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By Malcolm Sawford
Back to winter after one good week the morning broke overcast and drizzling, but many took the punt and arrived at the circuit praying for the weather to improve. The drizzle remained throughout the early races, and got a little heavier for the Elite race. Not enough to require a cancellation, but enough for many to decide discretion was the better part of valour and watch from the side lines or return to the comfort of a warm bed. For those who did compete, racing was incident free on the wide, well paved circuit.
Due to the smaller than usual turnout for A and B Grades, the fields were combined, with each grade racing for separate prize money. In the wet conditions, most riders felt that the front of the bunch was the safest placed to be, and the pace was kept high as rider after rider tried to go clear.
None of the attacks stuck, and after the completion of the hour the bunch was altogether. A Grade were given 3 to go first, and as they emerged out of the final corner Hilton Clarke (Net Zero) had Cam Lester (ProMotion Cycles) hard on his wheel. Hugging the right hand gutter all the way, Clarke had too much strength and opened up a 10 meter gap by the line, to record his second win in a row on this circuit. The minor placings went to Tim Retchford (SBR) and Dominic Gato.
Alistair Douglas had jumped off the front of the B Grade bunch just before the start of the bell lap, and no one seemed anxious to do a turn to pull him back. When the riders reappeared into the finishing straight Douglas still had a 50 meter lead and showed no sign of tiring.
The sprinters queued up at the front of the main bunch had other ideas and closed rapidly over the final 100 meters to make things tough for the judges. At the finish, it was Rohan McLellan, fresh from last nights Melbourne Cup on Wheels at Melbourne's indoor velodrome, inches ahead off Nick Gibson on his brand new Avanti Team Corsa, another trackie in young Simon Clarke and the unlucky Douglas.
Two riders dominated the C Grade race: Justin Davis and Danny Weatherley. The pair jumped away early in the race and maintained a good advantage to the finish, where they fought out a side by side drag race to the line. Davis had the better kick to finish ahead of Weatherley whose attacking style had gone largely unrewarded since his return to the sport around a year ago. Both riders can now sleep in next week and race with B Grade! Daryl Annells lead the bunch home ahead of crowd favorite and showman from last night's track racing Justin 'Jackie' Dovaston.
The D Grade race looked like it would split up in the closing laps, until strong work from Meaghan Godfrey brought things back together. Under 17 star Apryl Eppinger showed the guys up with a good win ahead of Daniel Mayberry, Paul Groves and the always in the money youngster Kieran Murphy.
In the Women's racing, Emma Rickards (SBR) was onboard her shiny new colour matched to sponsors outfit Team Telekom issue Pinarello Prince, and spent most of the day at the pointy end of the A & B Grade race to earn the prize money for first unplaced lady. Deb McCoy took women's honours in C Grade, with Meaghan Godfrey first unplaced woman behind D Grade winner Apryl Eppinger.
A Grade (1 hour+ 3 laps) 15 starters 1 Hilton Clarke (Net Zero) 2 Cam Lester (SKCC) 3 Tim Retchford (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Dominic Gato (Brunswick CC) B Grade (1 hour+ 3 laps) 15 Starters 1 Rohan McLellan (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Nick Gibson (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Simon Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Alistair Douglas (Blackburn CC) Women: Emma Rickards (Northcote CC) C Grade (50 mins + 3 laps) 27 starters 1 Justin Davis (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Danny Weatherley (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Daryl Annells (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Justin Dovaston (Noble Park Dandenong CC) Women: Deb McCoy (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) D Grade (50 mins + 3 laps) 14 starters 1 Apryl Eppinger (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 2 Daniel Mayberry (Blackburn CC) 3 Paul Groves (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Kieran Murphy (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) Women: Meaghan Godfrey (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) Novice (45 mins + 3 laps) 1 Rick Jones (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Richard Gabler (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Mike Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC)
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