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A win for Kye Thomson in only his second Armadale race Image Credit: Jack Cupido

Thrilling start for the Championship campaign

NEWS Friday 28th May 2021, 11:25pm

by Mike Hunter

The Championship season got off to a cracking start for the What the Fork Monarchs tonight at Armadale, the lead changing hands before a last heat 4-2 to the home side made the final score a 45-45 draw.

Monarchs' team manager Alex Harkess enjoyed the match but said "I was disappointed that we didn't win after our top two had got into a 5-1 position in that final race. I don't know if they got too close to each other but I expected a 5-1 from these two from that position. We knew it would be a hard match."

Sam Masters and Richie Worrall had led the way on the opening lap but a clever ride by Michael Palm Toft saw him slip inside Worrall, and even though Masters tried hard to slow the heat and give his partner a chance, that's how it finished.

There were some outstanding heats during the evening, starting with a last-gasp surge by captain Masters to pip Anders Rowe on the line in heat one.

Three heats later Richie Worrall took a great win from the back against Jake Allen after William Lawson had initially shown in front. One of the most encouraging heats of the night was a great first win for Kye Thomson in heat 5 when he gated ahead and held off a really strong challenge from Charles Wright.

Monarchs had built up a 4-point lead by heat 7 but that disappeared with a 1-5 reverse in heat 8, Rowe and Jenkins leading the Monarchs' pair home.

Three successive drawn heats followed with the home heat leaders winning but their partners pointless. Nathan Greaves didn't turn his fuel on and did not leave the tapes in heat 10, which may have been a lost opportunity.

Redcar didn't miss their opportunity in heat 12 when Palm Toft and Sarjeant took Bears' second 5-1 of the night, putting them 4 ahead prior to the big guns coming out in heat 13.

This was another superb race and a brilliant ride by Jake Allen whose high line took him past race leader Sam Masters, a rare defeat from the back for the home captain.

Josh Pickering easily won heat 14 with William Lawson passing Jordy Stewart for a vital third, though again James Sarjeant gave Monarchs food for thought over their decision to leave him out this year with an important second place.

That's what brought us to the point at which Monarchs needed a 5-1 to win. Monarchs had 11 race winners to Bears' 4, but they also had 9 last places to Bears 6 and that cost them two match points. The heat leaders totalled 34 which was up to expectations probably, and the other main success was Thomson with his race win and some spirited riding on his home debut.

The Bears all scored well and are undoubtedly equipped to challenge for honours this year.