MATCH REPORT: Hammers going from strength to strength
After torrential overnight rain and more forecast for the morning of the match, the track staff at Horspath had their work cut out to get the circuit cleared of water and in a raceable state.
After three hours of solid repair work, the track was ready for the 2pm start time. On to the track came the visiting Poole Comets and home stars Horspath Hammers, initially to pay their respects to a former Hammer who passed away last year, and who’s family were in attendance.
An impeccable one minutes silence was held in Paul Denmarks’ honour, a rider who announcer for the meeting and women’s Team GB manager, Geoff Gamage, remembered from years gone by.
With both side’s play off positions secured, the Poole Comets travelled without their leading Polish riders and with a late withdrawal through illness of Dean Hook, they ran with rider replacement at number 4 in the side.
The track produced some great racing with plenty of grip early on, with the powerful combination of Lukasz Nowacki and Dave Liebermann producing electric starts in their rides together, the youthful Comets were up against it.
Battle they did though, and when the Team GB hopefuls of Will Jeffery, Fraser Garnett and Macie Schmidt were on track, the friendships stayed in the pits, with some great tussles to defend their points.
At the interval, the Hammers led by 12 points with the home heat leaders Zac Payne, Jake Neighbour and Lukasz looking unbeatable. That’s pretty much how it stayed, as all three went on to record maximums, although the comets certainly made the home riders aware they were in a race.
For the Hammers, 15 year old Jack Ellis picked his form back up and raced hard to earn a solid 12 points featuring in four heat advantages. Will Jeffery, when on track with his race partners, looked fast and didn’t concede any advantages either. With young Alice Neighbour gaining more experience at reserve with Andy Johnson, the future is very bright.
For the Comets, Wil Bristow raced hard all day and with Ben Tinsdale, Jay Briggs, Rob Hayward, Callum Smith and Macie all turning in eye catching rides, it was a very entertaining meeting, although the result never really looked in doubt.
Top Poole youngster Fraser Garnett never knows when he’s beaten and raced hard for his 15 points without winning a race, but when you’re on track against an ex-World Champion, an ex-British Champion and home specialists, it’s always going to be hard work.
Credit to both clubs for just getting on with the racing on an energy sapping track.
Will Jeffery 12+2, Jake Neighbour 20, Lukasz Nowacki 17+3, Dave Liebermann 18, Jack Ellis 12, Zac Payne 15+1, Alice Neighbour 4, Andy Johnson 3
Fraser Garnett 15, Rob Hayward 10+1, Ben Tinsdale 13, Will Bristow 17+2, Callum Smith 8+1, Macie Schmidt 3+1, Jay Briggs 13+2
Report by Rob Jeffery. Photo by Peter Payne.