Cameron Tindle will be the back-marker for the 147th New Year Sprint, the final of which will be held at Musselburgh Racecourse on January 1.
The prodigious Berwick-based 17-year-old, who won the £4,000 first prize last time from a start of five metres, has had his handicap trimmed by three metres for this year’s event which will start on Wednesday, December 30, controversially two days before the final.
The heats will also be held and at a different East Lothian venue this year, Meadowmill Sports Centre in Prestonpans, which has a ‘tartan’ all-weather surface but very little protection from the elements should there be bad weather.
In last Wednesday’s draw, Tindle’s name came out in heat five of the 12 heats, immediately followed by Ryan Houten (Cardrona), who was runner-up in the final last time, just .03 of a second behind Tindle from his mark of 11 metres.
Houten’s start has been cut by only two metres to nine metres this time round and he may well emerge as one of the favourites.
Tindle is trained by Berwickshire duo Henry Gray (Eyemouth) and Earlston’s Bruce Scott who heads up the Tweedbank-based TLJT school. Gray also has high hopes for Greg Gillan from Eyemouth who runs off 8.5 metres and will be the backmarker in heat seven where he faces Hawick trio Leon Ali (11.25m), Gordon McPherson (14m) and Glyn Desport (10).
Joint second back-markers off five metres are Dylan Ali (Hawick), the 2014 winner, and Moro Bajo (EAC), who was a finalist last time.
Scott Richardson is the first of five Jedburgh runners making a bid for the title when he runs in heat one off 10.5 metres alongside Selkirk’s Craig Bruce (12m) and Broughton’s Albert Eland (30m).
From the 88 runners entered 33 are Borders based athletes including West Linton’s Stacey Downie (17.25m) and Jedburgh’s Emily Dagg (21.5m) who, like Tindle, run under the Edinburgh AC banner.
Heat winners and the eight fastest losers progress to the four cross-ties (semi-finals). Cross-tie winners and the four fastest losers make up the eight strong final.
Heats will be staged on Wednesday, December 30, while the cross-ties and final are due to be held on Friday, January 1 in conjunction with the annual Musselburgh Racecourse New Year meeting.
Full heat list and marks can be found on page 72.