Sam Jamieson early favourite to take out Stawell Gift
05 Apr, 2012
STAWELL - Punters are in for a tough weekend in the betting ring, with Stawell bookmaker Les Montgomery saying this year's Australia Post Stawell Gift is a 'pretty open race.'
"It looks to be an even race," Mr Montgomery said.
Monday's historic 120 metre sprint will feature several big names as well as a couple of former winners.
Mr Montgomery has installed 2008 Stawell Gift winner Sam Jamieson and Ballarat Gift 70 metre open title winner Matt Wiltshire as equal favourites at $7.
Jamieson, who took out the Gift four years ago off six metres, has come back a metre and a quarter since then with Montgomery saying he believes Jamieson is a 'better runner now than when he won it.'
Another former winner returning to Stawell is Adrian Mott.
Mott won the 2006 Gift off seven and a quarter metres and is now coming off five, with Mr Montgomery setting his odds at $17.
Kim Collins returns to Stawell for a second year and, after having missed out on a spot in the final of last year's Stawell Gift off scratch, will run off one metre this weekend and is at $21 to win.
"I think Collins has got a job in front of him. I think he's too far back, and he'll struggle again off one metre. But then again, it depends on the times needed to make the final. You've got to have a slow times," said Mr Montgomery.
Michael Frater will be another to watch at $17, with Mr Montgomery saying he will make the final 'at best.'
The Stawell bookie said three Melbourne brothers - Matthew, Shaun and Chris Hargreaves - will be in with a chance.
"Expect money for the Hargreaves' from the (trainer) John Henry stable. All three brothers all lining up for the Gift. It is very unique - I've never seen it before," he said.
Mr Montgomery said another quiet tip around is Stuart Bainbridge from New South Wales (at $26).
Last year's winner, Mitch Williams, is returning to Stawell running off three metres - three and half quarters back from last year.
Aaron Rouge-Serret ($15) is in with a chance and Ben Weaver, a finalist in last year's event is at $21.
Mr Montgomery's picks to win the 2012 Australia Post Stawell Gift are Sam Jamieson from Matt Wiltshire, with Adrian Mott to come in third.