Monarchs Looking To Climb

PREVIEW Friday 21st June 2024, 9:00am

by Jim Milton

  Edinburgh Monarchs

The Stellar Monarchs' recent resurgence in their quest for Championship points fell just shy at Redcar Bears' Ecco Arena last Friday evening although the eight point margin of defeat hardly reflected just how close-run a tussle it was right up until the final heat.

Indeed, for the previous 14 heats, we remained well in contention, never at any time allowing Redcar the opportunity to open up a lead greater than four points.

And that was precisely the difference between the teams going into a nominations race-off that would serve as a final do-or-die showdown.

It wasn't to be, of course. Neither Josh Pickering nor skipper Paco Castagna was able to make his mark and the chances of forcing the Super Heat quickly disintegrated as Bears' chosen pair, Charles Wright and Danny King roared to a decisive 5-1.

The final scoreline certainly flattered the hosts although, given the respective form of both sides leading up to the clash, their was an air of frustration at a chance missed.

Top Monarchs on the night were the aforementioned Joshie and Paco, both of whom recorded double-figure scores.

Justin Sedgmen weighed in with nine which he may well have been disappointed in having taken the chequered flag in each of his first three rides.

Elsewhere, Lasse Fredriksen managed five ( two third placed following a first in Heat 5) while Dayle Wood, deputising for Max James, scored three.

This Friday the Stellar Monarchs return to Armadale where they take on early 2024 shock troops, the table-topping Ellie Rose Travel Scunthorpe Scorpions in a fixture rearranged from its 24th May postponement.

The Lincolnshire outfit's only defeat from their opening five outings has been away to Oxford, and at 55-34 it was a fairly hefty reversal too.

Both of their victories on the road, over Berwick and Redcar, were exceedingly tight affairs (46-44 in each case) so, despite their lofty position leading the Championship, they would appear not to be infallible, particularly away from their Normanby Road base.

Good news for the Scorpions is that No.1, Kyle Howarth, seems to be well on the way to correcting a sluggish start to the season while, in Brisbane born Jake Allan, manager David Howe can rely on a second heat leader capable of conjuring up a strong performance around the West Lothian circuit.

Scunthorpe had no fewer than three riders featuring in the recent British Final, Howarth, Connor Mountain and Simon Lambert, and the No.1 apart, the other pair are always worthy of the keenest attention when named in an opposing line-up.

At reserve for the Scorpions, Nathan Ablitt and Luke Harrison are among this country's brightest talents and both have been clocking up healthy points tallies of late, so the visitors will be frustrated that Harrison misses out due to Team GB duty, former Monarch Academy man Mickie Simpson steps in.

Unfortunately for Scunthorpe, broken collarbone victim, Michael Palmer Toft, invariably a thorn in our side, continues to be sidelined and rider replacement will operate all of the Lincolnshire side able to take a ride.

Better news for Edinburgh on the injury front is that Max James returns to what will be a full-strength septet as the Stellar Monarchs look to start an upward trajectory with two thirds of the season remaining.