Preston Park Track League
August 12, Week 17; Thanks to Gavin Smith
A cracking final meet of the season was dominated by Lee Povey among the seniors, and there was suspense in abundance with the season-long senior A league title still at stake. Before racing began, a grand lap of honour took place featuring all 64 riders present tonight. This was in recognition of the recent achievements of four Preston Park regulars: Povey himself, now European Masters Team Sprint Champion and silver medal-winner in the individual sprint; Charlie Heffernan, winner of two rounds of the National Boys U16 Circuit Race Series; Pete Mitchell, silver medal-winner in the European U23 Team Sprint; and Emily Barnes, National Girls U14 Circuit Race Champion.
At mid-meet, in an innovation at Preston Park, there was another lap of honour – this time for all the category winners. They all paraded on one circuit of the track, to the applause of spectators. This evening signalled the end of the 2009 Sussex League competition, but riders are now looking forward to the South East Regional Track Championships to be held in Brighton on Saturday 26 September (details and entry-form on www.scrl.co.uk) and to the annual Prize Presentation on Saturday 17 October.
It has not gone unnoticed that, in the last few weeks of the season, spectator numbers have been increasing regularly, no doubt reflecting the exciting racing available to watch free-of-charge and also the award-winning refreshments on offer every week from the Baking Queen herself Andrea McClelland.
As racing began, the name of the winner of the top senior league was still unknown. Mark Burgess had a slender lead over his two main rivals, Felix English and Jean Spies, but neither of these had signed on tonight, so attention focussed on the next in line, Charlie Heffernan. Heffernan had enjoyed a scintillating meet at Preston Park recently, when he had grabbed most points and cash prizes on offer, but Burgess had a generous 22-point advantage over his rival as the whistle blew for the start of this evening’s 8-lap opener.
Plucky James McCarron, fully recovered from a broken collar-bone just weeks ago, was the first attacker. McCarron gained an impressive 100-metre gap and his adventure lasted three laps. At mid-race he was back in the pack, though, then Mark Mergler and Matt Davies set off in pursuit of glory. During the last circuit they were caught and powerful Povey sprinted home for his first win of the evening, ahead of Adam Gent. Significantly, Burgess’s third place with Heffernan fourth meant that the only way the former could fail to win the league crown would be if he notched up “nul points” in the final four races – and if the latter won them all. Davies salvaged fifth place in this race, while young Milo Burdeau came sixth.
A very tight finish to the B2 keirin saw Jack-in-the-box Oliver-Blaney romp home in front of Mark Turner, Ian Craig, Matt Wise, Tim Hill and Ben Gerrey. Martin O’Brien secured victory in the B1 keirin with a fine sprint, beating Sam Cheesman, Paul Davidoff, Anthony Rogers, Milo Burdeau and Ben Miller to the line.
The A keirin was likely to seal Burgess’s 2009 league championship. As the pace wound up inexorably, all twelve starters were still in with a shout with half-a-lap to go when the pacer peeled off the track. Round the final corner and past the Pavilion, the league leader put in a tremendous sprint to take the win and secure a thoroughly well-deserved title. Burgess has been racing at Preston Park for 18 years and has previously taken the youth and junior titles, but this is his first taste of overall senior success and he was justifiably delighted. His mix of 100% attendance, consistently high placings and regular wins secured him the treasured Sussex League crown. Behind Burgess in the keirin came Povey, Brock Duncumb-Rogers, Heffernan, Gent and Charlie Sayer.
The word “dash” was a misnomer as far as the B2 3-lap dash was concerned. The newly-named 3-lap clubrun-with-a-sprint-at-the-end was actually won in style with a great gallop from Craig, followed by Turner, Hill, Wise, Gerrey and Charlie Booth. Under-16 Elliot Tabraham-Dowers took off from the gun in the B1 race and stayed away for a brilliant lone win, with O’Brien, Davies, Cheesman, Davidoff and Miller next over the line. Like the B2 event, the A-race began slowly, but it gained speed by the bell and, predictably, it was potent Povey who took the honours, outsprinting Gent, Heffernan, Sayer, Burgess and fast youngster Ashley Dennis.
The 8-lap block handicap was a great race, as the lesser lights seemed to have a realistic prospect of staying away. That is, until the elites put their mind to it, and with two laps to go it all came together for a mass sprint featuring all the survivors from this furiously-paced race. Prompt Povey made no mistake at the end, taking his third win on the night ahead of Gent, Sayer, Burgess, Heffernan and Palmer Park visitor Cam Swarbrick.
The final race of the season is always a sad affair, as no-one wants to see the Preston Park season come to an end. But it was livened up with the three traditional £5 primes which are on offer in every Preston Park meeting. At the whistle signalling the first money prize next time round, Anthony Rogers was slightly ahead, but he hadn’t bargained for the financial wizardry and unrelenting speed of Charlie Heffernan, who seized his chance and simply rode ahead to take the cash. Heffernan also took the following prime two laps later, but next time it was an impressive Milo Burdeau who scooped the fiver. Light was by now a thing of the past, and the bell was duly rung by young commissaire Daniel Gerrey. The last sprint of the season was won by “4-wins” Povey ahead of Gent, then, slightly behind, the bunch sprint was won by Sayer for third, then came Bailey, Duncumb-Rogers and Davies.
Mark Burgess won the A senior title ahead of Charlie Heffernan, Felix English, Jean Spies, Lee Povey and Adam Gent. The B senior table was headed by Richard Bailey, in front of Andy Parle, Martin O’Brien, Nick Smith and Ben Miller, with Paul Barnard and Matt Davies tying for sixth spot. (The overall results are based on the minimum 6-meet rule and are displayed in full on www.scrl.co.uk)
Like last week, all the U16s had settled on a truce for their own league battles and had joined the senior ranks, leaving the U14s to race on their own. This still left ten riders competing for the various race wins. The 4-lap scratch race was won with a great sprint by Kim English, with Matt Hill second, Amy Jacobs third and Sara Gent fourth. The bunch sprint was won by new rider Jack Priddle for fifth, and Tom Paine came sixth. The handicap race finished tightly-packed, and Matthew came first ahead of Laura Cheesman and Imogen Farlie. Amy was very much on form in the 4-lap points race, taking three maximums and the overall win. Kim came second, and Sara was third, then it was Matt, Jake Marley and Tom.
The U16 league was won by Elliot Tabraham-Dowers, in front of Jack Oliver-Blaney, Milo Burdeau and Michael Dixon. The U14 title went to Ashley Dennis, ahead of Amy Jacobs, Kim English, Sara Gent, Emily Barnes and Jack Hoyle.
Spencer Thomas sprinted home stylishly to win the 2-lap scratch ahead of Harris Redgrove and Luke Stacey, with new rider Olly Priddle, Mark Jacobs and Ben O’Brien next over the line. Luke won the handicap in front of Mark, and Will Paine came third. Harris rode very strongly to secure the win in the 4-lap points race, taking three maximums. Spencer was second and Luke was third, then it was Olly, Mark and Ben.
Amy Barnes won the U12 league, while behind her came Spencer Thomas, Harris Redgrove, Megan Lewis, Luke Stacey and Ben O’Brien.
Under 10/Under 8
League leader Dominic Kazlauskas won the 1-lap scratch race, and behind him came Miranda Wright, 4-year-old Freddie Davies, 5-year-old Oscar Denman-Gould, and new rider Theo Bailey, aged 4. Noah Ridgway-Brown won the equivalent U10 race, in front of league leader Douglas McCauley, Harry Stacey, Isaac Wright, Joe Hill and new rider Chris Lambourne. Noah also won the joint handicap contest, beating Freddie and Joe to the line. Dominic rode well to take the block handicap win, while Isaac, Miranda, Noah, Douglas and Chris were the next to finish.
Douglas won the U10 title, in front of Harry Stacey, Joe Hill, Thomas Burnett, Cory Anderson and Isaac Wright. Dominic Kazlauskas is the new U8 champion, ahead of Evelyn Parle, Miranda Wright, Oliver Brooker, Freddie Davies and Oscar Denman-Gould.
Preston Park Track League