Peterborough Panthers Australian star enjoying life in the UK with the help of darts world champion

​Despite Peterborough’s dismal start to the new season – it’s one win from 13 – Australian pocket rocket Ben Cook has been making headlines for the right reasons in his first top-flight season.
Ben Cook.Ben Cook.
Ben Cook.

He is the Crendon Panthers second highest points scorer overall and leading the way on the road. The 25-year-old from the Class of 2023 talks to Holeshot Media about his season so far – and what he’s learnt from a darts giant.

“It’s just starting to click for me. It’s my third year now. It’s not all new to me anymore, a bit more familiar.

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“I’ve got a bit more experience and the set up to Peterborough is helping with consistent bike time this year. It helps with the progression. You’ve got to be on the bike to keep learning. I’ve learnt a lot over the past couple of years and in 2023 it’s been so far, so good.

“Back in the day the inspiration was former Peterborough star Jason Crump or Leigh Adams. Zach and I used to watch them every weekend in the Grand Prix series and that’s when we realised, we wanted to race speedway as a job.

“We’ve been riding motorbikes since I was four, originally the dirt track bikes. We travelled all around Australia doing that winning Australian and state titles. I’ve always followed speedway as a kid. My dad rode bikes as well, he had a dirt track slider.

“Then we started riding junior speedway bikes. We started out on the junior speedway, it’s kind of hard in Aussie, there’s not many tracks. We had to travel a fair distance each time. You are probably only riding six to eight times a year max, it’s hard to progress quickly.

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“It’s a lot easier now back home, there’s a lot more meetings every year which is good. I’ve grown up with Brady and Todd Kurtz and the Holders [Chris and current world number two, his younger brother Jack]. We were all on the junior speedway at the same time.

“Chris winning the World Championship in 2012 was also a big thing for us. Jack and I were around the same time and progressing, but I stayed at home when he came over in 2015 and had a season with the Panthers two years later, and finished my apprenticeship so I had that to fall back on.

“There’s been some great talent that has come out of New South Wales.”

Ben is finding inspiration from a near neighbour, the 2015 British Darts Organisation World Champion Scott Mitchell, who is also an avid speedway supporter rarely missing meetings at local track Poole where Ben rides in the second tier Championship.

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Added Ben: “We play darts to chill away from speedway and have a bit of competition in the local pub. We’ve also got our own little set-up here at home at Baillie House near Poole. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m professional at it. I got Scott to give me a few pointers at it the other day.

“It was good to see him doing his thing. It is a talent and a lot harder than it looks. But I’ll be sticking to speedway, I’m not good enough to having that to fall back on!”

Panthers are back in action at the East of England Arena next Thursday, (July 13, 7/30pm) when they take on title-chasing Sheffield.