Scottish Open 2011

PREVIEW Friday 29th July 2011, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

Tonight is the centrepiece of the Edinburgh speedway season when sixteen riders go head-to-head at Armadale (7.15 start) for the chance to be crowned Scottish Open Champion and hold the Jack Young Memorial Trophy aloft.

Not surprisingly, nearly half the field comprises Monarchs riders past or present, most of whom will relish the chance to retain their match sharpness ahead of Sunday's trip to Premier League leaders Glasgow who are racing at Scunthorpe tonight in the first of three matches in three days.

So could we see a home track winner? Can super Kalle Katajisto or German international Kevin Wolbert put together a consistent series of scores? The same goes for the flying Craig Cook who is top of the Monarchs scoring charts. Or can the bonus point king, Matthew Wethers show a ruthless side to his character?

What about a Scottish winner? Andrew Tully has been sensational around the Scotwaste Arena of late and can't possibly be overlooked as a potential winner. His only Scottish opposition will come from former captain and fans' favourite, Derek Sneddon who is on the crest of a wave of good form just now.

How about an Elite League winner? Oliver Allen has shown a distinct liking for the Armadale circuit on past visits, and the latest American rider on the UK scene, Tyson Burmeister, has crossed the Monarchs' radar. Workington star James Wright is another strong contender with extensive recent top flight experience.

Our friends from Berwick will be hoping they can produce another winner and are well represented by the current holder Josef Franc, the always exciting Lee Complin and their new No.1, Sebastian Alden from Sweden who has been riding in the colours of Elite League Swindon since 2005.

Apart from young Kyle Howarth, the other 'dark horses' are two currently unattached riders who will be out to impress. The first is former British Under-21 Champion Joe Haines in a comeback season after a terrible crash in Australia. It's a similar story for one-time Reading Racer, Sam Simota who had to start again after a bad crash in Hungary.

Last but not least is Monarchs' legend and many people's favourite, Rory Schlein, who will be going all out for his third Scottish Open title. Rory fits several of the previously mentioned categories but if you believe in symmetry, is this a year too soon for 'Rooboy' who wins every fourth year: 2004, 2008 ... 2012?

So as always, there's masses of interest from every angle and if anyone can correctly pick the 1-2-3 from such an evenly matched field of riders, I'd like to share their lottery numbers. If you want to get parked, get a good spot and not miss any of the action, remember it's a 7.15 start, so get there early!

Likely line-up:

James Wright (Workington), Oliver Allen (King?s Lynn), Sam Simota (Czech Republic), Kalle Katajisto (Monarchs), Andrew Tully (Monarchs), Rory Schlein (Belle Vue), Derek Sneddon (Newcastle), Kyle Howarth (Monarchs), Seb Alden (Berwick), Josef Franc (Berwick), Matthew Wethers (Monarchs), Lee Complin (Berwick), Tyson Burmeister (Wolverhampton), Joe Haines (unattached), Craig Cook (Monarchs), Kevin Wolbert (Monarchs).