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PROTRACK » GENERAL » 1 year ago today - April 1st, Andrew Robinson became the first Tasmanian in 70 years to win the Stawell Gift

1 year ago today - April 1st, Andrew Robinson became the first Tasmanian in 70 years to win the Stawell Gift

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Just realised, that April 1st 2013 - Andrew Robinson won the Stawell Gift; it's exactly a year ago today.

Here's the YGTSTV footage from the Hank Neil Stand


A couple of other Stawell Gift winners who won when Easter Monday fell on April Fool's Day are:
Steve Brimacombe in 1991 & Stuart Uhlmann in 2002.

Brimacombe was the first man to clock sub 12secs with electronic timing for heat, semi & final.

Uhlmann was the first Queenslander to win the Stawell Gift in 52 years. The previous Queensland win was by Ken Trewick in 1950.

I believe 88 year old Trewick will attend a Stawell Gift Dinner on the Wednesday before Stawell.

Details of the dinner can be found at the Footy Almanac website:

April 16  Inaugural Stawell Gift Dinner 6.30 for 7pm, Waterside Hotel. Come and hear 88 year old W.K. Trewick tell us how he won the 1950 Stawell Gift. (One of the best yarns I’ve heard in Australian sport) $75 Bookings essential.


Should be a good dinner at the Waterside.
A colleague I work with was trained as a miler in QLD by Trewick. He went agonisingly close to breaking the 4 minute mile barrier running 4.01. He passed this article on to me.

A bolter and his Gift of the grab
April 19 2003
By John Harms

Professional running is about making a quid - however you can. And there was a quid to be made at the 1950 Stawell Gift.

In the late 1940s, Ken Trewick was a knockabout bloke in Brisbane. He drove cabs and played footy - Australian footy. He was an athletic centre half-back with Hollywood looks who would play 379 games for Windsor.

Ken and his brothers were terrific footballers. In 1948, four Trewick brothers played for Queensland against Canberra at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground in the curtain-raiser to a clash between Footscray and Richmond. At half-time in that main game, Ken was nominated by Horrie Hyde, a local umpire, to take on Footscray's Eric Cumming, also a professional sprinter of some renown, over 100 yards for a �25 purse. They raced in footy boots and Ken cleaned up the Victorian. The prizemoney went to charity - and Ken lost his amateur status. It was no big deal.

In the crowd that day was a cove called Jack Devine from Breakfast Creek. Devine knew talent when he saw it, and knew that there was a quid in W. K. Trewick. He rang his mate Ernie Muldoon, who had trained Stawell Gift winners way back in 1912, 1914 and 1916. His income had always been augmented by very sound investments - with the bagmen. About a year later, in August 1949, a plan was hatched. Someone would look after Jack Devine and it would all be kept very quiet.

Muldoon brought Ken to Melbourne, where he stayed in the family home. Mrs Muldoon fed him well and Ernie got him in top condition. They trained at Caulfield racecourse, around the 10-furlong mark, always on the lookout for suspicious characters.

"Mul was in his 70s and he was a horse trainer, too," Ken remembers. "He was a quiet man but a very thorough man in everything he did - and he had a few connections. Mul looked after me. I would do my work. But it wasn't long before we got the first smell. One day a kid came from Bond Street to watch. He stood there leaning on the rail - it looked like he was looking for someone."

Muldoon knew he had a very good one. He had to get his boy out of town. He sent him to Wagga, where Ken Trewick was known to everyone as Ken Anderson.

Muldoon was originally from Junee. He had a mate up that way called Mick Flanagan who trained Ken at the cricket oval by the racetrack. But there was a setback - the ground was hard and Ken went shin-sore.

After a couple of months, Ken was brought back to Melbourne. They trained away from the public eye at Central Park, East Malvern. Ken worked hard but he couldn't run with anyone because, as he recalls, "the way I was improving would have tipped everybody off".

The secret, it seems, was safe. The Muldoon camp went about its preparation knowing that the spotlight was elsewhere. On February 7 and 14, the world championships were held at the Melbourne Showgrounds. The Victorian Athletic League had brought out a number of stars for the season, including the cavalier Barney Ewell, a brilliant Afro-American who thrilled crowds with his backmark charges. English champion Albert Grant, who Ken describes as "the Scotsman", was also on the scene.

Every time Muldoon looked at his stopwatch a little smirk came to his face. This was going to be big. But professional running is not about times and running, it is about competing and winning. Muldoon needed to know whether his charge could handle competition. This is where, Ken says, Muldoon made his only mistake.

He approached Albert Grant to run a trial. "We ran alongside the outside rail at Caulfield," Ken says. "I ran about five yards inside even time, up the hill, and he couldn't catch me. That's when that greedy little Scotsman became really interested." Now Grant knew, and despite the fact he was competing at Stawell, he wanted in as well.

There were a few nerves in the camp. "Mul was a bit concerned," says Ken, "because it was going to be one big go; one thing wrong and, well, we would have still got some money, but nowhere near as much as it might have been." They were expecting cricket score odds.

Grant was staying at the home of a prominent VAL official. He grew close to the family - particularly the daughter of the household. Strange things were starting to happen. Anonymous callers kept phoning Muldoon. Blokes began turning up and sitting on park benches, peering over newspapers. "It got that way," says Ken, "that every time the gun went off, a tree moved."

In the lead-up to Stawell, Ken remained hidden away. The camp grew even more confident when Albert Grant won the Wendouree Gift, knowing Ken had the Scotsman well and truly covered. Eric Cumming was also performing well. Ken had him covered, too.

Then Barney Ewell won brilliantly at Wangaratta and was handicapped further. He remained on scratch and all of the other Stawell nominees were moved a yard further up the track. W. K. Trewick would start off the luxurious mark of 10 yards. Ewell would be giving Ken too big a start.

The press was talking up the chances of Grant and of medical student John Martin, who had just won the Dandenong Gift, and of Australian-Chinese Gilbert Chong. In the week of the Gift, in Wednesday's Sporting Globe, Ben Kerville suggested there were "many dark horses at Stawell" and that "a blindfolded lunatic equipped with a pin and a list of acceptors would have as good a chance as anyone of picking the winner". Still, it seemed, the plan was safe.

But, in the world of the punt, all is not what it seems. Some time before, prominent VAL official Joe Bull found himself in possession of some rather hot information - probably delivered to him in a Scottish brogue, or at the family breakfast table. Maybe both.

The upstanding official was suddenly in the know, and wasn't blessed with the sort of conscience that could resist the opportunity. Bull took the 33/1 on offer with leading bookmaker Jack Taffe and then told Taffe what was on. Taffe kept it to himself, knowing that he could make a killing offering overs on every other runner. It was Taffe's spies who were keeping their eye on Trewick's training.

Muldoon and his boys arrived in Stawell with a solid bank and a runner handicapped to be yards better than any other. They were disappointed to find the best price on offer for their boy was 20/1, and that they could only get three bets of �40 to pay �800 at that price.

Muldoon was furious. But he just kept loading up, taking shorter and shorter odds. The confidence of the stable served to confirm the rumours that had been wafting around Stawell that day and, remembers Ken, "the avalanche started. Next minute, every Tom, Dick and Harry's on. Even the Eskimos. Everybody."

Ken was 20/1 into 3/1 on before the heat, prompting the "Special Correspondent" from The Age to describe the fury as "the biggest pre-race betting plunge in Stawell Gift history. The basis for the speculation, and it is speculation, is unclear. [Trewick] has little known form."

On Easter Saturday the bookies couldn't take a zack on any other runner. Nervous punters clutched their Trewick tickets in the hope that the mail and the money were right. He appeared behind the start, as dashing as Keith Miller. He looked as fit and defined as any athlete to start at Central Park. But could he run?

The punters were relieved when he won his heat brilliantly. He looked to be a strong finisher. The press declared him over the line in the final. "Competent judges," reported The Age, "say he is out six yards too far." Kerville acknowledged his performance in the Sporting Globe, describing him as moving "with the freedom of the perfectly trained athlete. What Muldoon doesn't know about the pro running game you could write on the back of a tram ticket."

The officials were embarrassed. A Queenslander had snuck under their guard. They deemed bookmakers open new betting charts for Monday's semis and final - with W. K. Trewick out of the market! Punters would bet on second place - and the bookies might save a few threads of their dacks.

Then a few of the runners went after Ken. "They alleged," he recalls, "that I was in crook. They did everything they could to upset me. They wanted to check my nomination. Eric Cumming and L. R. Beckwith wanted to protest."

Ken had been nominated for a number of Victorian events, but had withdrawn. He had included his run at Eltham. He had, however, failed to record an alleged performance at Willow Bridge. (Ken had never heard of Willow Bridge, let alone raced there.)

Easter Monday was a beautiful day. Driving from Hall's Gap to Stawell, no one spoke. "I've never felt tension like that in my life," Ken says. "I just wished someone would say something."

Ken won his semi without drama. Under the rules of the club, the only person who could lodge a protest against him for not completing his nomination exhaustively was the second placegetter in that semi-final. G. L. Kent declined to protest. Eric Cumming finished third.

Ken wore the yellow silk in the final. He remembers the moment: "Watty gave the spiel. All I can remember is the gun going off and I felt a sensation 25 yards out: 'Go, you beauty!' I threw my head in the air going through the tape. They reckon I won by half a yard. I had plenty left in the tank."

The plunge had come off. The punters collected. The Muldoon camp collected. They went out for a quiet meal and a cup of coffee. They were exhausted. The bookies were broke. They could have taken so much more from the ring had it not been for the Scotsman and the corrupt official. A lot of the Muldoon money went on at short odds. The Age reported: "Ern Muldoon criticised the parasite punters who stole the Gift market. He alleged that illegal betting was ruining professional running."

Ken won �500 prizemoney and his share of the punting proceeds came to �2800 - at a time when he was earning �30 from driving cabs. His was only a small share of what they took from the ring.

The 1950 Stawell Gift set Ken up for life. He bought a house in Brisbane and a cab and eventually became general manager of Ascot Taxis. He has always loved a bet. Recently he was in Melbourne for the Australian Cup weekend.

Ken is now 77 - upright, fit and full of life. Over the past couple of days, he has driven down from Brisbane - as he does each year - for the Gift. He has a great affection and respect for the club and the event. He has his trusty stopwatch. He reckons that it doesn't lie. If you're proficient with the watch then your times are accurate. When he sees something, he wanders to the ring and has $100 on.

Come Monday afternoon as soon as the race is over, and he collects, he jumps in the car and heads for Echuca to the same place he's been staying at for years. You just wonder whether the motelier has any idea of his story.

Last edited by Ribera on Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:42 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : left word out)

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