So after many years of talk I finally made it to the Stawell Gift carnival in Western Victoria. The timing worked out with AMA champs in Melbourne the following weekend so it was now or never. The only downside was all accommodation in Stawell was booked out so we ended up staying too far away in a little town called Avoca with a 2hr daily return trip.
Flying into Melbourne I notice how dry it was compared to previous visits. Western Victoria was far worse. Drought has really got a hold there. Somehow the track at Central Park, Stawell was in amazing condition.
I didn’t hold out any hope of success at Stawell as this was my first meet through VAL and was given the standard over 35 handicap in the Stawell Gift and back marks in both my Masters heats.
Main gift I was off 8m with race favourite 2 lanes away and 2m ahead of me. The ropes instead of lane marking is different to what I am used to and the lanes feel skinnier. Just for the novelty of being able to gamble on people I put down $2 on myself to win the gift at the pathetic odds of 50/1. At least the TAB had me at 100/1. I’m happy to say I didn’t run last in my heat and now I have run at the Stawell Gift.
Soon after was the Masters 100m heats. Plenty of these as well. Off 4m I gave it a go but needed another 8-10 metres to catch all the front markers.
And that left me with the Masters 300m. 10 heats and only heat winners to the final. Off 10m I had plenty in front of me with the front marker of 88m and the rest of the heat reasonable spaced out. The hope was to get around a few down the back straight and see if I could get lucky with runs. Aggressive over conservative approach. It didn’t quite work out as I hoped getting caught 3 and 4 wide around the bend. That extra distance and starting hard meant that with 80m left I had nothing more. At least I got a nice mention in commentary.
Going to Stawell was a great experience and another tick on the bucket list. If I do manage to go again I would skip the main gift and run the restricted and masters races only. But next its a trip into Melbourne for Australian Masters.