Wiltshire an early favourite for Stawell Gift
BY TIM O'CONNOR
05 Apr, 2012
EARLY Stawell Gift favourite Matthew Wiltshire says he is shocked by the weight of money for him to win Australia’s richest footrace.
The Ballarat sprinter is the punters’ pick with betting agency TAB Sportsbet, which last night had the 20-year-old on the top line of betting at $3.50 .
He was well clear in the market from Jamaican Khan Marr ($9), Werribee’s Shaun Hargreaves ($11) and 2008 winner Sam Jamieson ($11).
“It was a big shock being favourite, I didn’t expect that. I thought the odds would come out and I’d be paying around $50 or somewhere around there,” Wiltshire told The Courier yesterday. “To see myself favourite, starting at $7 and then so quickly dropping down to the $3 was a bit of a surprise.
“Obviously there are a few people out there that are backing me.”
Wiltshire believed support had flowed his way because of solid lead-up performances and a good handicap.
“I’m off 8m, which I’m happy with and I have been running well. I got a fourth at Burramine a couple of weeks ago, which was a good run.
“I’ve had a really good preparation for it.”
Wiltshire, coached by Stawell Gift veteran Peter O’Dwyer, said he would use the favouritism as a positive influence.
“It’s gives you a bit more confidence I reckon, just knowing there is people out there that are backing you and think that you can win it,” he said.
“I’m also going to have more people keeping an eye on me and having a closer look at me, which is probably a good thing.” Wiltshire is in tip-top shape to run well at his third Stawell Gift appearance, where he is looking to better his semi-final fourth placing from 2011. The University of Ballarat student, who has won the Peninsula Gift and 70m event at Ballarat this season, said he had endured a busy lead-up to the Easter carnival.
“Pretty much all I have been doing lately is training and university, getting myself as fit as possible and making sure my diet is right. The last beer I had was New Year’s Eve,” Wiltshire said.
“I want to make a (Stawell Gift) final. I will be unhappy if I don’t make the final just because I’m feeling so fit and I’m never going to be better than this.”
The Stawell Gift heats will be run between 1pm-3.10pm on Saturday, the semi-finals from 12.40pm on Monday and the final at 2.45pm later that day.