In the close to thirty years of Speedway’s third tier Knock-out Cup Final it’s highly unlikely that there’s been a Final which opened like this one: an afternoon of spills, mechanical breakdowns, hospital visits and, as a result, delays at Mildenhall Speedway – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – where both teams lost their number ones and number sixes and, crucially, in the case of the hosts’ hopes for this First Leg taking on Leicester Lion Cubs, another of their heat leaders too.

The casualty list seems the most appropriate place to start. Heat Two (started on green light only after the tape mechanism inexplicably decided not to play ball) saw pile ups in both of its stagings – Leicester’s Vinnie Foord and Max James had a nasty friendly fire coming together on the first bend.

The re-staging saw an even worse crash, this time on the final bend with James perfecting an entirely unwanted 360 degree pirouette and the DJS Fen Tigers’ William Richardson unable to take evasive action. A first ever awarded race win for William will be scant consolation, ending his season as he started the 2022 campaign, in hospital with a badly broken leg.

The hapless Foord was then involved in another bad coming together in heat four – the end of his afternoon this time and for Mildenhall’s ‘Guest’ Jody Scott that first lap crash was repeated by another tumble in the rerun and that was it for the King’s Lynn-based teenager, out with a hip injury.

Heat one had seen the visitor’s ‘Guest’ number one Jack Smith crash out and he was clearly suffering from a groin injury when he trailed in last in his second ride and was another signed off. Quickly and crucially for the DJS Fen Tigers’ chances, it was the host’s number one Alfie Bowtell next to bow out – suffering concussion when crashing in his second ride.

That essentially was a blow too far for Jason Gardner’s beleaguered charges – seeing the parity of 17-17 at the end of heat six dip as a result of five 5-1s to a 20 points deficit with just two heats remaining.

Undefeated and flying with some red hot race win times was 2023 GB Youth title winner Ashton Boughen and also untroubled by the depleted hosts was their other ‘Guest’, the Aussie Jacob Hook; but they weren’t to be involved in the final two heats and the very plucky Ben Trigger, George Congreve and the paid 11 points scoring Kai Ward salvaged maximums to reduce the deficit to 38-49.

Gardner summed up a difficult afternoon which brought the curtain down on Mildenhall Speedway’s 2023 home season,

“It was a tough afternoon all round. The track was in good condition but both teams were very unlucky with some nasty falls. Credit on our side goes especially to Ben[Trigger] and George [Congreve] who kept battling away and what an impressive 9+2 for Kai Ward who's improving with each and every ride.

“We send best wishes to the injured riders and hope they aren't out for too long. Thanks to the supporters for sticking with us on a long afternoon”

The DJS Fen Tigers now go to Leicester’s Beaumont Park on Saturday (14th.) for the second leg.

Mildenhall DJS Fen Tigers 38
Alfie Bowtell           2, FX injured – withdrawn = 2
Arran Butcher         1', 2, 0, 0                        = 3+1
Ben Trigger            0, 2, 1', 1, 3, 3                 = 10+1
George Congreve    2, 1', 2, 1, 3, 2’                = 11+2
Jody Scott [G]        FX injured – withdrawn      = 0
William Richardson  3 injured – withdrawn       = 3
Kai Ward                2', 2, 1, 1, 1, 0, 2’             = 9+2

Leicester Lion Cubs 49
Jack Smith [G]       FX  R injured – withdrawn = 0
Ashton Boughen     3, 3, 3, 3, 3                     = 15 [M]
Max Perry              3, 3, 3, 2, 1                     = 12
Tom Spencer         1, 2', 2', FX                       = 5+2
Jacob Hook [G]     3, 3, 3, 2', 2’                      = 13+2 [PM]
Vinnie Foord         FX, FX injured – withdrawn  = 0
Max James           FX, 1, 2', 1’                        =  4+2

Heat details
1 (rerun twice) Boughen, Bowtell, Butcher, Smith (fell exc.) 51.0  [3-3]
2 (rerun; stpd/awarded) Richardson, Ward, James (fell exc.), Foord (fell exc.) no time [8-3]
3 Perry, Congreve, Spencer, Trigger 52.7  [10-7]
4 (rerun twice) Hook, Ward, Scott (fell exc.), Foord (fell exc.) 54.2  [12-10]
5 Boughen, Trigger, Congreve, Smith (ret.)  51.6  [15-13]
6 (rerun) Hook, Butcher, James, Bowtell (fell exc.) 52.5  [17-17]
7 Perry, Spencer, Ward [3 riders only] 53.5  [18-22]
8 Boughen, James, Ward, Butcher 51.3  [19-27]
9 Hook, Congreve, Trigger [3 riders only] 52.6  [22-30]
10 Perry, Spencer, Trigger, Butcher 53.5  [23-35]
11 Boughen, Hook, Ward [3 riders only] 51.7  [24-40]
12 Trigger, Perry, James, Ward 52.5  [27-43]
13 Boughen, Hook, Congreve [3 riders only] 52.5  [28-48]
14 (stpd/awarded) Congreve, Ward, Spencer (fell exc.) [3 riders only] no time  [33-48]
15 Trigger, Congreve, Perry [3 riders only]  52.3  [38-49]

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2023 NL KOC Winners
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