MATCH REPORT: Hammers trump the Aces

Last Sunday Horspath Hammers welcomed the Exeter Aces to the Village Recreation Ground for the final South West and Wales regional league match. Both teams were missing their top rider, with Lukas Nowacki awaiting the arrival of his newborn baby (congrats Lukas and Magda!) and Aaron Herbert not available.

On a hot and humid day, the track was prepared with plenty of watering taking place beforehand to get some sort of race track in action.Heat one featured Jack Ellis and Jake Neighbour up against Connor Tucker and young Ben Stanbury to get the action underway.

Neighbour hit the front but Tucker did a great holding job on Ellis to allow Stanbury to race away in second to open up proceedings with a drawn heat. Will Jeffery then came out on track to begin what was a superb day personally for him, and raced away from Ben Robinson and Rob Geach, who again was content to keep Owen Johnson at the back for another drawn heat.

The meeting then took a swing in the Hammers favour, with Zac Payne and Dave Liebermann gaining the first heat advantage over evergreen multi-champion Dave Murphy and Craig Nethercott, followed by successive heat wins for the home squad.

Home reserve Andy Johnson paired up with Liebermann in heat 9, just before the interval, against Geach and Nethercott. Knowing a quick gate was imperative, Nethercott anticipated the start a bit too keenly and was given his marching orders.

The home pairing completed the job in the rerun, but anyone who has raced against Rob Geach knows you can’t ease off for one minute, and he certainly kept the home lads honest.

The interval arrived with the Hammers 17 points to the good, so more track preparation and watering took place before the meeting resumed. More of the same ensued after the interval, with three of the four races resulting in 7-3 heat advantages. Home reserve Shaun Rudman maintaining his recent impressive comeback with a couple of heat wins.

Photos by Peter Payne

Female racer and Great Britain star, Lauren Hookway, pulled off a great heat sharing ride with Nethercott, behind Rudman again, over an ever pressing Owen Johnson, who threw everything at the pair to no avail.

The final three heats brought out three unbeaten Hammers. Neighbour duly followed home Liebermann in heat 16 to complete his paid 20 point maximum, with Tucker unable to split them despite looking very quick. Heat 17 brought England and GB junior Jeffery to the start line unbeaten on 16 from 16 points, and he duly gated and pulled in to the first corner over Geach and Nethercott to complete a full 20 point maximum.

The final race saw Payne out to complete his paid maximum too, and with Rudman backing him up, he’d also achieved a four ride paid maximum.

So all in all a conclusive result for the home team over an ever trying Exeter side who are going through that transitional period the Hammers were in a couple of years ago. Credit to both teams on track for putting on a show in front of a healthy crowd, basking in the sunshine.

Last words from man on the mike and Aces reserve for the day Dan Winchester, “it’s still my bogey track”.

Horspath Hammers 108
Jack Ellis 11, Jake Neighbour 17+3, Owen Johnson 4, Will Jeffery 20, Dave Liebermann 17+1, Zac Payne 17+3, Andy Johnson 7, Shaun Rudman 15+1

Exeter Aces 69
Connor Tucker 13+3, Ben Stanbury 10, Rob Geach 11+1, Ben Robinson 6, Dave Murphy 13+1, Craig Nethercott 10+3, Lauren Hookway 4, Dan Winchester 2