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Horsburgh turns back the clock to win thrilling 151st New Year Sp

Shane Fenton reports from Musselburgh Racecourse.

Central AC veteran Ian Horsburgh claimed the £5000 top prize in the 151st running of a thrilling New Year Sprint with a a scintillating run in front of a sold out crowd at Musselburgh Racecourse on New Years Day.

The 42 year old who only returned to competitive running in the summer after a 13 year abscence had previously contested two New Year Sprint finals in the 90s. In 1996 he finished 5th off 6 metres so to return 23 years later with a mark of only 4.5 metres more makes his achievement all the more remarkable.

Now based in Doune, Horsburgh began running on the Highland Games circuit as a 10 year old winning many races  and in 1994 was the SHGA Youth Athlete of the Year.

Following the heats at Meadowmill on the Monday Horsburgh who was fastest up was installed as favourite, the odds would drift however following the cross ties as the race was thrown wide open with only 5 hundredths of a second seperating the 4 x tie winners. Money came for the likes of Murray Blair and Douglas Young as punters opinions of the winner began to change.

Horsburgh took the opening x tie in 11.95, Craig Bruce Selkirk then came up in 12.00 just ahead of Calum McWilliam East Kilbride 12.06 who won 2 years ago and was contesting his 3rd successive final. Another Central AC veteran Cameron Smith won x tie 3 in 11.98 which secured his place in his 7th final. Race debutant Kyle McLean Giffnock also went through in 12.08. The latter like McWilliam was coached by Gordon Bury who has been in charge of the previous three winners.

The final x tie was a humdinger with last years 2nd and 4th Douglas Young,Kelso and Murray Blair Lasswade AC both recording the same time of 11.97, Stacey Downie Edinburgh ac not for the first time ensured there would be female participation in the final going through in a time of 12.09.

One had to feel sorry for Brodie Cowan, the Jed AC teenager was running the race of her life only to stumble and fall 5 metres out while in the lead and looked sure to be challenging for a final place. The sigh from the huge crowd when she fell could be heard in Wallyford.

The scene was set for a thrilling final and so it proved, Horsburgh powered out the blocks and was soon on terms with club mate Cameron Smith and then held off teenager Murray Blair to win by a stride with Stacey Downie out in lane 8 once again showing good form to finish 3rd.

Scotland's most famous professional sprinter George McNeil who won the race 50 years ago last time it was held at Powderhall was on hand to present the winner with his trophy.

Horsburgh is the first veteran winner since Tony Bowman Leeds City AC triumphed 13 years ago.

“I’ve always wanted to win this!”  Horsburgh admitted. “My wife didn’t want me to run because she’s seen me have disappointments before, but I felt I had a big chance this year.

“I knew I was catching Cameron and I stayed relaxed for the rest of the race, but even when I crossed the line I wasn’t sure I’d won until I heard my name called. I felt fresh after Monday, but I had to get used to running on the grass again. Lane four is a good lane because a lot of previous winners have been in lane four, but my biggest worry was Murray Blair. He beat me last summer and I was determined not to let him beat me again!

“I ran really well as a junior, but then I had injuries and didn’t progress. I had 13 years off and had children, but I found some energy again when the kids started sleeping. I wanted to let them see me run rather than telling them about it. I think we’ll be going to Disneyland Paris as a celebration.”

The athletes were once again afforded great coverage by the racecourse for the x ties and final and they now see the sprint as an integral part of their New Year Day race meeting programme. This year there appeared to be more from the running fratenity among the sell out crowd than i have seen in the past.


Published: 2020-01-01 20:54:59