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Mildenhall Fen Tigers rider Arran Butcher eyeing up another victory over the Kent Royals after opening-day victory

Arran Butcher is confident the Mildenhall Fen Tigers can inflict a second successive defeat on the Kent Royals at the weekend and move a significant step closer to securing a spot in the National Development League Knock Out Cup final.

After flooring the Royals 53-37 in the National Development League (NDL) at Mildenhall Stadium last weekend, the Fen Tigers will look to repeat that effort when the two clubs battle it out in the opening leg of their semi-final at Sittingbourne Speedway this Sunday (12pm).

It will be the second season in succession that the sides have met at this stage of the competition with the Fen Tigers emerging 93-87 winners on aggregate 12 months ago, despite losing the second leg on the road 48-42.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers rider Arran Butcher. Picture: Mecha Morton
Mildenhall Fen Tigers rider Arran Butcher. Picture: Mecha Morton

And while the Fen Tigers will bring in guest Luke Harrison for captain Lee Complin, who is on Championship duty with Glasgow Tigers, the 22-year-old believes the West Row-based outfit should still have the necessary firepower to win.

Butcher said: “Although I’ve not done too much racing down there I scored quite well down there last year when I rode for Oxford getting a paid nine (8+1) total.

“From what I remember it was quite slick there so it is similar to the track at Mildenhall and half the battle is making good starts.

“Alfie (Bowtell) was number one for Kent last year so he knows the place inside out. I know we haven’t got Lee with us but we have got a team capable of winning races.

“If we get off to a good start and start like we did today and keep picking up the points, even if it is filling the minor placings for shared heats, I am confident we can do a job.

“We have got a great team spirit and to start the season the way we did will have boosted everyone’s confidence.”

A bumper crowd was treated to a professional display by the Fen Tigers at the weekend, although it was the Royals, who were without Nathan Ablitt, that drew first blood with visiting number one Ben Morley heading up a 4-2 in the opening race.

It was not long before the Fen Tigers responded with Butcher, making his first competitive start since breaking vertebrae in his back during the 2022 British Sand Masters in October, taking heat two, ahead of successive 5-1s fronted by Josh Warren and new team captain Complin.

Further 5-1s for the Fen Tigers, in heats six and 10 headed by Bowtell, either side of three races where the spoils were shared, which included two heat wins for Royals reserve Connor King, put the Fen Tigers within touching distance of victory.

However, Morley continued to prove a thorn in the side of the hosts when storming to a third victory in heat 11, before Ben Trigger secured his first win in Fen Tigers colours a race later.

What followed was arguably the race of the meeting with Bowtell and Complin, following an entertaining first lap with Morley, storming to the first of two 5-1s together, a result the pair would repeat in similarly entertaining fashion in heat 15 to close out the victory.

“Overall it was a good meeting and it was nice to get off to a good start coming back from the broken back,” said Butcher.

“I was on a new engine that I borrowed from Nick Morris so everything was fresh to me and it took a bit of setting up but I gradually got used to things.

“Considering none of us had really ridden the track this year, it was a good team performance from the top to the bottom and we will happily take a result like that first time out.”

l Sounds of cheers were heard before the tapes rose at the weekend to welcome Newmarket Joggers member Jeremy Reader, who ran just under 34 miles from the Adrian Flux Arena, home of Premiership outfit King’s Lynn Stars, to Mildenhall Stadium as part of a club and charity fundraiser.

The 49-year-old, who was supported on a bike by fellow Joggers member Ian Butcher, completed the run, which was devised to support both the Fen Tigers and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, in around five and a half hours

Following a bucket collection during the interval, a total of £541 was raised, which will be added to more than £800 that Reader has already had received in donations online.

“It is always hugely emotional when you finish a mammoth task and that was the furthest I’ve ever run,” said Reader.

“My glutes felt like concrete afterwards but I was pleased with how it went and it was all worth it for the club and a good cause.

“The aim is to raise £1,500 and it would be great if I could reach that before we close the fundraising page online.”

Anyone wishing to donate can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jeremy-reader-3ultramarathon