Athletics: Pitreavie Gift race to rival New Year Sprint
The Edinburgh Evening News
22 July 2011
The New Year Professional Sprint may have a rival next winter.
Plans are afoot to stage a new professional track meeting at Pitreavie Stadium on Sunday January 29.
"The Pitreavie Gift", as it will probably be called, is the brainchild of handicapper Don Campbell, who has taken the name from the famous "Stawell Gift" pro meeting in Australia.
The Stawell Gift, held every Easter weekend, draws large crowds and has long been popular with Scots pro runners, notably Tranent's George McNeill, who won the famous handicap 11 years after he won the Centenary New Year Sprint at Powderhall to complete his "Unique Double".
Campbell, who has visited Stawell, is keen to stress that he is not trying to set up in opposition to the traditional New Year meeting, currently promoted by Frank Hanlon at Musselburgh Racecourse in conjunction with a National Hunt meeting But he does see the fact that they will stage the meeting on a modern all-weather surface as a big plus and he believes the date will slot in nicely with the Scottish Indoor calendar.
The New Year Sprint is run on grass and athletes often have to contend with a difficult surface.
"Over 300 athletes have expressed an interest," he maintains.
Campbell is encouraged by the support he has had pledged from local bodies, citing the fact that there is a gap for such a meeting as Dunfermline does not have a Highland Games.
"The main thing first of all is to get it established," he says. "We'll be looking for sponsors."