REPORT Saturday 15th June 2019, 1:25am
We knew that Richie Worrall is an Armadale expert – he proved it many times last year in our colours and again riding for Leicester in 2019, but just in case anyone was in any doubt he proved it again as the dominant rider in the 2019 Harrisons Scottish Open.
Maybe he did only win by a hairsbreadth in the final after a tremendous challenge from defending champion Rory Schlein, but he certainly deserved it for his overall night's work. He was top scorer in the qualifiers with 11 points (dropping one to Ricky Wells) and also won the first semi-final.
The champion said of the thrilling final heat: "Finals bring out that extra oomph. I hadn't quite got my speed up when Schleiny made that move on the bottom turn. It could have been dangerous but it wasn't. It made me then change my line from the fast one I'd been on all night.
"I was riding defensively and when you do that you slow down. I looked on the last corner to see where he was and when I changed my body position it made the bike grip and lift, which made it a real close finish! A bit too close for my liking.
"When I was driving here today I was thinking I want to put my name on that trophy. There's some real big names on there. And I want to keep on putting my name on the trophy as long as this meeting is on."
Richie by the way wore his Monarchs' race suit of last season to help him lift the famous trophy.
On a nice bright and dry evening the qualifying races were largely about sparring between the riders rather than many outstanding heats. The 12-heat format isn't especially popular with riders or fans though actually in the end it worked out quite well with some surprise race results as riders scrambled for the points they needed.
The standout heat in the qualifiers was heat 9 in which Ricky Wells led with Belle Vue's Dan Bewley right at the back. Dan hit the wide line though and was soon in second spot, eventually hunting down and passing Wells for a great win. Dan looked really competitive (recording the fastest time of the season in heat 4) and many were willing him to make the final, but he just missed out.
Top qualifiers were Worrall 11, Wells and Bewley 10, Heeps 9 with Rory Schlein back on 6 level with Wethers, Doolan and Barker. Barker won his final race ahead of Wethers, Heeps and Schlein to grab his semi-final slot.
Paul Starke was another surprise late winner but in his case it was not enough after three non-scoring rides.
We also saw Dale Devils Lewis and Greg Miller, Ace and Steen Pijper along with Mildenhall's Matt Marson in some additional heats during the evening.
The first semi-final was won quite comfortably by Richie Worrall, with Ricky Wells disappointingly tailed off. The interest was in the middle where Matthew Wethers put up a great fight even after Rory Schlein forced his way through. But it was Worrall and Schlein to the final.
Heeps comfortably won the second semi and again the interest was for second. Bewley lost a lot of ground but fought hard and got very close to Doolan by the finish.
As he had done all night, Richie Worrall gated in the final with Schlein poorly away again, but very quickly Rory was on Richie's tail. Rory really wanted that fifth title and threw everything at it, trying all lines, with Richie struggling to ride his own race and having to watch where Rory was coming from. They were so close at the finish that some thought Rory had got it, but the verdict went to the best man in the meeting – Richie Worrall, Harrisons Scottish Open Champion for 2019.