If ever there was any doubt about the magic of racing with the National Flying Club the Ancenis race flown on the 16th June would sum it all up. Fanciers from all over the country competing against each other with the top of the leader board changing as the birds went further up country. As the race reached its climax it developed into a real nail biter, with the top three open positions all on the same velocity split on decimals and to indicate the fairness of the race, all three were winners of three separate sections with 70 miles between them. What a great race!
Eventually, the winner was John Crehan racing as Crehan & O’Connor from Salford in Manchester
who had sent only one pigeon which had arrived ten minutes earlier than expected, pitched on to the roof and when the dropper was deployed, went over the ETS pad. John verified online and worked out his velocity but did not receive a confirmation email, nor was he put into the result and at the time Adams Bros from section J were leading. John knew it was very close so a phone call to the Secretary confirmed his verification number and after a few minutes his bird was placed top of the provisional result but only by two tenths of a yard over Adams Bros in Section J and R M Taylor in section I was very close too. Gerry Clements from the NFC Committee was asked to verify the pigeon and after the usual checks, he informed Sid all was in order but for John it all became very real. “He’s on the ceiling” as handshake in congratulations left John sky high in anticipation.
Two seconds split the first three, so it was all down to the clock check and any variations that may have occurred since marking. John knew that although he was using ETS it could still pull up a second either way, so when he went to the clock station in the evening, he stood over the printer watching the recorded times appear and most importantly, the variation. Yes! He shouted, and fist punched the air as it proved his clock was dead on. But he realised he could still be beaten as Adams Bros clock could have pulled up a second fast and he would not know for some time, so the nail biting continued. But it transpired that John could celebrate his very first NFC win after only three previous attempts and he was over the moon with excitement having succeeded with his single entry, now called “Solo Warrior.”
John has been a very successful sprint/inland flyer for years until he decided to sell all his best birds due to personal reasons, but shortly after whilst at the Sun City One Loft final, he met Jan Hooymans who offered to supply John with youngsters to race as a partnership with a target of winning a National within five years. John accepted and although National racing was new to him, he relished the challenge and began to study the competitions available. One that sparked his interest was the “Deduif UK” competition, where the overall champion was decided by the lowest coefficient over five categories based on distance. The first year the UK was included in the competition it was won by GWP Macaloney, the year after by Prince Bros and John has set his sights on this title for 2018.
Any fancier who wishes to enter “Deduif UK”can calculate his coefficient by taking 100, divided by the number of birds in the race, times by the position won in the race and times that again by the number of pigeons the fancier entered. The resulting number is the coefficient and the lowest coefficient wins. A coefficient is then submitted for each category with them all being added together to decide the overall winner. It’s a real test of skill where the small team fancier can actually gain an advantage over some of the bigger teams. John had planned his season by studying the race programs available to him with a view to obtaining the best possible coefficient in each category. The race he needed for the long-distance category which has to be over 425 miles, is Sigogne with the NFC, which is around 540 miles to him.
He knew he had an excellent candidate and that it would be beneficial to his coefficient to send only one, so he decided to send him to Ancenis in preparation for Sigogne, as an eight-hour race is what John felt he needed.
But now that he has won the preparation race he is left with a dilemma, because the distance raced from Ancenis is just short of the required 425 miles by 189 yards! Should he send him on? it is a huge decision to make considering the perils faced by our birds on the route home, and a quandary that John is now considering.
John races the double widowhood system, and for the inland races both the cocks and their hens are sent. But he lost the hen mated to “Solo Warrior” during a race, so he repaired him to another which was left with him over night before going to the marking station. His previous race was from Cheltenham, a distance of 107 miles which was three weeks before going to the National and he was fed with a diet mixture in the mornings with widowhood mix in the evenings. Fats were added for the last few feeds and John could see his form increase but towards the end he was not eating as much as normal which worried John a little. A few phone calls to prominent long-distance fanciers reassured him all was OK and that it is often the case when a bird is fully fuelled up for the job ahead which proved to be correct.
The Jan Hooyman pigeons have Gabby Vandenebelle, Koopman and Van Dyke bloodlines as their base and John says they are the best pigeons he has ever raced. He called Jan whilst he was on holiday in Argentina and he was thrilled. The year they met Jan won the £100K car in Sun City and dove into the pool fully dressed in celebration, so his excitement overflows when his pigeons do well in tough competition. John has a great relationship with Jan and hopes to achieve much more in return for the faith Jan has shown in his abilities.
His previous sprint pigeons would have given their all by the 150-mile stage but the Hooymans are unphased by the distance and are clapping around after 400 miles so he knows he can get more out of them, and is confident of yet another low coefficient from the 540-mile race from Sigogne on the 21st of July with the National Flying Club.
John would like to congratulate the other section winners and although he came out on top, it was very close and either one could have won. He has tremendous respect for the other fanciers “Adams Bros have been phenomenal for years and are always ones to look out for on National results” he said but he is pleased to scoop the first prize of £1000 as well as the £1000 Open race prize money and having only just begun channel racing, he has had a dream fortnight by also winning the RPRA North West Region all combine race from Carentan and 3rd section BICC from Poitiers. Good luck with your decision John, I don’t envy that one mate.
News and Views to Chris Sutton 01530 242548