Edinburgh Monarchs’ new reserve signing Rob Branford made an eye-catching home debut against Glasgow Tigers on Friday and today promised: “There is better to come.”
The 21-year-old racer, who possesses confidence and battling qualities in abundance, scored eight points from his five starts and was influential in helping Monarchs maintain their grip on the Spring Trophy against their oldest rivals.
It is reckoned that reserve riders in the Premier League this season may hold the key to teams making the play-offs, and Branford could be the ace in the pack for the Capital outfit who are defending all three major trophies in the second tier in 2015.
Branford, who hails from Adelaide, told the Evening News: “To be honest you go into every meeting expecting to win every race. I know what I’m capable of doing and believe I can do it every week if not more. Don’t get me wrong I was very happy with how I rode against Glasgow and it exceeded my expectations.
“I thought before the match I could score six points which I would have been happy with, to get eight was really good.”
On a track which was pretty greasy due to heavy overnight rain, Branford attacked the track at Armadale with some gusto and is set to become something of a thrill maker.
He said: “I didn’t mind the conditions at all, they suited me and there was an outside racing line which helped me. I found my way round that line and the boys in the pits were telling me the best lines to take and how the track surface was changing and the best set-ups to use.
“They were great and that’s a big part as to how you ride. If you have good people around you who cheer you on, I think that helps massively.”
Branford enters the Monarchs squad on a average of three points, but has no intention of stagnating on that mark. “Definitely not,” he said. “I’d like to chuck three points on my average over the course of this season but I know it’s not going to be a walk in the park. I know I’m capable of achieving it and feel I’m riding better now than ever before.
“As long as I can steer clear of injury and get my gating sorted out, that’s the big thing for me. I know I can beat anyone in the world if I gate in front of them. I didn’t gate too badly against the Tigers but I need to be more consistent. You can’t afford to miss any starts, that’s when I struggle a bit. I have a few decent starts then I miss one.
“It makes things a lot harder if you don’t get out of the start and easier if you do.
“I think that will come eventually. I never blame set-ups or anything like that for my gating. I’m the one riding the bike and telling my mechanic Liam what to do. But Friday was a very good starting point for me and I can’t see myself going backwards really.”
Branford, whose dad Darrell rode for Monarchs three decades ago, is aware of the attention he may get over his performances because of his pivotal role, alongside partner Max Clegg, at the tail-end.
“You’ll hear a lot this year about how important the reserves might be, but you can’t let that get to you. Every time I ride I give 150 per cent, and if I do that in every meeting I can leave with my head held high whether I’ve had a bad meeting or a good one.
“I’m not worried who I’m against. I have got the speed whether I’m opposing a No.1 or No.7.”
Branford’s arrival wasn’t a surprise to those in the know, and he revealed: “I actually got in touch with Edinburgh and e-mailed promoter John Campbell asking if I could ride for them. He offered me a deal and I said yes straight away, I didn’t try to budge him too much! I’m just happy to be riding for Edinburgh because I think I can go well round Armadale, and that’s a key thing to me.”
When reminded that Armadale is considered a technical circuit by some, Branford replied: “I actually like technical tracks, I ride better on them. I’m a young lad and I don’t like armchair tracks where whoever has the fastest engine is going to win.
“Armadale is a racer’s track with inside and outside racing lines. The dirt is always consistent and always well prepared and the starts are always grippy too. I don’t know what else you could wish for in a speedway track to be honest. I just love the place.”
And by the response he received from the terraces on Friday night, the Monarchs supporters already love the daring Branford.