By Jason Tubnor
Shane Stiles became only the second rider to win two Tim McArdle Handicaps. Starting 1min in front of lone scratch man Stefan Michalicka, Stiles, Brett Rollinson, Leigh Hauxwell and Matt Parkinson made sure Stefan did not catch them. This eliminated his main danger in the sprint and probably sealed his victory.
First away with 10 minutes break on scratch were Mick Blackwood and Greg Bursill. They were caught early by the 9 minute bunch of Ross Henry, Peter McDonald, Zvonko Maric and Sean Holden.
The 6.5 minute bunch of Jayman Prestidge, Bryce Edhouse, Paul Yeatman, Rob Monk, Jason Fritzlaff and Leigh Jamison started well and completed their first 4 laps averaging over 38km/h. They caught the 9min group at the beginning of Lap 3.
The 4.5 minute group of Brett Kennedy, George Tambassis, Glenn Marriott, Alan McCulloch and Jason Tubnor actually lost ground on the 6.5 min bunch on lap 1. They ditched Tubnor and slowly picked up the pace. They were caught by the Stiles group at the beginning of Lap 5.
At the bell it was clear the handicapper had got it wrong as the 1minute bunch were about to catch all those in front. They tried to pick up the pace past the football ground to drop a few but most stayed in contact.
Stiles got near enough to the back of the bunch to talk to the race reporter who asked “Who is going well? Who got the best legs for the finish?” Without hesitation Stiles proclaimed, “I am going better than anyone else.” In the tradition of the Bath Ruth “calling his shot”, Stiles declared he was going to the be winner.
Leigh Jamieson launched an attack down Stur’s Rd but it was neutralized by Brett Rollinson and Leigh Hauxwell. No-one else risked the late charge and Stiles led out the sprint from the bottom of the hill. Parkinson loomed up to Stiles but blew up just as quickly.
Kennedy had the last crack at getting across to Stiles but he made little ground on the run to the line. Jayman Prestidge finished 3rd after sitting on for the final two laps of the race. Then followed George Tambassis and Jason Fritzlaff.