By KEN MOSES "
Monday 29th March 1954
HERB McKENLEY would have had to break his own professional record of 46.7 seconds by three-tenths of a second to run a dead heat with the winner of the 440 yards final at the Warragul Gift meeting on Saturday night.
Instead, he ran 46.8 seconds and finished second, four yards behind the winner. Barrett started from the 31 yards mark and covered- the distance in 46.4sec.
The 440 was McKenley's second minor placing for the night. Earlier he had been defeated by four inches in the final of the main event of the night, the 220 yards.
His- task in the 440 was impossible, from the start. He was disappointed at his run until he heard the time, then said: "If I am to win any more of these events it looks as if I'll have to run a world record every time."
Many officials at the ground were critical of the handicapping system when they realised the task ahead of the Jamacain. They urged an immediate revision of the whole handicapping system to give backmarkers a reasonable chance of getting into finals.
McKenley wanted to scratch from the final of the 440 yards, and asked his trainer, Mr. Fergie Speakman, to withdraw him from the event. However, Speakman persuaded him to run.
McKenley said he did not feel well after the final of the 220.
His run in his heat of the 220 was his first since the final of the Burramine Gift the previous Saturday, when he slightly strained a leg muscle.
"I have had a complete rest since then to save the leg," McKenley said, "and two 220's and two 440's in the one day after a week with out a shoe on is a bit too much."
The 220 yards Gift was won by Alan Lee, 25-year old bank clerk, who was the "trial horse" for Henry McIntyre in his preparation for the Bendigo Thousand.
Lee, who has been married for only 10 months, was lucky to be a starter in the event. After the Bendigo Thousand meeting he forgot to enter for the Warragul event. It was not till he went to the Lilydale carnival he discovered entries had closed. He checked up, found entries for Warragul had been extended, and immediately posted a money order to the club.
McKenley started at 3/1 on for the 220 final after he put up the fastest time of the day, 21.4, in his heat. Lee was the outsider in the final at 6/1.
However, McKenley could not reproduce his run of the afternoon, and Lee won in 21.6 seconds.
Norm Morrison, who won the final of the 100 yards from the ll yards mark, later was severely reprimanded by the stewards for inconsistent running.
He was second in his semi-final in 9.8 seconds, and won his final in 9.6 seconds.
It was his fifth success this season. Previously he had won four consecutive 75 yards handicaps.
Bob Cummins, who won a double at Stawell in 1950, again took a distance double by winning the half mile and mile events.