The 2015 winner Cameron Tindle (Edinburgh AC), who is also the Scottish senior 200 metres champion and is still only 17, will again be the back-marker for the 2016 New Year Sprint, the final of which will be held on grass at Musselburgh Racecourse on Friday, January 1.
The prodigious Berwick-based schoolboy, who won the £4000 first prize last time from a start of five metres, has had his handicap trimmed by three metres for this year’s heats which will take place on Wednesday December 30, controversially two days before the final, and at a different East Lothian venue, Meadowmill Sports Centre, which has a “tartan” all-weather surface but very little protection from the elements should there be bad weather.
When the draw was made at the racecourse yesterday, Tindle’s name came out in heat five of the 12 heats, immediately followed by Ryan Houten (Cardrona), who was runner-up in the famous professional handicap last time, just .03 sec behind Tindle from his mark of 11 metres.
Houten’s start has been cut by only two metres to nine metres this time and he may well emerge as one of the favourites.
The joint second back-markers off five metres are Dylan Ali (Hawick), the 2014 winner, and Moro Bajo (EAC), who was a finalist last time.
A clutch of promising young Capital sprinters are also entered, with a former youths winner Kieran Kivlin (EAC) off 6.25m in heat one, Craig Knowles (Corstorphine, 6.5m) in heat four and Sandy Wilson (EAC 7m) in heat six.
Pitreavie veteran Francis Smith, off 9.5m, Dunfermline’s Wendy Nicol, off 32.5m, and Michael Olsen (EAC 6.5m) are in heat nine with potential finalist Rachel Robertson ( 21.5m)
But Wendy’s daughter, British internationalist Gemma, will not be making another bid as she recently had a baby.
Dolphinton brothers Steven (8m) and Jordan Charters (11m) clash in the same heat eight, while a third brother Ryan (11m) is also in heat nine.