Report: Preston Park Track League #13


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Preston Park Track League #13

Report by Gavin Smith, photos by Dan Dunbar & Pauline English

Despite the absence of several riders participating in the Guildford criteriums and elsewhere, there were still 63 riders on the line in tonight’s action-packed meeting.


The most notable absentee was league leader Felix English, riding the International Junior Tour of Ireland – and indeed winning the prologue! First to ignite the 8-lap Preston Park opener was ever-popular Charlie Booth. In a hurry to get home to watch the football World Cup semi-final, he broke away near the start, taking Steve Kane and Sara Gent with him.

This trio opened up a handsome lead, but under the influence of Drew Holmes, Oliver Pepper and Martin O’Brien, it all came together mid-race. With two to go, Elliot Tabraham-Dowers, Matt Davies and Pepper went away, staying out front until the end, when Davies took the sprint ahead of Tabraham-Dowers and Pepper. Brock Duncumb-Rogers won the bunch gallop for fourth, followed by Mark Burgess and Nick Smith.

In the handicap final, Sam Cheesman sped home first, beating Sean McClelland, Jack Hoyle, Nigel Burrows, Kane and Gent to the line in a close-fought contest.

Holmes took the first maximum in the A-cat points race, and at the next distributions Smith, Duncumb-Rogers and Davies scored highest. At the finish, Duncumb-Rogers came through first, and his two top positions plus one runner-up spot ensured him victory. The next placings went to Davies, Holmes, Smith, Will Kemp and Stuart Bettis. In the equivalent B-cat event, O’Brien was virtually unstoppable. His three maximums gave him the win, while Charlie Burrell, Anthony Rogers, Jack Hoyle, Philip Burnett and Kane occupied the other places.

To save time, only two dash races were on offer tonight. Tabraham-Dowers arrived late at the start of the A-cat event and the traditional £50 fine was announced by the commentator, but with the offer of it being cancelled if he won the race. With such an incentive, there was no stopping the One-Life Development Squad rider, as he roared away from the start and stayed ahead all the way to the finish, beating Burgess, Duncumb-Rogers, Holmes, Bettis and Barnard to the flag. The sprint of the night came in the B-cat contest, with the first three separated by a tyre’s-width at the most. Dave Gerrey’s finish-line camera decided the result, and victory went to Burrell just ahead of Burrows and Hoyle, then came Kane, McClelland and Butt.

Ben Gerrey featured prominently at the front of the bunch early on in the unknown distance race, but it was soon down to business with the first £5 lap-prize, taken in style by Holmes, who continued his effort solo for a while. The bunch, however, was not hanging about, with Ben Miller, Ian Craig, Pepper, Gent, Burnett, Rogers, Butt and Cheesman keeping the pace high. Holmes had enough in reserve to take the next prime - but only just – then Davies went away for a couple of laps, never gaining more than 50 metres before being reeled in.

At what was bound to be the business end of the race, Andy Parle escaped with Kane just before the next whistle announcing a prime next lap. Parle managed to hang on to claim the money, but his delight was short-lived as he heard the bell and realised he had nothing left in the tank for that final lap. Kane, however, did have enough, and he stayed ahead for a fantastic win. Duncumb-Rogers won the sprint for second, followed by Holmes, Smith, Barnard and Richard Bailey.

In the overall A-cat standings, English’s lead has narrowed to just 33 points over Duncumb-Rogers. With English representing Ireland in the European Junior Road and TT Championships in Turkey next week, that gap may be reduced further with five meets to go, leaving a thrilling finale to the season. The B-league will be no less interesting, with Burrell and Hoyle the leading contenders for second spot after Cheesman’s already-confirmed league victory.

Despite several youngsters riding the Guildford town-centre races, Preston Park youths provided a lot of action for spectators, with combative riding and a few thrills and spills.

Under 16 / Under 14
Sarah Cooper was prominent at the front of the joint 4-lapper, but at the finish it was Michael Dixon who took the honours ahead of Jake Deakin. First U14 was Gabriel Parle, just ahead of Kimberley English. Michael made up a lot of ground to take the handicap win, where Jake Marley came second and Spencer Thomas was third. The 2-lap dash events were dominated by the two Jakes, with Marley winning the U14 race ahead of Kimberley and Gabriel, and Deakin taking U16 victory by overcoming Michael and Sarah in the sprint. This was a very good ride by Jake Deakin in his first evening of racing.

In the unknown distance race, no-one was willing to have a serious go and the event proceeded at clubrun pace for the first few laps. Chief commissaire Vern McClelland wasn’t prepared to ring the bell until there had been any action. However, with what turned out to be just over a lap remaining, the deadlock was broken as U16 Jake Deakin made a move and stirred up the bunch, taking a fine win in front of U14s Jake Marley and Gabriel. Next came Kimberley, Spencer, and Laura Cheesman.

Under 12
The 2-lap scratch race stayed together until the finish, where Isaac Wright triumphed ahead of Ben O’Brien and Douglas McCauley. Douglas beat Isaac and Ben to the line in the handicap event. This age-group took the devil-take-the-hindmost very seriously and at the end it was Ben who won ahead of Thomas Burnett and Ted O’Brien.

Under 10 /Under 8
Rahul Fortescue-Talwar won the U8 one-lapper, beating Ben Battle and Rory Burke at the end. Race favourite Noah Ridgway-Brown came first in the U10 race, with Richard Hoyle second and Stan Abbott-Stacey third. In an eventful run-in to the finish of the handicap race in which five riders fell, Stan Abbott-Stacey came first, Michael Wickens was next over the line and Noah was third.

In the first youth TT of the season, over one 580-metre lap, U10 Noah posted the fastest time of the night with 58.21sec ahead of Stan (1.06.81) and Charlie Brooker (1.09.06). Rahul recorded the best U8 result with 1.11.74 followed by Ben (1.20.02) and Rory (1.25.92).