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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Nine Victorians set for start line at state's richest 400m footrace

Nine Victorians set for start line at state's richest 400m footrace

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Nine Victorians set for start line at state's richest footrace

By Kym Morgan
Guardian Messenger
January 29, 2013

Last year's final of the men's Classic where Brad Schutz dives for the line. Picture: Luke Hemer Source: adelaidenow

UP TO nine Victorian raiders are headed to Sunday's Camden Classic, hoping run away with the state's richest 400m footrace.

Now in its 34th year, the SA Athletic League event, held at Camden Oval, has attracted a record 400 nominations, with the junior entries particularly strong.

The feature 400m men's Camden Classic has attracted 46 entries, including a record number of Victorians hoping to get a piece of the $5000 prizemoney.

Former winner Matthew Hargreaves (2009) leads a race hardened group of Victorians which includes Neil Brennan, Adam Coote, Shaun Hargreaves and Robert Keenan. "A lot of the Victorian guys have been doing a lot of racing which means they will be sharp and very competitive in their heats," leading SA trainer Paul Young said.

But South Australian athletes have won 29 of the 33 stagings of the Classic and there are again several locals shaping as strong contenders.

The state's leading 400m runner Clay Watkins is back in form and looking to add the Classic to his impressive resume, although Watkins will have to overcome a tough handicap.

Fellow backmarker Alex Bubner will be competitive but may struggle to back-up if he wins his heat.

Unlucky McKinnon Parade runner Kostya Khudoshin will look to shake off his bridesmaid tag. Khudoshin finished a close second to Brad Schutz in last year's finals and finished third in the 550m at the Bay Sheffield in December.

Prodigiously talented Sudanese newcomer Deng Bulabek will also be one to watch.

Camden trainer and oval curator Frank McHugh said the beauty was Camden was how competitive it was.

"I just love to sit back and watch the heats," McHugh said. "With six heats you pretty much have to win to get through so it means they are super competitive. Then the athletes have to back up for the final."

McHugh, who trained Schutz to victory last season in just one of the highlights in a memorable season for the stable, did not believe any of his athletes could win this year's feature race.

He said 2005 winner Matthew Cousins was a chance to sneak through to the final.

McHugh said the oval was in good nick despite the hot, dry summer.

On the women's side Trott Park runner Yasmin Openshaw is a leading chance to add to her fantastic season to date, in the feature 400m Women's Classic. Openshaw has won three Gifts this summer and made the final of the 120m Bay Sheffield Women's Gift.

In what will be a full day of entertainment at the Anzac Highway oval, the meet starts at 11.10am with the feature men's final scheduled for 6pm. Athletes will race for a total prize pool of $12,300.

Footnote: At the time of speaking to Kym, last week, I wasn't aware Kostya Khudoshin hadn't entered. I just assumed he would have entered after running 2nd in the Brighton 400m on 16th Dec and running 2nd in last year's Classic. My mistake, sorry about that. Still, it's a mystery why he would not have entered......

"Let's Go While We're Young"

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