Monarchs 2022 team revealed!

NEWS Sunday 2nd January 2022, 7:30pm

by Mike Hunter

Edinburgh Monarchs have announced their 7-man team via their website on Sunday evening, to an audience of their supporters who have remained remarkably patient since the end of last season!

Promoters John Campbell and Alex Harkess were quizzed by presenters Liam Rudden and John McGillivray, and the riders had sent their filmed messages for the show. The team (in order of announcements and not riding order) will be:

James Sarjeant, Lasse Fredriksen, Josh Pickering, Jacob Hook, Kye Thomson, Paco Castagna, Sam Masters.

So there are just three riders remaining from the team which reached the Cup Final and Playoff semi last season – Masters, Pickering and Thomson, plus the returning James Sarjeant who was a Monarch in 2019.

Lasse Fredriksen gets his chance after turning back in 2020 when on his way to Armadale, then missing out last season due to visa and Rising Star issues. He will be making his UK debut although he did ride in Monarchs' 70th Jubilee meeting in 2018.

Young Aussie Jacob Hook is a complete newcomer to these shores, while Paco Castagna is probably the surprise signing, having been with Birmingham last year. He scored paid 12 on his last Armadale outing.

Club Chairman Alex Harkess said "We've put together a team that we believe can only get better. For some of the team at the top end it's impossible to get much better because they are at the top of their game to start with. But the further down the team you go, the more capable they are of getting better."

Harkess touched on the fact that one or two riders from last year's team had expressed an intention to come back, before going elsewhere. "We could have done without that," he admitted. "But we've moved on from that. One of the most important things is getting seven riders who actually want to be here. It's what an Edinburgh team should be, a little bit of uncertainty, loads of hope and excitement."

John Campbell added "We've picked on riders we think can improve their averages, and that's how you win league titles. I actually think that even our top guys have a wee bit to go yet to add to their averages. I think our team is filled with riders who can improve their averages, and on that basis we will do very nicely."

Commenting on the inclusion of Fredriksen and Sarjeant, who were initially in the proposed lineup for last year before rule changes, John said "Having gone through the procedures to give them places in the team, and then having to knock them out, it's nice to offer them a chance again. Lasse has been waiting to join us for two years now, but has never deflected from his desire to ride for the Monarchs. I think it's great that we have got James at reserve, he's recovered almost completely from his crash at the end of last season and I think he will do very well."

On Castagna, Alex Harkess said "Paco doesn't lack confidence, and he has told me 'Once I get the track sorted out I will be unbeatable there!"

The promoters also announced that the team will wear race suits for the first time in 2022, and that there will be opportunities to sponsor these. John Campbell stated that it is likely though not certain that Monarchs' season will start on Good Friday and that they will not be in action during March.