Mel's not in it for the money
Melissa Breen will run in the Queanbeyan Gift. Photo: Pat Scala
The Queanbeyan Gift may not have the same prestige as the Stawell Gift, but Melissa Breen stands to gain a lot more if she wins the local handicap on Saturday than when she won Victoria's famous race in April.
Breen pocketed $2560 in prizemoney when she became the first to win the women's Stawell Gift from scratch, her reward a measly 6.4 per cent of the $40,000 the male winner took home.
But there will be no sign of such inequality at the Queanbeyan carnival, which boasts the richest footrace for women in the country.
''It's $10,000 for the win, $16,000 total pool for the women - and it's equal prizemoney for men and women, which I think is fantastic, unlike Stawell,'' Breen said. ''After all, we're running the same distance and you go through the same heats, semis and finals, all doing the same thing, so it'll be great to hopefully run really well and get the money.''
At the Stawell carnival, Breen received more money for winning fashions on the field ($1000) than her main prize worked out on a per-race basis.
The Queanbeyan Gift will be her first race since the London Olympic Games, but the local sprinter returned to full training 13 weeks ago, and is raring to go.
''I didn't have much time off after I got back, it was just a really motivating experience and I'm a lot better and a lot more level-headed than I was before I left,'' she said.
While Breen is confident of her chances in Queanbeyan, where she will be the only athlete running the 120-metre race from scratch, her focus has not shifted from next year's national titles.
That means no tapering off her full-time training load this week in a bid to firm up her chances for the cash.
''I'll be fine - I don't need to worry about lightening up or anything, it will just be great to go out there and run and just see where I'm at,'' she said.
''It's only November still; we've got until April [for] nationals, so it seems a bit silly at the moment to change anything. You can't qualify for world [championships] or Olympics running gifts, so in the end it's a great chance to practise things we've been doing in training.
''The cash is obviously an incentive but, you know, $10,000 over going to world champs next year - I know which one I would take, so definitely [to] qualify for worlds next year is the goal.''
Breen won't return to racing on the track until February, with the Queanbeyan carnival and the gifts of the Christmas carnivals in Tasmania the only racing on her schedule before that.