Panthers chief chooses to ignore Bear-baiting

Jack Holder in axtion against Scunthorpe. Picture: David Lowndes
Jack Holder in axtion against Scunthorpe. Picture: David Lowndes
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Panthers promoter Ged Rathbone has urged his riders to do their talking on the track as they launch their SGB Championship KO Cup challenge.

The city men face Redcar in the opening round of the competition over the next few days.

The first leg is at the East of England Showground this Sunday (April 9, 5pm) ahead of a return clash in the North-East next Thursday (April 13).

It’s a particularly important tie for Rathbone, who is based in Middlesbrough and a regular attendee at Bears’ meetings.

And he was also present at a social event during the winter when new Redcar promoter Kevin Keay and team chief Jitendra Duffill were not afraid to predict success against Panthers.

Rathbone said: “Redcar have made it quite clear they think they will beat us home and away.

“I’m not going to give them a response, but I will certainly be making our boys aware of the comments just in case they need a little bit of extra motivation.

“It’s a big rivalry for me and I’m delighted that I’ve not lost to them yet as Panthers promoter.

“Hopefully that run will continue, but I don’t mind admitting they are going to provide a real test for us.

“They’ve put a strong team together and they have plenty of riders who like to race at the Showground.

“But we’re determined to have a good run in the KO Cup. It’s a big part of the season and the chance to challenge for a trophy.”

Rathbone is delighted with Panthers’ winning start to the new campaign.

They have recorded back-to-back SGB Championship successes against Scunthorpe – following up a 51-42 home triumph last month with a 46-44 road win last Sunday.

“A couple of early wins is the ideal start for our new-look team,” added Rathbone.

“No-one is going to get carried away, but the guys have gelled very quickly and I’m convinced there is still a lot more to come.”

There may well need to be against a strong-looking Redcar side spearheaded by winter signing Jason Garrity, one of the most exciting riders in the business.

It also features familiar faces in the form of Richard Hall, who starred in Panthers’ unforgettable Elite League title triumph of 2006, and Ben Barker, who impressed for Panthers in the final weeks of the 2015 season.