THE strong form of Launceston's Stawell Gift winner Andrew Robinson this season will make him one of the favourites as he chases back-to-back Devonport Carnival 400-metre gift titles today.
Carnivals athletics co-ordinator Rod Walker has picked Robinson as his men's gift favourite, while Tasmanian Athletics League commentator Brian Paine has opted for Hobart runner Jarred Gilroy as his tip ahead of Robinson for second.
``Gilroy was third last year and has won the Tasmanian 400m championship since then, so he is my tip to win,'' Paine said.
``Andrew Robinson is running 10 metres further this year but he won so easily last year and he has actually improved in the past 12 months, including the Stalwell Gift, so even though he is running off 15m, he is my choice to come second.
``South Australian sprinter Dean Bulabec will be right in the mix also, the long-striding Sudanese teenager.''
Victorian trainer Mark Hipworth will have 13 runners contesting the men's and women's gifts at the Devonport Carnival, and of those Paine considered the best chances to be Robert Spencer, who has been making 400m finals in Victoria, and James Collier, who won the Stalwell 550m last Easter.
``National 800m champion Alex Rowe has been pulled one metre for his 400 win at Latrobe but is in top form and will be in with a chance, and people like Luke Whitney, of Midway Point, Launceston runners Darcy Lahey and Brodie Robinson and Wynyard's Jorden Englund are others in the mix,'' he said.
Bruny Island runner Michelle Davis was his selection to win the women's gift.
``She is in top form and pulled out of Latrobe, and I think she will be hard to catch off that mark off 32m,'' Paine said.
``Nicole Perry goes back two metres for her one-lap wins this season, but the home crowd should lift her, and she could win her second Devonport Gift following her success in 2006.
``Jacqui Dalwood is in absolutely terrific form with five wins this season, the Burnie runner, and could make it number six in the big one.''
Hobart teenager Maddy Scott is another with a good chance, having run the 400m distance four times this season, including at Latrobe.
``Sandy Loring will be hard to catch off 34m, as will Kiara Chambers, of Cambridge,'' Paine said.
``Victorian Celia Cosgriss won a major 400 recently and should again be a show, along with last year's New South Wales runner-up Suz Sinclair, who goes back four metres to 34m.''
Walker liked Robinson's chances in the men's gift ahead of Hobart's Jacob Despard and Jorden Englund.
``I reckon Robinson will go back-to-back because he is a big time runner and he won pretty easily and I don't think his re-handicap will make much difference,'' Walker said.
``Jacob Despard could be his biggest danger after running a high 49 race at the Domain about three weeks ago, but I don't know if he can beat Andrew.
``Jorden is an honest runner and he will run a big race too, so I think he will finish third.''