Biggest Gift in history

ORGANISERS are hopeful this year’s Queanbeyan Gift Carnival will be the biggest in the event’s history.

A record number of runners have entered this year’s $16,000 Men’s Gift, including 2012 champion Dean Scarff who will be looking to go back-to-back.

The Women’s Gift will also boast a class field with the likes of backmarker Melissa Breen and Lauren Boden to be challenged by former Stawell Gift winner Melissa Howard and defending champion Emma Yates.

This year marks the first time the Queanbeyan Gift has been held over two days instead of one.

And Queanbeyan City Council’s Tracey Lamont said that decision had been more than justified with an increased interest in the event across the country. 

“The entries speak for themselves,” she said. “I’m absolutely thrilled by it all.

“Whenever you change the format of something, there’s always that thought in your head of ‘gee, how’s this going to go’, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I think the fact that we do have good prize money on offer combined with the fact it’s a very well respected event means runners are willing to come from just about everywhere to compete.”

All told, runners from every state and territory except the Northern Territory will compete in the marquee Men’s and Women’s Gift races.

Highly rated Victorian sprinter Jake Hammond will have the honour of starting as the backmarker in the men’s event.

The 21-year-old has been given just 1.75m by the handicappers and will have his work cut out for him against a quality field containing no less than three former Queanbeyan Gift champions.

2008 winner Brendan Matthews (6m), 2011 victor Chris Hargreaves (8.5m) and last year’s champion Scarff (5.75m) have all returned to recontest the event.

The heats for this year’s Queanbeyan Men’s and Women’s Gifts will kick off from 3pm on Saturday before the semi-finals and finals on Sunday. For a complete Queanbeyan Gift carnival program, see page 14.

The heats for this year’s Queanbeyan Men’s and Women’s Gifts will kick off from 3pm on Saturday before the semi-finals and finals on Sunday. For a complete Queanbeyan Gift carnival program, see page 14.

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