10th January 1955
Warrnambool,Sunday - IN one of the closest gift finishes ever recorded by The Draper Machine, crack Victorian sprinter Gerald Hutchinson ran seven yards inside even time to win the £160 Warrnambool Gift, at the Friendly Societies Park yesterday.
Hutchinson, from the back mark of 3 yards, won by an official margin of one inch from front-marker M. Gillam (12 yards), with G. D. Clarke (9 yards) three inches away third.
The Draper machine showed only nine inches between the six runners in the final.
Hutchinson's time was 12 seconds, and his run was the best at Warrnambool since John Stoney ran eight yards inside evens to win the Gift in 1950 from scratch.
Hutchinson overhauled the field in the final with about 40 yards to go, but had to produce a great burst to hold the five other runners. It was impossible to pick the winner as the six flashed over the line in the best finish seen at Warrnambool.
There was a sensation in the second semi-final when C. Plozza (8½yd) broke twice and was automatically disqualified. He was subsequently fined £3 by the stewards for an offensive gesture as he left the start.
Gillam made up for his defeat in the Gift by winning the £30 Hopkins Sprint of 75 yards.
Gillam (7¾yd) defeated G. Merriman (5¼yd.) of Warrnambool, with K. Taylor (5¾yd), of Warrnambool, and K. R. Pike (8¼yd.) dead-heating for third.
Hutchinson, who ran second in his heat, was fined £3 for not-starting in the (75yds) semi-final.