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Keith Mott

Writes about winning fanciers past and present


This week we are going to have the second part of my insight into the Louis Massarella stud in 1977, when I first visited the Leicester establishment. These two articles were first published in the Pigeon Racing ‘Gazette’ nearly 30 years ago.

To say the 100 miles trip to Leicester, for my visit to the Louella Lofts, was worthwhile would be an under-statement. I must describe that day in June as one of my best days as a "Gazette" scribe, as I was permitted to handle and inspect all the Louella champions, including the world record priced pigeon, champion 'Bliksem.'

After a first class dinner, Jack Paley took us to the main breeding loft, called the racing loft, and he had to hold a monster of a dog which was chained in front of the main door while we slipped inside the large building. Dogs are on patrol all the time around the lofts and are a bit unfriendly. On entering this door, which is in the middle of the building, we found ourselves in the corn-store with a sliding door on both sides leading to the breeding sections. Large nest-boxes are used in the breeding sections and these are divided to take two nest bowls. The sections are very roomy with nice big flights in the front of the loft and a sharp sand dressing is used on the loft floor. The lofts are cleaned out every day (except Sundays) and the water is changed twice a day. The contents of each nest box is checked when cleaned out and Jack has three young bird ringing days per week.

The first section we looked at was the Louella Dordins, mostly Mealies and Blues, bred around champions 'Ramses' and `Louvre II,' etc. A nice cock we inspected in this section was a 10 year old Mealy called `Atlantide' which was bred by Rene Boizard from 'Lucane' a full brother to `Louvre 11' This handsome cock was a large, apple­ bodied, with a yellow Eye-Sign and is the sire and grandsire of many winners. In the next section we looked at some first class Jurgen Ross pigeons and Jack said, "some good reports are coming back to Louella lofts on the perfor­mances of this German strain." The champions are housed in breeding pens and these are nice and roomy with a 12ft flight on each pen. Each pen housed one pair and the 'Aces' I handled didn't carry an ounce of fat. The first two champions I inspected were the two Kirk­patricks `Stranrae Simon' and `Double Top.' First, I looked at the cock which is dear to my heart, as my own family of pigeons are bred around him, that being champion 'Simon.' He looked really great for a 12-y-o and handled just under medium with a long cast. He has nice wide flights, with a yellow Eye-Sign and his typical British frame won lst Open S.N.F.C. Rennes 497 miles) in 1968. The other Kirkpatrick was Red Chequer 'Double Top,' winner of lst Open S.N.F.C. Nantes (572 miles) and he was a harder type pigeon with nice Shovel flights.

Next to hand was a dark chequer cock, which Jack des­cribed as the `T.V. Star,' that being the world record-priced pigeon, champion `Bliksem.' He won 32 top prices, in National, Club and Federation, including lst Open International St. Vincent (560 miles), 5th Open Brives National (3,038 birds), 3rd Open St. Vincent National (2,770 birds), llth Open St. Vincent (2,546 birds), 55th Open Brives National (2,845 birds), 10th Open Cahors National (4,135 birds), 1st. Federation St. Vincent, 2nd Section St. Vincent, 4th Federation Brives, 6th Section St. Vincent, 4th Federation St. Vincent, 4th Section Cahors, 6th Federation Cahors, 53rd Chateauroux, 11th Poitiers and was purchased by the Louella stud from Emiel Denys of Zulte, Belgium, for the record sum of £10,500. He is a nice type pigeon, just under medium size with an apple-body and he has a dark green Eye-Sign.

To my mind the best pigeon in the hand was pencil Blue Cock, champion `Captain's Pride,' winner of many outstanding positions, including lst Sect, 4th Open Pau (730 miles) N.F.C. (5,455 birds) and he won at the Doncaster Show under Jack Adams. He was medium to large, built like an ocean liner and he had a superb green Eye-Sign. Many consider this cock's greatest performance from Pau, second to none. The Dordin champion 'Ramses' was another good type pigeon, although he shows his 14 years a bit. He was one of the first Dordins imported by Louis Massarella and is a son of the great `Neon,' sire of two National winners. 'Ramses' had a nice eye and Shovel flights, and he has to his credit, lst Open National Angouleme (3,200 birds), 2nd Open St. Vincent International, 5th Open Libourne National, 5th Open Dax National, 12th Open St. Vincent International, 41st Open Dax National.

Next, we looked at the two Mr. & Mrs. Clayton, champions 'Red Flash' and `Dark Flash,' which are full brothers and two superb pigeons in the hand. The performances of these two `Aces' are incredible, the highlights of which are, `Red Flash,' lst Open L.N.R.C. Thurso (512 miles) (5,776 birds) and 'Dark Flash,' 1st Open L.N.R.C. Berwick (308 miles) (1,324 birds) 2nd Open L.N.R.C. Thurso (512 miles) 4,748 birds competing. The dam and sire of these two superb champions are also at the Louella stud. When I visited the Louella stud 'Dark Flash' was paired to champion 'Misty Lady' which I think is an excellent mating, as she has won twice lst Open L.N.R.C. Thurso. She is the only pigeon in the history of the Combine to win the Thurso race twice and she has 10-lsts to her credit in all, a great pigeon. We then looked at the 11-lsts in club, Federation and Open competition, RCC, 'The Saint.' After this great Gurnay champion, we looked at several Alf Baker stock birds which were quite outstanding.

I was very surprised when I handled champion `Workman,' as he was a much bigger pigeon than I imagined from his photos. His perfor­mances are staggering! Ist Open North Midland Combine Saintes (2,040 birds), lst Open Notts and Mansfield Amal. Saintes, only bird on day (beating 6,000 birds) Ist Open N. & M. Amal. Salisbury (5,900 birds), 1st. Open Great North of England F.C. Nevers (approx 5,000 birds), 4th Doncaster Federation Potiers, 15th Sect. 24th Open G.N.E.F.C. Clermont (942 birds), lst Yorkshire Continental Rennes (670 birds) What a pigeon! No wonder they call him `The Racing Machine.' `Workman' is also the sire of 'The Texas Star,' sold in Dallas, Texas, in 1975, for 52,800 (approx £1,192). This Baker Blue Pied cham­pion is a character and is a firm favorite at the Louella stud. He was just above medium, and long cast in the hand, with nice wide flights and good Eye-Sign.

At this point John Massarella came into the loft and Jack Paley introduced us to him. He was soon telling us about the old Massarella racing team of Kirkpatrick, Snowball and Marriot pigeons, and says that probably his father's biggest thrill racing was when he won the Orchardson Trophy in the Pau National.  I asked if he had any preference of type when buying a champion and he said he hadn't handled a real champion pigeon with a weak back, or bad feathering, and he had never seen an under or over sized champion. He said ten different men would probably pick out ten different pigeons as perfection if they handled the Louella champions, so how do you define a perfect type? If a man inspected any true champion he really fault it badly in the hand. John's favorite pigeon is couldn't champion `Workman,' and says he never looks sick or sorry but always looks well. He says he doesn't mean to be unfair to the other champions at the stud today but the great 'Solway King' is the all-time ­favorite of the Louella lofts, without a doubt.

When pairing the pigeons, performance is considered but mostly they try and pair to a type although he says it is sometimes hard with some continental families. They are very happy with the good reports of the Vanhee pigeons and John says a weekend hardly goes by without someone ringing up and saying they have won with one and can they have a repeat order. John thinks short and middle distance racing, which is 90% of the season, is commonsense and routine, as far as management goes. He said when he was racing, the bird had a 50 mile toss every morn­ing, Monday to Friday, and would fly around the loft for an hour in the afternoons. He would train bad days when other fanciers wouldn't although they wouldn't go the full 50 miles. He tells novices that bad pigeons cost as much to keep as good ones and if they go to a top man for stock, there is no guarantee they will be champions in 12 months but the chances of achieving this are higher.

The next pigeon we looked at is very near to Jack Paley's heart, that being the 13 year old Mealy Cock, champion 'Woodsider.' He is Britain's long distance record holder, winning lst Open B.B.C. Palamos (861 miles) (788 birds) beating his near­est rival by 31 y.p.m and flying 163 miles further. This great pigeon was bred and raced by Jack Paley and he is of the Westcott and Osman blood lines. The 'Woodsider' family have great Eye-Sign and Jack told us that at one Eye-sign show (with 100 birds entered) 'Woodsider' was 3rd, his sire was 7th and his sire's nest mate was 1st! We saw the Vanhee champion `Argenton' but we couldn't handle him as he was out in his flight. He has won 49 top prizes in National, Provincial and Regional races, winning over £2,000. I looked at one of my favorites next, the Vanhee champion, 'Motta,' who was pur­chased in 1975 for what was then the record price of £6,000. A young bird from 'Motta' was sold for $3,100 (approx £1,500) in November 1975 and that was a world record price for a youngster. The Vanhee's hailed `Motta' the king and in his fantastic racing career he won 75 prizes at all distances, and £6,285. He was a larger type pigeon, with nice wide flights, and it looked like someone had painted his black splashes on, his markings were magnificent and very unusual.

After my very much enjoyed inspection of the champions we headed down the loft in the opposite direction and entered three sections which housed son and daughter of British champions such as 'Solway King,' `Simon,' `Workman,' etc. In one of these sections we saw champion `Man Friday'. He was there because he likes a nest box to breed in and not the breeding pens. He is a Kirkpatrick and winner of lst Open S.N.F.C. Nantes (572 miles). I asked John how many sons and daughters he had off `Solway King' and his answer was a healthy 34. In the next section we saw sons and daughters of 'Bliksem.' 'Motta,' `Argenton,' etc, and some imported Vanhee and Mark Roosens. Jack said there are not many Roosens pigeons coming into the country because Roosens is asking £500 for anything that leaves his loft. When we moved on we saw the newest intro­duction in the Louella stud. The imported Beuselinck/Cattrysse pigeons, which are mainly Blues and Blue Pieds. Mons Beuselinck is a son-in-law of the Cattrysse Br (who are now dead) and he now runs the Brothers pigeons, hence the name Beuselinck/Cattrysse. In the last section we saw some Delbars including champion `Irish Mint.' This cock wasn't only an outstanding racer but was the sire of many winners including a lst & 2nd Open LN.F.C winner, both in the same season. He is the sire of champion `Mary Ann' winner of lst Open L.N.F.C. Nantes (2,150 birds) who is also at the Louella stud. Also, in this section were some imported direct Janssens and these were a bit special. One pair sent over by the Janssens are a brother-sister mating and they said they would breed winners and they have!

I didn't, in fact, meet Louis Massarella as he was tied up with business at the time of my visit, maybe next time! Many thanks to John Massa­rella and Jack Paley for their help and a most enjoyable day; also thanks to my brother, Phil, for driving us up to Leicester.

I hope my readers have enjoyed this little look back at a bit of pigeon history! The Massarella family have done a lot for the sport of pigeon racing through the years and as I’ve previously stated, have made quality pigeons affordable to the working man!