Writes about winning fanciers past and present
BHW Blackpool Show 2010.
For the ten days leading up to travelling to Blackpool for the BHW ‘Show of the Year’ I honestly believed we were not going to make it, with the persisting adverse weather conditions all over the UK. The snow was so bad in Surrey, we could not move out of Claygate for nearly a week and I was getting depressed at the thought of missing the ‘main event’ in the British show calendar. Two days before we were due to travel the snow began to melt and on the day the 270 mile drive up north was quite pleasant. The ‘Rat Pack’, Peter Taylor, Brian Batchelor, Tony Dann and myself, drive up the M6 Motorway every January in anticipation of a great BHW Blackpool Show and after a right ‘duffer’ last year, enjoyed one the very best this year. The 2009 Blackpool Show finished for the ‘Rat Pack’ at 5 o’clock on the Saturday evening in the Scribes room at the Winter Gardens when my ol’ mate Tony Dann was taken badly ill with massive pains in his back. It happened in seconds, one minute he was talk to the lads, the next minute he was in unbearable pain and looked terrible! He finished up in the Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital with Kidney stone and came home to Surrey on the Tuesday. This year’s show was quite the opposite and we enjoyed one of the best ever!
We travelled up to Blackpool on the Friday and before making our usual mid-day break at the first motorway services past the M6 Toll, we stopped off at Leamington Spa to drop two pigeons in to my good friend, Keith Arnold. His back garden was thick with snow, but we braved the very cold weather to look at his latest champions, including the widowhood Staf Van Reet blue cock ‘23’. I’ve been following the performances of this wonderful sprinter all the season and he finished up winning eight time 1st club, six times 1st Federation and was 1st RPRA UK Sprint Champion. Keith and Sue Arnold have now won the RPRA West Midland Region Sprint Award four years on the trot and have also won 1st RPRA UK Sprint Champion in 2006 / 2007 / 2009 and 2nd RPRA UK Sprint Champion in 2008. Brilliant fanciers with fantastic pigeons! A full report on Keith’s fantastic 2009 season will appear in this column in a few weeks.
The 2010 BHW Blackpool Show had wonderful entry and best in show was won by a red chequer Show Racer owned Mick Houilbecq of St Martins, Guernsey. Mick and his wife travelled a lot of miles to show their birds at Blackpool and to say they were highly delighted to win BIS would be an under statement. Mick has been retired from work for eleven years and has been showing at Blackpool for the last 15 year, winning some good prizes along the way, but this is his best season ever. He told me at Blackpool that his BIS winner has been a prolific winner in the Channel Islands and in open events.
The Houilbecq Show Racer loft is 24ft x 6ft and has four compartments, with a full length aviary running along it. The structure is very well ventilated to maintain a dry environment and deep litter is used on the floor during the breeding season. Mick doesn’t keep any stock, breeding only from the show team and pairs up the last week of January, and part again any time after 15th June, too get the moult under way. He feeds GEM Cowood mixture and has obtained good breeding pigeons from his good friends, Bill Hockin of Bude and Roland Thresher of Minehead. Threw the years the Houilbecq Show Racers have won all over the UK, including BIS in Wales and the South West Show Racer Society, and has twice lifted the ‘Bell Trophy’, one the premier awards in Guernsey.
Mick has been showing and racing pigeons for 50 years, starting at the age of 21 and his first loft was a two compartment 12ft x 6ft structure. His first club was the old Guernsey Homing Society, which was North Road in those days and tells me his biggest mistake in the early days was keeping his racing pigeons and Show Racer together. The main problem being the feeding, with the racers getting over fed on heavy mixture, which was the staple diet of the Show Racers. The late Cyril Lowe was the club secretary in those days and he advised the young Mick to start racing with young birds, and had his first winner from Weymouth (80 miles). He really enjoyed long distance racing and flew right through to Fraserborough in Scotland. He admired the great show performances of John Robilliard and Doug McClary, and got rid of the racers in 1978 and went over to Show Racers. Congratulation Mick and his family on their wonderful Blackpool win!
The great Blackpool thrill for me was seeing my Brian Denney blue chequer pied cock sold for £740 at the Charity Auction in the Opera House on the Saturday morning. Betty and I have donated Eric Cannon and Brian Denney pigeons to this wonderful auction most years and the massive interest shown in these birds is a great compliment to the genius of our late great friend, Eric Cannon of Wormley and Brian Denney of Strensall who is at this time one of the best long distance racers in Europe.
I met up with Brian and Thelma Denny on the Saturday and they were on their way to the Opera House to see the Blackpool Show Charity Auction. It’s always great to see these two lovely people and Brian had donated a wonderful bronze hen to the sale, and raised a fantastic £3,200 for the charity. Well done to Brian and Thelma! The pigeon was direct off his champion dark pied cock ‘Dark Dancer’ when mated to a daughter of Champion ‘Tuff Nut’. I stand corrected if I’m wrong, but I think this is highest price ever paid for a pigeon at the BHW Blackpool Show Charity Auction and it was purchased by our good friend Mark Gilbert of Windsor. The 2010 BHW Blackpool Show Charity Auction raised near £6,000, which is a great credit to Brain Mead and his band of workers. Well done and thank you to you all!
Brian and Thelma enjoyed a brilliant 2009 season racing in the National Flying Club. Their first success was from the Fougeres National in May when the convoyer released 9,686 birds at 06.30hrs into a light East wind. Brian, flying 394 miles, clocked two pigeons in under a minute and recorded 1st, 2nd section K (968 birds), 48th, 51st open. The first pigeon on the clock was the champion dark pied widowhood cock, ‘Dark Dancer’, and he set a bit of a record that day from Fougeres, as he is nest brother to Champion ‘Dark Charm’, winner of 1st section K, 5th open NFC Tarbes (748 miles) in 2007, making them two NFC section K winners bred in the same nest. Absolutely brilliant! The month of June saw Brian’s favourite race take place, the NFC Tarbes Grand National, and the Denney’s enjoyed a brilliant race of a lifetime! The 3,800 birds were liberated at 13.45hrs on the Friday in no wind situation and with adverse weather in northern France that evening, the convoy experienced a very difficult race, with many members not clocking in on the Saturday. Brian and Thelma sent a team of 20 birds and flying 748 miles in to Yorkshire, clocked seven of their entry on the Saturday, to record a fantastic 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 11th section K, 3rd, 4th, 12th, 19th, 30th, 56th,153rd open NFC and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th open North East 700 Mile Club . The Denney’s first two birds were on the clock within three minutes, with the 1st section K, 3rd open winner being the five year old widowhood blue chequer hen, ‘Northern Lady’, and she has previously won 6th section K, 217th NFC Tarbes. She is a daughter of the sire of the Brian’s loft, Champion ‘Tuff Nut’, winner of 1st section K, 5th open NFC Pau. The star of the Brian Denney loft in 2009 must be the champion dark pied cock, ‘Dark Dancer’, being clocked three minutes after ‘Northern Lady’ in the NFC Tarbes race to win 2nd section K, 4th open. A fantastic 750 mile racing widowhood cock and his full performance is: 2009: 1st section K, 4th open NFC Fougeres, 2nd section K, 4th open NFC Tarbes, and previously won 6th section K, 27th open NFC Tarbes, 4th section K, 208th open NFC Tarbes, 4th section K NFC Fougeres. An absolutely fantastic performance!
Mr. & Mrs. Ron McCarthy of Rhymney won Supreme Campion at the 2010 BHW Blackpool Show with a beautiful silver chequer hen that had won BIS at the RPRA South Region Show in November. Ron won BIS at Blackpool in 2009, for the record fifth time with a wonderful young dark chequer Show Racer cock, now named ‘Colin’s Cracker’ and he was bred by Colin Carter of Churchdown. In Ron’s 50 years in the sport, he has won many top positions, including B.I.S. Cardiff Charity Show, B.I.S. Show of the West, B.I.S. Birmingham Mail Show, B.I.S. Midlands Show several times, B.I.S. R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show several times, B.I.S. B.H.W. Blackpool Show (a record five times), Supreme Champion at Blackpool and Supreme Champion Young Bird Southern Classic Show. A fantastic loft performance in classic shows!
Ron keeps about 16 pairs of Show Racers which are paired up on February 14th. and breeds about 40 youngsters each season. His loft is over 45 years old, starting out as a chicken shed, and is 22ft.x 8ft. with a flight on the front to bath the birds and keep the loft dry. Ron says a good loft should be comfortable for the fancier and the pigeons. He has been with pigeons all his life as his father was a fancier, and his first few pairs of birds were housed in the coal house. Ron’s best bird over the last few years is his White Mealy cock winner of two firsts at the British Homing World Blackpool Show, including Best in Show and Best Opposite Sex; at the R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show, Best in Show; at the Royal Welsh, Best in Show and first at the Monmouth Open Show, plus many other good wins for the Rhymney loft. A once in a life time pigeon! The birds are fed on farm beans and peas, mixed with maize and a pinch of Linseed each day. Ron doesn’t feed anything special for the moult, as the birds get the same corn all the year round. He likes to pair grandparents to their grandchildren to produce good Show Racers. He likes a bigger pigeon for stock, with strong head and good body. Ron tried deep litter for about six months, but his wife hated it and Ron wasn’t too pleased either, he always had to clean his glasses after coming out of the loft, with the dust. He told me, he enjoys scraping the loft out every day and most of his birds are tame. Ron McCarthy is one of the very best showmen in the sport today!
The main thing I really enjoy about our great show in Blackpool is meeting up with people, the staff of the B.H.W. and R.P.R.A., old and new friends from the racing side of the sport and the lads of the Show Racer world. I spent a good bit of time with Brian Denney on the Saturday and he was off to the awards ‘do’ in the evening to pick up his 2nd RPRA UK Long Distance Award, which was won by his champion hen, ‘Northern Lady’, with brilliant performance from the 2009 NFC Tarbes race. I also met up with my good friends Keith and Sue Arnold and they had won the award for 1st RPRA UK Sprint Award in the 2009 season, after being 1st UK RPRA Champions in 2006 / 2007 and 2nd RPRA UK Champion in 2009. A fantastic achievement! Keith Arnold is in the accountancy profession and I must say, you need to be an accountant to count all the 1st Federation prizes he has won in recent seasons!
I must say I’m very impressed by the big way the youngster’s ‘Squeakers’ Corner’ has taken off in the British Homing World in recent months. Laura of the BHW, her husband, Andy, and Annabelle of the RPRA ran the ‘Squeakers’ Corner’ stand at the show and did a roaring trade for the kids. Laura is a smashing girl and she told me at the show that she is expecting the couple’s first baby in a few months, so I would like to wish them both all the very best for that little event! There was an auction of gift young birds for the ‘Squeakers’ Corner’ and this little enterprise raised nearly £2,000. The auction was run by two young lads named, Shay Walker and Ryan Nolan, and what a brilliant job they did. Well done to you all! Many thanks to Helen and Nettie for all their hard work in Scribes room, it was great! I have to meet and talk to a lot of fanciers at the Blackpool show every year and come home very tired, but that Sunday, the ‘Rat Pack’ and I came home totally ‘knackered’. Roll on next January and let’s get back to Blackpool!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT.