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Kent Royal vs Edinburgh Monarchs Academy – Preview
Kent Royal vs Edinburgh Monarchs Academy – Preview

The last home National Development League fixture at The Old Gun Site turns into a Sovereign Shootout as the Kent Royals take on the Edinburgh Monarchs Academy tomorrow.

For The Royals, it’s a busy end to the season as their final three matches coming in a 10-day period, which started with Wednesdays defeat at Oxford and concludes with next Saturday’s visit to Workington.

These two final league fixtures being vital as Kent could overtake both Edinburgh and Workington in the table to move as high as 5th. Kent and Edinburgh met on Coronation weekend at Armadale where this weekend’s visitors ran out 15-point winners 52-37.

The Royals go into the fixture still without long term injury absentee’s Jack Kingston and Rhys Naylor but in positive news for Kent, Nathan Ablitt who sat out the defeat at Oxford returns to the lineup.

Once again manager Jamie Willis elects to use Rider Replacement for the injured Naylor, and coming in to replace Kingston will be Leicester’s Max James. Max on his visit to Iwade with the Lion Cubs scored 10 points from his five rides which included three heat wins (two of which were over Royals heat leaders).

The Royals top two of Ben Morley and Nathan Ablitt have been in potent form at The Old Gun Site this season, and it was announced earlier today that the duo have been selected to race in the National League Riders’ Championship which takes place at Workington on Sunday 24th September.

Sunday will also see another appearance for recent signing Ashton Vale. Ashton was involved in a terrific race at Oxford on Wednesday, where he could’ve taken his first National League win.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as he came down on the penultimate bend, but the young man clearly has a big future in the sport and is joined at reserve by a man with the perfect name for a match between Kent and Edinburgh, Connor King.

With the rider replacement facility in operation, Kent make use of the Additional Rider option by naming 2018 Southern Development League Champion with Kent, James Laker to take the number 8 jacket.

The Edinburgh Monarchs Academy have had a season beset by injuries much like Kent but they’re able to welcome back recent broken shoulder victim Adam Roynon, but they will be without former Kent King and Royal Alex Spooner.

Edinburgh will use the rider replacement facility for Alex. The Monarchs were hit in the early part of the season by the retirement of their number one, former World Youth Champion Kyle Bickley. Bickley was replaced by a rider well known to fans at The Old Gun Site, Max Clegg. Max came into The Royals line up at the end of the 2022 season and was never beaten by an opponent racing to four full and one paid maximum in his five fixtures for the club. Joining Max and Adam in the Heat Leader department is Australian born Jacob Hook.

Jacob has taken advantage of the new rule which allows Commonwealth born riders to race in the National League providing they have a place in the SGB Championship. Staying Down Under, a rider in form at present for Edinburgh is Dayle Wood. Dayle’s trip to the UK was funded in part by the generosity of three-time World Champion Tai Woffinden, who auctioned off a winning trophy from a meeting in Australia and donated it along with the prize money to Dayle.

Completing the Edinburgh line up is the reserve duo Mickie Simpson and Mark Parker. Mickie came through British Speedway’s youth system and Mark has recently converted to Speedway from Motocross. With Rider Replacement in operation Edinburgh have named regular Kent second half racer Nathan Hargrave, as an Additional Rider to take the number 8 race jacket.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s fixture manager Jamie Willis said. “Tomorrow is a massive meeting in terms of defining our season. A win including the bonus point will hopefully see us climb the table depending on Workington’s results this weekend. (Workington are away to both Leicester and Mildenhall).

Willis continued “Although the meeting on Wednesday was disappointing, I’m looking to add a positive spin to it, in that it’s given us vital track time ahead of a meeting against a team whose last league match was at the end of July. We must take advantage of that and be assertive from the first heat.”

The former football coach added “We want to round off our home league season with a win and to put on a show to all of you that have supported us throughout the season, it’s the least that you deserve for your support of us.”

The action gets underway at midday, there is also a full second half featuring 125cc riders Jayden Bailey, Leelan Little, Joe Brice and Emerson Betty. 250cc riders featuring European regular William Cairns, Iwade regular Jamie Etherington and Seth Norman and 500cc riders Josh Couzins and the two Number 8’s from the main meeting James Laker and Nathan Hargrave.

Teams in alphabetical order:

Kent Royals: Nathan Ablitt, Max James (guest), Connor King, James Laker (No.8), Ben Morley, Rhys Naylor – rider replacement, Ashton Vale, Tom Woolley (Capt.)

Edinburgh Monarchs Academy: Max Clegg, Nathan Hargrave (No.8), Jacob Hook, Mark Parker, Adam Roynon (Capt.), Mickie Simpson, Alex Spooner – rider replacement, Dayle Wood