PETER O’DWYER is anticipating a Western Australian raid on Maryborough today.
The veteran sprinter says highly rated Ballarat runners Joel Bee and Matthew Wiltshire are a chance to figure in the $15,000 Maryborough Gift but will face stiff competition from a Western Australian contingient that includes 2012 Bay Sheffield open finalist Dylan Panizza, Bay Sheffield over-35 champion Glenn Ross, and Ararat Gift winner Adam Moore.
“The Western Australians are the form athletes. They’ve been to the Bay Sheffield and done well, and have now come over here via Ararat,” O’Dwyer said.
“Joel Bee should do well, while Matt (Wiltshire) is also an outside chance. Off that (a 3.25m mark) it’s going to be tough for him, though.”
Two time Maryborough Gift winner (2010-2011) Matt Carter, who is the overall backmarker off just 0.5m in heat six, faces an uphill battle just to make the semi-finals, let alone the $8000 first prize.
Bee’s mark of 2.75m in heat seven gives the 20-year-old a real chance, while 2008 Stawell Gift winner Sam Jamieson will wear the backmarker’s red vest in the second heat off 3.75m
The reigning Maryborough Gift champ, Matthew Eddy is in the blue vest in heat five off 8.25m, while 2012 runner-up David Tinney has the red in heat four off 5.75m.
The Western Australians are more generously handicapped by comparison. Panizza has a 7.25m start, Moore has 9.5m, and Ross is off 10.75m. There are two other runners from across the Nullarbor: Zhen Wang (9m) and Aldis Jaunzems (12m).
Veterans O’Dwyer and 44-year-old Rod Mathews are 9.25m and 11m respectively.
The weather bureau is forecasting a maximum 31 degrees at Maryborough today, but that will not worry the competitors, according to O’Dwyer.
“The warmer the better for us. Low 30s is really good because you won’t get injuries,” he says.