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October 2018

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PROTRACK » 2018 Stawell Gift Form Guide » 2018 Stawell Gift Form Guide - ACHTERBOSCH To LUGO

2018 Stawell Gift Form Guide - ACHTERBOSCH To LUGO

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The 2018 Stawell Gift Form Guide – by Hurricane

As another barrage of competitors from all each corner of the country descend on Central Park for another Easter carnival, we take a look at those individuals who walk to their blocks yet again, in hopes of taking home Australia’s richest sash.

Favourites, smokies, those flying under the radar, who will take out this year’s most prestigious title? Hurricane uses the 2017/18 season information in conjunction with history to formulate player profiles and predictions in this year’s Stawell Gift form guide.


Jordan Achterbosch – 6.00m – There is not a great deal to know about the young lad from Sebastopol at this stage. He entered a few meets late in the season including Keilor & Euroa but has not run. On the novice marks in both the gift and Bill Howard restricted.

Hamish Adams – 9.50m - Adams came into his own this year, in particular at the Avondale Heights carnival where he took the 120m crown (12.93 off 9.0m). He backed up to finish 3rd in the Don Furness 70m final, proving he can get out of the gates and bring it home over the distance. A semi berth is guaranteed, but he will need to find time to mix it with the favourites.

Emmanuel Adeloju – 6.0m – Complete unknown. Not sure he has competed at all. A google search comes up with a social basketballer in the south-eastern suburbs. Hard to recommend but this is the Stawell Gift and stranger things have happened.

Devon Allen – 1.00m – The backmarker for 2018, Allen (USA) is a world class 110m hurdler who received a wild card entry into the Devonport 200m in December and bolted in off scratch in 21.90sec. In Sydney a fortnight ago, Allen ran 10.26sec to blitz the field over 100m. On current form he is the fastest man in the field. This is a much tougher assignment than Devonport but he adds an international interest and has a great chance of making the final.

Noddy Angelakos – 9.25m - The Golden Greek shows some serious heart when he enters the arena, making a Bill Howard final in ‘09, and taking a previous Ballarat gift as a highlight, then in 2018 he ran like the wind placing 2nd in the prestigious Bendigo 400m Black Opal event. This source suggests Noddy may look towards the circular event for a Stawell sash this time around. Semi final chance.

Nicholas Antonino – 7.75m -  A young up and comer from the talented Fiedler stable. Antonino had a good year last year taking out the 2017 Ringwood 70m u20. He won the Maryborough novice 120m on New Year’s Day (12.82s off 11m) and has been running in the Sportsbiz 400m series, mixing it among multiple sprint distances throughout the season. Will probably focus on the 400m and the 70m at this stage. Another runner of the future.

Jacob Aston – 6.00m - A junior athlete, he’s the son of dual Stawell Gift finalist Chris Aston. He won the 120m Marion Gift (SA) in January off 7m. He has also entered the U18 100m, so expect him to make a big charge at a sash there as he gains experience on the professional circuit. He has the pedigree to feature in the years ahead, maybe even on the dais at a future Easter weekend.

Blake Bailey – 9.50m - Younger brother of Gift prospect Jason. Blake took out the 2016 St Albans 70m by a hair and since has put together some very strong performances across multiple distances. He’s another up and coming youngster who’s become a regular on the VAL circuit. A very talented set of siblings with a female prospect in the women’s as well, expect Blake to look elsewhere for his sash chance. Another runner of the future.

Jason Bailey – 10.00m – One of the in-form athletes at the right time of the year. Bailey throws his hat into the ring by taking out the Geelong Gift and 70m double in February, earning a bonus lift. Starting from the limit will surely make a few athletes nervous, as he will certainly hang out there for the most part of the race. That top end speed will get a workout when it comes semi-final time, but being a more developed and matured athlete in 2018, who knows, we may very well see his name on the billboard this Easter.

Stuart Bainbridge – 8.50m - He won the Bay Sheffield 120m Restricted in 2011 (12.71s off 7.0m). We last saw Stuart in the Stawell semis in 2012 where he managed to pull together a strong 12.36 from 7.5m. He finds himself a metre better off to potentially put himself in the mix. Does he still have the legs to get out of the heat? Many experienced athletes have bounced back into the chase, this may be no different. Semi-final chance.

Sam Baird – 7.25m -  He was an Australian 400m representative at the 2013 world youth and the 2015 world relay championships. A member of the powerful POD squad, he won the Castlemaine Gift (12.37s off 6.5m) in January. Baird turned heads when he came from the white to claim a barnstorming Black Opal victory a few years ago and he’s never looked back. After spending some time chasing an AFL spot, Baird has returned to become a versatile, enduring athlete and takes his place as one of the favourites this year. With POD behind him, he is one to keep your eyes on. Fasten the headband and gear up son, Hurricane smells a finalist.

Parvinder Singh Bajwa– 6.25m - He flew down the Casey Fields track in 2016 and recorded a healthy 10.80 Apart from breaking down in the 70m at Sandringham back in November, I can’t find a great deal of information. Time will tell to see what form Parvinder brings to Central Park as he tries to earn a spot in Monday’s semi-finals. If he turns up in 10.8 shape, it’s very likely! Semi chance.

Luke Baker – 6.00m – Novice athlete, he ran 4th in a heat of the 100m Geelong Gift (11.05s off 5.0m) and made the semis at Parkdale last week (13.33s off 6m). He has only entered the Gift so he’s thrown all his eggs in the one basket. Time will tell to see the damage he can do, but expect him to gallop down the 120m track for the experience.

Michael Beltrame – 6.00m – He was 6th in the Avondale Heights 120m Gift (13.27s off 5.50m) then the Old Xaverian pulled on the red silk at Bendigo and ran a strong heat to finish (5.5) just behind 2 finalists in Eschebach & Whittaker. Now a half a metre better off and with a nice taper it puts him in contention for a semi-final berth. Has an 11.10 to his name for his Victorian 100m heat, and can go the rounds. Semi chance.

Ronan Berne – 8.00m - At Bendigo he ran 2nd in his heat of the U18’s 120m. (12.91s off 10m).  He may turn some heads in the restricted and watch out for him in the U18 100m where his best chances lie. Yet another runner of the future to keep in mind.

Hudson Berry – 7.50m – From Connells Point, about 20km south of Sydney NSW, he won the Cowra Gift in February (12.36s off 14.0m). He has made a few finals in the NSWAL including a Botany Bay U18’s Gift in 2016. He’s also entered the 70m, 200m and 400m front markers. Best chances appear to be around the circular track to gain a spot ina final at this stage.

Jason Blood – 8.00m – Ran 5th in a heat of the 100m Geelong Gift (11.97s off 6.75m). Has also got the 400 front markers and 100m Bill Howard restricted to attend to. May use this race to wipe the cob webs as he enters the restricted off an even greater mark! Bill Howard chance?

Kevin Brittain – 9.00m - KB knows how Stawell works. He’s made two finals at a young age and returns more experienced than ever. A previous Don Furness winner as well as a 2011 Victorian Country 100m title. His best Gift results this year are 2nd at Parkdale last week (12.89s off 8.0m) and 3rd at Avondale Heights (13.24s off 7.75m). He has been given a 1m lift which will leap frog him over other contenders. Running into form when it matters  - Semi-final chance.

Denzel Brooks – 7.00m - Comes across with a strong contingent of SA athletes after winning the Under 18’s Junior Bay Sheffield in December (13.02s off 9.5m) beating Ballarat Gift winner Luke Mitchell (who ran from 6.5m). His best chance is the U18’s 100m where he has 8m. May use this one to rid the cob webs before attacking a big U18 performance the following day. Anything is possible.

Craig Brown – 10.00m – The 2000 Bay Sheffield and 2001 Burnie Gift winner returns to Stawell after several years away from the sport. Now a veteran he’s going to take a while to get back the fitness needed to be competitive. Meanwhile he’ll enjoy striding down the track as he celebrates his come back to Central Park!

Spencer Browne – 6.00m – He was a heat winner last year (12.61s off 5.5m) and recently made the Bendigo Gift final from the red (4th off 5.75m in 12.52s). Training under the proud banner of Melbourne Athletic Development, Browne could be one of the smokies we need to think about. Semi-final.

Matt Burleigh – 9.75m -  Burleigh has had a great season this year, running regularly and highlighted by the season with a 70m victory at Maribyrnong in convincing fashion. He’s been in regular contention making several semis but not a lot of the bigger finals The way he’s going it’s only a matter of time. However, at this stage his best chance of a final is the 70m. Semi-final.

Desmond Cai –  7.50m - A UNSW student he ran 11.75 (16/12/17) & 11.73s (6/1/18) at ANSW comps in Sydney.  Ran at in the NSWAL Wentworth Park 90m in January just missing the final (10.06s off 4.0m). A novice athlete, his best chance of making the final would be the Bill Howard 100m Restricted.

Andrew Campbell – 9.75m -  Led from the front in last year’s semi-finals to win and ultimately finished 6th in the final (12.47s off 10m). We since haven’t seen the Bunnings boy around much this year. There’s not enough information to place him in contention, but his history shows he knows how to put a performance together, would not be surprised if he reaches the semis again.

Matt Carter – 4.00m -  Return of the sausage munching backmarker! Carter is arguably one of the most decorated professional athletes of the modern era. The 2006 Bill Howard winner started it off. From there, the likes of back to back Maryboroughs, Peninsula and Rye gift victory and a PB of 12.29 from 0.25m in a windy Rye heat. He co-coached the reigning champion in Rizzo and was in the final himself at the 70m mark of his semi last year. He’s since founded Pride Performance, and returns to Central Park under his own banner. There may not be a top knot this year, watch Carter closely as he hunts from the back marks. Semi final.

Toby Cook – 6.00m -  An under 20 athlete entering along with two 800 races and a 400 race. No 120m form to go on. Whether he’s got the speed for this is a huge ‘ask’. Prefer in the circle events.

Jesse Cordoma – 8.50m - Broke through for a 70m novice win at Kensington SA and then ran 3rd in the 70m open at the PreBay and 2nd in the Keith Patching sprint at Brighton SA. Has become a bit of a 70m specialist and still has a lot of work to do over 120m. Prefer in the 70m.

Simon Crichton – 10.00m -  Formerly from SA but moved to WA about 15 years ago. Returned to run 3rd in the 2004 Bay Sheffield final. A veteran athlete now days, he’ll hang out there for a good portion of the race but I fear it may not be enough to hold off the fast finishing backies. Will look toward the 70 or 200 for a semi.

Mathew Currie – 8.50m -  A Currumbin Viking from up north, Currie comes back to Stawell after making the semis last year (12.65s off 8.5m) and running 4th in the 2017 national Under 19 beach sprint title. Has the same mark as last year so will need to find a bit. But under the watchful eye of the co-reigning champ coach Brett Robinson, he’ll enter stage with confidence of another Semi-final.

Jarrad Dartnall – 10.00m -  Dartnall scorched the track in the SAAL this year to claim the prestigious Camden Classic title in 47.72! He’s a previous Loxton Gift winner and 2016 Stawell Gift semi-finalist where he ran into Bedford. Made the Bendigo Gift semi-final (12.65s off 10.5m) last month. Comes back to the limit, and on form could make another semi-final.

Timothy Delahunty –  6.50m – A semi-finalist last year (12.54s off 6.5m) he hasn’t been seen this season. The under 19 national beach sprint champion in 2016, Delahunty is yet another Viking with a point to prove. Certainly a semi-final chance.

Jacob Despard – 4.50m -  Arrives as one of the favourites. Won’t sugar coat this one folks… the 2013 Burnie Gift winner is in this one up to his eyeballs. Securing a bonus mark with the St Albans Gift victory (12.41s off 3.75m), he made a statement with his Euroa 70m win in 7.56 (1.25m)! He beat Michael Romanin easily in the 100m state title semi-final before switching off in the final. The Scott Rowsell trained athlete has last year’s runner up Nathan Riali to gauge exactly where he’s at. Hurricane sees Despard as definitely the one to beat.

Chris Diegan – 10.00m -  Has been a regular of the VAL circuit for a long while now and has crept into semis and finals throughout the past few seasons. Normally runs from 11.50m so meets the field much worse off. Yet to break into a big classic final, Diegan may look towards his healthy 200m mark as his best chance of a final.

Murray Dinan – 10.00m -  Returns to Central Park 30 years after running 5th in the 1988 Stawell Gift. Now in his mid 50’s Murray has returned to the VAL, competing in the minor gifts but has yet to make a semi. At Geelong he ran 13.48s off 7.50m. A tough competitor in his day, it’s great to see him back. Will be great to hear that famous surname again over the loud speaker at Stawell.

Dean Dobric – 10.00m -  Dean has a firm history at Stawell, solidifying himself as a feared frontmarker. He won the Bendigo Thousand Gift in 2016 and had the fifth fastest time in the Bendigo heats this year (12.52s off 10.25m) before missing the final. He returns yet again for another bout. Never take Dobric easily, as there’s no doubt he’ll be ready for whatever comes his way in 2018. A semi surely awaits.

Liam Dooley –7.00m -  Dooley has gone from PB to PB this year, progressively making finals throughout the year with a best result of 4th at Avondale Heights. (13.25s off 6.50m). He was run out in the semis at Ballarat (12.76s off 6.25m) and beaten by Hamish Adams in the fastest semi at Keilor He’s a talented individual who’ll give the gift a good shake! A semi final berth is on the cards.

Nikolas Doumas – 8.00m – Teenage athlete still finding his feet in the sport. Ran 5th in the Under 20’s 120m at Euroa (13.09s off 15.0m). Best chance lies in the 100m Bill Howard Restricted where he has 13.0m.

Cam Dunbar – 9.75m -  Mr Consistent enters another Stawell Gift with high hopes in mind. He’s won numerous races during his long career including Gifts at Maryborough, Rye, Wangaratta, Keilor and Bendigo. He’s made many Stawell semi-finals and came oh so close to a final a couple of years ago. He was 5th in his Parkdale Gift semi-final last week (13.11s off 9.25m). Dunbar is one of the most experienced professional athletes in this list, making him a dangerous heat to draw. Another semi-final beckons.

Isaac Dunmall – 3.00m - Such an exciting athlete to watch, Dunmall is a Stawell Gift rags to riches story. Making the 2014 final off 8.0m, he didn’t quite get the B on bang in the final and faded to 6th. A lot of athletes wouldn’t recover, but Isaac? You better believe he’d come back two years later off 6.75m and take the cake in 12.16! Winning Stonnington the year before that, he’s proven to the professional world he’s a class act and is ready to go again. He’s had some injury problems this season but after Cartha McKerrow reads out his list of achievements as he jogs down the track to his blocks on Easter Saturday he’s sure to fire up!

Matthew Eddy – 8.75m - Eddy’s achievements date back over the past decade, being one of two athletes in the modern era to take dual Maryborough gifts, and making a Bay Sheffield final in his own right. A bit quieter of late, Eddy moves to put himself in the Semis on the Monday, and he’s got the know how to be able to convert knowledge into performance. Semi chance.

Tim Eschebach –7.25m - We’d honestly save time if I told you which finals he DIDN’T make this year. Finals at Terang, Maryborough, Gold Coast, St Albans, Castlemaine, Geelong and 2nd at Bendigo (12.41s off 7m) is only part of it! He’s also made two Stawell Gift finals in 2013/2015 and the 2014 200m title. Tim proves time and time again that his method works. His 2017/18 resume, suggests he has more in store for us at Central Park. Can he make yet a third final? He’s at least got a Semi spot with his name on it.

John Evans – 6.25 – The 2016/17 SA Athlete of the Year having won 7 sashes in his debut season including an impressive come-from-behind 400m Camden Classic and four wins over 120m. He won his heat of the Bendigo Gift before running a 4th in the Bendigo Black Opal 400m. He goes forward 0.25m but may look toward the 400m to bring home some prizemoney and have a crack at a final on Easter Monday.

Gary Finegan – 5.25m - The name ‘Gary Finegan’ has been on the Stawell Semi-final start list numerous times, and he’s been oh so close with no cigar. He’s a genuine fighter at Stawell, and why would this year be different, or is it? The Euroa gift sash (12.27s raw time off 4.75m) grants him a bonus lift, and with that he’ll see himself on 5.25m. He most recently ran a slashing 60m (of a 100m race) in Brisbane where he led a quality field until easing down. With a recent 100m PB of 10.58s, Finegan is another of the Hurricane’s final favourites, and enters centre stage as a prospective finalist in this year’s race.

Craig Foley – 10.00m -  Craig scorched the track a couple years ago to claim his career highlight in the Keilor Gift. Hurricane suggests Foley enters this year for the love of the game this time around. He may look towards the 70m to claim a semi final berth. One of the best masseurs going around who smiles each time he wears the spikes, he’ll be wearing that smile for the whole weekend I believe!

Liam Gander – 3.0m – Former national relay member who owns PB’s of 10.41 (26/3/10) and 21.12 (8/1/11). He was 2nd in the 2010 Bay Sheffield (12.18s off 3.25m). Has won several races including backmarkers events over the journey. Hasn’t been able to recapture the old spark for a while and ran 11.02s on 13th January. Class athlete at his best and will be looking to get back into form at Central Park. Semi-final.

Edward Gates – 7.25m. Tassie athlete who has twice been runner-up in the Burnie Gift. In 2012 he ran 12.13s off 8.0m behind Brendan Cole and this year he ran 12.79s off 8.25m behind Daniel Reeves. Turned up at Keilor won his heat in 13.00s then lost 2m in the semi (13.20s) attracting an NAP. In best form would definitely be a semi-final chance.

Jayden Gilfillan –8.00m - Probably the Currumbin Viking to watch. Jayden narrowly missed the final last year, (12.25s off 8.5m) making him only more determined to put his surname on that billboard this time around. An original of the Vikings crew, he was 6th in the 2017 Australian open beach sprint title beating home Mitch Williams (7th). He has rarely competed this season, making a cameo appearance in January over 100m where he ran a pedestrian 11.26s. Forget that run. Just strap in, he’s a massive chance to go one better this year. FINAL!

Rhys Gillson – 8.25m - Scratched from last year's gift but in 2016 ran a convincing 12.48s behind Ryan Bedford, and backed up with a nice 12.58 two days later. Puts him in the mix and entering from this years mark has him a definite semi prospect yet again. Semi chance.

Jarred Gilroy –5.50m -  Best 100m result found for this Tassie gun was in 2016 with a 11.11 where he beat Despard home. Last week he won the Tasmanian 200m title in 23.02s (into a headwind). Enters from the tough mark of 5.5m, but with another two years under his belt, will he be able to hold out the fast finishing favourites from a metre back?

Aidan Green – 7.50m -  Aiden started the VAL season off with the first sprint win of the season, claiming the Sandringham 70m title. He performed strongly through the year and came from the clouds to take second in the 70m Don Furness sprint. He finished 5th in his Keilor Gift heat (13.26s off 7.25m) so his 120m running doesn’t match his short sprint form. Obviously he has a lightning 70m, but can he run on? We’ll find out on Saturday. Semi final chance.

Doug Greenough – 9.50m - Doug won the Rye Gift from the front mark in 2009. He then went on to run 3rd in the 2010 Stawell Gift then won the Ararat Gift when it was worth $10k. He was a surprise 2nd to Ballarat Matt in the 2012 Stawell Gift final. He’s a veteran athlete now and has shown some good form in the VAL masters races including a 120m win at Euroa.  He’ll certainly put his best foot forward and could maybe even find himself in another semi.

Tom Griffin – 8.75m – Ran 12.95s off 8.50m in the heat last year. Has also entered in the 70m and the 100m Bill Howard Restricted. Hasn't featured in the open gifts this season. Best chance is to hopefully sneak through to the 100m final and try to add his name to a list of established and famous professional athletes at Stawell!

David Gross – 9.75m – A three-time Bay Sheffield finalist including 2nd in 2014 (12.42s off 10.25m), David was third in the Bay Sheffield restricted 120m final in 2017 with a headwind induced 12.8. He ran 12.67s from 10m last year. He’s been a regular visitor to Victoria this year but has struggled to make a final. He was run out at the heat stage at Bendigo. Best chance of success is as the coach of Mikayla Round and Amie Mittiga in the Women’s Gift.

Kyle Grubnic – 5.50m - Last years 3rd placegetter returns for another crack at a final. He’s got a lot to prove and we know Kyle can put together a blistering 120m. Another interstater travelling over to collect some winnings, Hurricane can definitely see him in another Semi. The question is, has he improved to take some chocolates? Semi final.

Eli Hall – 6.00m – NSW athlete who ran 4th in a 90m race at Wentworth Park in January (9.99s off 6.5m). An exciting aspect is not knowing what lies before this newcomer to the VAL circuit. Hurricane predicts he puts together a full tilt weekend of hard racing as he attempts to run the card this Easter weekend.

Michael Hanna – 4.50m - This 18yo future star took out the Queanbeyan Gift in 2017 in a dubious 12.11 from 7.75m after winning back to back Macksville Gifts. The fast time at Queanbeyan has meant he’s now back on the same mark as Gift favourites Rizzo and Despard. Not sure he's at their level at this stage of his career. Hurricane smells at least a semi-final for Hanna.

Matthew Hargreaves – 7.75m - Hargreaves has overcome extensive injury to make his way back to the track to compete yet again at another Easter carnival. A multiple winner of the most consistent athlete in the VAL. Now under John Hilditch’s stable banner, it’ll be great to see one of Victoria’s favourite athletes race down the track in a new kit, in a new year and a new stage in his career. Was off the pace at Euroa, running 4th in the heat (13.09s off 7.25m) so might be another season before we see the great man back to his best.

Shaun Hargreaves – 8.75m – A previous Stawell Gift finalist in 2012 (12.23s raw time off 8.25m) and the 2010 Burnie Gift runner-up, Shaun has been one of the most versatile athletes in the sport having won from 70m to 550m. Spent some time in the ACT before returning to Victoria and now with the Hilditch stable. He enjoyed a strong win over 200m at Maryborough in January. Not a lot of Gift form this year, running 4th in his Bendigo Gift heat (12.88s off 8.50m). Tough competitor and would not surprise to see him in the semis.

Joshua Henthorn – 7.00m - The Bendigo athletics sprinter debuted at Bendigo running 13.26s off 6m finishing about 9m behind heat winner Dale Woodhams. Unlikely to make the semis but he’s only young and the experience will be valuable going forward.

Jeremy Hill – 6.00m - A lad from Perth having his first start at Stawell. Will have a large engine to stop him fading before the line, but may look towards the 70, 200 or likely 400m to make his charge. Need more to go on and will certainly have the notepad out when they read out his name.

Jake Hilson – 7.00m - Jake raised eyebrows when he stormed down the track in the 100m Daylesford Gift in January. He earns himself a bonus lift and sees himself on a mark to cause some damage in the semi-finals. He ran off a tight 10m in the final of the Bendigo Black Opal 400m (6th in 48.10s). Hurricane doesn’t know a lot about this Bendigo based sprinter, but if he keeps progressing the way he has this year, I’m sure that won’t be an issue much longer.

Ryan Hoffman – 10.00m - Coached one of the fastest timed Stawell Gift champions in its rich history with Aaron Stubbs. Is a regular competitor in the Stawell Gift archives and comes in off the limit again. Beach sprinters are known for their continual success at Stawell so get ready to see this one explode early and try to hang on to book a place in the semi’s.

Jonathan Hopkins – 6.00m - There's not a great deal to know about the athlete from Miranda NSW at this stage, as he enters from the novice marks. We do know he ran 11.48s (W: +2.2) for 100m in February. That would suggest he might struggle to get past the heat stage. But he could be a surprise package, and looking forward to see him fly down the centre track in the 70 and Gift this Saturday!

Damian Horan – 7.25m - A very tight marked veteran lays 7.25m worth of cards on the table this weekend. Ran very strongly at Geelong and Keilor (13.07s off 7.0m) in the 70 and 120 races, he may look towards the colour red in the veteran races to see himself through to a final and give chase on Easter Monday. Everybody loves a backmarker in a sash!

Dominic Hoskins – 9.00m - Hoskins started his professional career in the middle-distance category, proving to be one of the grittiest performers on the circuit. He never backs down from a challenge in the lactic stages of a race and it’s great to see his name here on the entry slip for the Gift. Ran in the heats last year (13.28s off 9.0m). I feel speed itself may be a factor if he’s to fall at the semi stage though. Will be great to see him stride down the centre track!

Gareth Houley – 10.00m - Enters from the limit here this year, but has a blinder of a mark in the 100m Bill Howard. One might expect him to blow out any cob webs on Saturday and make a big charge at becoming the next esteemed winner of Australia’s biggest novice event.

Luke Houlihan – 6.00m – After running a brilliant semi-final (12.02s raw time) in the 2015 Stawell Gift, Luke missed the start, before charging back through the field to finish 2nd (12.26s off 7.25m) to Murray Goodwin. Since then he’s regularly raced in the VAL, making semi-finals and finals as he clawed some of his mark back.  Ran 4th in the Bendigo Thousand Gift final (12.53s off 5.75m) and goes forward another 0.25m. Those long striding pins will be hard to match at the later part of the race! Outside chance for the final.

Jovan Hubana – 6.50m – WA athlete he has a 22.46 to his name and was here last year running 12.83s off 6.50m. Ran 12.6 in the Mullewa Gift in 2017. A long way to come and is tightly marked so expecting a similar result to last year.

Harrison Hunt – 4.75m – The 18yo was favourite for the Bay Sheffield carnival in late 2017, where he placed a narrow second to young sensation Sasha Zhoya. He recently placed 3rd in the national under 20 title and 4th in the under 20’s 100m (10.76s). Still developing and you’d be silly to think he won’t be in the mix for this. Hurricane places Hunt as another smokey and a final chance.

Andrew Imlah – 5.50m - Made the final of the 110m Noosa Gift in 2016 where ran a decent 11.50s from his mark placing fourth. He has a 48.97s to his name as well as a 35.19 over 300m! Easy to see that he’ll go hard to the line over the distance. Ran 22.29s (W+2.7) in March. He will be hard for the front markers to hold him off over the latter part of the race. Expect an exciting finish.

Jake Ireland – 9.00m – Winner of the past two Stawell Under 17’s 100m sashes - 2016 (10.60s off 14.25m) & in 2017 (10.64s off 11.0m). He’s competed in most carnivals this season over the novice and under-age events, winning the 70m Under 18’s race at Northcote. Under the guidance of his father Todd, a Burnie/Bendigo Thousand Gift winner and Stawell Gift placegetter, he’s in great hands when it comes to Easter preparations. Running from 9m he’ll be out there for a long time, but he may look toward the aged and novice races to finish what he started this season and try to claim his third Stawell sash.

Callum James – 10.00m - A Melbourne University athlete, he’s been running most of the season being reasonably competitive without making too many gift finals. He did run 8th in the Castlemaine Gift. (12.61s off 9.75m). He was run out of his heat at Bendigo and was 3rd in a heat at Euroa. Last year he ran 12.86s off 9.75m. Just needs to find a bit and will be lining up to make his first Gift semi-final.

Evan Jarvis – 8.50m – A WA lad from the strong Matt Barber stable, he was a 2016 Bay Sheffield finalist (off 11m). Jarvis is very quick early having won several 70m races including a  Bay Sheffield 70. Warmed up with an impressive 120m gift win at Parkdale last Saturday (12.70s off 8.50) on a wet track and into a huge head wind. He will hang out there for a long time and may put a lot of pressure on the fast finishing backies. Semi-final chance for sure.

Will Johns – 4.50m - The long striding Victorian 200m Champion always has people standing a few steps closer to the bookies on Easter Saturday, but just when he started to wind up, the race finished. This year however may be different, as his speed seems to have increased when he finished a close second to Romanin in the Victorian 100m title this year. A national 200m finalist and previous Trinity gift winner, Johns is almost certainty in the semi-finals. If he can get out early and wind up those pipes to go with the other fast finishing back markers, the real who knows? At least a Semi final for Will.

Kristerfer Kardakovski – 10.00m - The Fiedler trained frontie is another one of those regular finalists you see throughout the season and you just know that win is right around the corner. He finished 5th in his Parkdale Gift semi final (13.16s off 10.5m). Best Gift result this season was his 2nd in the Doncaster 100m final. He may look towards the 70m to go even further, but he’ll certainly be throwing his line in the drink and see what pops up.

Mason Keast – 9.75m – Another near-limit athlete who you’d assume would be the one to catch. Mason took out the Ararat Gift by daylight off 9.0m in 12.5 and has since had months to prepare to his shot at the holy grail. He’s young, developing and improved out of sight under the careful eye of Rob Lehmann. Finished his prep with a nice 3rd in the Parkdale Gift last Saturday off 8.25m and will meet the winner Jarvis 1.50m better off. Keast enters with his whole career ahead of him, and in recent trends in both men and women’s finals… it seems to be the young ones who surprise you. Final chance.

Bros Kelly – 8.50m - The Hastings Hurricane - as Cartha never ceases to pump his tyres – has dwindled to more of a “kid blowing out his candles” kind of force this season. He enters chasing his first 120m semi of the season, but it seems not even his rugged good looks will be able to help him on this one. A member of Pride Performance under Matt Carter, he may just have enough on his hands with Rizzo, Carter and Nettlefold to look after this weekend. Maybe next year for the Hurricane.

James Kermond – 6.00m - A previous World Junior representative in green and gold. Kermond ran a blistering 46.58 in June 2016 and a windy 21.00 in 2013! With a sub 11 to his name also, this young gun seems to have it all. Lining up from 6.00m this year, he may just have enough to throw his hat in the ring and state that he’s ready to mix it with the favourites on Easter Monday. Semi-final.

Harrison Kerr – 7.75m - Last season he blitzed the Bay Sheffield carnival winning the 120m Restricted, ran 2nd in the 70m and 6th in the Bay Sheff final. He then won the Wangaratta Gift (12.59s off 9.50m before smashing the field in the Bendigo Black Opal in 44.07sec. This season it began with a VRTA 200m victory and was quickly followed by a Frankston 70m title (7.55s off 5.25m). Kerr can perform at any sprint distance, and leading into this year's Stawell Gift he definitely has the tank to be able to take it to the rest of the class acts. Semi final.

Leonard King – 5.75m – Has a respectable PB of 10.91 from 2015. Good run in the heat last year (12.61s off 5.75m) to make the semi-final. In February he ran 3rd in a semi-final of the Cowra Gift (12.31s off 9.0m). Despite the tight mark he returns again for another crack at a ticket to Easter Monday’s semi’s!  

Jojo Kwenin – 5.0m – Trinity Gift winner in 2016, he hasn’t competed too often this season with a best run of 4th in the Maryborough Gift (12.49s off 5.0m). The tall, long striding athlete was 3rd (12.30s off 5.50m) in the Stawell semi last year behind Michael Romanin. If he’s in the same form as last year he’s going to be tough to keep out of the semis.

Dan Lemoto - 10.00m – A 41yo veteran athlete he’s won and been placed in numerous races over the years. Last week he won the 60m, 100m (12.04s), 200m and 400m masters’ events at the Tasmanian state championships. A tough competitor he was disqualified for interference in the 400m at Burnie. Best chances are in the veterans or the 400m.

Brendan Leung 6.0m – Cairns based athlete from the Stuart Dempster stable. He ran 11.43s (W +1.4) in October. Having his first start in a Stawell Gift, no doubt he will give the North Queenslanders someone to cheer at Easter.

William Little – 10.00m - William was a close 3rd in the Euroa Gift (off 11.5m) behind two big performers in Finegan and Rooke. However he struggled at Parkdale only running 7th in a semi (13.14s off 11.5m). Despite coming back to the limit, if he can reproduce his Euroa form, he could find himself in the Semi-finals.

Conor Loughnan – 7.00m - Loughnan has performed greatly over the past couple of Stawell gift weekends, making two semi finals but struggling to crack the top six. He travelled down for the Keilor gift carnival running 5th in his heat (13.06s off 6.75m) as many Stawell inspired interstaters do, but struggled to find his feet. Have faith though, he knows how to run at Central Park and I feel we’ll see a well hardened Conor at this years running. Semi final.

Rupert Lugo – 10.00m - Lugo has been a star performer this year and one of the definite in-form athletes, making countless finals since the start of the season. He was in the Burnie 120m Gift final and his confidence would have been boosted by a strong win in the Bendigo Thousand Gift (12.26s off 10.75m). Rupert comes back to the 10m limit for Stawell, but he’s still a top chance for the top 6. With the right semi, who knows?

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