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THRILLING FINISH TO 140th SPRINT by SHANE FENTON

20 year old former rugby player Leigh Marshall from Hawick came out on top in a thrilling finish to the 140th New Year Sprint at Musselburgh Racecourse on Monday December 29th.

Punters and bookies concurred that it was one of the most open finals in years with most of the finalists attracting bets of some sort.

You could have got 5-1 Marshall minutes before starter Barry Craighead fired the gun to get the final of he famous event underway.

In an exhilarating contest it was Marshall,coached by last years runner-up Davie Rae who prevailed stopping the watch at 11.84 seconds, in one of the best finishes in years he crossed the line barely a metre ahead of a trio of runners who were all within 100th of a second of each other.

After a long look at the photo print out Greg Turnbull,Edinburgh [11.95] was given second with pre- race favourite Daniel Paxton,Hawick[10] and Pitreavie AC's Ross Kirk[8.5] third and fourth in the same time of 11.96.

The win landed Marshall a first prize of 4000.

Prior to the big race the S. H. G A. 110 metres British Championship was won in fine style by Scotland's current fastest man, Nick Smith from Aberdour, he blasted over the winning line in 11.80 seconds with metres to spare over Edinburgh AC duo Brett Rund and John Dunlop.

On the opening day the Open 90 metres handicap was won by Willie Bates,Tullibody[15], Bates who had won over the distance at Pitlochry Games in the summer, was unbackable in the final and cruised to victory in 9.57 seconds ahead of Davie Grieve, Hawick[11.5] and last years big sprint third Josh Crawford,Annan[7.75].

Earlier the evergreen Grieve had taken the vets title in 9.6, ahead of Moorfoots' Gregor Nicholson[17.5] and Englishman, Paul Donaghy, Durham City AC [9.5]

The Open 1600 metres was run on a bumby uneven cross country type circuit taking in part of both the flat and national hunt racecourses, which explains why this race never produces a fast time.

The saying horses for courses would certainly apply to race winner Craig Robertson[40] who has won round here a few times in the past, the Pitreavie athlete won the battle with backmarker Douglas Selman,Corstorphine AC[30] breaking the tape in 4m37.7s, City of Edinburgh's Ryan O'Hare[115] placed third with Daryll Hastie,Kelso[50]fourth.

There were good turn outs for both the Youth's events.

In the 90 metres, John Glenn,Gala[4] burst through from the backmark to stop the watch on 10.20 seconds, following the Borderer over the line was Ross Maxwell,East Kilbride[8] and Emily Douglas,Jedburgh[7].

The 800 metres produced a thrilling finish, 25 runners went to post and it looked like a Pitreavie AC 1-2 as previous winner Kathryn Pennell[105] and teamate Michaela Brown[145] battled it out up the half furlong straight, however just as they were about to lunge for the line they were mugged in the shadow of the post by the strong finishing Dan Purvis,Earlston who claimed victory in the last stride of the race.

A crowd of 3700 watched the second day's events.

Published: 2009-03-27 12:30:00