Lacey and Mannix-Power storm home to win Stawell Gifts


Jack Lacey and Chloe Mannix-Power have defied extreme weather conditions, a sodden track, and a two-hour delay to storm home and win the Stawell Gifts.

Only World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 have ever prevented the storied handicap race – which dates way back to 1878 – from taking place.

But such was the severity of the thunderstorms in and around Stawell on Monday that there was a real chance the 2024 finals would have to be cancelled or delayed until Tuesday.

Heavy rain began falling straight after the Gift semi-finals were run early in the afternoon at Central Park.

Organisers chose to push ahead with the next event on the program, the 1000m invitational handicap, with drawcard and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Peter Bol charging home from the scratch mark to finish a close second behind Riley Bryce.

But lightning strikes then put a halt to the program for more than two hours, before a short break in the weather at 4.30pm provided a window for the two feature finals to be run.

In the men’s race, Lacey (9.5m) claimed victory in 12.27 seconds in a photo finish from backmarker Jake Ireland (12.28) and pre-event favourite Endale Mekonnen (12.33).

“I was quite happy with the conditions because it’s a strength of mine to run into a bit of rain,” said 26-year-old Lacey.

“The track held up really well, it’s actually still quite hard out there.

“They worked tremendously to get that ready for us.

“I used to play footy, so I love the wet.”

Women’s Gift winner Mannix-Power was even more at home than Lacey in the rain and high drama on Monday.

“It’s a little bit like surf lifesaving,” said the Queenslander, who gave her coach Brett Robinson yet another triumph at Stawell.

“You rock up to the event with no program and you just have to be ready on the line when they marshal you.

“And that’s what we did.

“We were actually praying for the rain – it suits us. It’s like running on the beach.”

Racing off the backmark of 4.25m, the 23-year-old Mannix-Power stopped the clock at 13.42 ahead of Chloe Kinnersley (13.53) and Jemma Pollard (13.54).



The drizzling rain for the Gift finals was a minor inconvenience compared with the heavy downpour Bol had to power through in the 1000m race.

“Crazy weather but what a great event,” said Bol, who was fourth in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I haven’t raced in rain like that since I was a kid.

“Congrats to Riley. I just left a little too much to do off the last bend.

“I felt I had a chance to catch him, but he was just a bit strong.”



Become part of our Commonwealth Games Australia family and get all the latest news our team members!