Edinburgh MONARCHS’ top rider Craig Cook has hinted that fears he may end up out of pocket could prompt him into a U-turn over his decision to quit the Premier League for the Elite League in 2014.
However, the 26-year-old Cumbrian admits that if he wants to progress in the sport, he needs to be riding against better and faster riders in countries like Poland and Sweden, something he would be unlikely to do if he stayed in the UK’s lower, but ultimately more competitive, second tier.
Cook confessed he is facing a big dilemma and told the Evening News: “I don’t really know what to do. I have had mixed comments from a few people over whether I should go up or remain in the Premier League.
“I want to progress in speedway and to do that I need to be riding against the best riders in the world, and that means racing in Poland and the like. However, I don’t want to leave myself with no money because I have heard about guys not getting paid in Poland and at this stage of my career I certainly can’t afford for that to happen.
“I have got some great sponsors right now who help me and they are the main reason I’m riding so well at the moment, but I’m not standing on my own two feet.”
Cook is mindful that if he leaves the Premier League behind, he faces a drastic reduction in domestic meetings. He would have to redress that by seeking deals with clubs overseas.
“The Elite League in Britain doesn’t offer enough matches really, and I would have to make sure I’m in top form for the start of next year if I decide to move up.
“It would be a challenge, but one I think I’m willing to take. Perhaps if I do Sweden I could double up in the UK and give Poland a miss until 2015.”
Cook revealed he was in Sweden last week for talks with a prospective team. “I don’t know if I’ll be signing for them for this season or next,” he said. “At the start of this year I had 85 meetings pencilled in for the UK alone, so it would be quite hectic if I decided to ride in Sweden as well.
“It might be better if I left it as an option for next year.
“I’ve also had clubs on to me from Poland and that is the next step for me and I intend to fly out later this year to have a look at things in Poland. I spoke to Birmingham’s Chris Harris at Belle Vue last week and I’m going out with him.
“He said I can have a blast round on his bikes after one of the meetings.
“I get on well with Chris and it’s great he is willing to go out of his way to help me.”
After his fourth place in the British Final last month, Cook seems certain to be picked for the Grand Prix qualifiers in 2014, which would represent another major stepping stone along the road to becoming a more accomplished performer.
He said: “I am ambitious and hopefully I will get noticed for the GP qualifiers, I wanted to do them this year, but didn’t get selected. I think I have improved and deserve it.
“I don’t want to be an average Joe – I want to make a name for myself in this sport and if I don’t get picked for the GP qualifiers I’ll be very disappointed.”
For now at least, Cook is concentrating all his focus on steering Monarchs to the Premier League play-offs in the autumn, but he is also hoping to get a call-up for the Team GB World Cup squad to ride at King’s Lynn on July 15, a decision his Belle Vue team manager Jason Attwood insists should be a no-brainer.
“Craig has been in dazzling form for Edinburgh so far and tops the Premier League averages,” said Attwood.
“Craig has been untouchable in that division, but showed he could mix it with the best riders at the British Final.
“Obviously [new British champion] Tai Woffinden and Chris Harris will be automatic choices for King’s Lynn, but if Craig isn’t in the squad I’d like to know who is better at the moment.
“Craig will give 110 per cent and won’t have any problems having been so busy guesting for other clubs recently. He looks after himself very well in terms of fitness.”
Monarchs return to league action against Redcar Bears at Armadale on Friday. New averages came into effect at the weekend, which sees Max Fricke drop down to reserve swapping places with Jozsef Tabaka, who moves into the main body of the team.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Davey, who broke his wrist in Monarchs’ 61-32 League Cup win at Glasgow, says he is hoping to be back for Monarchs’ live Sky Sports clash at Somerset Rebels on Tuesday, even though doctors have told him he faces a four-week lay-off.