The race has been named in honour of legendary bookmaker John Stollery, who unfortunately passed away in September this year. Past winners of the Christmas Gift have included some of Australia’s best sprinters, including recent winners; Noble Pedro (2011), Lochinvar Marlow (2010) and Take The Kitty (2009).
Heat One 8.28pm
Group One Vic Peters hero Belfast Johnny returns to headquarters after failing to make the Brisbane Cup final and will exit from box seven. He has an excellent record at Wentworth Park, with three wins from five starts, including a 29.63 personal best that will see him a strong contender to take out the series. In-form Victorian trainer Steve Collins will bring the highly talented Allen Malik to Wentworth Park for his debut performance on Saturday night from box one. The lightly raced son of Surf Lorian and Spiral Bale ran a very good race to finish fourth in the Ballarat Cup Final behind superstars Ronan Izmir and Paw Licking. Cawbourne Havoc upset a strong FFA field last week, leading all the way in a flying personal best of 29.73 from box three. A repeat performance would give trainer Tracey Bruce plenty of confidence heading into next weeks final.
Heat Two 8.53pm
Jacqueline Davis’ Bugatti Flyer is on fire at present, having recorded three straight wins over the middle distances at Dapto and Richmond, where she clocked a sizzling 34.52. The beautifully bred daughter of Bit Chili and Midnight Lace has incredible stamina, a massive advantage in this heat. Soviet Missile returns to Wentworth Park after tackling the Soldiers Saddle Final at Bathurst where he finished third, after recording a scorching 29.63 in his Soldiers heat. Asha Tanga has been extremely consistent of late, stepping out at Richmond last month to clock a near-record 30.32 over the 535m. She will be extremely hard to hold out if she can repeat that kind of run in this heat.
Heat Three 9.35pm
This is an extremely strong heat. Ruby Dancer draws the coveted red rug after winning four straight at Unitbet Gardens and Gosford, with her superb early pace this will be a definite advantage. Mark Gatt’s Gradence has successfully stepped back from the 720m distance and has saluted at his past two outings with a speedy personal best of 29.82. If he gets room to move, look for a barnstorming finish. Peter Rocket returns from Victoria with a blistering 29.52 personal best that he recorded here back in March. This talented chaser can overcome a difficult box six draw. Despite exiting from box five, Double Twist put in an enormous performance last week to finish second in fast time and the week before she blew her rivals away in a sensational 29.67, look for her at the finish.
Heat Four 9.52pm
Beau Hedley’s Avondale Porche made a successful return to the racetrack last week at Maitland in very smart 25.18. She has a personal best at Wentworth Park of 29.75 and will be well supported from the one box. The daughter of Knocka Norris and Micro Lee won nine straight earlier in her career, and ran a massive race in the Group One Vic Peters to finish third. She is worthy of being one of the favourites for the series. Edge is in career best form at present, having won three of his past four at Wentworth Park, including a flying 29.68 personal best. He will exit from a favorable box three. Romantic Affair has drawn awkwardly in box six, but has a personal best of 29.70 at the track and comes off excellent form at Richmond over the past few weeks. He flashed home over the grueling 535m at his last start, just missing out on the Sprint Series final in fast time.