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PROTRACK » Pro Running HISTORY » 60 years ago, Bendigo 1951 - 28,000 see Beckwith win.

60 years ago, Bendigo 1951 - 28,000 see Beckwith win.

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Bendigo 60 years ago.

Once told he couldn't run, but -


By Ken Moses
The Argus
Tuesday 13th March 1951

ROY BECKWITH, whose school sportsmaster told him he would never be a runner, yesterday afternoon won the Bendigo Thousand by a foot.

He defeated George Kent to win £1,000 in prize money and £3,000 in bets.

After being: backed from 50/1 to 4/1 before his heat on Saturday, he started at 2/1 on yesterday.

A record crowd of 28,000 watched the event.

Running into a strong headwind and on a holding track, Beckwith ran 11.9sec. from the 8 3/4 yard mark-2 1/4 yards inside even time.

His win was a triumph over a nervous disability which has affected his running before. Twice he has been "set" for an event and heavily backed, only to "flop" under the strain as soon as the gun went.

Lost to Baldwin
Last year, in the Thousand, he struck the eventual winner, Sam Baldwin, in his heat and could not stand up to the strain.

In his semi-flnal yesterday Beckwith again met Baldwin, who had been heavily backed, as well as Jack Pattison, N.S.W. farmer, who was third favorite.

He was very nervous at the start of the semi-final, and looked likely to repeat last year's performance. He got away badly, floundered slightly, and did not display his true form until the 90-yards mark.

At the 100 he was running like a champion, and soon after he hit the front to win from Pattison with half a yard to spare.

It was a different story in the final. Beckwith was confident from the time he came on to the ground, and led from start to finish.

Even with La Beach in the field, he was the best away at the gun, and at the 100-yards mark the race was all over.

Happiest man on the ground was his trainer, Fergie Speakman. In Speakman's pockets were 27 betting tickets, representing £3,000.

Faith rewarded
Speakman trained Roy Barker, who won the Stawell Gift in 1932, and he had persevered with Beckwith for three and a half years.

At first Speakman thought Beckwith would never make a runner, but about l8 months ago he realised he had prospects. It was then he began to prepare him for the 1950 Bendigo Thousand.

Surprise of the semi-finals was the' defeat of Joe Cull by Kevin Scott in the third. Scott later ran a good third in the final.

Cull appeared to have the race won at the 110 yards' mark, but "folded up" under pressure. Later he made amends for his defeat by easily winning the 75 yards sprint final.

Dave Bartram, cousin to Olympian John Bartram, caused the second upset by defeating well fancied Ken Trewick and South Australian Harry Vail in the fourth semi-final. George Kent eliminated Geoff Hutchinson in the last.

Betting on the final was Beckwith, 2/1 on; La Beach, 3/1; Bartram and Kent, 5/1; Scott, 25/1.




By Bruce Welch
The Age
Tuesday 13th March 1951

BENDIGO, Monday - THE winner of today's Bendigo Thousand final, Roy Beckwith was "given away" by his sports master at Coburg High School 11 years ago after being beaten in a 220 yards race. He was told he had no courage for running.

He showed yesterday he had come a long way since then.

He had to face an ordeal which has unnerved many champions in the past. With £4000 hanging on success, he could, justifiably, have developed the 'jitters."

But he completely conquered his deep-set tendency to become nervous - a tendency which has told against him during his three years of running.

Credit for that should go largely to his trainer, Fergie Speakman one of the most astute men in the sport.

Speakman made a three-year plan in an effort to take the Bendigo and Stawell double.

Beckwith who is 25, was a gunner in the navy.

Imagine a teacher telling a student he had no courage for running in today's 'precious' environment?


At the time my mother in-law earned about £3 a week as a junior shop assistant in the country. A bank clerk in the city earned around £5 a week.


The stable won £3000 on the bookies. What would that be worth in today's money.

$150,000? or more?


The stable won £3000 on the bookies. What would that be worth in today's money.

$150,000? or more?

on Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:32 am
At the time my mother in-law earned about £3 a week as a junior shop assistant in the country. A bank clerk in the city earned around £5 a week.

If a bank clerk makes $750/wk these days, £3000 would equate to about $450,000 today!!!


That cant be right, that means he won $150,000 in prizemoney

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