Tips as to who will take out the 2019 Stawell Gift and Women's Gift have come in thick and fast, with new champions predicted to take out Australia's richest footrace at the Easter weekend.
The Victorian Athletic League handed handicaps out to a total of 159 men and 112 women to compete in the prestigious event over Easter, including reigning champions Jacob Despard and Elizabeth Forsyth.
"It's so encouraging to see the strong numbers continuing at Easter. It's exciting because there are so many new junior and female athletes that will be experiencing their first time at Stawell," Victorian Athletic League chief executive Tom Burbidge said.
Both 2018 champions will have a tough task on their hands if they are to repeat their efforts this year.
Despard drops from his mark of 4.5 metres last year to just .75 metres - the shortest handicap of all runners in the men's competition. Despard said he is confident but has his eyes set on some athletes with more generous handicaps.
"I'd comfortably say I'm the quickest guy in the field so I'm ready for the challenge. When I was younger as soon as the marks would come out I'd always search through and see who the back mark was, I'd always look up to that person over the weekend. Now I am that person," he said.
"Jason Bailey is the one to beat this year in my eyes - lining up off the limit on 10m. He's been around a while now so should know how to get the job done. Jayden Gilfillan from Queensland is another to watch, I feel this year could be his year. Josh Ross has been gifted 0.5m lift since last lining up at the Parkdale Gift where he finished 3rd off 1.5m so he will definitely be in the mix too."
Two-time champion Josh Ross will race off two metres in his hunt for a record-breaking third Stawell Gift. 2017 champion Matt Rizzo was given 2.75m.
Forsyth will take off from 1.25m, significantly lower than her winning mark of seven metres last year.
Maddie Coates will run from the prestigious mark of behind scratch, with the handicappers giving her -1 metre.
Forsyth said her new mark makes it tough to go back-to-back.
"I'm not surprised however everyone always hopes for a bit more, it will be super tough to make the double," she said.