BELLE Vue raced to a 48-42 first leg win over Swindon to leave the Charity Shield well-poised ahead of Thursday’s return.
Aces duo Steve Worrall and Max Fricke (13+1 each) were in top form on opening night, with both unbeaten from their four programmed rides – with Fricke producing a sensational display to pass Robins duo Tobiasz Musielak and Mitchell Davey despite starting from a 15-metre handicap in Heat 4.
But the Robins performed a strong containing job and the returning Troy Batchelor (12+1) won three races and spoiled the maximum hopes of Worrall and Fricke in Heat 15.
Fricke said: “The whole team really pulled together. There were a couple of teething troubles but I think it shows the potential of this team with just how convincingly we followed through with our aims.
“Having that six-point lead going into Thursday is very handy. Swindon are no slouches, they’re not the league champions for nothing so we’re taking nothing for granted in the second half of this.
“But we’ve seen plenty of promise from this one fixture. Jye (Etheridge) was looking great and Damian (Drozdz) will develop over time so all in all I see no reason why we can’t have a good one at the Abbey.”
Swindon boss Alun Rossiter said: “I thought it was quite a positive night, there was a lot to take from it and whilst of course we wanted to win, it was the first meeting and I’m not overly worried about it.
“It was about keeping things close, and we certainly did that. I still think it will be close on Thursday, maybe only a couple of points in it, and obviously we’re aware that Rohan (Tungate) certainly didn’t have the best of nights for them.”
GLASGOW have been rocked on the eve of the season by Jack Parkinson-Blackburn’s decision to quit the sport.
The 17-year-old was set to make his Tigers debut at home to Edinburgh on Friday but they are now searching for a new 2.00 reserve to complete their team – and the news also impacts on Parkinson-Blackburn’s planned National League team Coventry.
Glasgow co-owner Peter Facenna said: “This is hugely disappointing news, particularly with our riders due to practice on the track in two days' time, and our first meeting being held 24 hours later.
“We had high hopes for Jack and had given him a lot of assistance during the winter in order to ensure he was ready to hit the ground running for the new season.
“We're now in the market for a new two-point rider. With nearly every team now complete, finding someone that isn't already racing in the Championship won't be easy - but we're determined to make sure this doesn't affect our hopes of winning silverware, and we'll do what we can to bring in the best rider possible.”
PETERBOROUGH boss Carl Johnson says improvement is the key as his side prepare for tapes-up on the 2018 campaign.
The Panthers launch their season with a Championship Shield clash against Lakeside on Sunday, and Johnson feels they should have no fears going into the new season.
He said: “We’ve put a team together that is based on improvement, and hopefully everybody can do that.
“Adding to averages is the big thing. We can’t always guarantee that it’s going to happen, but that’s why we’ve put the team together that we have, and fingers crossed it does improve.
“If it does, then we stand a good chance, but we know we have to start quickly and start well. That’s so important this year with the lower number of meetings.”
KENT youngster Anders Rowe is looking to take another step up as he goes into his second season of National League racing.
15-year-old Rowe remains with the Kings after an impressive debut campaign and will start the new campaign in the top five of their line-up.
He said: “It was a learning curve in many ways last season. It went really well, it was a good confidence boost to get a full season’s racing behind me, moving up from reserve and I’ll be starting this year in the main body of the Kent team.
“I intend to take it in my stride and hopefully do even better.”
THURSDAY MARCH 22:
CHARITY SHIELD 2nd leg: Swindon v Belle Vue 7.30
FRIDAY MARCH 23:
SCOTTISH CUP 1st leg: Glasgow v Edinburgh 7.30
70TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: Poole 7pm
LEE RICHARDSON SPRING CLASSIC: Lakeside 8pm
SATURDAY MARCH 24:
90TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION MEETING: Belle Vue 6pm
MALCOLM COLE MEMORIAL CUP: Eastbourne Forman IT Eagles v IT First Eagles 7.30
SUNDAY MARCH 25:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Peterborough v Lakeside 7pm
SIMON STEAD FAREWELL: Sheffield 4pm
CHARITY SHIELD, 1st leg
Belle Vue 48 (Steve Worrall 13+1, Max Fricke 13+1)
Swindon 42 (Troy Batchelor 12+1)