FLYING Penguin policeman John Howe could be the man to beat in today's Latrobe Gift.
The in-form, Preservation Bay sprinter has two victories from two starts this season after winning the PCCCT gift at West Park and last weekend's Rosebery Gift.
A hamstring injury caused a late start to the season for the Trent Nichols-trained runner, forcing him to miss the Richmond and Launceston carnivals.
But now fit and strong, his winning form suggests he could be ready to add a Latrobe Gift title to his resume.
"The PCCCT and Rosebery carnivals were my first two races for the year and I didn't really know how I was going to go," Howe said.
"And the Penguin athletic track is undergoing a redevelopment so I haven't run on the track for any club event so I had no idea how I was going to run.
"I'm very pleased with the two wins and put a lot of effort in over the winter to try to gain a bit of strength and I think that's the reason why I've started the season better than the last couple."
The 28-year-old Howe took an extended break from running due to work commitments after winning the 2002 Rosebery Gift as a 17-year-old and joining Tasmania Police a year later.
Having returned to running three years ago, Howe is unlikely to be penalised by the handicapper for his Rosebery success, and is expected to line up at Latrobe today from a mark of 7.5 metres.
"My handicap hasn't moved much in three years but the next three carnivals will be a lot different because of some mainland runners who are coming over and will be a chance," he said.
"And a few of the young guys from Hobart who have been running well will be back after taking a break from a busy start to the season so they will be strong chances too."But I just want to run to the best of my ability in all the races."