Preston Park Track League #10
Story posted June 18, 2010; Report by Gavin Smith, photos by Dan Dunbar & Sally Page | Click for Video
In the windiest conditions of the season so far, riders were speeding up the home straight in all the events but struggling into the wind around the far end of the circuit. Only brave souls dared attack tonight - but there were several of them.
Once again, Felix English was king of the track this evening, but he did have strong opposition, notably from Lee Povey, Ashley Dennis and Brock Duncumb-Rogers. Dennis and Elliot Tabraham-Dowers were the first movers in the 8-lap Scratch, with Jack Oliver-Blaney chasing. After a general regrouping, Matthew Butt made a promising lone attack but his adventure only lasted two laps as Dennis and Oliver-Blaney caught and passed him.
That duo still had a slender lead at the bell, but, with the English-led bunch madly chasing, no-one was betting that they would stay away. However, young Dennis put in a blistering last 400 metres to take a well-merited victory ahead of Oliver-Blaney, English, Duncumb-Rogers, Ben Miller and Nick Smith.
The qualifiers from the Keirin heats were Povey, English, Dennis and Mark Burgess and the final that followed promised to be the battle of the evening. First up though, Duncumb-Rogers won the minor final ahead of Drew Holmes, Jack Hoyle and Paul Barnard. All four contestants in the final were intent on winning - and all were capable of taking victory.
Povey, after all, is European Masters Team Sprint champion and English is the current league leader at Preston Park. Burgess won the local league last season and Dennis is one of the most promising young riders the track has seen for a long time. As derny pilot Rob Fuller pulled off the track with 300 metres to go, it was anyone's race. Gradually though, Povey pulled ahead with English making a strong effort on the outside to keep him within distance.
As the other two were destined to fight for third spot, Povey led up the home straight with the wind at his back, probably doing over 40mph. English meanwhile was rocketing up on the outside, making up ground centimetre by centimetre and on the line the judges were split on who had edged it. The finish-line camera made the decision in the end: first English, second Povey, third Burgess, fourth Dennis.
The 8-lap block handicap event was another scintillating race for riders and spectators with three groups spread around the track at the start. With no vuvuzelas to hand, spectators resorted to old-fashioned vocal encouragement of the B2 group, consisting of Ben Gerrey, Sara Gent, Matt Wise and Charlie Booth.
This quartet rode very well, working together and managing to stay out front for five laps. By then the As had caught the B1s, so everyone was still in contention with three to go. After much manoeuvring over the final laps, it was English who stormed home first in front of Dennis, Duncumb-Rogers, Holmes, Oliver-Blaney and Miller.
Among the most popular events at Preston Park are the 3-lap dash races for each category (separate races). Will someone make an early break and stay away while the others hesitate, or will it remain together and finish as a bunch gallop? In the B2 race, Sara Gent notched up a commendable win in front of Ben Gerrey and Charlie Booth. Sam Cheesman won the B1 clash, beating Jack Hoyle and Matthew Earnshaw, posting his fourth victory this season which puts him just one win from taking the B-league. Povey took the A-cat dash by storm, thundering home first, while Duncumb-Rogers was runner-up and Burgess came third.
Chief Commissaire Vern McClelland laid on a marathon 28-lap finale (just over 10 miles). Early animators were Holmes, Dennis and English and the first prime was scooped up by English, following which he moved ahead alone. He was rejoined by Dennis four laps later, but regained control to pocket the next lap-prize and once more go in front solo before taking the final fiver.
Ten laps later, with four to go, the bunch caught the wunderkind and there were still a dozen riders in with a shout. At the finish, English had taken control of matters to clinch his third win of the night, followed home by Duncumb-Rogers, Holmes, Hoyle, Oliver-Blaney and Dennis.
There was spirited racing in all age-groups, but no obvious winner for the youth award, so it was held over to next week.
Under 16/Under 14
Amy Jacobs won the joint 4-lap race in style ahead of Matthew Hill and Imogen Farlie. Next, Under 14s were Jake Marley and Gabriel Parle, while the next Under 16 was Sarah Cooper. The handicap race saw Laura Cheesman first over the line while Bethany Lewis was second and Imogen Farlie took third. Under 16 Amy well and truly dominated the 5-lap points contest, taking four maximums for a clear win.
In her age-group, Imogen was runner-up and Jack Priddle came third. In the Under 14 section, it was Matthew who triumphed ahead of Jake, with Kimberley English next. The special extra event for this age-group was a Course des primes with five lap prizes of £2 each, kindly donated by commissaire McClelland. Amy won three payouts, while Imogen and Jake each won one. At the finish, it was yet another win for Amy, followed by Jack and Imogen in her category. First Under 14 was Jake, with Spencer Thomas second and Gabriel third.
Amy Smith was a clear winner of the 2-lap Scratch race, finishing in front of Thomas Burnett and Douglas McCauley. Douglas won the Handicap event, beating Amy and Thomas to the line. The Points race had a clear winner in Amy as she took all the maximums and next came Thomas with Douglas third.
Under 10/Under 8
Ben Battle won the Under 8 one-lapper in front of Rahul Fortescue-Talwar and Rory Burke, then Noah Ridgway-Brown took the Under 10 race by storm, followed in by Bethany Lewis and Richard Hoyle. Noah succeeded in winning the handicap race for the third week in succession, then Freddie Davies came second and Bethany was third. In the well-devised block Handicap event, Noah was first to the finish, just getting the verdict over Rahul and Ben.