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    2021 Powercor Stawell Gift winner Edward Ware and Change Our Game Women’s Gift winner Hayley Orman proudly display their trophies after a successful long weekend at Central Park. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Winners crowned in gift return

Edward Ware and Hayley Orman became part of national sporting history on Monday when they won the richest professional foot races on offer in the country.

Melbourne’s Ware, 32, won the Stawell Gift and Orman from Adelaide the Women’s Gift in a dramatic final day of action at Stawell’s Central Park.

Both pocketed $40,000 in prizemoney for their efforts.

Ware, running in green, won the gift in 12.188 seconds and Orman, in pink, won in 13.876. Both ran off 9.75-metre handicaps.

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Ware went into the final of the Powercor Stawell Gift as one of the favourites, having recorded the second fastest time in heats on Saturday.

He won from Sebastian Baird from Adelaide, who in running off eight metres, recorded 12.188. Third place went to Munashe Hove in a time of 12.317 despite being moved back a metre to four metres due to a false start.

Orman clinched the Change Our Game Women’s Gift crown from first-time runner Cassandra Wang Lecouteur and third place went to 2019 runner-up Sophia Fighera.

A delighted Ware said after his win that after previous attempts ‘everything has come together this year’.

“It’s not getting any easier and I knew that there was probably only one more crack left. I’m just so happy it happened to be this year,” he said.

Ware went on to claim the 200m Stawell Athletic Club Jack Donaldson Handicap an hour after his 120-metre gift win, a double only previously achieved by Bill Howard in 1967.

“I think I just came in this year with not as much expectation. Normally I get the jitters, I get the nerves, I get the shakes lining up on the blocks, but as weird as it was, it was just another run for me,” he said.

“Obviously the jubilation and everything else set in afterwards. But I think just trying to treat it as any other race definitely helped.”

‘Living the dream’

Orman said shortly after her win that she was still pinching herself.

“I’m just living the dream right now. I’m a bit lost for words to be honest. I just knew that if I stayed cool and executed my race plan I knew it was going to happen. I just believed in myself,” she said.

“For me it was something that was always a dream. I never thought that it would be a reality. I didn’t think I was that good but I’ve been in the odds today and I’m so proud of myself. I never thought it would be something I would be able to achieve.”

Carnival atmosphere

Thousands of people flocked to Central Park for the three-day carnival after the COVID-19 pandemic forced officials to cancel the event last year.

The carnival featured running events over a variety of distances and anticipation on Monday followed backmarker Stewart McSweyn in a new AIA Vitality Invitation 3200 metres.

But stablemate Thomas Thorpe sneaked away off a 200-metre handicap to secure victory.

McSweyn, off scratch, managed to finish in fourth place but his time of 8.19 minutes was the fastest recorded on grass, confirming his reputation as one of the best distance runners in the world.

The gift’s 2019 champion Dhruv Rodrigues Chico narrowly missed making the final but won a 120-metre Furphy Chris Perry Memorial Backmarkers Handicap.

The backmarker won in 12.354 seconds, holding off frontmarker and Australia’s number-one 100m female athlete Hana Basic, 12.431.

In other results from Monday, Jerome Lugo backed up his Arthur Postle 70-metre win with success in a Bill Howard 100 metres and a 300-metre Masters Handicap went to Mark Glassborow.  

The entire April 7, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!