Clear skies and nasty winds
By Peter MacDonald
Saturday saw the 3rd race of the WCC Frankie’s Handicap series return to the Darnum circuit.
Once again an excellent field with close to 30 starters handing their fate somewhat to the handicapper.
Fine weather greeted the riders, but a nasty 25-35km wind came in from NW making it hard going.
First group away was Pete Finlayson and Col Manitveld off 15min. Could they hold off the chasers for 5 laps of the 8km circuit? Only time would tell.
Alen Timmer-Arrends and Col Brown were next, and the 8 minute group looked strong on paper with Henry, Prestige and Marriott (sounds like a law firm) certainly having the experience to navigate the testing winds.
The next group off was the strongest from race 2, but as Ashley Ray won from this group last week in a canter, he found himself off scratch this time around.
Aaron Nash, Graeme Parker, the journeyman Peter MacDonald and Connor Bagot (bringing the average age down to 30) went off 4 mins in the hope of repeating last weeks effort.
Chasing them was the chopping block group Chris Battersby, Leigh Stott, Jamieson Gontier and Big Jim Timmer-Arrends only a minute behind the Nash group.
If these 2 groups came together early it could spell disaster for rest of the field.
Scratch was boosted this week with Jarryd Jones and Paul Collins joining Arron Wain, Sequoia Frahn, Chris Joustra, Stef Kirsch and last weeks winner, Ashley Ray. With the Scratch group yet to feature in the results this series, could this be their week?
Rounding out the starters was Annie Prymjak, Donna Innes-Wardell, John Taylor and Rod Cheyne doing 1 less lap.
With the wind picking up as the race went on, it felt like a crosswind on every part of the circuit. With most of the groups about 3 or more minutes apart you couldn’t see anyone up the road to chase early on.
The early groups were working well together and making the most of a generous handicap. On lap 2 the Chopping block group and the Nash, Bagot group came together to create what could have and should have been the perfect storm. It appeared that way for most of lap 3 with the scratch group barely making a dint in the chase.
However the super group started to fall apart with only a select few pulling turns. Scratch were having similar problems making their chances near impossible.
Meanwhile the 8 minute group was relying on Henry to do the bulk of the work with Marriott chiming in and Prestige hanging on.
On lap 4 all the riders were strung out all over the course as riders dropped from group to group, as most were trying to hide and conserve energy from the wind.
This was also the lap where you can finally see riders to catch.
What was left of the super group caught the merged Henry group who had collected Allen Timmer-Arrends and Col Brown.
Big Jim took it upon himself to then thin out this group with a blistering turn of pace going past to footy ground for the last time. But again too few riders were prepared to work.
With a few km’s to go heading down Stuhrs Rd for the last time, only the front runners of Col Mantiveld, Pete Finlayson and Snowy (Rod Cheyne) knew what position they were in. The chasing group of Jim and Allen Timmer-Arrends, MacDonald, Parker, Brown and Henry had caught and passed what seemed to be most of the field.
The Timmer-Arrends boys both attacked with Battersby who hadn’t been seen for 2 laps chased.
Finally Jamieson Gontier, Parker, Stott and MacDonald joined them in what they thought to be a sprint for 3rd, however the very front group of Col Mantiveld and Pete Finlayson rode a perfect race and finished 1st and 2nd respectively.
Snowy finished 3rd, then followed by Gontier, Parker, MacDonald, Stott and Henry rounded out the points.
The Frankie’s Handicap series heads back to Shady Creek for the final round this Saturday.
This will be a good hit out, and your last chance to get a decent handicap for the Annual WCC Tim McCardle Handicap on the 7th September.
Thanks again for all those who supported the racing, and Dave Smith for Race Directing.
Race 4 of the Frankie’s Series is on next week at Shady Creek starting at 2.00pm. Enter here.