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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Derek Collinge wins Daylesford Gift as heat takes toll on entries

Derek Collinge wins Daylesford Gift as heat takes toll on entries

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Derek Collinge wins Daylesford Gift as heat takes toll on entries

Ballarat Courier
Jan. 4, 2015

TOP prize in the Daylesford Gift quickly developed into survival of the fittest – and there were plenty who could not stand the heat when the pressure was on.

Scratchings were rife across all fields with runners opting out of competing in near 40 degrees C for Victorian Athletic League racing at Cricket Willow on Saturday.

This was most notable in the $2000 Gift 100-metre field, with 21 of 55 entries ruled out of heats.

Most, including newly crowned Maryborough Gift winner Matthew Eddy, were no-shows.

Another four, including Melbourne Storm winger Young Tonumaipea, pulled out as they advanced through heats when a bad concoction of heat and strong tail wins started to take a toll and risked injury.

In the end, the man left standing atop the podium was Canberra-based sprinter Derek Collinge.

But even the 33-year-old had felt the strain. Collinge felt a twinge in his back after winning his semi-final but chose to race after feeling all right in his warm-up.

Those in the final with him – including New South Wales backmarker Jack Newman (4.75m) and Bendigo veteran and 2008 Daylesford Gift winner Glenn Stephens – wanted this sash just as much.

Experienced Essendon stablemaster Paul Tancredi (6.75m) almost caught Collinge (8.26m) in the gates.

“I felt Paul Tancredi catching up on me. He made good distance on me at the start,” Collinge said.

“Those last five metres, I could see him out of the corner of my eye so I gave one big dip.”

That dip secured Collinge the win from Tancredi, clocking a time of 10.69 seconds in a photo finish.

Collinge was then happy to lap up the post-race attention that comes from a seemingly mammoth victory in what was also his biggest win since the Burramine Gift in 2010.

Self-trained, Collinge works on and off with a couple of stables, including Matt Beckenham’s MattyB Department, to keep pushing and challenging his race and speed.

The Australian National University lab manager  has done a lot of work with gift meets in his home town of Albury-Wodonga.

That helped him appreciate that little bit more his win at Cricket Willow, he said.

“I love coming to Daylesford ... it is such a fantastic, well-organised Gift,” Collinge said. “They do such a good job here.

“Having been involved in running gift meets, I really appreciate all the work that has gone in to make this a success.”

Ballarat had four starters in the Gift: Daniel Martin (10m) bowed out in Collinge’s semi-final, while Jordan Keast (8m), Nathan Dixon (6.75m) and Richard Brown (8.75m) were run out in the heats.

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