Edinburgh Monarchs
Lasse Fredriksen 0 ()
Scunthorpe Scorpions
Connor Mountain 0 ()
Friday 24th May 2024
Armadale Stadium

Edinburgh Stellar Monarchs' Championship campaign begins here.

Well, that's the line the fans will be taking after seeing their dreams of a lightning start to the season crumble in the dust, first by gladiator sword and then, less than 24 hours later, comet onslaught.

Of course, matters weren't helped by the injury to Josh Pickering on Friday night and Lasse Fredriksen's absence all weekend due to illness. It can only be hoped that the set-backs regarding both riders are no more than temporary blip and not the origins of a return to the more elongated issue that caused so much damage last term.

Although the defeat to Plymouth at Armadale was narrow at 42-48, on each of the three occasions during the meeting we managed a heat advantage, it was immediately countered by a score of at least equal standing by the Gladiators. This lack of progress made for a demoralising evening and by the end of the fifteen heats, Garry May's men, who themselves were disadvantaged by not having an established No. 1 in their ranks - Monarchs Academy rider Mason Watson was given the unenviable task of filling in at the last minute- ran out worthy winners.

If losing to Plymouth was frustrating, what happened in the Cumbrian sunshine the following afternoon, and the trouncing by Workington, was certainly not for the faint hearted.

Six points in arrears after two heats, Kye Thomson, who along with Justin Sedgmen, had provided rare rays of light against Plymouth, took the chequered flag in Heat 3 to offer a little hope but it wasn't to be.

The Comets were much too strong for their beleaguered visitors who had to wait until Heat 11 for their one and only race advantage of the day.

Between them, three Comets - Tate Zischke (with a full 15-point maximum), Antti Vuolas and Troy Batchelor - dropped just two points in total and that's the type of form not many teams could with stand. As mentioned before, both Zischke and Vuolas have arrived in this country very much unknown quantities. Not for much longer if their showing on Saturday was anything to go on.

A harsh lesson indeed, but the Stellar Monarchs do get the chance this Friday to make amends with the visit to Armadale of the Ellie Rose Travel Scunthorpe Scorpions who have started the season positively in all three competitions.

Led by the highly accomplished heat leader trio of Kyle Howarth, Jake Allen and Michael Palm Toft, David Howe's septet is completed by Connor Mountain, reserve pair Nathan Ablitt and Luke Harrison, and the evergreen Simon Lambert whose stop-go asscociation with the Lincolnshire club stretches as far back as 2009.

Another stern test for the Monarchs who Josh Pickering aside, will be without skipper Paco Castagna who has GP qualification commitments elsewhere.

Both are replaced by former Edinburgh riders, Paco by Drew Kemp and Joshie by, wait for it, none other than Monarchs legend Sam Masters.

If that doesn't put bums on seats, nothing will."