Posted by Hopwood Wendy
Date: 14th April 2022
With some of Australia’s top male sprinters lining up for the Powercor Stawell Gift this Easter weekend, some believe they will have their work cut out to run down a group of highly favoured front markers who have earned their marks by winning one or more of the lead-in Gifts this season. We spoke to Harrison Kerr, Aidan Green and Jasper Nettlefold ahead of the 2022 Powercor Stawell Gift.
“It would mean the world to me to win the Powercor Stawell Gift,” said Ringwood based Harry Kerr who trains with Nick Fiedler. It has always been a dream of mine to join the greats who have won it and I can’t think of anything better.”
Often referred to as the Grand Final of the pro running season, there is just something about Stawell that makes it special and so highly regarded.
“It is the one that all pro runners aspire to because it is the pinnacle of pro running in Australia. It’s one of the eleven world heritage athletics locations, so it’s the history, tradition and competition that makes it special,” Harry said.
Aidan Green, who has been in tremendous form this season, agrees: “Although outsiders see the money as a big incentive, what I believe pro runners aspire to is the prestige and history that comes along with the race. It would be amazing to have my name put down with all the other athletes who have won the pinnacle of pro racing.”
Aidan trains with Craig Mair’s stable, NES, at the Doncaster athletics track and ironically has picked Harry Kerr to win the title race this year.
Of the amateur backmarkers Aidan, who is running off a handicap of 7m, said; “They are quality athletes and I hope I can hold them all off.”
Jasper Nettlefold, who trains with the Pride Performance squad under coach Matt Carter based on the Mornington Peninsula, is happy with his mark of 7.25m and confident he can stay ahead of the pack. “It’s a great handicap, a lot of previous competitors have done well off that mark,” said Jasper.
Nettlefold believes this year could be his, with the season being his most consistent, and he is aiming for a top three position.
“There are a few guys out there that might have it in them, but I believe I’ll be very difficult to catch if I execute my race properly.”
“It would be an incredible feeling to see all the years of hard work and sacrifice culminating in such a special moment. The weekend has such historical significance, and who wouldn’t want their name written in the history books.”
But if he had to name another winner this year, Jasper picked Hamish Lindstrom.
Harry Kerr has put injury behind him and believes he is in PB shape. He has recovered from a preseason shoulder reconstruction. “After being stuck on the exercise bike and doing core sessions over winter preseason and early season, it has progressed nicely and I have come into recent form winning my last three races,” he told us.
“This will be my eighth year competing. I had older brothers who also ran so I have been to the Stawell Gift a few times and I have family who help run the local quarry and have come down for work on other occasions. “
Of his 9.25m handicap Harry said; “I am happy to be in a good position to give it a proper crack.”
Harry rates both the amateurs and the pros who, like himself, have good handicaps from doing well throughout the season. “There is some serious talent this year, particularly the guys coming off the back of Nationals like Jacob Despard, Jake Doran, Aidan Murphy and others.
“All of the guys who have won throughout the year are in a great position, particularly those with strong performances like Hamish Lindstrom, Aidan Green, Nicholas Antonino, Tom Griffin and Nathan Riali to name a few.”
So who will take the crown? Will it be one of the fast-sprinting back markers or someone from the crop of amazing strong and consistent pro runners further forward in the field? It could be anyone’s guess.
Photo of Jasper Nettlefold courtesy of Neil Jameson, Jamesons Photography.
Posted by Hopwood Wendy
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