Once told he couldn't run, but -
BECKWITH TAKES THOUSAND
By Ken Moses
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.
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.