by Drew Callan, Press Officer

Old Bird Falaise National - September 2014

This year in conjunction with the young bird race The National Flying Club gave its members the opportunity to enter old cocks alongside old hens in the old bird national. The convoy was liberated as a whole with the young birds and old birds all up together with the young birds hopefully being able to draw on the prior experience of the old birds in the convoy when it came to facing the water. Like many fanciers I have long held the belief that the old hens’ race was just an opportunity to pull a few old hens out of their duties as widowhood hens, give them a few chucks with the young birds and drop them into the race basket. Last year I think I mentioned that I was impressed at the single minded focus, not to mention skill that was needed to hold old birds in feather and condition this long, and this year the result only goes to show how true this is. The lead birds clocked this year have, without exception, been earmarked for this race all season and most have been in race mode since April and that takes skill and decent birds.

With the conditions and wind on the day it was clear that the lead birds would be out to the west and this is where we found the winner, but a few game birds found and held a line that allowed the lofts on the western side of the Solent to stamp a bit of authority over the proceedings.

There cannot be many members who are hoping for an east wind in a channel race in September, but then there are probably not many members with the approach and mindset of the winner of the Old Birds national. The loft claiming the top spot of 1st Section C and 1st Open is a West Country legend and pigeon pin up the one and only Mike Staddon. Mike clocked a 6 year old hen now called Falaise Queen to clock up the 3rd National win of his career and although he has lost count of the exact number he believes that this is the 34th 1st Section C win that has dropped on to the loft.

Falaise Queen was raced on pure widowhood all the way through the old bird season from start to end and Mike had picked her out to be one of 16 8 cocks and 8 hens that he was going to keep ticking over and be prepared for the old bird national. As with the other hens, she was kept on her toes with 4 races in the Combine with the young birds and then sent on the nest to the race. In the end Mike selected what he thought were the best 10 of the initial 16 to the race and his wealth of experience and faith in the ability of his birds meant that they were sent with a quiet confidence that with a bit of luck, which Mike got with the east wind, the loft would have a good race. History now shows the strength of Mike’s convictions and confidence, when Falaise Queen swung round the loft 24 minutes ahead of the hoped for ETA. She was still full of fly and had used her wealth of channel experience and the pull of her first nest in quite a few months to get her nose to the front of the pack and keep it there. She is, as you can imagine, bred from the right stuff. Her father is bred by Chris Gordon of Snydale fame and her mother was bred by Mike’s good friend Sheldon Leonard.

To underline the confidence with which the team were basketed Mike had 3 others close up behind to finish very high up in the section, so his instinct was right. The birds are fed on a range of Versela Laga corn depending on the job being asked of them at any particular time. Mike is an advocate of natural health and resistance in the birds and supports this with the use of all natural products and supplements such as cider vinegar. These are purchased in the local supermarket as Mike feels they are of top quality as they are for human consumption and more importantly as there isn’t a picture of a pigeon on the bottle they are more realistically priced and still do the same job.

Mike would like to congratulate the winners in the sections in both races as each bird home had to work hard. He would also like to thank Trevor Cracknell and his team for the excellent job they did in very trying conditions; his birds were in excellent condition which helped them with the task that lay ahead of them. He would like to give special mention to his club mates and friends Brian and Christine Frost who are always willing to get the birds to marking for him and to the team at Frome marking who do an excellent job of putting the birds through.

Claiming runner up spot and topping their section we have J Atrill and Sons who notch up 1st Section B and 2nd Open. The partnership now consists of the two sons, Kenny and Martin who race a team of birds that they have moulded themselves from a range of good honest birds. Their winning pigeon is a 2010 Mealy hen. She was lightly raced as a young bird and won the club at Falaise this year during the old bird racing programme and also claimed 2nd Carentan in club so she knows her way across the water. Her grandmother is a Delbar bred by the Natural Breeding Station, and her grandfather is a Verhaagen brought by their late father Mr J Attrill as a stock bird and has bred many club winners and fed positions. Her mother was the brothers’ best racer in the loft as a young bird winning 1st club and 50th fed from Fourgeres out of 1,670 birds; she has also had wins from inland along the coast from Kingsdown and Exeter and good positions from France as a yearling. Unfortunately she was badly injured in France and is now retired from racing which might turn out to be a godsend. Her father was a red cock bred from a Dave Sherry hen and Martin Norman cock that the partnership bought in 2007.

Kenny and Martin Atrill doing their dad proud

Taking 3rd Open and 1st Section G we have Sheldon Horn. He would like to send his congratulations to Mike Staddon on winning the OB race, and said although no one likes a hold over the birds returned in good condition, allaying the fears of many fanciers.

I told Sheldon to include anything he wanted and he hasn’t let me down!! He would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people. He only flys with the National Flying Club and the Devon, Cornwall and West Somerset Continental Flying Club, a club which is growing from strength to strength with about 80 members. It was initially set up with National racing in mind and a big thank you must go to John and Sandy Westicott, his club secretaries for the fantastic job they have done. Secondly to Geoff Every who used to race pigeons and anyone in the south-west will know he was a first class pigeon man. Geoff gave up his time to clock Sheldon’s pigeons for this race as he had to work and is hoping he might get bitten by the pigeon bug again as he is missed in the sport. 

Sheldon and Rosie Horn

Sheldon flies just outside of Section D and this was a good race for the clock station with Paul Naum taking 1st section 6th open in the old birds and Dan Hockings taking 2nd section 12th open in the YB race - this is Dan’s second season and I’m sure he will win the NFC very soon. He says with stiff completion like this it only drives you on to keep trying harder and he is delighted to have won 1st Section G. The birds are initially flown to a sort of roundabout system, with no strict regime, allowing them to go together when they need more motivation and moved to a different loft for pairing as the season progresses to the longer races. Sheldon’s first bird was a hen called Quantock Daisy. She has flown consistently well this year. Trained in the club, her first National race being Messac and then Saintes where she timed in to be 157th open. She was home bred from a red cock from Mike Gore’s 1st and 4th NFC Vire which Sheldon purchased from him many years ago and they have produced some good results for the Horn loft including 1st  and 2nd  section D and  16th  open Saintes, crossed with a Red Hen from good friend Dave Woodland. Dave has some fantastic distance birds. The dam was from a hen gifted by Pete Clarke as an egg from his grandson of Nelly. Dave and Pete have not had their usual good seasons so it’s nice that they can put their names to this bird he says thanks guys.

Lastly a big thank you to Sheldon’s daughter Rosie, who not only helps out at the club young bird sale but also spent the day waiting in the garden and timed in his 1st bird from Tarbes. Rosie is pictured holding the now fittingly named Quantock Rosie. This is a Brugemann hen and worth a mention as she has flown in every national race this season and only been out of the top 500 once, her best results being 105th open Tarbes and 470th  open Saintes; she finished 252nd open from the same race last year. A super hen and once you can keep them past the yearling stage, he says they start to come in to their own.

Topping Section I is a loft that has made a habit out of claiming top prizes in these later old bird channel races, J D Fretwell. John clocked a stormer of a hen to win the section and to end up provisionally 4th Open as a bonus. The hen that came forJohn first from Falaise after the protracted holdover is a pure Marcel Sangers, bred from two direct Sangers pigeons.
She is definitely bred for what was asked of her, being a full sister to John’s red hen that was 1st Open BICC Guernsey in 2012, and this pair have been responsible for numerous winners at all 
levels for the loft over the years. The sire is a direct son of Flaming Red, out of a daughter of Apache, so he is a closely inbred back to Apache who was a top breeder in the Sangers loft. The dam of this pigeon is a daughter of Jumping Jack, Ace Pigeon in National Long Distance in 2005 when he was paired to a daughter of Frans Van Nistelrooy's Marianne. This hen will now go into the stock loft with her sister Simply Red the BICC winner. John would like to congratulate his fellow section winners in what was not the easiest of races, with many empty perches on the night.

John Fretwell

In 5th Open and taking bridesmaids spot with 2nd Section B we have the ultra successful loft of Mr and Mrs Waterhouse. In the past 2 years I have spoken to Dave with such regularity after the nationals that I am considering asking his to be godfather to my next child!! The biggest compliment you can pay this couple is that on race day there are a few big winning national lofts in the area who need to know the Waterhouse loft’s time before they can relax. On this occasion the first bird home for Dave and Lisa is a hen called Fontwell Lady who they purchased at the C S C F C last year in the breeder buyer. She was bred by the top loft of Crammond and Langstaff. Dave reckons it was the best £50 he has ever spent as she went on to be 3rd open 3rd section C S C F C Guernsey Y/B also winning £2000 breeder buyer so not a bad investment. Fontwell Lady has gained many positions club and National level in a very short racing career and now she has clocked up 2nd section and 5th Open Falaise. Dave was very happy to see her home as she had spent 5 days in the basket but came home in superb condition. She was sent sitting 10 day old babies which clearly kept her focused during her prolonged spell in the baskets. The partnership would like to thank all concerned in the National Flying Club for looking after the birds during their time on the lorry.

Dave Waterhouse holding Fontwell Lady

In 6th Open and topping section D we have Mr and Mrs Naum. Paul is one of the busiest men I know, balancing a full time job with being Treasurer of the NFC and more increasingly being used as Paul Hollywood’s stunt double for The Great British Bake Off. Despite all this he still finds time to compete in the nationals. Paul is the most national minded fancier I know and I am sure that if you cut him in half - and I would think there would be a few volunteers for that - you would see NFC running through him like a stick of rock. Originally from the glorious North West, Paul now lives in Somerset having moved there because he heard you got more for your money and to show the locals how to fly the channel. This year Paul has had his birds on a back to nature system with them spending a large part of their day on an open hole, with his usual focus being solely on competing in the National Flying Club. Paul is a big supporter of the Devon, Cornwall and West Somerset club which trains regularly off the south coast and the Isle of Wight in preparation for channel racing. He prepared a strong team for this race as he does every year, and this time he took advantage of being able to send cocks as well. Speaking to Paul soon after the race he was pleased with the condition that the returning birds carried, but like most of the other fanciers was looking to have a few more of his team back.

In 7th Open and 2nd Section I we have the well established national racing loft of Mr and Mrs J Passey who fly in to Appleby Magna on the Warwickshire/Derbyshire border. Unfortunately I was unable to contact them to gain any information on the bird.

Roy Guest

In 8th Open and 2nd Section G we have the loft of R Guest. Roy clocked a yearling chequer hen who was having her first ever first competitive race, so a real baptism of fire. She is a 2013 late bred bird rung last September with an old ring. She trained this year with young birds and the West of England South Road Combine to Littlehampton before being lifted in to Falaise, where she had to spend the extra time in the basket which she clearly handled very well despite her very real lack of experience. She was basketed on a two day old youngster, which kept her focused and made her eager to get home. She set a great pace and got to the front of the pack, and it resulted in Roy gaining the best result that he has had in the National. The hen is bred from descendants of birds gifted to Roy by Ted Lock of Nailsea, which Roy has tested and sorted in to a family that likes the channel on a hard day.

Martyn Yandell and his 9th Open hen

In 9th Open, and staying in section G where we have another loft taking advantage of the wind to be 3rd Section G, Martyn Yandell. Martyn only joined the national a couple of years ago as he liked the appeal of competing against the best in the country. This yearling hen was having her fourth trip over the water this year having already competed with NFC to Carentan and Messac, so there was no questioning her fitness or ability to fly the channel.

Martyn would like to thank his good friends Garth & Steve of the Wile & Lias partnership for the breeding of the bird being a Sivere Toye x Bosua. This result brought some much needed cheer to the Yandell household as only 48 hours earlier they lost their much loved Border Collie of 11 years Holly. She would always be Martyn’s side in the garden whilst waiting for the birds to return, no matter where they were racing from. Although there was much upset all the family take a big interest in the birds and were so happy to see Martyn get in the frame from this latest national and it has proved to be a tonic and something to celebrate.

Martyn would like to thank Stuart “The Hammer” Wilcox for getting the birds to marking and congratulations to all the winners in both races on the day. Also a very big well done to the convoying team as the convoyer had an extremely difficult set of circumstances to deal with and handled it admirably.

Mike Johnson

Topping out the provisional top 10 with 10th open and 3rd Section we have the lofts of M Johnson. Mike is one of those fanciers who likes to roll his sleeves up and get involved. He is currently the long standing Secretary of the Milton Homing Society and races South with the Solent Fed and North with the Southampton & District NR Fed. The little lady who brought the glory this time is a dark pied, and was bred by Steve Gilchrist, a fellow club member, out of Marcel Braakhuis birds bought in from J. Bulger, Liverpool. 

This year she has been an unraced widowhood hen throughout the OB season and was trained with the YBs with the National in mind. She has always been predominantly a widowhood hen and her racing has been irregular. She has raced from the East, West, North & South in her career being clocked from Saintes and Bergerac. This season prior to the NFC she was sent training in all the Solent Fed Young bird races up to Yelverton plus the Old Hens race from Guernsey with the CSCFC and raced on widowhood for this race. Despite the holdovers and all the driving about the hens sent by Mike took it in their stride and he had 6/6 returns on the day, and all returned in good condition.

In Mike’s view extending the OB season into September is a boon for a small team fancier such as himself and next season he will be hoping to enter Widowhood cocks as well as the hens and he is sure it will gain in popularity as fanciers start to plan for it. Let’s hope he is right.

Around The Sections

Section A

The honour of topping this section goes to A M and L Light.  Adam, the son of the partnership sent me the following information: ‘The pigeon we clocked was a 2009 bred Gaby Vandenabeele cross,  who has been a steady pigeon for us over the years, picking up the odd club and fed cards, but this is by far her most notable performance to date. The sire to the pigeon, bred by Peter Stubbs of Redhill, was brought in the excellent Horsham RPC breeder/ buyer sale in 2008, which continues to excel under the stewardship of club member Steve Vizor. The dam is a ¾ Gaby crossed with our old stock. The hen was sent to the race paired to another hen (who was also sent), and both were sent sitting a 12 day old YB. This hen along with her mate had Lyndhurst and Blandford at the start of the year, before being put away for the rest of the OB season, and then along with the other 16 sent from another section were then sent to Blandford and Kingsdown with the South Coast Federation in the YB season, prior to going to Guernsey in the BICC and then Truro with the Fed all on consecutive weeks. Unfortunately due to being at work I missed the race, but my father who plays an active part in the operation and is usually known as the “loft manager”, was present to sort out all the necessaries, for which as always I am very grateful for. I am advised that they looked tired upon arrival, but generally they looked fine by the time of my arrival in the evening and considering the extended time that they had in the basket, I was happy with their condition, which I think is testament to the facilities available and the efforts of the guys on site.’

The Section A topper for the Light partnership

2nd Section goes to the Chichester lofts of Louis Severe. Louis clocked a 2 year old grizzle hen that he bought at the CSCFC sale, and she was bred by the shy and retiring Tony Cowan. Louis races all his birds on the celibate system and doesn’t keep a very large team by most people’s standards. The hen has been described by Louis as being a steady, consistent bird who doesn’t have the head or temperament for sprinting, but will get herself nearer to the front on the slower races. On the day of the national she was in her element as the east in the wind ensured it was a real working day so she responded accordingly. This is where the luck comes into it as if the wind had been southerly and therefore dictated a faster race the hen may not have pulled off the result  that she did.

Section C

Runner up in Section C is the consistent national loft of Spracklen and Thomas. Unfortunately I was unable to contact them in time to get information for the report. The team have moulded together a very reliable team of birds to compete at national level right through to Tarbes and in recent years. Nev has added the best of the best from Mark Gilbert to improve on what he has.

Neville with 2 of his apprentices

Section D

Runner up is the Honiton loft of BP Reene and Son. I have been unable to contact them in time to be included in the report.


The Kulpa Boys


Section E

Top dogs in the mighty Section E this week is the Reading partnership of S and P Kulpa. Steve and Paul fly a consistently good pigeon at all levels and it is their ability to race hens very well that has always caught my eye. Once again in this race it is a top class, highly experienced 5 year old hen who has earned them the bragging rights. The little lady in question known as ‘70’ is already a double inland winner plus scorer of regular positions in the federation result. She has also scored well in the CSCFC, she won 5th section 16th Open classic 2 weeks ago beaten by 4 loft mates, she was also 9th section 11th open classic as well, so she is obviously a bit classy and the quality of pigeon that you need to be sending to represent you at national level. She is bred from their long established old lines of Meulemans via Ponderosa UK stud crossed with De Hough pigeons from Holland. Her full brothers and sisters have won multiple 1st prizes and scored well up to 450 miles for the partnership. At these lofts birds are fed VerseLaga corn and Aviform products are added to the water to help maintain health and vitality amongst the birds.

As with all the hens that the lads entered, they started racing in April and apart from 1 weekend they have raced every week. At the end of old bird racing, the hens are given one 30 mile training toss a week, and all other exercise is around the loft where they will fly for 45 minutes morning and evening. ‘70’ along with all out entries returned in excellent condition despite her time in the basket, so Steve and Paul would  like to say thanks to the convoyers for looking after the birds so well.

Taking the Bridesmaid’s position of 2nd Section E we have the partnership of Mr and Mrs Chaplin. The winning bird is a 2 year hen and she has earned her keep by having spent the O/B season as a widow hen. She  was having her 3rd race of the season after being paired up at the end of the O/B season and was then prepared by the partnership to compete in the series of old hen nationals and classics that are now available to fanciers. She is a Burgher/Van Loon and was one of a team of 9 that were entered, with all them having returned on the day and  all were in good condition after spending 5 days in the basket. 

Only 18 widow hens are kept for the cocks and they are kept on semi darkness and only fed barley till the end of the O/B season when they are paired and expected to compete in all 4 National channel races.

Mr and Mrs Chaplin

Section F

Taking top honours we have the Oxford loft of Leon Hall. In the corresponding race last year Leon had the birds on song and this resulted in a cavalry charge of early birds in both the old hens and young bird nationals. This year he returns to the top of the heap with another fine performance with a hen that Leon’s grandchildren have now called ‘Three Times a Lady’ as the loft has won the section in the old bird national for the past three years. The section topper and the 2 birds close behind are all Eric Ceulemans, all bred down from the Fed Cock, bred and raced by Mr N Sibley of Boston Lincs. The Fed Cock was the winner of 38 1st prizes, winner of 10 1st Feds plus RPRA Sprint Champ East Midlands in 2008, North Road.

Leon sent his birds feeding young birds for the 1st time this year, so they were very keen. The Ceulemans have been very good servants for the loft and excel at middle distance national racing, as can be seen from the fact that the loft has won the section 3 years on the trot with their old hens, plus other positions in the national races.

Team Hall Leon with his grandchildren and loft helpers


Second Section F goes to B Chupka, but unfortunately I have been unable to get any information in time for the report to be sent off.

Roger holding Little Sarah with Little Sarah

Section H

The fanciers in Section H had it all to do for this race with no favours being given by the wind. Claiming a hard fought 1st Section this week we have the loft of R Strowger. This little chequer hen, that Roger has now named ‘Little Sarah’ after the granddaughter of a friend, was purchased at the Norfolk and Suffolk Championship club fund raising night in 2011. It was donated by Colin Smith of Ipswich which was bred down from some of his national winning bloodlines. She has been a very consistent pigeon considering she is a widowhood hen during the early part of the year and then being trained with the young birds. As a young bird she was 6th club. 13th ACFC Portsmouth, 1st section, 51st open, 1st federation Guernsey 261 miles BICC. She then went back to Fougeres with the NFC, 294 miles a week later but took 3 weeks to work with her keel smashed up. As a yearling she went to Guernsey with the BICC winning 2nd section 31st open 6th NSCC. This year she was 1st Norfolk and Suffolk championship club Woking. She went back to  Guernsey with the BICC winning  1st  section, 8th  open. Then she went to Falaise with the NFC being in the basket for 5 nights a racing into a head wind north easterly winning 1st section, 54th open. She has been a busy little lady chalking up a set of impressive performances.

John Black 


Runner up, taking 2nd Section H and following on from his impressive result in the young bird national is John Black. The hen that John got from Falaise national was a blue/pied hen bred by Johnny Chipperfield of Herne bay in Kent. Both her parents were purchased from Alan Darragh of North Ireland, so she should be no stranger to hard channel racing. She didn’t have the greatest of starts to her racing career and was lost as a baby early in the season but came back towards the end. She then had three training spins and rested for the winter. This year she was left with the young birds trained with them she had four training races then across the water for the first time turning up trumps with 2nd section. She has shown what can happen if you have faith in a bird and invest some time and patience in them like John did. 

Section J

In a race like this skill, experience and time served in the trade are all of benefit, and this is definitely the case with the 1st Section J winners, Mr and Mrs Kirkland. The hen that the partnership timed in the Old bird National is a mealy 2 year old Ceulemans hen. This young girl has a bit of form and class as last year as a yearling she won 2nd section in the same race, but has gained from the experience and this year in a more trying race she went one better for pole position. She has been a very good hen right from a young bird for the Kirkland loft and has also been to Saintes this year 511 miles prior to being set up for the last national of the programme.

Barbara Kirkland holding 1st Section J


Taking the runner up spot is the Tewekesbury loft of Booth and Roper. These gentlemen are having the season of their lives, and have been in the mix in a string of national races this year. They have always been a consistent channel loft chalking up a string of performances to their lofts located on the edge of the Cotswolds, but as I said to Mr Booth when speaking to him they have really stuck their heads above the parapet over the last few seasons. The partnership sent two birds to the race and timed both within 5 minutes to take provisionally 2nd and 3rd  J section and 16th  and 21st  open. The 1st bird is a blue chequer yearling hen from the Brian Sheppard lines crossed with a Jan Aarden from LPW. She was sitting eggs but was then given a ten day old youngster on the Wednesday, the day before marking. The 2nd bird is a 5 y.o. Blue chequer hen who is bred from a Pouw Bros cock and their French hen. She raced to a youngster. Both these hens have flown with the BICC and the NFC in the last few weeks. Trevor and John would like to thank Ray, Eric and Chris and all the helpers at the Alveley marking station. Also thanks to their friends Lionel Brewer and Bill Lewis (Mr Tarbes) for helping out by taking their birds to Alveley. The partnership has enjoyed a very good season flying with the NFC.

Booth and Roper, having a top season

Driver, Dawson and Dawson 1st Section, 11th Open Falaise

Section K

Topping this far flying section and producing what I personally think is the result of the race we have the lofts of Driver, Dawson and Dawson. These gentlemen topped the section and finished just outside the top 10 on a day when they shouldn’t have been in with a sniff of a prize. Having spoken to Robert the youngest and better looking member of the partnership I was struck with the zeal and focus that he had for distance racing in to the north east without any drag for company, this is what he had to say about the performance: “We first joined the NFC with the Sportsman in 2012, and the first race we ever flew was the old hens’ race. We sent 5 hens that year, and we clocked a half decent pigeon to put us 15 sec K and 79th open in a testing race you could say. After that, in 2013 we had a go at the first three NFC races. We then missed the 2 long races before setting a team of hens up for the old hens’ race. We started with 15 hens but because of the moult we found we could only send 12 however it was a good race as we clocked 3 hens in 2mins 41 seconds, the first being 11th sec K and 37th open and  the other 2 hens had been in the top 50 of the open. The birds made good velocities that day with good returns. Moving on into the 2014 season we again tried our luck in the first three races before missing the 2 longest races. Next, as we had the year before, we started to set a team of hens up for the last national race. We had a team of 20 hens to start with but only 15 made the cut for the race as the moult had caught up to them again. We always try and have the hens sitting 10 to 14 days for this race as I think it helps to delay the moult. Leading up to the race these hens received 3 x 90 mile trainers from Pontefract, a couple of 40 milers and on the Sunday before being marked for the race I gave them a 20 miler then left them to sit quiet. On the Thursday morning “4.30am” in the morning, with a headlamp on, down the allotment picking the hens off the nest, I noticed that a couple of hens had chipped, the hen that came was  one of those hens. We ended up sending 14 hens to the race as I missed one and she was left sitting. The drive down was good, and marking well ran with the birds marked. Breakfast had, it was time to drive the 2hrs back home with fingers crossed for a good race. After the long hold over and a late lib into a N.E wind I expected a 10 hour fly up to Newcastle. With it getting dark at 8.00pm, it did not give the birds a big window to home. Following the NFC web site watching the times as the birds made their way up the country I knew it was going to be a tough race and a bird to us before 7.15pm would be a good time.  Racing hard, straight south at 7.05pm she appeared once around and in. After verifying the hen and learning we were standing to top section k on a hard N.E wind on a day we should not have been at the races was unbelievable. The hen now named Terry after Terry Jobes of Doncaster who bred her, is of the Casaert x Thas strain through the Frank Bristow lines. The hen has always been a trier picking up cards as a YB, winning as a yearling, then topping section k as a 2year old. I could of named the hen The charity hen as Terry would not take any money for the YBs he reared for me so I made a donation to the charity his wife Hillary runs which enables sick children and their families to take holidays. I would like to  say a big well done to the  convoyer as the birds returned in good condition, and to the members of the Sportsman, the best well ran club in the north east, see you all on the 22nd  of  October. Drinks are on my 2 partners!”

The history making hen, 1st Section K, 11th open NFC old bird Falaise

Claiming 2nd Section we have the lofts of Newton and Down who fly in to the Doncaster area. Despite leaving a message on the land line I have not received any information at the time of doing the report.

Mr and Mrs Howman, 1st Section J

Section L

Taking the top dog tag for the Falaise race we have the top loft of Mr and Mrs Howman. The hen that came for them from Falaise was a 4 year old who has predominantly raced in the old hens’ national races and was always a solid performer. This year she was raced on double widowhood through the old bird season and was paired and sitting 12 days when she was basketed for the race. They told me: ‘The sire is bred from one of our very best breeding hens, "Black Gold" the 2006 winner of the South West one loft race. The dam is our "Lucky 13" Hen who has performed superbly from the Old hens’ nationals with 2nd, 10th, 26th, and 31st Open to her name and was bred from Bubbles the 2006 Europa one loft race winner. The section winning hen now named "Faith" was 4th section 23rd Open MNFC Vire in July this year and has shown she is capable of big results in top company.’ The partnership are looking forward to testing her offspring when she is put to stock in 2015.

Runner up is the loft of Derek Jones from Wrexham. I had not received any information from Derek in time to include in the report.

Young Bird National catch up

I had not received any information from a few of the fanciers who had been successful in the young bird Falaise race in time for inclusion in the race report. I am pleased to say that I now have this information.

Grizzle hen, 1st Section K Young Bird Falaise

1st Section K, 9th Open Eric Higginbottom

Eric had for many years carved a name for himself racing into Sandhurst in Berkshire, and is a previous national winner from Saintes. After the death of his wife 3 years ago he relocated back to the Sheffield area where he had been born. A bungalow was purchased near to where his niece lives and Eric started to put together a team to compete in national competition.

The Section K winner is a Grizzle hen, now named Miss Sensational. She is bred from 100% Peter Fox Syndicate Lofts pigeons, sire being a half brother to Erics 2010 Saintes National winner. His sire is from Blue Diamond and Blue Spirit Vandenabeele. On his dam’s side is Majestic & Fantastique. The section winner's dam's sire is Waalre and her dam is the Diego hen, two of Peter's top distance stock. She was trained privately with the rest of Eric’s young bird team, all of which had been on the dark system, then given four training races with his local Club, the last one being from Portsmouth one week before the national. Now it was up to the birds and after five days in the panniers his confidence of getting an early one was starting to ebb, then bang, out of the South she came racing, raced round the loft for three minutes before pitching on the landing board. Joe McKeon who came all the way from Great Yarmouth to watch the race and Eric could not believe the fantastic condition she was in. She could have raced another hundred miles, so Eric would like to say well done the convoying lads.

2nd Section F  J and P Parker, Reading

This is what James had to say about their latest performer:

‘Firstly I would like to congratulate the open winners and Eamon Kelly the section winner. The sire of the youngster is Iron Man, a son from Primus Blauwe Prins the De Rauw Sablon cock we purchased from the Pros Roosen entire clearance sale. He was the no 1 son in the sale off Blauwe Prins who went on to sell for approx. 156,000 euro. Blauwe Prins was a brother to Den Dromer of Gerard Koopman. Primus Blauwe Prins won for Pros Roosen before we bought him but even better was his breeding capabilities. There was only ever 1 son raced from him and this was Northern Rock who had a 1st federation approx. 3000 birds and a 4th  federation approx. 2800 birds, these before he went on to win The NEHU Futurity Race from  235miles, winning over £5,000. Dam of Iron Man was Golden Ali, dam to a multitude of big winners. She was a direct dtr to Arien  Verreckts Golden Pair who are  responsible for over 40x1st provincial winners and at least 5 national winners . Dam of the youngster is a dtr of our no 1 stock cock the Machine who was the UK record priced pigeon when we bought him in 2011. He was raced by Marshall, sons and Smith and had a 4th and 6th Up North Combine out of Bourges - 585 miles. He is a De Rauw Sablon x Brockamp. The Machine was paired to a dtr of George, sire of Euro Diamond, the no 1 pigeon for Dr Brockamp.’

It is clear that the hen was bred for the job, and with the quality of performance stock that Pete and James have amassed, combined with their ability to race a good bird I think the team are in for an interesting time in the coming years.

2nd Section E 11th Open

It is good to see the name of Mr and Mrs K Hine appearing again on the result of The National Flying Club. The baton has been passed on to the next two generations who are doing their father and grandfather proud. The first bird was a blue cheq hen, which was raced on the sliding door system. She is out of a cock which is same way bred as the loft’s 4th open BICC Guernsey young bird national last year, which is Ceusters lines and the hen is a Huybrechts and is a daughter of Peter Sabba’s top hen Briggette. All of the loft’s winning sprint lines have come from Peter Sabba this year, with Peter having loaned them some top quality birds this year. Thanks Peter, they say. This hen has raced every race in the young bird programme and trained from any point on the compass. Feeding is Versele Lag Junior Plus with grit and minerals as and when required. The team would like to pass on their congratulations to the winner and Roger Lowe - known as Princess in certain quarters - for yet another 1st section. 


Eric Churches holding 2nd Open Y/B Falaise


1st Section I Y/B Falaise for Lourens Londt


And so we put another season to bed, and hopefully look ahead to the various shows and events that mark the social side of our sport. Just as the birds are sat going through a good moult and having a well earned rest, so too should we fanciers be stepping back from the pressures and strains - many self imposed - of the racing season. Remind yourself what your family looks like and why you fell in love with your wife in the first place - they put up with a lot from us. Personally speaking I am looking forward to visiting a couple of lofts, and to seeing the birds emerging out from the moult with a new coat of feathers and looking like champions. We will soon be in to the silly season where birds at auctions go for silly money because they come with laminated pedigrees peppered with the next must have families, whilst genuine clearance sales of experienced and successful fanciers often go almost unnoticed and poorly supported.

To finish, I would like to thank all those people who have helped me to report on the various races this year, by being prompt with emailing details (you are getting better) or with helping me to track down fanciers who may have changed contact details. You all make the job so much less stressful. To the fanciers themselves I doff my cap at you for the lengths you go to compete successfully at the highest level in the best club in the country. I would like to thank especially those few fanciers who have been in the shower or the bath when I have called and have put up with the inconvenience, and finally to the fancier who was, in his own words ‘having a tickle on the missus’ when I rang and understandably arranged to ring me back.

Enjoy the off season folks and buy wisely or if you are my mate Dave, make sure you give the rings to a top winning loft next year.

. Telephone 01926 817796.

Dew Callan