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“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT

 

South West Show Racer Society

 

The month of December saw Terry Haley, Steve Howard and myself make the 240 mile drive down to Bodmin in Cornwall to judge the South West Show Racer Societies annual Open Show. The December open is the sister show to the Duchy Show which is held every November and is open to any fanciers in the UK and John Robilliard tells me they come from as far away as Wales, Gloucestershire and the Midlands to compete. The show’s 37 classes are for Show Racers and Racing Pigeons, and this year’s event attracted a 595 bird entry. Although Terry, Steve and I were a long way from home, it was good to see all the old familiar faces we see every year around the Show Racer scene. Bill and Julie Harris were down from Gloustershire to judge and the five of us went out for a meal the night before the show and we had a very enjoyable catch up with the pigeon news. The judges on the day were: (Racing Pigeons) Peter Hockridge, Mark Prouse, Malcolm McDonald, (Show Racers) Terry Haley, Steve Howard, Bill Harris and Keith Mott. All the judges on the day were given the task of judging the specials from the 37 class winners and with the quality of the pigeon there, what a hard job that was! We awarded ‘Best in Show’ (Show Racer), ‘Best Young Bird’ (Show Racer) and ‘Supreme Champion’ to a beautiful 2016 bred mosaic cock, owned by David and Jill Fisher of Bideford and that wonderful pigeon was a son of their champion cock, ‘Valentino’, winner of ‘Best In Show’ at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2016. ‘Best Opposite Sex’ (Show Racer) was won by Brian & Caroline Seward of Brampton, with a red hen bred by John Robilliard from his champion red hen, ‘Rocquaine Princess’, winner of ‘Best in Show’ at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2014. Mr. & Mrs. Frank Hole had the premier racing pigeon on the day in the form of a wonderful blue chequer hen that lifted Reserve ‘Supreme Campion’, ‘Best in Show’ (Racer Pigeon) and Sean Durrant won ‘Best Opposite Sex’ (Racing Pigeon).

   

 

I had five great classes of pigeons to judge and picked a wonderful young mosaic cock from my mosaics class to be the best pigeon I handled that day and he then went on to win Supreme Champion for David and Jill Fisher. A very satisfying result! Back in the summer I gifted a pair of Eric Cannon youngster to our friend, David Johnson and after many phone calls over the weeks, we arranged to meet up at the SWSRS Open Show, which is staged about three miles from where he lives in Bugle. On meeting him at the venue in Luxulyan we had a bit of a chat and he was soon roped in and he walked around with me and scored up while I judged my five classes. David has been a pigeon racer for 45 years and is only interested in long distance racing on the natural system. He tells me he only has 20 pairs of racers, which he pairs up on the 14th February every season and his main family are Logan from the late Brian Snell of St. Austell. His best two birds were: ‘Jed’, winner of 1st open Cornish Combine Smeartharpe, 1st Eyesign at the Camborne Open Show and ‘Sabre’, winner in 2010 of: 77th open NFC St. Malo (8,809 birds). This great red Logan cock flew and scored over the English Channel many times and was killed by a hawk. After a very successful 2016 racing season in BICC and NFC, Dave won a shield in the BICC for the best performances into Cornwall and this is a new trophy in the BICC this season, and Dave is the first fancier to win it. He also won several good positions in the NFC with a gift pigeon from A. & E. Roberts of Blaengwynfi in South Wales. Thanks to David for his help on the day!

 

 

The South West Show Racer Society has 35 members with their lofts in mostly Devon and Cornwall, with a couple of members living in South Wales. The Society holds five shows each season, three club events and two open shows, one in November and the other in December. The competition in the Society is very keen and the members do very well at all the National and Classic shows throughout the UK. The Societies chairman, John Robilliard, told me, a few years ago the club out grew their old HQ at a local hospital site and managed to secure the Luxulyan Village Hall, which is a brilliant venue to stage big pigeon shows, with a nice well-lit hall and good catering and parking facilities. The hard working secretary is, Liz Watts, who has her loft in Camborne and the President is Ken Hearn. The Society had some really bad luck recently when they lost a lot of their equipment in a fire, including all their tables and trestles. They are having fund raising events to raise money to replace their lost equipment, including small pigeon auctions at the club shows.

 

The 2016 BHW Blackpool Show attacked an entry of 2,000 birds and ‘Best in Show’ over all was won by a young Show Racer mosaic cock owned by Jill and Dave Fisher of Bideford in Cornwall and when I spoke to Jill after the event she said, that the partners were thrill to win Best in Show and this performance was their best to date. The handsome cock is now named, ‘Valentino’ and is a young bird champion in the truest sense of the word, winning: BIS South West SR Society young bird show, then 1st in the all winners class to be nominated in to the BSRF class at Blackpool, to win that and ‘Best in Show’. A fantastic achievement!

 

Both Dave & Jill Fisher were born and brought up in and around the Bideford area and Jill’s dad is Mervyn Patt, an old friend of mine and he has been a pigeon fancier all his life. Jill’s first pigeon was a dark chequer cock given to her by her dad at around the age of three or four and she followed her dad into pigeon showing and initially entered Children’s classes at a very young age. Jill was later told that she apparently had the knack of always recognising her own bird at the show, much to her dad’s amusement. All through her childhood, Jill had pigeons and when she reached her teens, Mervyn provided her with a three or four pairs and a spare compartment and later her own loft to keep and look after her own birds.  Family friend Percy Mitchell was also there on hand with a couple more birds to help with the mix and Jill was by then entering the open classes and one of her memories was of winning BIS at a Devon & Cornwall show at the age of 16, with a mealy hen. As a youngster, Dave was a keen football player and played for the North Devon team while he was at school and later played on his work’s football team. Jill has been in the sport 50 years overall, although there was a 20 year gap in the middle and for Dave it has been 16 years. Jill has never raced pigeons and has kept Show Racers only.

 

The partner’s current loft is 31ft long, divided into four 6ft x 6ft compartments, housing old cocks, young cocks, old hens and young hens separately. The remainder is split into two smaller sections, which can be opened up into one larger section as required. This extra space is used to house a few spare birds during the breeding season and acts as an over-flow, on the occasions where we have an in-balance in the ration of cocks to hens .The floors in each section are split between solid floor & grids. The grids are lifted and cleaned out at least once a week and the solid part of the floor is scrapped at least once a day. Along the front of the loft, each section has access to its own flight (traps) where the birds are bathed and enjoy the fresh air.  During the winter, Perspex sheets are used on the front of these flights to prevent any strong drafts from catching the birds and these flights are generally closed at night and opened through the day unless conditions are really bad. Under the flights in the four main sections are the next boxes, which are boarded up when not in use. Along the back of the loft there is a 4ft wide corridor which contains some pens.  This corridor is especially useful when basketing for a show as it gives plenty of space. Jill told me, ‘in a good loft design, I think it is important for both the birds and the fancier to be comfortable.  If it is a pleasure to be in the loft yourself, I think you are more inclined to spend more time looking after the needs of the birds. We have used various methods of deep litter floor covering in the past but our preference is for the floors to be bare and scrapped each day.  One of the many advantages of this is that you can instantly see any change in droppings’.

 

The Fisher partners keep 24 pairs of Show Racers and they are normally paired up in the first or second week in February. During the breeding season the birds are given a first class breeding mixture, with the addition of a strong mix of Maple Peas, Tic Beans and Tares. During the showing season the feeding id hardened up, so they are given mainly peas, beans and tares. The origins of our current show team were mainly from Mervyn Patt, but with crosses over the years from a few different show fanciers. Jill and Dave enjoy introducing a couple of new birds each year and experimenting with the results of crossing them with their existing team. They breed in the region of 45 to 50 young birds each season and Dave says they are very wary that for every young bird bred an old bird has to go, to keep the number manageable. Jill is currently Chairman of the Devon & Cornwall SRS and her occupation is in tooling sales and technical support for a multi-national connector manufacturer.  Dave’s occupation is a postman / driver for an Agricultural company. Apart from Jill’s dad, one of her sisters, Denise and also two of her nieces are interested in the sport and have a small team of their own. Congratulations to Jill and Dave on their wonderful 2016 Blackpool and South West SR Society success!

          

 

What a great couple of days we had in Cornwall! Thanks to all the workers and a special thanks to the Society secretary, Liz Watts, for her wonderful work on the day. I judged five classes on the day and the birds entered were in great condition, which is full credit to their owners. I can be contacted with any pigeon banter on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on keithmott1@virginmedia.com

 

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT

(www.keithmott.com)

 

 

 

 

 

B.I.F.S.

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