VAL News

Avondale Heights wrap

Posted in: Avondale Heights

Avondale heights Tea Gardens Gift 1/2/2014

The Victorian Athletic League was presented with another extremely hot day for racing at Avondale Heights on Saturday, an occasional breeze the only respite during the day. Wayne Kerr and Ray Micallef along with many other Avondale Heights Sporting Club stalwarts provided a good track to race on and the day’s activities ran smoothly. The racing was exciting with many close finishes.   Many thanks to the athletes and officials (and bookmaker) that assisted in the pack up at Avondale Heights. After a long day in the sun and with lane ropes, many hands do make light work when it comes to packing the VAL van.

Don Furness Sprint 70 metres

The richest 70 metre event in Australia was held on Saturday and as always the final field was a mixture of in-form runners with a group of those getting motivated at the business end of the season. Last year’s Stawell Gift finalist, Ryan Camille (6.25m) set the standard in heat two with a slashing run of 7.57. He defeated Sam Jamieson (2.5m) and James Vine (4.25m), who both qualified for the final, as the two fastest non heat winners. Simon Jackson (5.75m), off the VAL scene since Easter won heat five in 7.79. Ed Ware (3m) was second fastest with a heat win in 7.76.  In the final Camille began well and was quickly clear of the field before Jamieson and Ware closed late to make the finish closer than was expected. The final times were Camille 7.57, Jamieson 7.68 and Ware 7.71. For Ryan, it was his first open class victory.                                                                                                                    The race was named in honour of the late Don Furness, a long time VAL athlete and coach as well as the proprietor of the Puckle street icon, Sims Sports Store.

Lawson Lodge Macedon & Programmed Electrical Tech. 300m Open

With few open 300 metre events on the VAL calendar the Tea Gardens 300m gift could be looked upon as a “free” hit for athletes, ensuring plenty of competition. The fastest heat honours were close with Eric Sapac (20m) winning the opening heat in 34.67 from Cam Moss (12m), whilst Paul Tancredi (19) defeated Wade Girotto (40m) in heat two in 34.63. The remaining heats were all slower than the first two, but both Fraser Heard (22m) and Lawrence Coop (34m) ran sub 35 seconds. In the final Wade Girotto lead the field and refused to surrender that spot, although almost joined by Eric Sapac in the home straight. On the line Girotto held a slender margin over Sapac with Tancredi and Moss disputing third. The winner recorded 34.43 and is coached by John Henry.

Midland Roofing & Full Balance Fitness 120m Novice

At Avondale Heights Ben Farrell (16.5m) recorded his first VAL victory when he defeated Nicholas Repalust (7.25m) and Hamish Adams (12.5m). In his heat Ben finished second to Repalust by a narrow margin but able to reverse the order ninety minutes later. His final winning time was 12.91, the only time that thirteen seconds was broken in the novice event. In third place was Hamish Adams (12.5m), coached by former VAL CEO Mark Howard.  

Stokes Technologies 120m Women’s

In surely the closest finish since the Hotham handicap of 1956 Anna Pasquali (9.5m) gained the verdict from Steph Mollica (4.5m) Tiffany Boatman (12.5m) and Jessica Payne (8m). The winning time for Pasquali was 15.019, runner up Mollica recorded 15.020 with Boatman 15.033 and Payne 15.045. That’s a margin of approximately one inch separating the top four. Interestingly Anna Pasquali and Steph Mollica made the final as the fastest non heat winners. Anna is currently having a very successful season with wins at Wangaratta and St Albans.                                                                 For those people that didn’t spend their school lunch money at the North Melbourne Tab, the Hotham Handicap of 1956 was the first recorded triple dead heat in a horse race.

Leader Access Hire 120m Open

With the focus on the Furness 70 metres and the 300 metres Lawson Lodge, the 120 metres event at the Tea Gardens was expected to be taken out by a front marker taking advantage of the extended limit. However Bros Kelly (6.75m) ran the quickest of the heats with a run of 13.05 and followed that up with a semi final win in 12.98. The other semi finals were taken out by Rob Lehmann (8.25m) in 13.04 and Mohamad Zeed (6.5m) in 13.01. In the final Kelly, giving the out marker Shane Buckingham (17.25m), over ten metres flew home to grab the victory in the last stride. Buckingham was second with Marcus Cooper (11.75m) finishing third, the winning time was 12.99.


VRTA under 20s 800 metres

Jack Hockley-Samon (74m) made it two wins for the season with an impressive victory in the 800 metres event for under 20s. Jack who opened his VAL account with a comfortable win in the VCCL novice event at St Albans was well back at the bell on Saturday. With a lap to travel Chloe Sproule (142m) was the leader from Dylan Moore (104m), Ryan Bain (90m) Jessica O’Hara (138m) and Tayla Sproule (128m). Down the back straight it still looked as if one of those leaders would win with Moore taking the lead ahead of Bain and James Parker (88m), coming out of the pack. It was only at the 150 metres mark that Hockley-Samon appeared but he quickly put the issue beyond doubt and sprinted clear on the home turn. Parker battled on well and Bain held down third place. The winner’s time was 2.01.11, and is coached by Matthew McDonough.


Phil Hart Memorial 70 metres Open

Gus Carty-Cowling (4.5m), off the scene with injury for the first part of the season, returned to the track in top form to take out the Phil Hart Memorial final. The race looked an even contest with six of the heat winners recording times around 7.80. Carty-Cowling took the honours in the first semi final, clearly winning from William Kerr (8m) in 7.76. In the second semi final Simon Carey (9.5m) defeated promising youngster Nicholas Repalust (5m) in 7.77. The final, however, was a one act affair with Carty-Cowling winning by more than a metre from Carey with Matthew Mifsud (7m) finding a touch of form with a third placing. The winning time was 7.80.

Des Sheridan Memorial 800 metres

David Haigh continued on his successful journey through the 2013/14 season on Saturday when he waltzed away with the final of the 800 metres at the Tea Gardens. For Dave it was his third win in an 800 metres event this season, a feat rarely achieved in the VAL. Haigh previously won the Terang and St Albans “2 lappers” but seems undaunted by his diminishing handicap. The three heats were all run in 1.58’s and the final looked a close and open event. Heat winners, Matthew Turner (22m), holidaying from Scotland, and Robert Keenan (58m) were impressive in winning their heats and looked certain to make the “Riddlers” task a difficult one. In the final, Chris Brown (108m) led the field along in single file and was still in that position down the back straight from Craig Harris (80m) and Gordon Muir (78m), with “Haighy” in fifth spot. Approaching the home turn David pounced on the lead and ran home strongly for an easy win. He won by about ten metres from the late finishing Drew Kowalski (60m) and Muir. The winning time was 1.56.79.

Sims Sports Store 300 Women’s & Veterans’

The Avondale Heights crowd produced a mighty roar when last year’s Tea Gardens golden girl Stephanie Jinks (44m) won the opening heat of the women’s and veterans’ 300 metres. At this carnival last year Jinks, a local, won a double, much to the pleasure of the on lookers. However her opening heat time of 37.86 was to be the slowest, although in a great handicapping effort all six heats were clocked in the 37 seconds range. In the final, the race was dominated by the girls with Kasey Moore (42m) and Jessica Payne (40m) fighting out the finish, Kasey proving the stronger in 37.18. Tom Hecimovic (32m) ran on late for third just a margin to the good of Steph Mollica (28m).  

World4Kids 1600m Open

Future “men about town” Cash and Aiden Bateman were on hand to see their father Matthew enjoy a comfortable win in the Open 1600 metres at Avondale Heights. The five year old boys, who are becoming a regular fixture at VAL carnivals, have been known to run, climb, roll, scamper and just plain fall more miles than some of the Hipworth stable on race day. Whilst warming up Matty leaves the dynamic duo in the care of the Hippo stable runners with few showing the required parental knowledge to do the job adequately. Back to the race, Gary Blake (375m) set a solid tempo early and cleared out with a handy break and was still rolling along with a sizable gap at the bell. He was chased, at this stage, by Lucinda Lopes (245m), Corina Kapusta (310m) Mark Hipworth (225m) and Matthew Bateman (235m). The only backmarker to make a run at the bell was Luke Searle (90m), twice a winner on this track, as he moved into eighth place and looked a solid chance. But at the two hundred metre point Blake was gone, Bateman had Hipworth covered and Searle began to tire. Ashley Cowan (145m) started to run on in the home straight but to no avail as Matt Bateman scored by four metres from Cowan and Hippo. Arron Downes (150m) battled on well for fourth with Lopes the first female home in fifth place. The winning time was 4.23.16.