Runners take centre stage at agricultural show for the 2022 Livelighter Mullewa Gift

Victor TantiGeraldton Guardian
550m winner Sarah Knox with boyfriend and Gift winner Josh Hook.
Camera Icon550m winner Sarah Knox with boyfriend and Gift winner Josh Hook. Credit: Tanti, Victor

Last Saturday’s 2022 Livelighter Mullewa Gift yet again produced a memorable final.

The winner was Josh Hook who came off an 8m handicap in 13 seconds to hold out Tony Niyongabo (12m) in 13.05s and defending champion Kyle Ennis (1.5m) 13.56s.

“I’m stoked, this is an absolutely brilliant event, I love it and hope to keep coming for many years,” Hook said.

“I’m really a 400m runner, sprints aren’t my thing and I prefer to avoid the (starting) blocks if I can but might run the 70s next time.”

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Hook, runner-up in 2021, won his heat easily and firmed as favourite for the Gift though 2018 winner Bryce Teo also shone in taking the other heat.

“The heat gave me confidence, I thought I ran well but there’s so many quality runners in a race like this, a good result in a heat doesn’t mean you can’t lose so pleased with how it went,” Hook said.

Another highlight was Taylah Dean’s great win in the 120m Novice.

Ella and Sophie Batten were second and third and have clearly inherited some running genes from grandfather, Gary Clark.

Dean, a day short of her 15th birthday, almost won the 70m title too but was pipped by Teo who timed his finish perfectly as experience counted, Dan Leseburg, co-winner in 2021, was third.

The Geraldton Bendigo Bank 550m handicap was another top race, at the final turn, Sarah Knox and Niveah Hill led but the field was rapidly closing in.

It seemed certain they would be overrun but they somehow hung on despite having Tom Leseburg, Hook and others hot on their heels.

It was a mighty effort by the two young women. For Knox, it was also a bonus as she only attended to support her boyfriend Hook but decided to run.

The 120m Matt Barber Handicap was won by James Brennan and well deserved as he competed hard in every event. Ennis, who started off scratch, thundered home for second with Niyongabo third.

Livelighter Mullewa Gift: 1 Josh Hook (8.00) 13.00, 2 Tony Niyongabo (12.00m) 13.05, 3 Kyle Ennis (1.50m) 13.56.

Novice: 1 Taylah Dean (22.00) 13.37s, 2 Ella Batten (22.00) 13.50s, 3 Sarah Batten (25.00m) 14.10s.

70m: 1 Bryce Teo (5.00m) 8.34s, 2 Taylah Dean 16.50m 8.46s, 3 Daniel Leseberg 13.50m, 3 Dan Leseberg (12.00m) 8.47s.

Bendigo Bank 550m: 1 Sarah Knox (95m), 2 Nevaeh Hill (90m), 3 Tom Leseberg (35m).

Matt Barber Backmarkers H’cap: 1 James Brennan (13.50) 12.48, 2 Kyle Ennis (scr) 12.50, 3 Tony Niyongabo (7.50m) 12.57.

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