Edinburgh Monarchs ace Craig Cook is gunning for Glasgow Tigers star James Grieves after the Paisley-born ace wrecked his hopes of a maximum in Sunday’s Premier League derby win by the Capital team at Ashfield Stadium.
Monarchs host the return fixture at Armadale tonight and Cook is determined to stop his rival stealing the limelight again. Former Monarch Grieves was the only Glasgow rider to get the better of Cook in their heat 13 tussle, in which the Monarchs favourite finished in third place behind his team-mate Claus Vissing.
Cook, who shaved a full second off the Glasgow track record in an earlier race, said: “I was at the back, Claus did not have a lot of speed, and I kept running into the back of him. Tigers skipper Joe Screen was also in the race and he was behind me, so you needed to be on the gas. And with Claus not going as fast as he should have been, it made it hard for me.
“I tried to cover the line Joe was taking, both inside and outside, it was a very tough race and I was just glad at the end that Joe did not get past me. I would have been disappointed if that had happened.”
Cook added: “But full credit to James for beating me. He was making some good gates, outstanding ones to be honest. And even when I met him again in heat 15, I had to give him a bit of a shove to get in front of him to get my revenge.
“James, who did not have a good day when we won convincingly through there in the League Cup, showed his true colours this time. He is a hugely professional rider who has been around for a long time and is always a difficult opponent.”
Monarchs’ 48-42 success last weekend against a Tigers side which continues to toil to make any impression in the championship race so far, might not have been pretty as they had to graft for everything, but Cook is cautious of predicting any landslide type win at home, warning: “I don’t think you can go into any match thinking that things are going to be comfortable. Although it’s a derby match, you have to treat it as just another meeting.”
Cook’s time of 57.00 seconds for four laps of the Ashfield circuit astonished many, but the rider himself was not that surprised, explaining: “I thought I was going pretty fast, I looked at the track and being off gate four I knew I would get good speed coming off the first and second turns. I was in the dirt straight away and rode four perfect and quick laps.
“I knew it was fast but to take a full second off the old time was pretty memorable.”
Monarchs need to win with some style this evening as an antidote to the sterile action witnessed over the last fortnight caused by slick conditions which has suppressed anything resembling style and elan.
Cook agrees and said: “There was plenty water on the track last week and it was quite grippy. However, it was also very choppy over the first few races. Unless you attacked the surface you were not getting anywhere.
“I was caught out in my first race when I had the wrong bike set-up for the conditions. Hopefully that will not happen again.”
Cook could also be in line for another record tonight. He has won the last 19 heat 15 top scorer races, and if he triumphs once more he will create a sequence of 20 victories which has not been done before.
“I didn’t know that,” said Cook.” That is pretty mental, but it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is we collect all three match points. We are doing well in the league and we need to keep our form going.”
Monarchs are also on league duty at Rye House Rockets tomorrow night and will be without Theo Pijper who is away on a World Longtrack engagement. For Cook the incentive to do well in both fixtures, in addition to contesting the Premier League Fours at Peterborough on Sunday, is vitally important ahead of his World Cup debut for Team GB against Denmark, Sweden, and USA at King Lynn’s Norfolk Arena on Monday.
If Team GB don’t win the tie outright they will go forward to a race-off in Prague three days later to fight for a place in the final. But Cook is only interested in bringing back gold.
He said: “It’s all about gold. Silver and bronze are consolations. I think we can get to the final and claiming gold would give me no greater pleasure.”
Cook cannot wait to take on the likes of triple world champion Nicki Pedersen and USA legend Greg Hancock among others, adding: “There is no pressure on me – let the pressure be on them. I’m just going there to do my own thing as I do in every meeting.
“Team GB have given me my big chance and I’ve now got to prove I deserve it. Whatever happens it is going to be a great experience and can only make me a better rider for the future.”