. Despite shutting down 30m out in his 12.49s heat win, a third title looks elusive for Ross the Boss and the punters agree. He’ll start at $17. If he wins a third Gift, he achieves pedestrian immortality and may well break out his trademark “robot” and Heartbeat” dance in combination.

Former finalist Ben “The Dream” Weaver (8.75m) will feel the threat of long-striding sport science student from Queensland Tom Gamble, who after a classy heat looks a safe bet to win from AFL umpire Adam Coote. Coote appears to have been dudded by ‘The Geisch’ at AFL HQ making him run the boundary on Thursday night at the MCG.

Maybe Gamble, who is the best named runner according to the bookies.

Punters Pal Tip:
1.   Gamble     2.   Coote     3.   Weaver

Australia Post Stawell Gift – SEMI 6

BibNameFromHandicapHeat Time
RedAsafa POWELLJamaicascratch12.32
WhiteRyan BEDFORDGold Coast6m12.39
BlueAndrew ROBINSONLaunceston7.25m12.16
YellowMatthew HARGREAVESTarneit7.75m12.32
GreenDylan PANIZZAPerth9m12.32
PinkAndrew BOUDRIEAltona9m12.18
BlackTijmarri SANDERSON-MILLERASouth Australia9.75m12.29

Fast starts. Fast women. Fast cars. Fast fast fast. Asafa Powell is the quickest man ever to toe the turf at Central Park and provided a dramatic opening to the three-day carnival on Saturday. His name means “rise to the occasion” which is fitting for the “Pum Pum King”.

The one-time world 100m record holder was a doubtful starter as a tight hammy threatened his withdrawal. Minutes later he was rolling out a 12.32s one of the fastest times ever seen here from scratch at Central Park. Bookies aren’t as impressed and have him at $21. Whether he even starts is still undecided.

It’s hard to see the Gift winner coming from this semi so national 400m finalist Andrew Boudrie (9m) and three-time Tasmanian sprinter of the year Andrew Robinson (7.25m) will have to settle for bragging rights about the day they beat Asafa (if he starts).

Punters Pal Tip:
1.   Robinson     2.   Boudrie     3.   Powell

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