Horspath celebrate a narrow win with the trophy
Horspath Hammers held their nerve to claim the British Open Club Championships today at Sheffield's Graves track. The Oxfordshire club took the win by just one point after a strong challenge by Birmingham who opened their account by taking wins in the first three heats of the match.
However, consistent riding by Horspath ensured they were ahead of the game from heat five and would remain there till the end of the match. Birmingham's Paul Heard was the pick of the riders taking a maximum four heat wins and sixteen points but workmanlike riding by all four Horspath riders got the job done to take the trophy back down the M1.
Sheffield and Leicester were engrossed in their own battle, fighting it out for third spot. With the chance of victory slipping away from the two clubs there was still excellent racing to be seen and Leicester just stole the last step on the podium by one point. Determined riding by Jono Birks took the Sheffield rider to two wins and two second places and gave Leicester, a team on their day who would walk away with the title, a few headaches, but by his own admission the Sheffield Star wasn't on top of his game.
Finals are meant to be decided on the final heat and this was no exception, with Birmingham needing to win and Horspath needing to finish third to take the title. It would be down to Heard, looking for a maximum and Horspath's Mark Boaler looking to do just enough to claim the victory. Heard made sure of an excellent gate to go into the first corner in front and stayed there to take his maximum.
Sheffield's Birks held second spot so all eyes were on Leicester's Craig Marchant and Boaler to fight it out for third but Marchant slipped coming out of the first bend allowing Boaler to take third place and the all important two points and victory to Horspath.
HORSPATH 48: M.Carmichael 13 pts, M.Boaler 12, Steve Harris 12, Lewis Osbourne 11
BIRMINGHAM 47: P.Heard 16 pts, C.Timms, 13, M.Wadhams 10, N.Groves 5, M.Winwood 3
LEICESTER 33: J.Ashford 10 pts, C.Jarvis 8, Leon Yelland 8, Craig Marchant 7
SHEFFIELD 32: J.Birks 14 pts, J.Brown 7, R,Hoyland 6, C.Turner 4, A.Owen 1
Geoff Gamage (Horspath Manager) spoke to Andy Whitehouse after the event:
It's the second time we've won the Open (Previous 2007), not too sure how many titles we've won altogether though. We were pushed by Birmingham today - we have close relationships with Birmingham. We have Paul Heard and Chris Timms riding for us in the Premier League and we said it would be good if we (Horspath and Birmingham) could get first and second today. We know how good the Birmingham side are,they have some really good riders there. We rode defensively on the last five laps but good to win.