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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sunday - Matt Wiltshire has the bloodlines to take out Stawell

Sunday - Matt Wiltshire has the bloodlines to take out Stawell

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Wiltshire among the Gift favourites

By John Salvado
The Age
April 8, 2012

Excellent bloodlines, quality coaching, speed and a competitive handicap - Matt Wiltshire looks to have all the bases covered heading into the business end of the Stawell Gift.

The Ballarat sprinter confirmed his status as one of the favourites for the 135th edition of the celebrated race with a storming heat victory in 12.21 seconds on Saturday.

Wiltshire, 20, grew up listening to the tales of his grandfather John "Wiry" Wiltshire, who was the favourite for the 1958 Stawell Gift, only to break down with a torn hamstring.

The senior Wiltshire was on hand at Central Park on Saturday to watch his grandson and liked what he saw.

"I'm not a punting man," said the 80-year-old.

"Back in my younger days I used to have a flutter but I'm a bit more reserved now.

"But I thought Matt ran very well.

"We hope he can find a little bit more, but you never know in this game."

Matt Wiltshire said he would love to win a Stawell sash for his grandfather.

"It means a lot with him having so much history here, so it makes you want it a bit more," he said.

"He's pretty much given me all the natural talent which is why I'm a good runner I suppose.

"I got it off Wiry."

And if Matt Wiltshire needs any further advice ahead of Monday's semis and final he can always turn to coach Peter O'Dwyer, who celebrated his 25th successive Gift campaign by also advancing to the semis.

"I set myself to peak at this time of year and I've just ran 12.28 and I'm not far off 46," said O'Dwyer.

"I've got a lot of motivation, I've got a lot of good athletes I'm training and great support from my wife and kids.

"I like Matt Wiltshire's chances and I like him even more now that I've run 12.28."

Matt Wiltshire (8m) is rated the $4.50 second favourite with TABSportsbet behind Melbourne runner Josh Tiu, who clocked the fastest heat time of 12.15 off a 10.75m mark.

Wiltshire has been drawn in the same semi-final as 2009 winner Aaron Stubbs, who only decided on Wednesday to run at Stawell and was rewarded with an impressive heat win in 12.29.

Stubbs has done very little pro running this season, with his primary target being in the 100m at next weekend's national championships in Melbourne.

O'Dwyer has been drawn in the toughest of the six semi-finals alongside 2006 Gift winner Adrian Mott, Doug Greenough and scratch-marker Michael Frater.

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