Last year’s Ipswich Mile Gift winner Craig Sadler
displays the determination needed to win Saturday’s
testing event on the Bundamba sand track.
Fantastic field eyes $5000 gift
By David Lems
5th May 2011
FIRST-year victor Steve Minns concedes picking the winner of Saturday’s QT Ipswich Mile Gift is like coming up with the million dollar numbers in Lotto.
Such is the improvement in the Ipswich field each year that nominating a favourite is almost impossible under the handicap conditions.
However, Minns believes Ipswich prospect Glen Yarham has every chance of breaking the backmarker’s hoodoo in the sixth annual foot race on the tricky sand track at Ipswich Turf Club.
Collingwood Park-based Yarham recently returned from finishing a pleasing 41st at the world under-20 cross country championships in Spain.
Yarham starts as backmarker – with a handicap of 70m – in Saturday’s Ipswich Hospital Foundation-supported main race at Bundamba.
“It’s good for a young kid like that to see how he goes on his first run on the sand track,” said Minns, who won the inaugural Gift in 2006.
“Glen has got a bit of speed and with his cross country form there’s no reason why he couldn’t go through that pack.”
Minns, who is secretary of the Queensland Athletic League, has supported the Ipswich Mile Gift every year after running the first two. He will call Saturday’s race.
While Yarham has the pedigree to win the latest $5000 race, Minns said seasoned athletes like Peter Brock, Michael Payne, Shane George and last year’s winner Glen Sadler could figure again.
Brock was a bronze medallist at the Queensland 1500m championships and trains with 2009 Gift winner Neil Labinsky.
Ipswich Grammar School runner Payne has experience on the track, having competed previously in the Junior Gift.
Payne is heading to the world schools track championships in June.
George won the Ipswich Gift in 2007 and showed excellent recent form, finishing second at the recent Australian Masters championships.
Sadler faces a tough test off a handicap of 230m.
“No one has ever won it twice yet,” Minns said.
Minns rates this year’s Gift field even more intriguing, having attracted its first international competitors in Dutch athlete Esther Vermue and Papua New Guinea runners Kipsy Bisamo and Salome Dell.
Vermue has competed around the world, including in the United States last year.
Unknown short distance competitor Bisamo recently won the Queensland 10km Championship.
Dell is a PNG Commonwealth Games representative who came second in the women’s Queensland 1500m championships.
“Vermue could be the first female winner,” Minns said.
However, Minns said the key for athletes near the backmarker was breaking through the mental barrier of having to catch those with better handicaps.
“They’ve got to run hard from the start and make sure that they don’t get frightened by the field in front of them,” he said.
“Some of the backmarkers previously haven’t really coped with the conditions. These guys have to go hard at the start or they get too far behind.
“On this track there is no hiding, because your legs go on the sand.”
Saturday’s senior race is set down for about 3.15pm, depending on the horse racing program.
The junior race, at about 2.45pm, features a promising field of 11 starters.