Once again the Cricket Willow carnival maintained its position as the premier family day on the Victorian Athletic League calendar with a day of entertainment for everyone. Besides a ten event program for the VAL registered athletes there were events for all the kids from the Toddle Waddle to under 15s. The racing in the junior events was extremely competitive with plenty of tears for those that left their best form on the training track. Adrian Tinneti and his many assistants continue to make this day an enjoyable day and a great fund raiser for Camp Quality. The day finished with the much anticipated Canine Cup, featuring the 2013 winner “Oscar”. Last year’s booty included a very lucrative barking tour, visiting various city pounds as well as most of the royal dog shows. Unfortunately Oscar, who last year could clearly bark the bark, obviously enjoyed his celebrity status a little too much, failing dismally in the 2014 event. His recently gained penchant for late night cat fights and the customary early morning kebabs have left him a shadow of the dog we once knew. Oscar’s challengers came from far and wide. The favourite for the event was “Deano” trained, owned and fed by Stefan Catalano. Deano looked up for the fight but missed the start hopelessly before flashing home for second. The mystery dog was “Steller” an indiscriminate breed with more fathers than a monastery. Steller was kept under wraps throughout the day appearing only for the “weigh in” where her daunting five inches of height looked more like a snack for Deano than a racing danger. Steller failed to participate and will be getting an OGA assessment for her starry eyed owner MOB. The pocket dynamo “Piez”, Simon Fitzpatrick’s pride and joy, failed to appear at the start line, apparently unable to get off the hamster wheel in time for the event. The winner was a sandy coloured Labrador who seemed keener to avoid ASADA than collect the winner’s prize, leaving a sample on the front wheel of a parked car, seen soon after heading for town.
The VAL, Roz Moynihan Under 17s 100m
This event was a “cake walk” for the winner Jacqueline Scott (29m) who won her heat in the fastest time of 11.02, a clear advantage of three metres on her closest rival. In the final she was a comfortable winner from Cleo Anderson (19.25m) and Jess Lehmann (20m) in the time of 11.09.
Victorian Cross Country League novice 1600m
Josh Sait (185m) broke through for his maiden VAL win with a 10 metre victory over Adam Parker (220m) and Jack Hockley-Samon (110m) in 4.25.1. Josh, after many placings in these novice events, always looked the winner and hit the front inside the last lap to win with something in hand. Adam Parker battled on determinedly to gain his placing with a gap to the third placed Hockley-Samon, a new VAL distance runner who shows good promise. Josh, a force in cross country events when he competes with Bendigo Athletic Club as well as an occasional VCCL event, has taken his time to bring up this win but is sure to be prominent in this series, the final run at Stawell on Easter Sunday.
Graphic Print 800m
Charlie Brooks (68m) a regular visitor to Victoria in recent years made his trip worthwhile with a solid win in the 800 metres final at Cricket Willow. Brooks defeated the highly promising Liam Procaccino (40m) and Stefan Catalano (134m) in 2.01.1. Interesting finalists were Adam Coote (20m), Josh Mather (40m) and Matthew Turner (16m). Turner, from Scotland, intends to compete for the remainder of the VAL season whilst holidaying in Australia. Coote, winner of the Burnie Gift five days earlier, returned to the 800 metres an event he won at Stawell a few years ago. Heat winner, Josh Mather recently promoted to the AFL boundary umpiring list, was having his first run for the season.
The Mick O’Connor ENDURA 1600m Open
After his decisive win in the 800 metres earlier in the day Charlie Brooks (195m) continued the pillage of interstate athletes in VAL distance events with a big win in the 1600 metres. Charlie defeated Phillip O’Brien (140m) by twenty metres with a further fifteen metres to Tony Moran (255m) in the time of 4.21.1. Brooks adds his name to Konetschka and Earle as interstate runners to make a clean sweep of open events at Ararat, Maryborough and now Daylesford. Phillip O’Brien, after a couple of seasons of injury, continues to improve and a win is close at hand. Tony Moran and Matthew Bateman battled on well to fight out the minor placing with Joel Donnar (125m) in fifth place . Ian “Pumpkin” Burrows (135m), last season’s two mile winner at Stawell, ran his best race since that win with a promising sixth. “Pumpkin”, who was unfortunately kicked by a horse whilst holidaying in Cuba is recovering from his injury in fine style. He has since abandoned his riding career and has declined a scholarship to join Fidel Castro’s private polo team in favour of his more lucrative job of running backwards for the AFL.
The Telstra 100m Daylesford Gift
Another regular visitor to Victoria, Marty Sinclair (10.5m), took home the major event with a narrow win in the Telstra Gift from David Fenollar (8.25m) and Shaun Fletcher (5m) in the time of 11.11. After the eight heats Sinclair seemed to have the task of overturning David Fenollar’s fastest heat time of 11.18 with many others including Fletcher (11.23), Peter O’Dwyer (11.33), Marcus Cooper (11.35), Robert Lehmann (11.29) and Cam Dunbar (11.32) all recording faster heats than his 11.37. Marty improved marginally in the semi final to register 11.26 but Fletcher (11.22), Dunbar (11.23) and Fenollar (11.24) still had time on him for the final. In the final the above mentioned all found improvement but Sinclair improved enough to take the $1200 first prize by 3/100th of a second.
The Central Highlands Water 70m
Bikramjeet Singh (7m), new to the VAL, had a comfortable entry into the VAL ranks with an easy win in the 70 metres final. Although not one of the fastest heat winners Singh, after a “scratchy’ false start was able to settle down and defeat Angela Byrt (10m) by a metre with David Fenollar (5.75m) in third place. The winning time was 7.77, the fastest of the day. The form held up for the rest of the day with Byrt and Fenollar performing well in later events.
Priceline Pharmacy Ballarat Women’s 100m
After her promising run in the sprint event Angela Byrt (1m) came of a very tight back mark to grab victory in the last stride in the women’s final. Angela with a 12.62 clearly recorded the fastest heat with a two metre break over her nearest rivals Emma Johnson (5m & 12.82) and Jacqueline Scott (17.5m & 12.84). However in the final it looked sure to be an upset when Scott still held a commanding lead in the final stages. Byrt clocked 12.66 and got the decision by two hundredths of a second, Sonya Pollard (14.25m) was in third place.
Daylesford District Community Bank 300m Vetreans’
Leigh Rowbottom (32m) continued with his good first season results with another VAL victory in the veterans’ 300 metres at Daylesford. Leigh won the Warrnambool 550m final in convincing fashion in late November and has dropped back in distance to defeat Dale Jones (60m) and Kim McDonough (50m) in the time of 37.58. Rowbottom, coached by Terry McGarity, defeated Jones in his heat and had a three metre margin in the final.
Daylesford Accommodation Escapes 400m Women’s
The women’s 400 metres had only two heats with Katilyn Bryce ( 50m) defeating Stephanie Mollica (11m) in heat one and Danielle McDowell (52m) too good for Holly Dobbyn (21m) in heat two. The times, often irrelevant in small fields, saw Danielle with a run of 58.00 looking to have the clear advantage over Katilyn with a 59.55. In the final Danielle maintained her handicap advantage early and still had a clear break on the home turn to run out a very easy winner in 58.24. Stephanie Mollica stormed home, just cutting Dobbyn out of second prize money. McDowell’s win was another for the McGarity stable. Unfortunately Jacqueline Scott, who had qualified for the final, was unable to take her place.
Daylesford Builders 400m
The open 400 metres is always a highlight at the VAL carnivals and once again Daylesford produced a great race with an exciting finish. With the track quite soft, the heat times were a little pedestrian with no runner able to break fifty seconds. The fastest heat went to Wade Girotto (49m) with a 50.18, but there were plenty of runners not far behind. Lonain Burnett (24m) was one of those with a time of 50.45. In the final, the field was strung out early with Tom Hecimovic (58m) setting a solid tempo from Girotto and Lawrence Coop (46m). Nick Milton (21m) was the first of the back markers to make a move leaving Mitchell Hocking (16m) and Dominic Hoskins (17m) behind. On the home turn Burnett, who had settled mid field, started to join in with Matthew McCauley (35m), swinging wide in the straight to work determinedly to the line. Lonain gained the verdict by half a metre from McCauley with Coop hanging on for third. Luke Versace (27m) was held up but got a late split to finish fourth. The winning coach was John Knott and the time 50.51.