Young Coles backed to thrive in a role first filled by his grandad

Mark Westley Photography'Mildenhall Fen Tigers press day.'Connor Coles ANL-150324-084731009
Mark Westley Photography'Mildenhall Fen Tigers press day.'Connor Coles ANL-150324-084731009

Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ Kevin Jolly has insisted he had no qualms about letting young Connor Coles follow in his grandfather’s footsteps to become the team’s next captain.

The Exeter-born rider has replaced Danny Halsey, who informed bosses at West Row of his desire to relinquish the responsibility in a bid to rediscover his form.

And promoter Jolly, on the end of stinging criticism from Birmingham Brummies’ team manager this week, said he believes Coles will flourish as Halsey’s replacement , as he takes on the mantle in 2016 that continues a family line of captains at Mildenhall, with his grandfather Bob the first to have the role at the Tigers.

“Danny told us that he didn’t want to be captain anymore. It was just proving too much,” explained Jolly.

“We wanted to move the captaincy around and most people would have thought that Jon Armstrong was the logical choice. But, having spoken to Jon, we will still have all of his experience and leadership without needing to give him the title.

“We are keen to relieve the tension on all of our riders and we believe giving it to Connor will do that for him. As far as we are concerned he is the right person for the job.”

At the age of 21, Jolly is aware there were more experienced alternatives but he is confident he will thrive.

“There is no doubt in my mind the right decision has been made. We are very comfortable with the verdict we’ve reached, regardless of Connor’s age,” added Jolly.

“We really like the atmosphere he created towards the end of last season. He and manager Rob Henry have the same outlook on things and that fits in well with the team.

“There were times last year when I felt Connor was worrying too much about his riding, so this gives him something a bit extra to focus his attention on. His age won’t be an issue.”

Having made a full recovery from the multiple leg break he suffered towards the back end of 2014 , Coles has jetted off to Australia along with co-rider Jack Smith for a four-month training stint.

“This is a great honour for me and one I am proud of and can assure everyone I will take it very seriously,” he said.

“I am, of course, aware my grandad was the first Fen Tigers captain and that makes it a little more special. I look forward to meeting up with my team mates when I return and can’t wait to get racing.”

Meanwhile, Jolly has refused to be drawn on criticism aimed in his direction by Birmingham Brummies team manager Graham Drury regarding last year’s Rider of the Season Tom Bacon’s recent switch from the Tigers to the Perry Barr Stadium.

Drury was reported by outlets in the Midlands to have described Jolly as being “inexperienced”, but when offered the chance to reply, Jolly opted not to pass comment.

n Meanwhile, former Fen Tiger Jack Kingston has signed for Cradley Heathens.