Isaac Dunmall is the fastest qualifier for the Stawell Gift semis, while Sam Jamieson remains in contention to win a second title.
If Isaac Dunmall’s take on his Stawell Gift heat win proves correct and he can fix the flaws, the Queenslander will take a power of beating at Central Park on Monday.
Dunmall, 20, clocked the fastest first-round time of 12.32 seconds on Saturday despite performing well below his best.
“I wanted to run really well but I don’t know about that – it didn’t feel great,” said Dunmall, who has a mark of 8m.
“The time was a little bit off what I expected as well.
“I wanted to be a lot quicker but that’s the way it goes.
“The start was alright but when I got up to them they sort of just held on to me.
“I fell apart a bit but I’ll go away and work on it.”
Dunmall suffered the most recent of two serious hamstring injuries in November.
Rather than risk breaking down again, he has only raced sparingly this season in an attempt to peak for Stawell.
In a wide open field, Dunmall and Gus Carty-Cowling are on the first line of betting with Sportingbet at $4, ahead of John Adams and Luke Versace (both $5) and Sam Jamieson and Chris Innes-Wong (both $6) going into the semi-finals and final on Easter Monday.
Jamieson is right in contention to take the $40,000 winner’s cheque and become only the fourth man to win the celebrated handicap event more than once.
Jamieson took the title in 2008 and, off a mark of 4.75m, has a real chance of joining Bill Howard, Barry Foley and Josh Ross in the exclusive multiple Gift winners’ club.
“That does cross the mind,” said Jamieson, who won his heat in 12.40.
“There are only three people who have done it, so it’s not the usual thing.
“I’d worked so hard to get it in 2008 and after that it was more relief than anything.
“But it doesn’t really play into this year as much.”
Jamieson clocked the same heat time as little-known Chris Innes-Wong, who was sensationally backed in from $101 to equal favouritism early on Saturday after a betting plunge by his father and other connections.
Innes-Wong has been drawn in the same semi as backmarker Joel Bee (0.75m).