Ipswich One Mile Gift winner Clay Dawson leads home Adam Fogg, Wayne Adams and Josh Nolan in last year's race on the Ipswich Turf Club sand track.
Ipswich One Mile Gift winner Clay Dawson leads home Adam Fogg, Wayne Adams and Josh Nolan in last year's race on the Ipswich Turf Club sand track. David Nielsen

Top field to battle in $5000 race of intrigue

AN influx of new talent, proven 1500m runners and Ipswich challengers. Saturday's 13th annual Ipswich Mile Gift offers plenty of quality and unpredictability.

The winner of tomorrow afternoon's unique handicap race leaves the Ipswich Turf Club $3000 richer.

The next seven placegetters share in the other $2000 on offer.

Defending champion Clay Dawson is not competing tomorrow after the Ipswich long distance runner last year showed his tenacity in leading home Adam Fogg and regular Gift entrant Wayne Adams.

Versatile Ipswich competitor Adams returns for another bid having contested the Gift many times. Adams won this year's state masters 800m title and collected a silver medal at national level.

Among other Ipswich runners are event newcomer Liam Stolberg, new club member Taya Beckers and Alex Davies, who is coached by experienced regional mentor Brad Robinson.

Backed by the Ipswich Hospital Foundation and Queensland Athletic League, the Ipswich Mile Gift is scheduled for 3.30pm. It is run between horse races on the Ipswich Turf Club gallop program.

Before that main race, the $1000 QAL 300m handicap is being run around 2.50pm.

QAL secretary Steve Minns said the unpredictability of the Ipswich Mile Gift each year was due to multiple factors.

"You've got to start looking at how are they going to handle the sand?'' he said.

"Are they a traditional track runner . . . or a road racer, or a steeplechaser or cross country runner who have an advantage on this track?''

Minns said it was intriguing to see what condition athletes were in after summer competition and with the prospect of taking an off-season break.

"It's who turns up on the day, the human factor,'' he said.

Having only missed being part of one of the 12 previous Gifts after winning the first event, Minns is tipping another wide open field.

Last year's third placegetter Adams (off 285m) is expected to be a serious contender again.

Other runners to watch include athlete Davies (off 170m) and former winner Andrew Dey (off 180).

A major appeal of Ipswich's annual Gift event is trying to pick a winner.

But a female runner is yet to win despite many surprise results over the past decade.

Up and coming Ipswich athlete Beckers will start on the front limit, off 350m.

Caitlin Murdock is a quality women's competitor with form, having won the Mulgowie Mile.

The Gift and 300m races are part of the turf club's eight race program, which also includes the St Edmund's College Foundation day.

Ipswich and District Athletic supremo Vic Pascoe also rated the Gift a quality field, featuring highly regarded 1500m runners.

He said having the St Eddies supporters cheering the athletes down the main straight on the sand track added to the character of the annual foot racing.

A bookmaker is fielding bets on the Ipswich Mile Gift.

Some runners have nominated in both handicap races.

Pascoe said that would a "big ask'' to run in two muscle-lactating events only 40 minutes apart on the sand surface inside the main Ipswich Turf Club racing arena.

However, Ipswich's annual foot racing regularly turns up plenty of surprises.

The horse racing starts at 12.19pm with 103 acceptances for the meeting.

Top line-ups

$5000 Ipswich Mile Gift (shirt colour and handicap in brackets) at 3.30pm: Chevy Black (red, 120), Patrick Hagan (white, 125), Alex Davies (blue, 170), Andrew Dey (yellow, 180), Will Howard (green, 190), Nicholas Kirkup (pink, 190), Sebri Mohamed (black, 260), Caitlin Murdock (grey, 285), Wayne Adams (orange, 285), Brad Schofield (green/green, 285), Hanah Cox (maroon, 300), Alexandra Blake (orange/green, 300), Liam Stolberg (red/light blue, 300), Taya Beckers (purple, 350).

$1000 QAL 300m (shirt colour and handicap in brackets) at 2.50pm: Boikai Java (red, 27), Sebri Mohamed (white, 40), Caitlin Murdock (blue, 47), Olivia Nock (yellow, 50), Mathew Learoyd (green, 50), Jayde Boxsel (pink, 58), Imelda Fadila (black, 64), Elizabeth Melrose (orange, 64), Dusu Condi (green/green, 66), Taya Beckers (maroon, 80), Paul Adams (orange/green, 140).