Report by Cameron Stansfield & Les Parkinson of www.elimarpigeons.com
The first race of the 2007 season for the National Flying Club was flown last Saturday when the super entry of 6,722 birds was liberated from Fougeres at 7.15am in a light west wind. Given the strength of the wind this was always going to be a race which favoured fanciers east of centre but to counter balance this there was an excellent send from fanciers to the western side of the country with, for example, over 800 birds heading up into Section J and over a thousand into Section L.
Lee Jackson with his National winner.
The success of the race can be gauged by the comment of NFC secretary Sid Barkel who told us that this was the highest percentage of verifications he had ever seen. A contributory factor in this must be the fantastic transporters, which have been improved upon by replacing the metal crate floors with wire mesh. The temperature was modest on Saturday but the full benefit of the air conditioning and 8ft of drinking trough per crate will surely be felt when the convoy head deeper into France this summer. Also worth recording was the excellent entry off 477 birds into Section D, historically the least favoured of all the Sections. This entry will be of great encouragement to Section D committee representatives Nobby Henley and Paul Naum who have worked tirelessly to see this Section grow. Indeed Paul provided cash sponsorship for Section D in this race. No doubt another contributory factor to the excellent birdage was the fact that fanciers could withhold their entry forms until the Monday prior to race-marking, allowing them to monitor the likely wind conditions. Judging by the number of Section winners in this report which are going to be sent back to the next race from Cholet, it could be a bumper send. If you are planning to use the Lion Brewery at Ash their marking times will now be from 12 noon to 4pm, and also the Bell Inn at Chichester are to change from 3.15pm to 6.15pm for all races. Please note, if you are not already aware, that you can track the path of the leading pigeons as they work their way up country by monitoring www.nationalflyingclub.co.uk, which provides a brilliant insight, and also a full report plus photos will appear on www.elimarpigeons.com by the Monday or Tuesday following each National race.
Section Summary: A 393 birds/61 members; B 447/57; C 191/25; D 477/90; E 1,139/128; F 101/18; G 509/78; H 290/49; I 518/54; J 838/114; K 757/87; L 1,062/156; Totals 6,722 917.
Marking Station Summary: Alveley 614 birds/85 members; Ash 797/90; Ashby-de-La Zouche 311/35; Bell Inn, 716/99; Crewe 1,450/196; Exeter 545/97; Frome 825/125; G Shelford 701/103; Sheffield 763/87; Totals 6,722/917.
Thursday: All birds were fed and watered at marking stations, except Sheffield due to early marking. Their birds were given a light feed in mid-afternoon during driver’s break. We did not arrive at the docks until late evening.
Friday: Arrived Cherbourg at 0615hours. Vehicles parked up for two and a half hours and water put on for the duration. We arrived at the liberation site at 1140hours and water was put on immediately; birds were given a full feed and re-watered at 1415hours. This task was completed by 1545hours. The weather at the time was rain. Spoke to race advisor at 1555hours; he said we should have a good chance of a liberation on Saturday morning. After a discussion he said he would call on Saturday morning. Birds were checked at 1815hours and water topped-up. Birds were checked again at 2030hours and all was well, with birds very comfortable and some lying down and resting. They were then left to settle for the night. With the new floors in the crates the birds are kept very clean and not messed-up.
Saturday: Out and about at 0500hours. Topped-up water and checked birds and all was well. Race advisor called at 0615hours with a good line of flight and left it with me to decide when I thought conditions were right at the liberation sight. Weather on site was getting better by the minute with blue sky and sunshine. I made the decision to liberate. The strings were cut and the birds were away at 0715hours, clearing the site within two minutes. Travelling back to Cherbourg the visibility was very good with blue sky and broken cloud. On arrival at Cherbourg the visibility was good on the Channel; 15 miles+.
Many thanks to Paul, Ian and Mark for all their help and hard work. Well done, lads. And thanks also for the help we received at some marking stations. - Geoff Allen, Chief Convoyer N.F.C.
Now onto the race, and the honour of winning 1st Section E, 1st Open goes to Peter Jackson & son Lee of Bromley in Kent, and Lee had this to say: ‘We fly as P. Jackson & Son, Peter being my father, although my son Joe and I are the main active members of our success, that’s not forgetting my wife Claire and my 13 year old daughter Kitty who also rallies to the cries of help when the work load is hectic. I guess you could say it’s a family affair. I have raced pigeons since a child alongside my father, grandfather and uncle flying both north and south routes. I've named the pigeon 'The Outlaw Cock’. He is v. d. Fleas x Jos Thone ‘Sumo’ line. Sire is Mr Purdy and the dam is Miss Inquisitive, who was bred for stock by me. She is a direct daughter of 'Sumo's Prince' purchased by me from Jos Thone who escaped and returned approx 260 miles back to Jos' loft in bad weather. He is a 2y cock on full widowhood, exercised morning and night and fed a good quality widowhood mix and not broken down. Prior to this he had 5 races to 167 miles inland taking 1st Club, 2nd Surrey Federation beaten by 3ypm in an east wind, the winner being 32 miles to the south-west of us. This was his second race on the widowhood. On arrival he was roaring and he never left his bowl for at least an hour and his hen was standing on him. Contentment is the word. As to where he will go next, I find this a big stumbling block as the channel can be a ‘graveyard’, then I ask myself how do you create a true champion? His parents are still breeding in the stock loft. I bred the mother myself and have a nucleus of pigeons around these lines. Retiring him to stock for financial gain? Anyone who knows me will agree I'm not in it for the money – it’s a religion - and a champion is my and every fancier’s dream! Can history repeat itself or lightning strike twice? The old saying, If you're not innit you can’t win it comes to mind so watch this space. The pigeon is only part of the process of success - effort and commitment are just as important. From this race I am one short out of 15 and my ambition is to build a team of consistent channel pigeons and compete at all distances including on the International scene. Some of our major positions won prior to this are: 6th Old Hens NFC; 17th and 21st twice young bird national NFC; 1st SMT combine Plymouth YB with 12 in the first 20 positions. The following year, 2nd and 4th SMT combine Yelverton YB; 3rdOpen LSECC Bergerac OB & 4th Open LSECC Cholet. This week I won the inland race. I was beaten last week with one of my own pigeons from Fougeres into 2nd Club, 5th Surrey Federation. We believe that well-bred pigeons which are super fit, healthy and most important happy, grow in confidence and go on to perform at all levels of competition. Regular checks with a competent veterinary surgeon are so important as small underlying problems, which are not obvious to us, can have a detrimental effect on form, for one example, ‘thrush’. Our advice is don’t treat blind, it spells disaster. As I say, it’s a family affair. Trying to compete in all races you need help, and in this day and age the paperwork alone can be a full-time job, without taking into consideration the management of the pigeons. I’m a lucky man that my son, who is my rock re the everyday management, my wife, who keeps the paperwork in order, and my daughter, who now puts the personal touches into my young birds, give me the time to be more observant with the pigeons. I dedicate this win to my family and thanks for the help during the highs and lows, the lows being soul destroying.’
‘The Outlaw Cock’, 1st Open NFC Fougeres.
1st Section A, 3rd Open is Tracy Andrew of Brighton. Tracy has raced pigeons since his schooldays in the 1950s and gets a great deal of help from his wife. He timed a 2y gay chequer pied hen on roundabout who is bred from a family of pigeons from Terry Tregonning of South Wales. This was only her second race of the year. She flew Guernsey two weeks prior and then had a week’s rest. As a yearling she was 109th Open Bordeaux National. Tracy said he nearly missed her as she went straight up to her cock and that she was in excellent condition. She will now probably have a Guernsey race with his local club and then be re-paired for Tarbes, which it has always been his ambition to win. Indeed, when he was a national schoolboy champion in 1956 he was presented with his trophy by the Duke of Edinburgh and when the Duke asked what his ambition was, he replied, ‘To win the Pau national’, so he then had to explain what it was. Tracy, who had 3 out of his 4 entries in good time, says he races pigeons for pure enjoyment and does not pool.
1st Section A for Tracy Andrew of Brighton.
Tracy Andrew, 1st Section A.
1st Section B are Moody & Mitchell Loft 1 of Paulsgrove. They have been racing since 1994 and have two lofts, one which sends to the Federation while the other sends to the Classics and Nationals on alternative weeks. They clocked a 3y cheq pied Maurice Mattheeuws natural hen. Her sire won the Solent Fed from Exeter 5,200 birds and is now in the stock loft, and her dam has always been stock. She is the old unrung hen and has bred top winners. The majority of these pigeons go back to two pairs that were purchased in 1995. Their winner flew Kingsdown 1, missed a week and then flew Picauville two weeks before this race. She has won a few minor cards but never a first before. She was in A1 condition and was not interested in food or water. Her next race will be Cholet with the NFC. The partners sent 15 and had 13 on the day and another on Sunday. After no end of success locally they are now going after the Classic and National races, no doubt having been spurred on by being 1st, 2nd and 3rd at Sennen Cove with the CSCFC in 2001, and just last year they won the section from St Nazaire with the NFC. Gary was saying that the National is going forward with the new book and the transporters. He would like to thank his partner Dave and also wife Emily who did the training for this race.
Moody & Mitchell, 1st Section B.
Gary Riley of Dorchester, who has only been in the sport for three years, wins 1st Section C with a 2y Busschaert widowhood cock that flew Picauville and Yelverton as a prep for this. It has a few club prizes to its name and plans for where he goes next are fluid. This was an excellent performance bearing in mind the wind on the day and Gary, who had all 10 of his entries home, said that his winner was in fair condition on arrival. His ambition is to win a National.
Gary Riley, 1st Section C.
Gary Riley’s Section winner.
Andy Cridland went out of his way to cover Section D and had this to say: ‘The report for the provisional winner of Section D takes us to the leafy village of Payhembury, near Cullompton, Devon. I was met at the gates by Bob & Christine Kirby, proud winners of Section D. Their pigeon, a red chequer Pouw Broscock raced on widowhood, looked and handled superbly being apple bodied with silky smooth feathering and a lovely yellow racing eye. The parents of this pigeon were purchased at Wesley Selway’s entire clearance sale. Sire is the 800 cock, and dam Skinny 149. Wes, himself a national winner, was on hand to see the winner arrive. Bob has acquired some excellent birds from Wesley. Add to this, children from National Fideel, TC and Shadow in the purpose self-built stock and race loftsand the future looks rosy. Bob& Christine race with the Honiton club and the competitive Devon & Cornwall Continental FC. The bird has had 4 races to date, including the Devon & Cornwall Chale race, wherethe partnership will be prominent in the final result. Bob feels this organisation is a must for tuning birds for the nationals. This is their first year back racing old birds since 1990, and they timed3 pigeons, getting 10 out of 13 home by Sunday. It was a tough race in these parts witha south-west wind, but the good pigeons made short work of it, a 1300ypm velocity proving this. Bob& Christine would like to thank the NFC and its convoyers for an excellent race, and I would like to thank the partnership for the opportunity to see a marvellous set up with beautiful views across the Culm Valley.’
Bob & Christine Kirby, 1st Section D.
1st Section F went to Gordon Seeney of Didcot, a fancier for over 40 years, who clocked a yearling roundabout hen of Berlangee Delbar x Jannsen lines. A previous winner of 3rd club Picauville, she was in good condition on arrival and will now be aimed at NFC Cholet a week Saturday. Gordon, whose returns were 50 per cent, has previously won 1st North East Section Southern Classic and 3rd Section Young Bird National. Asked for his ambition, he replied: ‘Must do better!’
Gordon Seeney, 1st Section F.
1st Section G goes to Trevor & Simon Cocks of Bath, a father and son partnership with 66 years’ combined experience between them. They timed a yearling hen sent sitting eggs 10 days and she is from a Janssen sire and a Barker hen. She took 4th Club Littlehampton as a young bird and flew Minstead and Chale with the Bath South Road prior to this. Although she was in excellent condition they said she knew she had had a race so they are undecided where she will go next. Their returns were 4 from 4. They have two ambitions: to time a pigeon from Palamos and to win an open be it National or Classic. They have now recorded back-to back section wins having won 1st Section G in the 2006 Young Bird Chale race.
Trevor Cocks holding the Section G winner and Simon Cocks holding last year’s Young Bird National section winner.
Lo and behold NFC committee member Trevor Harris does it again by winning Section H for the sixth time. Trevor, who races with his father and mother to their loft in Colchester, is a relative newcomer to the sport having only raced since 1999. He used to fly both north and south but in 2006 turned his attentions solely to the south and how it has paid off. His timer is a son of ‘96’, one of his best pigeons, winner of the Essex & Suffolk Border Fed in 2000. Trevor says he was always his first pigeon home but would sit on the wires and wait for others and, but for that, would have won may more races. The Section winner is a Louella Willy van Houtte and has been consistent without scoring before. Trevor had high hopes for him last year but he came back injured from a race from Exeter. He always gives his pigeons a second chance and he set him up for this on chipping eggs. He went to Tilbury 43 miles on April 10th, Eastbourne 90 miles on April 21st, BICC Falaise on the 28th April and Eastbourne on the 12th May. In A1 condition on arrival, he will now be going to NFC Cholet. Trevor won Section H twice in 2004, and three times in 2006, and it is his ambition to win the open in the NFC, which he regards as the number 1 club in the UK. He finished by saying: ‘I believe in keeping the birds fit and healthy and use Travipharma products; many fanciers spend thousands on pigeons but little on supplements. And always give a bird a second chance. Surley now I must be rated one of the best, if not the best flyer in Norfolk & Suffolk.’
Trevor Harris, 1st Section.
Trevor Harris’ Section H after he was injured as a youngster.
Another fancier who is no stranger to winning his Section is Jeremy Wright of Lutterworth in Section I. Indeed he was 1st Old Hens National 2002 from Guernsey, a race in which he has won the section for 5 consecutive years, and he has had 7 x 1st sections in all. Showing he can race cocks, too, he clocked a 4y widowhood grizzle cock called ‘The Ghost’, so named because he was found in the loft from a previous NFC race. His sire is the old original Halterman cross Willy Thas, and his dam is a FVW that came from Brian Leabeater of Rugeley; this hen also bred the 2005 section winner which, coincidentally, was also from Fougeres. ‘The Ghost’, who was 4th Section, 39th Open Saintes in 2006 and has won minor club prizes, had a couple of inland races before this and, all being well, will go to Cholet with the NFC. Jeremy had 10 out of 12 on the day and said that although ‘The Ghost’ had put everything in he came home in very good condition. He would like to acknowledge Frank Tasker’s advice and help in establishing his Halterman family for without this help he would not be in the strong position that he is today with his excellent team of National performance pigeons.
Jeremy Wright, 1st Section I – again!
Mr & Mrs Geoff Kirland come out on top in Section J timing a 3y widowhood cock who is half Flor Engels and half their old breed. A previous winner of minor prizes plus 3rd Section Midland National, he had three Mangotsfields and two Hullavington prior to this, Geoff being a believer in frequent racing so that a bird develops basket craft. They had 9 out of 10 in no time and asked about their condition, Geoff said: ‘Perfect - all of them’. They will now be targeted at NFC Cholet. I asked Geoff at the NFC Annual Dinner in Southport 18 months ago if he was still as keen as ever and he replied, ‘Keener’. I would not bet against him adding to his tally of 10 x 1st Nationals, 6 x 2nds and 5 x 3rds. Has there ever been a better fancier? A full profile on his methods can be found on www.elimarpigeons.com under the articles section.
The loft of Mr & Mrs Geoff Kirkland.
We now come to another top loft, that of Peter Hagland of Doncaster. Peter clocked two in a minute and four inside 11 minutes to carry on the sort of golden form he enjoyed in 2006. In fact he has now won Section K in the last three NFC races, his other wins being from Chale Young Birds where he was 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th & 13th Section, and 1st & 2nd Saintes, 2nd & 3rd Open timing two hens 7 seconds apart after 530 miles! As with Geoff Kirkland, a comprehensive loft report on Peter can be found on www.elimarpigeons.com under the articles section. He races both widowhood cocks and hens and on this occasion timed a yearling chequer cock who is half Herman and half Janssen and he is nestmate to the one that won the section in the young bird Chale race with the NFC. He had 5 races down to the coast but these were training tosses really as Peter only has a clock set for the Nationals. He says the cock was in brilliant condition on arrival and he will be going to NFC Alencon next, which is some way off; he likes to plan everything out and does not give his birds too much work. Peter’s second pigeon was 3rd Open in the MNFC at Alencon in 2006. Peter had 22 out of 25 on the day and, after 5 x 1st Sections, his ambition is now to win a National outright. He says pigeon racing is all about keeping the pigeons healthy and preparing them for set races.
Peter & Cynthia Hagland, 1st Section K for the third race running.
1st Section L goes to Henry Gray of Rochdale flying 366 miles. He has been flying since 2000 so is a comparative newcomer to the sport. His timer is a blue w/f yearling M & D Evans Vandenabeele hen, her dam being out of Jester & Carrie and her sire being out of Gaby 600. The system used here is to race the sexes separately but they were left together after they returned from the previous week’s race. This hen was unraced as a youngster as Henry doesn’t usually race hens but he’s glad he did for the 2007 season! He said his hen was in such good condition he couldn’t believe it. This was his first race with the NFC and the aim now is to win the National.
Henry Gray, 1st Section L.
All in all this was a brilliant race for the National, which augurs well for the rest of the season.