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Thoughts on racing.


The racing season is in the early stages, but as we expect there are already many of the same names topping the lists. There are also some not doing as well as expected or is it a case of some are not working their pigeons so hard in the early part of the season. Loft position in racing pigeons does make a difference and that will never change, the wind is a factor when it comes to winning the shorter races, that may be the reason why some do not start too early, they think they are at a disadvantage. Yes, that is the case, but does the wind always affect where the cards are going in any particular race. It all depends on the distance that they are being raced from, in sprint racing we can expect the wind to make a big difference.



Over the first few races locally I have been comparing the results against last year’s and the pigeons are going to more or less the same area of the feds. This is partly because that is where the wind is blowing, but also because they have some tough competition and more birds, so to a certain extent there is the drag of numbers that needs to be taken into account, even against the wind, which is a theory that some have. There is no doubting the fact that some fanciers are keener than others at certain distances, they set their stall out for their preference of racing, why not if that’s where you are at your happiest. The one name missing this year on the MCF results is that of Curtiss-Wall-Lunt who have dissolved their partnership. I suspect most will not miss them because they were taking the first 4 in the fed most weeks on land, I must add there are only 4 on the results which is a gentleman’s agreement amongst member clubs. We need big winners on results so that there is someone to aim for, if there is no-one to aim for some fanciers lose interest, and possibly leave the sport. The higher the target the better our pigeons are because when there is someone to aim for and therefore fanciers put more effort in to reach them. I have had this conversation with Mark Smith on several occasions and he agrees, the better the competition the more we try and the better the pigeons become, no matter how many members you have in the club.



When we were down on the south coast a few weeks ago at John Tyerman’s funeral I spoke to a fancier on the same subject. He was saying that their club numbers had gone down considerably, and, in some races, they can only muster a handful of members sending a limited number of pigeons. I was saying to him that you don’t have to have a lot of members in the club and have a big loft full of stock to have good pigeons, a few members who are keen enough can have good winning pigeons as long as they are all trying, and not treating the pigeons as pets. It shows those who are trying when you look at the fed results, they win against the odds as well as when they are favoured. This does suggest that the wind is not always a dominant factor, especially against the premier fanciers who know how to condition and prepare their pigeons better than the next fancier.



When you are racing you start at club level and then look at the fed result to see how you have gone on, most fanciers do, then if you have a combine all the better, you have something else to aim for, a challenge ahead. Then if you want to aim higher you go for the Nationals where there is a great deal of satisfaction in your chosen hobby to be had, Nationals are the pinnacle of your sport/hobby. I have said this on many occasions, “You don’t have to be a top club fancier to race in the Nationals and achieve good results” they are different races and if you don’t try you will never know. When some members are not featuring on the fed results, they are racing pigeons and are happy with what they are doing, whether they win or lose, as long as they are competing, they are happy. These are the backbone fanciers of the sport, the ones who make up the numbers and are happy to do so. I do know fanciers who have pigeons and don’t race and when I asked why they said they are happy to have them as pets, something to take them from the hectic lifestyle that most now appear to have. When I was at school, I had all sorts in the back yard, rabbits, guinea pigs, cage birds, tame rats, mice, I even had a small snake at one time, wouldn’t go near them now. Even when I had those pets, I still had racing pigeons, which stuck with me. Oh yes, I even had tropical fish in my teens and bred Siamese Fighting fish, which I have mentioned before. Yes, I have done the rounds with pets, not forgetting we had Micky our long-haired black dog.




Getting back to pigeons, there are fanciers who are not seen in the club results but feature in the Nationals on a regular basis. I know about this because for many years I never bothered with club racing only entering a few to prepare them for the National races. I think anyone can get on the National results if they change their system to suit and if you don’t try you will never know. When I did concentrate on club racing, which was not very often in my later years of racing, they would fall behind in the National races. I felt more relaxed preparing the pigeons to race in the National’s because they were from across the channel and we are starting at nearer 300mls than 70mls. And when it came to the likes of Pau/Tarbes there was far less to do as long as you put plenty of oils into them. I have always said the further you go down the road the more we rely on the pigeons than our own judgement. Percentage wise less pigeons are going to return from the longer races than the sprint events into the North West where we are, but when you compete in those races you expect that to happen.



Going back many years, when I was in my 20’s and keen, yes I can remember that far back, I would sit with the young birds for hours and they were all over me. I soon realised that was not suiting me the following year because I came off working regular nights so had less time to spend with the pigeons. The best year I had for spending time with the pigeons was in 74 when I was on 4 x 10hr nights, Monday to Thursday. I didn’t go to bed on the Monday or Friday and the other days I would finish my night shift, go home see to the pigeons, get them trained and then about 2pm go to bed for a few hours. Most of the training in those days was done on the old MCF transporter on a Tuesday and Thursday which made it easier. I would sit on the platform next to the door and they came from training straight down onto my knees for a feed. That was the best year I ever had with young birds, and the MFC was a big club in those days. I came off nights at the end of that year and spent far less time with the pigeons, even when I retired at 50, I didn’t seem to have enough time to spend sitting in the loft. I have heard it said many times, “I thought I would have more time on my hands when I finished work” that is not the case, if you are at home, even working for yourself as we do, there is always something someone wants from you.



We also need to look at what type of bird wins at what distance, I suppose the answer is simple, "All sorts" but the question should be "In what numbers, what percentage" because when you get to 600/700mls they do not drop at home in numbers. Pigeon racing and the type of pigeon we race has changed over the years and they vary from one distance to another? As we are all aware there is always the exception to the rule but as a rule of thumb there are not a great deal of good pigeons at the longer distances, in comparison to sprinters. Years ago, the distance pigeons were generally bigger and longer cast, they were the good-looking Dordins and such families, later most being streamlined. Then over the years the top fanciers started to breed to type and the sprinter became a powerhouse and as the saying goes "Built like a brick shit-house" The power was bred into the shoulders and when you handle the majority of today's top sprinters they are like wedges. These are the pigeons that win when they have to work hard and power their way home; even in a tail wind they show their strength. Having said that in a tail wind we have to take into account the exception to the rule because there always is one.



I remember selling at auction the pigeons of the late Mike Young who had an excellent team of distance pigeons. When I handled them they were as with many other distance families, a smaller type that didn't need to put as much effort into getting home. Their quality was reflected in the top distance lofts who were in attendance and after them, one thing was for sure they were not going to win in the show pen.



On the other hand, the majority of sprinters would win in the show pen because they are bred to strength and their strength makes them look good, especially through the wires. The same went for the distance lines in the late Bob Lewis pigeons, they were in demand and neither had paperwork, but they did attract high prices. There are a few who go for type and the best of luck to them, you go for what you want but if you want to win you need to go for the goods, quality bred pigeons that have the right breeding around them. If they are bred right then you will get the best out of them sooner or later, not all pigeons are going to suit and at times we must give and take in order that we breed the right pigeons for our needs. The days of the big bulky Dordins have gone, the beautiful pigeons that won in the show pen and on the road. In the later part of me having the Dordins they were not as big as they were when we first brought them in during the late 70’s. Times change and in the modern day of racing pigeons the winning fanciers are becoming more and more selective and breeding pigeons to do a job and again I emphasise that many follow fashion instead of quality pigeons, which is not always a good thing to do.



No matter what we take part in nowadays there is a professional side to it as well as doing things as a hobby. This doesn’t always suit some people but that’s the way it is, you have to remember that without professionals no hobby or sport can survive. The biggest problem in pigeon racing is finding and putting the right people in the jobs to take us forward and there are not enough of those about. What we do have are some real good enthusiastic fanciers who keep clubs going but are let down further up the chain. However, after recent conversations there is a possibility and at this stage, I only say possibility that things are about to start and change in the sport for the better. We shall have to wait and see.



Les J Parkinson. 11 Rushton Drive, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 0NJ. 01606836036 Mobile 07871701585. Email elimar908@btinternet.com web site www.elimarpigeons.com

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