CRADLEY Heathens co-owner Gary Patchett says the race for the Golden Hammer next Tuesday is wide open.
The former Cradley club host the prestigious individual meeting at their adopted Monmore Green home for the third successive season and a bumper crowd is expected.
It’s an event which pulls in supporters from all over the country and there will be a rider autrograph session before the start and traditional Cradley pork sandwiches will be available.
Patchett believes every rider in the field will be desperate to win the presitigious title.
He said: “I feel the line-up represents the very best riders that the National League has to offer and is enhanced by four riders who have a special affiliation with the event and a place in the hearts of Heathens supporters.
“Alongside this season's team we were delighted that former Heathens Lee Smart, Kyle Newman and Micky Dyer accepted our invitations to ride in the event.
“It goes without saying that past winners are always welcome and none more so than Leicester Lions star Simon Lambert who won the first staging of the Hammer after the Heathens returned to the track in 2010.
“Unfortunately, the weather has prevented 2011 champion Kyle Hughes from defending the trophy as the Isle of Wight are racing against Kings Lynn that night but I have no doubt that the riders present will provide us with racing well worthy of this illustrious event.
“It's always a pleasure to put fields together for meetings like this and this year's staging, like the past years, is too close to call. Our own riders will obviously benefit from home track advantage and that may prove to be crucial. It's high time we had a home winner.”
The meeting is once again promoting the F.A.S.T message through Dudley Stroke Association – Face, Arm, Speech, Time – and there will be a collection held on the night for the charity.
The full line-up is: Ashley Morris; Adam Roynon; Dan Greenwood; Tom Perry; James White-Williams; Darryl Ritchings and Byron Bekker (all Dudley); Kyle Howarth (Workington), Micky Dyer (Edinburgh), Rob Branford (Buxton); Ashley Birks (Stoke), Steve Worrall (Scunthorpe); Stephen Lambert (Leicester); Kyle Newman (Somerset), Lee Smart (Redcar).
Admission is £12 adults, £7 concessions and children £1, with Dudley season tickets valid for this meeting.
Meanwhile fans are urged to snap up their tickets for the evening with Cradley’s greatest ever rider, Erik Gundersen, as the event is closing in on a sellout.
Gundersen, the three-times world champion, makes his first appearance in the Black Country for years when he appears at The Venue Conference and Banqueting Suite in Dudley on Friday, July 20.
Tickets are £10, available from the Heathens track shop or online at the official club website www.dudleyheathens.co.uk.
(Above): l Below: Heathens celebrate the launch of their new team sponsorship with Oldbury-based Recycled Aggregate Services. Pictured: David Burns, MD, Recycled Aggregate Services, Heathens star Tom Perry and manager Will Pottinger. Picture: John Hipkiss.