REPORT Saturday 15th July 2017, 1:50am
The Parsons Peebles Monarchs raced back to the top of the Championship tonight after beating Newcastle 49-41, a score line which didn't seem likely for much of the evening.
There were many talking points. In the final analysis the decision to bring Josh Pickering into heat 12 made all the difference, as Alex Harkess agreed.
"Josh was pointless at the time but he rode such a good race in heat 11 against Robert Lambert that I said to him - 'This is your chance.' The Newcastle riders made the gate in heat 12 but a brilliant first corner by Josh took him to the front and that turned the match. It was unfortunate that Lewis Rose then crashed and we send our best wishes to him, but it was that move which changed the match."
Because of fairly heavy rain prior to the event, there was no pre-match parade and the early heats were completed quickly, just over an hour for 11 heats. Unfortunately then due to the events of heat 12 there was a delay of around an hour before the match could resume, Rose being taken to hospital with what was said to be a collar bone injury.
Happily Ben Hopwood who also crashed heavily was fit for the heat 12 restaging, in which Monarchs took a 5-1 to lead the match for the first time. They then added another 5-1 in a ferocious heat 13, and that took them close to the winning post. A shared heat14 clinched the win and Sam Masters' win in heat 15 left the rather unfortunate Diamonds pointless. This earned the captain the Arnold Clark Fiat/Kia Seafield Monarch of the Match award.
Newcastle were especially unlucky in that final heat as they had gated on a 5-1 at the first attempt only for Erik Riss to get too close to Lindgren's back wheel and fall. Masters won the rerun after which the Newcastle captain made his complaints about where Sam had been allowed to start in the gate 1 'box'. Ludvig was not his usual cheery self.
In the early stages, none of the Monarchs' heat leaders won their opening rides as Newcastle led 15-9 after four heats. Three of the first four race winners were off gate 4. There was a stroke of luck for the home team in heat 5 when race leader Robert Lambert apparently pulled his cutout out, gifting Monarchs a 5-1. A 4-2 levelled the scores and we then had five successive 3-3s.
Then came the drama of heats 11 and 12 and by the end the home heat leaders had redeemed themselves, not dropping any points after their first rides until Riss's heat 15 tumble.
Reserves are always important and there were certainly some goings-on in that department. Mitchell Davey won heat 2, but the expected domination by the home reserves did not happen as Josh Pickering first touched the tapes, then fell on the last bend after an exciting dash through to challenge for second place.
Later on, Bowtell took a point off Davey and Clegg lost to Hopwood, so had Diamonds gained a point they would have been grateful to their numbers 6 and 7.