Burbidge wins Stawell 2010

Gift winner fined for inconsistent performances

STAWELL, Australia (AP) — Tom Burbidge collected $40,000 Australian dollars ($36,800) for winning the country’s most prestigious professional gift race on Monday and was immediately fined A$5,000 ($4,600) by the Victorian state Athletic League for inconsistent performances.
The 25-year-old Burbidge started the weekend as a 30-1 chance but became an odds-on favorite to win the 129th running of the Stawell Gift after dominating the heats on Saturday.

He finished the 120-meter race in 12.01 seconds, starting off a handicap mark of 8.75 meters, to beat Dale Woodhams (12.12) and Douglas Greenough (12.24).

Burbidge had been run out in the semifinals of a Melbourne gift race in the semifinals eight days earlier in a time more than one-second slower than his winning run at Stawell.

The Victorian Athletic League ruled that Burbidge had underperformed in the Melbourne event, which gave him an improved handicap in the Stawell race.

But Burbidge’s coach, Matt Beckenham, blamed irregular back problems for his athlete’s differing performances.

“It’s a steep fine but there’s rules and regulations that you have to deal with,” Beckenham was quoted as saying. “He’s not doing that on purpose … but the fact is that his last two runs haven’t been great because his back has been sore.”

Beckenham said the VAL was doing its job and Burbidge accepted the fine.

Steve Hooker, the world and Olympic pole vault champion, was the highest-profile athlete in the competition but withdrew before the semifinals due to a groin injury.

The Stawell Gift made international headlines in 2008 when the then defending champion was charged with importing anabolic steroids into Australia.

Nathan Allen, the 2007 winner, was arrested shortly after appearing at the official race launch by Victorian state police, three days before he was to defend his title.

He was banned by the International athletics federation for two years.

Monday, 4 April 2010

Burbidge bags $40,000 booty

Canberra sprinter Tom Burbidge has won the 2010 Australia Post Stawell Gift in emphatic style at Central Park today. Starting off 8.75m, the 25-year-old dominated the race from the gun, quickly gathering in his frontmarkers for an impressive victory in 12.01 seconds.

A mid-race challenge came from South Australian Dale Woodhams (7.25m), but Burbidge’s victory was never really in doubt with Woodhams and Douglas Greenough (9.75m) rounding up the minor places.

To watch the 2010 Australia Post Stawell Gift final, click here.


However it was not all good news for Burbidge, who was fined $5000 for ‘inconsistent performance’ after a slow run at the St Bernard’s Gift last week.

A red-hot favourite after recording the fastest heat and semi-final times, the 129th Stawell Gift winner felt no pressure leading into the final.

“I was a lot more relaxed before the final than I thought,” said the relieved winner.

“I was prepared for the guys to be travelling well out in front. Especially guys like Josh (Tiu) who were running pretty well. It took a little bit longer than in the heat and semi to get up (for the win),” said Burbidge.

Upon being presented with the $40,000 winner’s cheque, Burbidge, who left his job as a uniforms officer at the Australian Institute of Sport earlier this year to pursue his dream of Stawell Gift glory, announced he would use some of the money to pay off family and friends who have supported him in his quest.

"It hasn’t really sunk in,” the 25-year-old said.

“I left my job about three months ago to concentrate on Stawell and nationals in a couple of weeks, so I am a little low on the cash at the moment. My folks and my coach have helped out a little so I definitely plan to give back as much as I can," said the winner who plans to finance a racing stint on the European circuit with the remaining funds.

Coach Matt Beckenham, who had another athlete in the final in 18 year-old Brendan Matthews, was ecstatic with his charge’s victory and was unfazed about the $5,000 Victorian Athletic League fine.

"I am impressed with how Tom handled himself. I knew if he held it together he was going to be very hard to beat,” Beckenham said.

“It’s a steep fine, but I guess there are rules and regulations that you have to deal with. The difficult thing we have with Tom is that he is more than likely going to be inconsistent with his performance because of his ongoing back injuries.”

The Sydney Olympic 400m hurdler, one of the country’s most successful young coaches, had a total of six athletes in the semi-finals and now turns his focus on the Australian Championships where seven of his squad will be on show.

In a thrilling finish to the Make it Happen in Provincial Victorian Strickland Family Women’s Gift, Ballarat’s Jacqueline Watt (12.25m) held off a late charge from backmarker Kendra Hubbard (4.25m) to win in 14.01 seconds. The 30-year-old Watt blasted past the fancied Queenslander Seleena Roberts in the first 30m and went on to claim a long awaited victory. Former Great Britain representative Melanie Purkess (5m) was third.

Watt was thrilled that her return to the sport had resulted in the ultimate prize.

“After having twelve years off I came back to the sport because I wanted this – the Women’s Gift (at Stawell) and today I have got it. It has been a lot of hard work but it’s paid off,” Watt said.

In the Endura Sports Nutrition Lorraine Donnan Women’s Handicap 400m, Amanda Crook (17m) snuck through on the inside of a tightly bunched field with 30m to go to hit the tape in 52.35s whilst Andrew Challis, 20 from Geelong took out the ASICS Bill McManus Backmarkers 400m in 46.01 seconds in a thrilling finish from Kew’s Sebastian Purcell.

Jacob Groth, one of Australia’s top sprinters needed every inch of the 120m track to gather in early leaders but emerged victorious in 12.66s in the TAB BIG6 Backmarkers 120m. 2009 Australia Post Stawell Gift Winner Aaron Stubbs, in his third race of the day, was a clear winner of the Stawell Gold Mines Gift Winner’s Gift which brought together the winners from each of the state’s top footraces. Stubbs won in 12.34s.

Canberra’s Kale Symons (40m) played a patient waiting game before kicking to victory in 3 minutes 59.67s in the concluding stages of the Northern Grampians Shire Herb Hedemann 1600m Invitation to defeat a quality field that included Commonwealth Games hopeful Brenton Rowe (15m) and scratch-marker Beijing Olympian Mitch Kealey.

In other events:

  • The Stawell Family Central Park Frontmarkers 400m was won by Darren Naismith off 44m, winning in 46.65s.

  • AFL boundary umpire Adam Coote (50m) won the Stawell Newsagency and Lotto Handicap 800m with a fast 1.46.78s.

  • Greg Barton running off 290m took out the Town Hall Hotel Grampians Handicap 3200m in 8.56.60s

  • Stawell local Stephen Baird (18m) was an emotional winner of the Necropolis Florist and Cafe Hank Neil Veterans 100m in a quick 10.91s.

  • Stephen Andreazza (5.5m) ended a successful carnival by winning the Keith Hayes Memorial Bill Howard Handicap over 100m in 10.50s.

  • The Gift Hotel Arthur Postle Handicap 70m was won by Australia Post Stawell Gift runner-up Dale Woodhams (5.25m) in 7.50s.

  • The Redvys Cooper Memorial Jack Donaldson 200m was won by Lachlan Taylor in 20.59s.

  • Katrina Buckingham’s frontmark of 55m helped her to victory in the Stawell Regional Health Veterans 300m Handicap in 34.04s.

  • The Wimmera and Horsham Football Leagues 120m saw an upset victory go to Ararat Football Clubs’ Lachlan Dalgleish in 14.09s.

“He’s not doing that on purpose … but the fact is that his last two runs haven’t been great because his back has been sore.”

Should we laugh out loud? Back problems do not heal in 8 days.

As soon as he got of the blocks he won the race. No contest.

(BTW, I have never ever heard of this guy before. So, nah, I do not hold something against him. Just stating the obvious. Of course, you can decide to believe anything (any excuse) you wish.)

G, what about sudden consistency on the day!

SEMI - 12.03
FINAL -12.01

That’s pretty consistent for a guy with a back injury, huh?

Burbidge races to semi-final win
April 5, 2010 - 1:27PM

Canberra sprinter Tom Burbidge has confirmed his favouritism for the Stawell Gift with a dominant victory in the semi-finals of the 120m handicap race.

Running in the sixth and last of the semis, Burbidge powered to victory in 12.03 seconds off a mark of 8.75m.

The other semi-final winners were Brendan Matthews, Kevin Brittain, Josh Tiu, Dale Woodhams and Douglas Greenough, although none went close to matching Burbidge’s time.

World championships long jump bronze medallist Mitchell Watt was eliminated after finishing third in the opening semi, which was won by Matthews.

The final is run at 1.44pm (AEST) at Central Park.


Anyone knows his 100 aand 200 pbs?

Not saying he wasn’t foxing, but I have had injuries that have lead to inconsistent performance in the past - running 21.4 one week and backing up with a 20.6 10 days later (had a mild groin tear).

In the scheme of things, a $5000 fine is not that great a disincentive when the athlete stands to gain $40000. You could consider it an expense.

On another note, it was great to see extensive live (?) coverage of athletics on free to air today. It’s a shame that the elite stuff can’t get a sideways glance, but the coverage of the gift today shows that the sport in one form or another can be entertaining and can be presented in a manner that is conducive to the TV format. There was no waiting 15-20 minutes for a race to start, and the uncertainty (well not in the gift) makes it interesting. I don’t think the IAAF will change the format of GP’s, and are probably right not to; however I think it’s time to try something new in Australia and AA could probably stand to benefit from borrowing a part of the model devised by their Pro cousins.

Events such as skins, handicaps and eliminations not only provide prolonged entertainment, but they can probably provide a great off season training stimulus too. This puts elite Aussie athletes infront of a domestic crowd, while at the same time not interupting their preparation for the international season, which is where we need to develop if we are to compete with sports such as swimming.

I’m sure there are more synergies to be had in the sport, and they must be identified and exploited if we are to survive in the not-so-long run.

I’m going on the Steak and Chips diet!

How do the Police not get involved in this scam? :confused: As posted by Youngy after betting had been opened for 3 hours

[i]Tom Burbidge from $31 to $21.

Burbidge is very interesting one because he has run as recently as Sunday at St Bernards, failing to show anything that would suggest he would do well over 120m at Stawell. He has had the biggest lift of any athlete this season going from 7.25m to 8.75m. He ran 12.33 in his heat last year off 7.25m so the 1.50m lift seems very generous but his recent form suggests he needs that and a lot more. he is trained by Matt Beckenham in Canberra who has 11 athletes going to Stawell.[/i]

so some people knew his back was going to be ok and would have made a packet.

$40k winners check - $5k fine is still a good pay day! :rolleyes:

I feel like slitting my wrists, I agree with Sev again. Pro running is a game and the best player can win big bucks.

All is good

The entry standards for nationals are 10.84 and 21.54s. If he has run those times, his mark at Stawell should have been around the 6m mark, if not, how can he even enter nationals?

I have an ongoing back problem. Some days I feel great and do great some days I felt crap and did crap. You can tend to feel it coming on and sometimes you can’t anything about it.

Not saying he did or didn’t do anything wrong. Just saying a lower back problem does take longer than 8 days to heal, but there are generally ongoing issues which flare and can knock you about at various times

1- The punters tend to exaggerate the volume of money bet on Stawell gift runners- I remember backing Fabrice the year he was DQ from 50-1 to 7-1 and didn’t put down more than 1k.

2- The 5 k fine is inconsistent and unfair- I remember when Tony Fairweather trained Josh Ross won in 03. No fine was issued when Josh was running 12.6 all season and dropped 11.87 at Stawell; Tony even said after the race that the secret to winning Stawell is to get under the radar of the handicapper.

You will find ample examples of reversal of form of past Stawell gift winners- where’s the justice by fining runners now?

The problem with Burbidge is the St Bernards race was only 6 days before and its estimated he improved something like 10m in that time.

The VAL has a detailed handicapping system with certain parameters in place to protects its integrity and any loss of form or significant improvement from one meet to the next which is outside an acceptable level attracts scrutiny & likely penalties.

Burbidge’s improvement was well beyond what is deemed acceptable given the time frame involved.

Personally I would never have an athlete placed in a vulnerable position where they may demonstrate improvement of something like 10m in 6 days. I know the rules and I would expect the stewards to come down on me and my athlete if we transgressed.

The normal penalty for a serious breach of the rules is a 28 day disqualification.

Eg; Had a runner run 12.20 in the final at Keilor then went to Bendigo a fortnight later and ran 13.20, (losing about 10m) the athlete would probably get DQ’ed from the sport and cop a handicap review.

There’s always been some conjecture where the athlete improves significantly and what should happen.

But in a case where the inconsistency is so extreme then it shouldn’t matter whether it’s improvement or loss of form.

The issues with the ‘back pain’ may have mitigated Burbidge’s case, but the word is that a disqualification was considered but not imposed due to the potential ramifications.

I suspect before next season commences, all coaches and athletes will be reminded quite strongly of the rules and a similar incident of gross inconsistency may attract a far greater penalty than a $5000 fine.

Do the stewards look at relative performance? Running on grass means that the speed of the track may change dramatically given weather conditions and I was wondering if this is accounted for by looking at the times across the field relative to other meets rather than just the individuals relative performance.

Yes they look at the relativity across the board. They can compare a group athletes and see how much the average difference is depending on atmospheric and track conditions.

when efficient won the Melbourne cup he had a huge reversal of form, you see it all the time in horse racing… the stewards don’t fine the owners or trainers…

I just think if you can get under the radar , reverse and win- good for you- that’s the heart and soul of pro running.

a few years back a few mates owned a race horse regal center, at its first start in provisional Victoria - we actually rubbed dirt on its coat to infloat the odds on track, it had been beating city winners in track gallops over 800ms ( 46s gallops) so we knew it would have no problems winning a maiden 1200m race in provisional Victoria… 16 starts later it won at Flemington over a 1600m beating a Oaks Winner denentri, unfortunately snapped a fetlock next start.

deception is part and part of pro running and horse racing- any sport that involves gambling- will have involve some degree of deception.

burbridge may have cut the line fine, but he may have had a medical reason for poor performance at St Bernards ( back spasms). If I was him I would send through a letter of dispute regarding the fine on the basis of medical reasons- with medical support.

I agree Sharmer that Burbidge should not have been DQ’ed and I’m glad he wasn’t for the sake of the event.

Still think the fine fits the crime though. That sort of improvement in 6 days needs to attract some sort of penalty otherwise it opens up a can of worms. We have rules in place and stewards are there to enforce the rules.

Matt B & Tom B accepted the fine with good grace and we now move on to Ararat tonight & Ballarat on Saturday…

Still think the fine fits the crime though.

Will this only apply to the SG or apply to other VAL meetings? ( 5 k fine) It seems the VAL are setting up a penalty based system based on the prize money of the gift rather than the degree of form reversal . That in itself seems contrary to natural justice.

How much of a deterrent is it really going to be to state “If you win $40,000 by concealing your true form we’re going to take $5,000 away from you again.” I think a lot of people would happily take the $35,000.

I think it is a big deterrent for MattyB or any of his crew if they were to be in such a position in the future. They made a big mistake racing 6 days or even 2 weeks before the event with that level of improvement and paid 5k of their hard earned as a penalty for it.

It is likely that MattyB’s crew, who openly support ‘pro’ running will be very heavily scrutinised by the handicapping officials in the future. It will be tough to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes like that again.

Incidentally, Burbidge had only 0.25m less in handicap a few months prior, so running a week before Stawell was fruitless in that regard. If anything it sucked the bookies into believing he couldn’t do it and gave them better odds to punt on. As a result the 5k could have been easily generated with less than a $100 outlay with one of the corporate betting agencies.