Kent Kings set for Cup test
Kent Kings set for Cup test

It may be the city holding the FA Cup this year but the Kent Touchtec Kings travel to Manchester on Thursday looking to ensure that the Belle Vue Colts don’t emulate their football compatriots by taking Speedway’s National Knock-Out Cup [NKOC] back to the north west conurbation.

With Kent themselves hoping for a Man City-esque ‘domestic treble’ (having already clinched the first part by taking the National Trophy) it’s the NKOC that’s next then to command the attention of Chris Hunt’s charges.

The experienced Kent Team Manager is pleased at how things are going: “We’ve had two or three injuries to deal with recently and we’ve still managed to get the results which is very pleasing. Winning the National Trophy has only served to boost our confidence as a group, so hopefully we can keep our good run going”.

Belle Vue have been the early pace-setters in the League and as the only team to get to the four NL matches completed stage – three of which they’ve won – the new 2019 averages have kicked in, with a dramatic result.  Rookie Jordan Palin who was a two-pointer reserve when the Colts faced up to Kent in the Easter Challenge in April has rocketed right to the top of the Belle Vue averages, now at number one with very impressive debut season figures of 9,45.

Thursday will be the first match with Palin in the number one race jacket,. joining two former GB Youth Champs Leon Flint and Kyle Bickley in a formidable heat leader trio for the Mancunians.  It may well also see the debut of the rider effectively replacing him in the reserve berths: Connor Bailey. Bailey is Western Australian and is highly rated in his Down Under homeland – only 16 years of age, the teen arrived for his racing debut in the ‘old country’ intended for Clydeside (appropriate for a rider born in Perth perhaps!) as a member of the Glasgow Tigers’ SGB Championship [SGBC] team.  

Belle Vue have managed something of a coup in adding Bailey to their stable of SGBC ‘doubling’ riders (joining Flint, Bickley and Danny Phillips) – with the fairly remarkable decision being that though an Australian rider and with a second tier average of two, Bailey has been given an assessed 2.00 point average for the NL too. There’s been a swapping around of Bens to complete the BV septet; Rathbone moving up to the no. 2 slot with namesake Woodhull to partner Bailey down in the reserve slots.

Hunt will be hoping that all his riders come through unscathed from the Kings’ NL home match vs. Plymouth on Monday including the two riders returning from injury, Alex Spooner (testing his track fitness this weekend) and Jordan Jenkins and is aware of the massive challenge the draw has presented the TouchTec Kings,

“This is a tie which, in truth, would’ve made a great Final – but that’s the nature of the draw system in the Cup and it’s certainly going to be some last eight two-legged match up with literally no quarter given!”

The meeting starts at 7.30pm at the National Speedway Stadium, Kirkmanshulme Lane, Manchester M12 4WB