A drop in prize money for this year's gift but the quality has shown up in the entries again. Last season we saw one of the Stawell Gift favourites take home the win to give himself a chance at the ultimate prize. One of the poll favourites may have enough to try the same tactic. He is coming!
Thomas Maloney 5.5. 16% - Maloney wont win. If he was going to win something before Easter he would have done so by now. He will likely win something at Easter. My focus is tarting to look that way for many athletes but he is one of the main chances for the Bill Howard. Next year he will give a gift a shake.
Angelo Litras 5.75m / Kevin Brittain 6m 9% - Litras is a junior who has a huge mark in the junior races and comes back here. No chance. Brittain is a good vote. He has ties to not only Geelong but the gift itself helping to relaunch it a few years back. He has had a crack at a few bigger ones recently and may just take the win and see if the bonus gets him into another Stawell final. I think his chances of the Stawell final are slim at best so take the win son and be proud of your career so far. Final and top three chance.
Thibaud Bertelli 6.75m / Shaun Hargreaves 6.75m 9% - I don't know a lot about Bertelli. Honesty is the best ploy here. Has a good mark though for an 11.4 runner. Will likely need a little more though. He is in my book for now though. Hargreaves is now above the mark he made the Stawell Gift final off. He looks great and has been nailing his 70m races. Where is the incentive for him to run well and win? Oh, that's right, how about a bonus half for this year. Take it if it presents itself and good luck in the big final if you get there.
Cam Dunbar 7m / Liam Hanrahan 7m 9% - Dunbar took a podium finish at Stonnington. For an older athlete he is still showing the younger lads how to set yourself up. Does he win here? Not sure, I think the lure of the extra half may get someone over the line in front of him. Final chance for sure though. Hanrahan needs some more work.
Dion Paull 8m - Leigh Phelan 8m 13% - Early last season Paull looked like the pea for the powerful Fiedler stable. He has not look the same in Vic this year. He ran well over at Bay but does not seem to be right at the moment. Next year watch for him to take an early win should the incentive program still be alive and well. Phelan 'really good' about his chances here. His runs at Maryborough and Castlemaine showed that there is definitely life in his old legs. Bendigo is coming up but I am not sure if he waits. Should final off previous form. Current form would indicate final at best unless he gets left with it.
I had thought that this may be a traditional frontmarkers race. I have it a close finish between Brittain, Hargreaves, Dunbar, Phelan and another. Is there a bookie this week? I have a note or two saved under my mattress.