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Brian & Christine Guilford winning By George Wheatman

 

 

There are a lot of fine fanciers in the North Road Championship Club, but, if there was a vote for a current top ten, a bookies’ favourite to feature among the elite would be the partnership of Brian and Christine Guilford.

Brian and Christine Guilford

 

Their reputation, already high, soared even further when they topped the provisional result in the latest race from Fraserburgh, sponsored by Bamfords Top Flight.

It was no easy race, and  based in Section A , they could not have been in a favourable position as a south-west wind tested the birds for the full 331 miles to Sandiacre which is in Derbyshire (although it has a Nottingham post code) seven miles west of Nottingham and nine miles east of Derby.

 

Records show that it is not easy to win the NRCC in Derbyshire and they confounded fellow competitors by doing so in conditions that were expected to favour Sections C and F down the east of the country.

 

Theory is that the birds moved inland to avoid the worst of the intermittent storms that were a continuing feature of the diabolical June weather that, in the build-up to the race, produced a nightmare scenario for race controller Carl Upsall and his advisors, and for convoyer Darren Shepherd.

 

The birds were held over until Sunday and, in the event, there were timings in most parts of NRCC territory. There was an entry of 1184 birds sent by 139 fanciers (numbers almost certainly reduced by fears invoked by the weather forecasts) and race secretary Ian Bellamy reports that there were 87 verifications on the day, and another 21 the following day.

 

The Guilfords’ winning pigeon was an experienced four-year-old mosaic widowhood cock bird timed at 3-23-25 on Sunday afternoon, after a 6am liberation, just when Brian was thinking they were behind schedule.

Mr & Mrs Guilford's winning Mosaic

 

“I had begun to get a bit fidgety,” he admitted.

 

There was a strong south-west wind at the home end, and a lot of black clouds around. The winner showed signs of having been through rain.

 

If ever a pigeon was bred for the job, this one certainly was.

 

Back in 2012 and 2013, Mr and Mrs Guilford were winners of their section and second open in successive Fraserburgh races with two brothers being the successful pigeons, beaten by Bill Bearder and Sons in the first and Ernie Gregory in the second. Having decided to concentrate on NRCC racing, Brian was convinced that you had to breed around pigeons that flew well in NRCC races. With that in mind, he asked Bill Bearder whether he could buy a bird off his 2017 Fraserburgh winner, called Mossy, because it was a mosaic.

 

Mr & Mrs Guilford's lofts

Bill’s reply was: “No, but I will give you one!”

Outcome is that the dam of the latest Fraserburgh winner is a daughter of W Bearder and Sons’ open winner from the same race point, and the father is one of the brothers that was runner-up from Fraserburgh for the Guilfords, Mr Reliable a winner of many prizes, in 2013.

 

The parents of those two amazing brothers were a Janssen hen obtained in a swap from David Oakes, of Eastwood, and one of their own Janssen cock birds. They have been a goldmine at stock.

 

The quality of pigeons from this loft was again emphasised in 2016 and 2017 when Mr and Mrs Guilford won NRCC open from successive Perth races. Add the countless other open, federation, club and one-loft successes and it all points to an outstanding loft and outstanding fanciers.

 

There are no vast quantities of birds kept, and Brian is a hard taskmaster. If the pigeons are not up to the standards he demands, there is no longer loft space for them.

He is also his own severest critic but can also be patient with well-bred birds he fancies to do well. In some cases, winners have not had their first race until they are two years old, but they will have been well trained as yearlings often being trained, and raced, alongside youngsters.

 

They sent six to Fraserburgh, getting all of them home – five on the day and the sixth next morning.

 

Build-up to this latest success was not without its problems for Brian. He had not been able to send the birds he had entered for Dunbar because of illness which resulted in him spending a spell in hospital, and wife Christine and son Alan looked after the birds in the days before sending to Fraserburgh.

 

When he eventually took a peek into the loft, Brian said that the birds were in better condition than if he had been looking after them himself although he claimed that his son did not know one end of a pigeon from the other! But Mrs Guilford does and is a keen, competitive member of the partnership.

 

The seventy-five-year -old Brian is now awaiting an appointment to have a gall bladder operation and says that his NRCC racing is finished for the season.

He concentrates on widowhood racing and says that he has not raced an old hen bird for 30 years. He feeds and exercises the bird’s morning and evening and cleans out the widowhood cocks twice a day, and then leaves them to enjoy peace and quiet.

He feeds a combination of three branded widowhood mixtures. He pairs the widowhood cocks in March and does not breed from them. The winner had dropped its first flight a week or ten days before the race.

 

Astute breeding plays a major part in their success and selected pairs are housed in their own compartments to ensure authenticity of the offspring.

 

There were three different sections featuring in the first four places on the provisional result. Second open was another loft from Section A, Nuttall and Son, of Nottingham, good supporters of the NRCC and always strong contenders; third and winner of Section C was the in-form John Lensen, of Long Sutton; and fourth open was Section C winner, Nick Barran, of Norwich.

 

Race Secretary Ian Bellamy commented on the race as follows:

 

“With Fraserburgh now over I think that the race was reasonably successful.

There were 87 verifications on the day from 139 members and the pigeons reached most areas of the NRCC.

 

“On the second day there were another 21 verifications making a total of 108 from139 members.

 

“I did not expect the winner to come from the middle with a south west wind but many congratulations to go to Mr & Mrs Guilford of Sandiacre for an excellent performance.

 

“As always, I have to make a special mention to the winner of Section I in Mr and Mrs R Reason, of Manningtree in Essex. Their bird was flying around 80 miles further than the race winner to be 15th open on the provisional result.”

Provisional section winners are:

 

NRCC transporter

 

Sec A - Mr & Mrs Guilford, Sandiacre.

Sec B - J Salvador & Son, Spalding.

Sec C - J W Lensen, Long Sutton.

Sec E - B Manning, Syston.

Sec F - N Barran, Norwich.

Sec H - N Cowan, Enfield.

Sec I - Mr & Mrs R Reason, Manningtree.

 

 

Next on the NRCC programme is the Blue Riband race from Lerwick for the much-coveted King’s Cup, sponsored by Unikon, on July 6th.

 

 

Note : Photos are NRCC Logo, Brian ad Christine Guilford with their winning pigeon, the Guilfords’ loft, and the winning pigeon’s wing showing that it had dropped only one flight.

 

B.I.F.S.

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