GARY DAYKIN IS ‘THE MAGICIAN’
by Mike Lakin
It is a pleasure to tell the fanciers worldwide about the man who in the United Kingdom is known as the ‘Magician’, quite simply because he has produced winning pigeons like the stage magician can produce rabbits out of a top hat. The only difference being that Gary’s wins are no illusions but stone cold fact. I am sure that there will be fanciers from outside of the U.K. who will not have even heard of the loft and pigeons of Gary & Stan Daykin & Son. This really is mystifying because how can a loft which has bred and raced birds to triumph in no less than 9 National races not be widely known? Yes that's correct, no need to rub your eyes, 9 National races! Another amazing fact is that these wins have been achieved in just twelve seasons. Prior to 1998 the Daykins were content to ‘batter’ the opposition in local competitions around their area in Nottingham. In truth Gary is his own worst enemy as he is so secretive. I think a good alternative occupation for him would have been with the ‘secret service’ as a spy. It simply is not Gary’s style to shout about his results; he has no agent and also no great desires to sell pigeons. Hopefully with the aid of this article more fanciers will become aware of a man who is rapidly becoming a living legend in Britain.
Pigeons have played a huge part in the Daykin household since Gary first flew in tandem with his dad Stan way back in 1967 in his back yard to a tiny loft between two outside toilets. His first Champion was a Gurnay based cock called ‘Big Lad’. This pigeon won a cross channel club race from Carteret by ½ an hour and also was 3rd Federation, a big win for a young lad.
Racing resumed in a serious manner after his marriage to Pat and the birth of his children. This was in 1989 and two years later Gary began a love affair. No not with another woman but with the pigeons of Jos Soontjens of Wommelgem. The partners bought a few Soontjen based youngsters and they made such an impression on Gary that he went in search of more of these super performance pigeons. Gary went on to share a stock loft with a friend of his and this select 100% Soontjen stud was called ‘J. S. Lofts’ in reference to Jos Soontjens, who by this time had sold all his pigeons. I am told that at one time Gary and his partner Frank had built up the largest collection of pigeons bred by the ‘master’ himself worldwide. The recent record breaking sale of the birds of Pros Roosen had Gary telling me about what a nice man he was and how well he got on with Pros and how he managed to purchase a direct son off Pros’ world famed ‘Computer 1’, which as many will be aware was of Soontjen breeding. This shows the determination that was made to purchase the very best bloodlines
A short while later the Soontjens started to show the Daykins just how good they really were. In 1995 flying the North Road route, their birds won 35 first prizes and two Silver medals. The following season turned to gold, quite literally because as well as winning a total of 50 first prizes the loft won two Gold medals and a further three silver medals. In that season 16 positions were won in the first three federation positions flying against up to and often over 3,500 pigeons.
It was at this time that Gary decided to turn his attentions to the National racing arena. His partner at the ‘J. S. Lofts’ stud warned it would be a disaster as their sales were largely generated by the results of G & S Daykins on their racing loft at Carlton. His partner groaned ‘’You won't win national prizes like you have been able to in the clubs!’’. Undeterred Gary started to prepare for the obvious step up in class needed to compete successfully in the Nationals. One thing which I have learned about Gary is that he is a ‘bloody minded‘ person and a very focused individual.
So in 1998 G & S Daykin & Son joined the Midlands National Flying Club, an organisation which is believed to be the most competitive club in England by many fanciers. I dont know whether Frank Brownley’s words were still ringing in Gary’s ears about not expecting to win nationals like the clubs but obviously the Daykin Soontjens weren’t listening or taking any notice as in their first attempt 1st & 2nd North East section and 1st & 2nd Open was won from a field of over 5,600 birds from Thorness. The Magician had waved his wand!
After this the phone at ‘J. S. Lofts’ was ringing non stop for pigeons; obviously winning national races has no ill effect on sales! A short while later after ill health problems for his partner it was decided to sell the breeding birds, which I know was not to Gary’s wishes. Gary took just three of the direct Soontjen breeding cockswith him, which were, ‘Shadow’, ‘Blue Sabre’ and ‘Blue Thunder’. The remainder were sold to lofts all over the British Isles.
Gary did admit to me a while ago that 1999 was a disappointing season but as many will concur, you learn more from defeat than victory and Gary learned plenty from 1999. Gary was sure that this lull was due entirely down to his preparations and 2000 proved him correct.
Concentrating with his young birds gave notice of his intent with 1st North East section and 6th Open from Seaton. A couple of weeks later this was followed by 1st North East section and 9th Open, and in the MNFC’s Gold ring race 1st prize was secured along with a large cash prize. This was from Picauville, a racepoint situated on the French Cherbourg peninsula.
In 2001 it was the same story. The Daykin Soontjens were flying with devastating effect. In the first young bird National with the Midlands National, a club with over 3,000 members, 2nd & 4th North East section was secured and 4th, 7th and 9th Open placings. In the Picauville race once again the big prize pot was won with 1st section and 1st Open in the club's annual Gold ring race, this proving that not only did Gary have quality pigeons but he also knew which nestlings to place the limited amount of rings on!.
2002 dawned but the results continued to flow. This time 1st & 2nd North East section and 1st 5th and 7th Open from Picauville against nearly 13,000 entries, which was and still is a record send in the MNFC! Also in this season the Daykin’s won 8th Open in the club's longest race from Bergerac with a Soontjen cross bred pigeon. This proving to Gary that with the right cross in them his Soontjens are capable of competing at all distances.
I have no wish to bore readers with page upon page of results believing it suffice to say that National wins have been achieved on no less than six other occasions and the Daykin loft's full ‘Racing CV’ appears at the end of this report.
The most impressive result was in 2004 when the loft won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th Open and section from Chale, a racepoint on the Isle of Wight. Never before or since has this been achieved in the Midlands National Flying Club. Is it any surprise that his birds are so sought after?
One pigeon which I feel that must be highlighted is a blue cock named ‘Double Achievement’. This fantastic racer won 1st Open positions in both the MNFC and the BICC with victories from Tours and Falaise.
Another pigeon which I would like to highlight is a black cock a Soontjen x Kipp & Son bird. This pigeon has given Gary an awful lot of pleasure. He is called ‘Black Magic’ and his results are well worth highlighting. In 2008 as a yearling ‘Magic’ had flown in a very tough 400 mile race with the Midlands National Flying Club. After this Hugo Kipp’s advice was sought and Gary told Hugo about ‘Black Magic’. Hugo’s advice was ‘’send him to the 500 mile race - he will love it’’. At this point Gary reminded Hugo that the bird was only 50% Kipp blood. Quick as a flash Hugo, who has a wicked wit, replied ‘’Still send him because he will ½ love it!’’. Proof of Hugo’s opinion was when ‘Black Magic’ won 4th section and 22nd open from Saintes. The following season ‘Magic’ was prepared for Bergerac a distance of 570 miles and once again he ‘brought home the bacon’ when he flew over 16 hours, the last day pigeon timed in at 9.56pm to win 2nd section and 24th open with the MNFC. In 2010 this grand bird was back on the road and won 14th Section and 87th open from Bordeaux. Last year Gary bred 7 children off ‘Black Magic’ and after flying the full programme 6 still remain and so after more talks with Hugo he is now in the breeding loft, where his owner is confident he will produce the goods.
The Base Breeders
Let's go on and discuss the pigeons which have had the biggest impact on the Daykins' loft. As previously mentioned, Gary took with him just the three direct bed Jos Soontjen cocks. ‘Shadow’ B90/6401785 was bred by Jos off ‘Geschelpte Late Tom’, the ‘Blue Thunder Cock’ was directly off Jos’ ‘Blue Thunder’ a winner of 12x 1st prizes for Jos and he in turn was a son of ‘Late Tom’, the Soontjens super breeder. The third bird was ‘Blue Sabre’ and he was from ‘Blue Jan’, a fabulous racer for Jos which won 16 x 1st prizes. ‘Jan’ was bred from Tom. Sabre’s mother is 86/6192902 full sister to the Soontjen ‘Olympiad bird’ Rambo who in turn was a son of ‘Late Tom’. The final base pigeon is the amazing ‘Golden Attom’, which Gary believes to be the world's number one Soontjen breeder. If you read his breeding record you may consider him correct to think this way. After all he is either sire or g/sire to 3 national winners and 3 x 2nd national winners also and in total no less than 10 birds which have been in the top 5 positions! That's why he is called the ‘Golden Attom’. Attom is bred from ‘Scolar’ and Sagacious’, yet another two direct Soontjen pigeons. Scolar was a direct son of ‘Rambo’, Jos’ Olympiad representative. It is quite clear that the basis of G & S Daykin’s loft is very closely knit to Jos Soontjens golden lines. As the distance increases it is the Soontjen crossed pigeons which perform best as Gary believes his Soontjens are best up to 250 miles and after that they need a little assistance in the longer events. Incidentally, in the last training flight in Sun City just a couple of days before the Million Dollar event, Darren Peters won 1st Open with a young hen bred from a cock named 'Iceman' which is a nephew of Gary’s ‘Blue Sabre’, once again proving the racing ability of the Daykin Soontjens.
The man and his methods
I believe that there is no fancier closer than I to Gary George Daykin. There you go, I even know his middle name. What I soon learned was that Gary ‘plays his cards very close to his chest’. That is a polite way of saying that he is very secretive. What I have gleaned has taken a long time to put together. I remember going with him to Belgium, plying him with his favourite tipple, malt whisky. With each dip into my emptying pocket I consoled myself that at any time Gary’s lips would open. I was right but all he said was’’Goodnight I am off to bed now’’ and he was gone off to ‘the land of nod’.
One thing which I would like to make fanciers aware of is the ammount of effort and work which Gary Daykin puts in behind the scenes of the Midlands National Flying Club. He is a Vice President and very pro-active member of the committee. I know just how much time he spends working for the good of the club that is so close to his heart. I mention this because how often is it that one of the most successful competitors puts in even more than he takes out of his chosen sport, well Gary is full of surprises
Every now and again Gary releases a ‘nugget’ of information and it is well worth taking it on board. Many people have tried and failed to buy pigeons off Gary but very few are successfull quite simply because Gary has no need or desire to sell his ‘prized jewels’. His methods are based on plain old common sense. This is from a man who has up until now been the Midlands National Flying Club’s Combined Average winner or ‘Ace’ loft on no less than 4 occasions. He has won more gold and silver medals than Lord Mountbatten, also two cars and thousands of £££££s. This is not the real motivation, quite simply Gary wants to be the very best and leave this sport a LEGEND, a feat that he is well on the way to achieving. In fact some would say he has already attained this status but I know that he is planning for the future and has been very busy in the ‘pigeon transfer market’ constantly looking for bloodlines to blend with his beloved Soontjens. One family which he is very impressed with are the Dirk van Dyke blood from Eddy Janssens of Zandhoven. Gary raced only one ‘Fast’ Eddy Janssens old bird in 2010 and he won 7th section and 18th open from Caretan and then it won 4th section and 5th open from Alencon once again with over 5,000 birds competing. In the young bird race with the NFC from Caretan in 2010 the Daykins were 1st & 2nd Section I with a crossed bird and 100% Eddy Janssen pigeon filling the top two positions.
Gary races his pigeons on a method based loosely on the roundabout system. The corn fed is a general mixture all the year round and in his own words he just ‘tinkers’ with it during the racing and breeding and moulting seasons. When pressed for more information he just advises to read about what your birds need at the individual times. During racing it's fat rich seeds, whilst breeding an extra portion of proteins and in the winter the food is lightened. ‘’It's all commonsense’’ I can hear him say.
I asked him about his medical programme and he said ‘’What medical programme? There isnt one. I have done a fair amount of research on the Orego product and believe that this is a big aid to keep bacterial problems at bay and I feel that Ropa ‘B’ 10% and produced by Ropastore is the best one on the market and intend to use it in 2011." I pressed my original question a little firmer by saying ‘Do you not have any medicines then?’ Yes of course I have medicines in my cupboards, supplied by MedPet, which I find have an excellent product range but I hope to not need to use them. They are there for any emergency which may arise but generally they are thrown away without being opened when their sell by date has passed.’’
Gary was obviously being talkative when he told me, ‘’Mike, it's all about good pigeons, a well designed dry loft, sensible management and good health. With regular training and racing, form should follow naturally and success be gained during this period of time.’’
I hope that you now know a little more about Gary, Stan and Robert Daykin and their wonderful Soontjen pigeons and have now a little more insight and understanding of the man that they call ‘The Magician’ .
The National Results of G. S. Daykin & Son
1st Open Wins: 1st Section wins:
1998 Thorness YB 1998 Thorness YB
2000 Picauville Gold ring race 2000 Picauville YB
2002 Picauville 2000 Seaton
2003 Picauville Yearling 2002 Picauville
2004 Picauville yearling 2003 Picauville
2004 Chale YB 2004 Le Ferte Bernard
2005 Tours Yearling 2004 Tours
2006 Falaise BICC 2004 Tours Yearling
2006 Tours Yearling 2004 Chale YB
2010 Caretan YB
Add on to that 10 x 2nd Open, 20 x 2nd section, 7 x 3rd Open & 7 x 3rd section. Truly amazing performances.