New Year Sprint promoter Frank Hanlon could be excused for believing this year’s event is jinxed.
The draw earlier this month was overshadowed by the tragic death in a Borders road accident of Hawick sprinter Leon Ali who had been on a prep for the event and whose brother Dylan was the impressive winner three years ago. Understandably Dylan Ali has withdrawn from the race. Then Hanlon himself was hurt in a house fall and ended up in hospital and had to have surgery to his wrist.
There is some doubt as to whether he will be discharged in time for the event, due to take place with the heats a week tomorrow (Friday, December 30) at Meadowmill Sports Centre, East Lothian and the cross-ties and final at Musselburgh Racecourse on Sunday, January 1 during the National Hunt race meeting.
Another blow came this week when Cameron Tindle (Edinburgh AC), the backmarker and sensational winner two years ago, decided he would not be running due to other priorities.
Tindle, still only 18 but Scotland’s leading senior sprinter, is now a student at Stirling University, and has decided to concentrate on the indoor season with the Scottish Championships coming up at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow next month and the British Championships in Sheffield in February.
With entries already well down on last year, 60 compared to 88, it was not the best news for the promoter.
A former favourite Morro Bajo (EAC) is now backmarker off 5.25m for the famous 110 metres handicap which again carries a first prize of £4000.
But veteran handicapper Adam Crawford believes that the Sprint will go head as planned. “The preparation work has been done and I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank even got along to the event in person.”