Pirates team boss Neil Middleditch insists Pirates can handle the pressure of being made the bookies’ favourites for SGB Premiership title glory. Poole were rated 7/2 favourites for play-off success by Sky Bet when the odds were released a fortnight ago, figures which have since shortened to 6/4. And with punters favouring the Wimborne Road club, team boss Middleditch is confident his septet can deliver when the league campaign starts in 19 days.
“Poole supporters come up to me and say they love the look of the team” he said “and that opinion is clearly having an effect at the bookies. It’s nice to be made favourites, I suppose. Does it put pressure on us? I don’t think so. We’ve had that pressure before and handled it.”

“I wouldn’t have thought any of the other teams would be scared. If they were asked, they would say they fear no one. If you were worried about the opposition, you wouldn’t race. You just take one meeting at a time. We all have similar respect for each other, no matter what team we are racing against.”
“I certainly think we have a team capable of winning the title but it’s a long season and things can happen. If we can keep everybody safe, we will be there or thereabouts, that’s for definite.”
Poole will be spearheaded by Aussie charger Brady Kurtz, who yesterday touched down in Britain, alongside former world champion Chris Holder and two-time Elite League winner Josh Grajczonek. Grand Prix reserve Linus Sundstrom, Polish pair Kacper Woryna and Mateusz Szczepaniak and Dorset racer James Shanes complete the septet.

Pirates boss Matt Ford has labelled the side his strongest in four years and Middleditch agrees there are plenty of riders who can score big. He said: “When we had the Darcy Ward-Chris Holder combination we were pretty potent. No disrespect to any of the boys in the team last year but we lacked an out-and-out 12 or 15-point man.”
“This year, we have a team of riders in which four or five of them have the potential to score 10 or more points a meeting.”
Asked about rival line-ups he had been impressed by, Middleditch added: “Rye House look quite decent and they are very dangerous at home. But it’s early days, let’s allow everyone to settle in, get their racing legs back and then we’ll have another look at it. Every team is capable of doing something but it’s a long season.”
Some 48 hours after press and practice, Poole’s 70th anniversary meeting will open the season at Wimborne Road on Friday, March 23.
The meeting will present an ideal opportunity for members of the new septet to get back in race mode ahead of the league opener at Wolverhampton the following Monday.
Anniversary meeting field to date: Hans Andersen, Nico Covatti, Josh Grajczonek, Chris Holder, Niels-Kristian Iversen, Frederik Jakobsen, Nicolai Klindt, Brady Kurtz, Bjarne Pedersen, Linus Sundstrom, Mateusz Szczepaniak, Kacper Woryna.