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Mildenhall Fen Tigers vs Kent Royals Preview
Mildenhall Fen Tigers vs Kent Royals Preview

This Sunday sees the 2023 campaign get underway for the Iwade based Kent Royals, as they look to hit the ground running with an away trip to Suffolk to take on the 2021 National Development League champions Mildenhall.

It’s the first of four clashes between the two sides over the next four weeks, so a case of good neighbours may indeed become good friends!

Speaking ahead of the league clash, which sees the NDL managerial debut for former amateur rider Jamie Willis, he has spoken out of his desire to make an immediate impression on the league from the get-go. “Our main aim is to win and be top, to show the rest of the league we are up for it and mean business.”

The Royals head into the clash spearheaded by two-time National League Riders Champion Ben Morley who has taken over the number 1 race jacket for the 2023 season and joining him from the class of 22 are, Joe Alcock who had his season so cruelly ended by injury when he was in the form of his career, the man who replaced him in the Royals line up Connor King and dependable reserve Sam Woolley.

Joining the ranks of the Royals for 2023 is older brother of Sam, Tom Woolley, former Lakeside mascot making a comeback after a decade out of the sport Rhys Naylor and a rider who has won league championships the past two seasons at NDL and Championship level Nathan Ablitt.

For the 19-year-old from Battle, that National League winners medal came in 2021 when he was racing for the Fen Tigers after the closure of his home county club Eastbourne, and he found a new home at West Row. It is a return to former haunts that Ablitt is looking forward too, stating; “It’s always good to go back there, the people are great and it’s a track I know I can go well at.”

Aside from catching up with old faces, returning to a former home can also be a bonus on the technical front Ablitt continued. “It always helps (you) to have an idea of the set up, so you’re not going into the meeting completely cold and if there is anything I can pass on to the other guys that is great.”

Whilst the Royals have a former Fen Tiger in their ranks, Leading Mildenhall’s title charge in 2023 is a rider who provided much entertainment at The Old Gun Site last seasons original number 1 Alfie Bowtell.

The Chelmsford born racer was piling in the points especially at home and his last gasp heat advantages with fellow Essex based racer Morley became legend at the Iwade circuit, until Bowtell’s season was cruelly cut short after he sustained leg injuries on Championship duty for Oxford.

Joining Bowtell in the heat leader department is 38-year-old Yorkshire born racer Lee Complin, Complin auditioned for a role with the Fen Tigers with an impressive guest performance at the end of last season and comes into the Tigers den as captain, and certainly his experience will be beneficial to the younger members of the side. One of those younger members in 23-year-old New Zealand racer George Congreve. Congreve came over last season to race for Newcastle in the SGB Championship, however his season was cut short when the Diamonds withdrew from the league and closed down midway through the season. Coming into the Fen Tigers bottom end, is 19-year-old William Richardson. A highly regarded teenager from Norfolk, was thrust into action in last seasons British Under 21 Semi Final only to sustain serious leg injuries in his first competitive race and was side-lined for the rest of the 2022 campaign.

A fascinating encounter is promised to get the 2023 National League season under way, and with the new scoring system seeing just 2 points for a win and a return of the aggregate bonus point every race may prove critical in the context of the season. Supporters are advised of the new start time for fixtures at West Row this season. Mildenhall’s home matches are now due to start at 4pm.

Teams in Alphabetical order.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers: Alfie Bowtell, Arran Butcher, Lee Complin (captain), George Congreve, William Richardson, Ben Trigger and Josh Warren

Kent Royals: Nathan Ablitt, Joe Alcock, Connor King, Ben Morley, Rhys Naylor, Sam Woolley and Tom Woolley (captain)