MARYBOROUGH offers Tara Domaschenz the chance to gauge exactly how her form measures up.
The New Year’s Day meet is the first major Gift of the Victorian Athletic League season, drawing in strong competition.
Domaschenz will start as backmarker for the entire field of the Women’s Necklace 120-metre handicap, off a 2m mark.
She has no choice but to hunt all her rivals down.
But it was something of an honour to be pegged as the most dangerous in the field.
“It’ll be tough but it’ll definitely show where I’m at,” Domaschenz said.
“I’ve been backmarker in a race before but I haven’t been backmarker for an event.
“I much prefer to be at the back of the field, to know where I am in a race and who I have to catch.”
Formerly Ballarat-trained sprinter Joel Bee, now based in Melbourne, will defend his Maryborough Gift 120m title, also from the back of the field.
Bee will start off 1m.
There is a strong Ballarat contingent in both headline fields at Princes Park, including 2001 Maryborough Gift winner Evan King, Ballarat Gift winners Nathan Dixon (2006) and Peter O’Dwyer (2010), 2012 Stawell Gift winner Matt Wiltshire, decorated women’s sprinter Narelle Lehmann, Stawell Women’s Gift finalist Nadia Domaschenz and reigning Ballarat Women’s Gift winner Holly Dobbyn.
Tara Domaschenz, the reigning Australian Athletic Confederation female sprinter of the year, will this season vie for a third straight Stonnington Gift title – Australia’s richest women’s footrace.
Yet to win a coveted Maryborough sash, Domaschenz said in-form training partner Holly Dobbyn (6.75m) loomed as her toughest competition.
Domaschenz opted to skip Maryborough last season but this time is keen to return and use the meet to set up her summer. She completed a pre-Christmas beach boot camp with the Peter O’Dwyer stable after runs in Warrnambool and Terang earlier this month.
Relocating to Warrnambool for a couple of weeks, Domaschenz said the extended beach training usually put her in good stead to continue the VAL season.