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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Expert Handicapper Announced for Bunbury Gift

Expert Handicapper Announced for Bunbury Gift

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1 Expert Handicapper Announced for Bunbury Gift on Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:38 pm



Expert Handicapper Announced for Inaugural Gift

The organisers of the inaugural $78,000 Bunbury Geographe Gift have secured the services of accomplished handicapper Mark O’Brien.

The former Victorian Athletics League Chief Handicapper has a long history of involvement in both athletics and pro-running, as an athlete, coach and later handicapper.

“Pro-running is a uniquely Australian endeavour. In some respects it exemplifies some of our characteristics — it gives everyone a fair go,” O’Brien said.

An accountant by trade, O’Brien admits he has a flair for numbers and statistics, but maintains handicapping is an art.

“I really enjoy the sport and the statistical side of athletics is of interest to me, I always knew everyone’s form,” he said.

“The attraction of pro-running to me is that you don’t have to be the most gifted athlete to win.

“If you have worked as hard as you possibly could the handicaps provide a balance of abilities, and if you have worked hard enough you can achieve success.”

O‘Brien’s handicapping career includes overseeing the famed Stawell Gift for six years, writing the VAL  procedures and guidelines and later as a VAL director, overseeing the VAL Handicap Review Panel.

He said he was thrilled to be involved with the Bunbury Geographe Gift and was keen to see a  competitive and exciting event.

“It will be the last major pro race for the season in Australia, so everybody’s form will be exposed. Pro athletes would have already given their best — which will make the job of handicapping Bunbury transparent and compelling.”

O’Brien will receive assistance from Athletics WA on the form of local athletes, but would ensure the races will be competitive.

“Pro-running in WA has struggled and part of it has been providing a level playing field for all of their athletes,” he said.

“I would love to see a really good professional event in WA get some traction and progress.

“The organisers have the capacity and vision to make it work, Stawell is a great event and it is wonderful to have an event in WA that can provide something along those lines.”


ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
It's good to see that the "Truth never gets in the way of a good story"............

Well done to the WA Pro Running for securing Mark O'Brien to handicap the Bunbury Gift meet next year.

Mark was an accomplished athlete during his running career in which he used his knowledge to be the Distance Handicapper for the VAL for 6 years after he retired from competitive running, NOT the "Chief Handicapper" for the VAL.

I am sure that he will do an excellent job with the handicapping and it will help with getting all of the athletes to have close finishes in all of the races.


ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
Just to set the record straight, I started my tenure with the VAL as Distance Handicapper and after 4 years, became Chief Handicapper of the VAL for a further 2 years, overseeing the Sprint, Middle and Distance Handicappers. I then spent a further 4 years on the Handicap Review Panel and as a VAL Director.

I was excited to be asked to help out the organisers of the Bunbury Gift and encourage all athletes to add it to their racing program for this coming season.


I can certainly attest to the fact that Mark was the chief handicapper at one stage. I recall I didn't have a lot fun at the time..... Laughing

And although I didn't enjoy much 'fun' (the treatment of Leon Burckhardt is still a sore point....) I would have to say, overall, he did a very good job.

I'd be happy to recommend athletes to run at Bunbury if Mark's doing the 'marks'.

"Let's Go While We're Young"


ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
I must firstly apologise to Mark for incorrectly saying that he was not the Sprint Handicapper when in fact, he was.

An astute person who will remain anonymous, pointed out my error from my earlier post.

Having said that, he will still do a great job of Handicapping the Bunbury Gift.

Cheers Mark.


ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
Not sure who loaded the gun for you Harry but it certainly was a misfire!


ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
Nobody but myself to blame


After the winter hiatus, it is great pro track is active again, the squaring off, jousting etc. makes for an interesting aside to slogging out all those reps.

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