Oxford's Horspath Hammers won the Cycle Speedway British team championships beating Leicester Monarchs 93- 81. An intriguing final lay in store after both teams won their respective semi finals, arguably Horspath having the harder of the two, and Leicester Monachs having an easier route against a young Ipswich.
A well conditioned Hull track proved a test for both teams with a tricky off line last bend and riders from both sides found themselves on the wrong line and ending up on the shale.
Heat 1 got off to an expected fiery start with Horspath's Lewis Bates excluded for running Leicester's Phil Howells off the track, the re-run saw the Leicester rider take the win holding off Lewis Osbourne and a drawn heat 3-3. The following heat was Leicester's turn to have a rider excluded with Craig Marchant taking out Sean Rudman on the 3rd lap, Dan Pike secured the heat win for Leicester.
An impressive looking Mark Boaler took the first of his 3 wins of the match in heat 3 with a fine victory holding off Adam Peck and Adam Stephenson for the 2nd drawn heat of the day. More exclusions and re-runs in a hotly fought heat 4 saw Leicester's Carl Jarvis excluded for causing Horspath's Mark Boaler to crash on the 3rd lap and in the 2nd re-run Phil Howells found himself rolling across the shale after he was taken out by Lewis Osbourne.
With only Howells and Carmichael left in the race it was down to the quicker man off the gate and Howells brushed himself down to take the 4 points to keep the East midlands side just in front 19-16. Heat 6 saw yet another exclusion, this time for Horspath's Chris Osbourne who caused Dan Pike to crash on the 3rd lap, an easy looking win by Mark Boaler kept Horspath in with a shout but Leicester were getting more confident as every heat went by and were now 4 points ahead 29-25.
Steve Harris is the backbone of Horspath and can always be relied to steady the ship and taking the win in the penultimate lap before the interval he did just that, keeping the gap at 4 points. Heat 9 would prove to be the turning point of the match, Leicester's Carl Jarvis crashed on the 2nd lap leaving Dan Pike to pick up the points only for the rider to crash on the next lap allowing a 1-2 for Horspath and going into the break on level terms 42-42.
Coming out of the interval Horspath looked a different side and with Sean Rudman taking the win in heat 10 saw the Oxford side in front for the first time in the match. An eventful heat 11 could have virtually sealed a Horspath victory, Leicester's Kev Burns sat at the tapes waiting for Referee Mike Hack to exclude Steve Harris for moving only for the referee to wave on the race, a possible 7-3 was on the cards but Harris crashed coming out of the last bend on the 3rd lap allowing Burns to claim 3rd spot while team mate Adam Peck took the heat win ahead of Errol Thaw, scores level again 52-52. The match was starting to turn to Horspath's favour with Lewis Bates taking his first win of the day in heat 12 keeping Craig Marchant in 2nd spot.
Heat 13 saw Chris Osbourne substituted for Carmichael only for the Horspath rider to crash and roll in last, Boaler took a fine win holding off the Leicester pair of Howells and Ashford and a drawn heat 5-5. Carmichael made up for the previous heat storming out of the gates and taking the 4 points and with team mate Thaw following him over the line in 2nd spot Horspath knew the match was almost theirs to lose.
Heat 15 gave the match's highest scorer Adam Peck another fine win but with team mate Carl Jarvis tangling with Steve Harris, Leicester were unable to capitalise and secure much needed points.. With Lewis Bates well away in front on lap 16 and looking obvious for the 4 points it was Lewis Osbourne who rode a brilliant race to hold off Leicester's Craig Marchant and Phil Howells until the closing metres when Howells made a tremendous pass over Osbourne to take 2nd spot but it was by now too late to change the course of the match and with a drawn heat 17 the title was on its way to Oxford.
Horspath 93: Mark Boaler 17, Sean Rudman 15, Mark Carmichael 14, Lewis Bates 14, Steve Harris 14, Errol Thaw 8, Lewis Osborne 8, Chris Osborne 3
Leicester 81: Adam Peck 19, Phil Howells 16, Adam Stephenson 11, Jason Asdhford 9, Dan Pike 9, Craig Marchant 8, Kev Burns 6, Carl Jarvis 3
Reaction: Geoff Gamage (Horspath)
"It was brilliant match today,a great advertisement for cycle speedway from the first match to the last match. The victory today was very special for Horspath, our manager Robin Carter is seriously ill in hospital and We won this for him. We have managed to speak to him a couple of time during the match so he knows how the match was progressing and the team are taking the cup to him later tonight, so today has been quite emotional for us all. This is the 3rd time we have won the title but this is a special time for us, the last time we won it was in 2009 against Wednesfield which I think was one of the best cycle speedway finals ever but today was a credit to every team who competed."