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“On The Road” With Keith Mott

 

Chitty Brothers of  Kings Langley

 

The brilliant Hertfordshire partnership of Brian and Dick Chitty have enjoyed some outstanding seasons in recent years racing in the Inter Counties Federation, including eight times 1st open Combine. I visited the brother’s loft in Kings Langley at the end of their very successful 2016 racing season and they had won many premier positions with their old and young birds. The day before my visit Brian and Dick had won 1st club, 2nd Inter Counties Federation, 3rd UBI Combine Honiton (1,404 birds) with a young blue cock driving to nest and had won the very strong Boxmoor club by about eight minutes. The 2016 season has seen them win: 1st Club, 7th Federation, 10th Combine Exeter (1,987 birds), 1st club Blandford, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th 8th club, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th Federation Lyndhurst, 11th, 13th, 14th Federation Salisbury, 2nd club, 2nd Federation Lyndhurst, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th club, 13th Federation Honiton, 3rd club, 5th Federation, 8th Combine Yelverton, 1st club, 3rd Federation Honiton, 2nd club, 5th Federation Carentan, 11th Federation, 20th Combine Coutances, 3rd club, 20th Combine Poitiers, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th club, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th Federation Lyndhurst, 1st club, 2nd Federation, 3rd Combine Honiton (1,404 birds), 6th section NFC Messac (644 birds), 2nd section, 4th open BBC Coutances.

 

Chitty Brothers’ old birds are raced on the widowhood system, being paired up on New Years Day, and the youngsters are weaned at 28 days old. The pairs are allowed to sit ten days on their second round of eggs, when the hens are taken away and the racing cocks don’t see them again until the first race. The cocks are then let out for exercise around the loft twice a day, building up to one hour morning and evening, and both the cocks and hens are given eight training tosses, starting about three weeks before the first Federation race. The partners house 24 pairs in three sections in the loft and the racers are not broken down. Brian told me he sometimes shows the hen on marking night, or just turns the nest bowl and the widowhooders get their mates for about 30 minutes on their return home on Saturday afternoon. If the racers are not flying well around the loft they are given a midweek training toss and are fed ¾ of an ounce morning and night. They are fed a small amount of ‘Red Band’ every day, vitamins on a Wednesday and Garlic in the water a couple of times a week. The birds are mostly raced up to 400 miles, with the odd pigeon being sent to Pau and the long distance candidates are paired up the day before basketing, and are given plenty of straw and tobacco stalks to make them keen. The lofts are closed in with air vents at the front and back to get rid of any foul air and Brian maintains the loft must be kept dry. He cleans out regularly and uses loft white on the floors.

 

The partners won the London & South East Classic Club twice in recent seasons, the first time from the young bird Exeter race in 2006 and then again in 2008 from the young bird Guernsey race. The two classic winners were full brothers bred from Chitty Brothers champion Soontjens stock pair, which was bred by Davey Allport of Darlington. Brian and Dick race in the very strong Boxmoor club, which is affiliated to the Inter Counties Federation and UBI Combine. The 2013 racing season saw the brothers win: 11th Federation Kingsdown (1,725 birds), 2nd Federation Le Mans (740 birds), 5th, 6th Federation Minstead (1,216 birds), 6th, 7th, 11th, 13th Federation West Bay (1,168 birds), 1st, 2nd Federation (948 birds), 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th Federation Blandford (1,363 birds), 1st, 2nd Federation Honiton (937 birds), 1st, 3rd, 17th Federation Honiton (919 birds). What a wonderful 2013 season for Chitty Brothers and in 2012 they recorded: 9th Federation Blandford (1,078 birds), 1st, 2nd, 14th Federation Blandford (1,550 birds), 22nd Federation Carentan (814 birds), 2nd Federation Honiton (960 birds), 2nd, 14th Federation, 5th, 38th UBI Combine Poitiers (764 birds), 4th, 7th Federation Blandford (895 birds), 14th, 18th Federation Salisbury (968 birds), 10th, 17th, 19th Federation Blandford (1,277 birds), 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th Federation Honiton (975 birds). The 2011 season was another great one for Brian and Dick recording many premier positions including three times 1st Federation and flying in the Boxmoor club the brothers won seven firsts, nine seconds and seven thirds. The top pigeon racing to the Kings Langley loft was a two year old blue pied widowhood cock called, ‘Stuart’s Gift’ and recorded: 1st Federation Blandford (2012 birds), 2nd Federation Honiton (1785 birds), 10th Federation Blandford (1510 birds), 13th Federation Carentan (1123 birds) and 19th Federation West Bay (1157 birds) in 2011. Brian recently told me, ‘this game cock has won several other good prizes and would have recorded even more, but is a bad trapper and has thrown away several positions. He is a Peter Vander Merwe pigeon bred by Stuart Ward of Oldham. In 2009 I purchased six babies from Stuart and When I went up to the north of England to pick them up he gifted me the blue pied cock, and he has turned out to be the best of the batch’.

 

I was chief convoyer for the London & South East Classic Club for nine years and went to Guernsey fifteen times with the Classic’s young birds in that time. For several days before the first L&SECC young bird event from Guernsey in 2008, according to the early weather reports, it looked like it was going to be a holdover with rain over the Channel Islands on that Saturday, but on the day Steve Appleby and I put our heads together and had an early release, too produce an excellent race against all the odds. I liberated the 2,151 birds at my earliest time ever at Guernsey and the members enjoyed a very good race, with excellent returns. On our arrival at the Guernsey car park liberation site the sky had broken cloud cover and was bright and starry. I got no sleep as I knew it would be an early liberation or a hold over until Sunday and was keen to keep an eye on the weather and prepare the transporter for release. I watched the weather with antisapation and with the sun braking through the 60 per cent broken cloud cover, my son Mark and I liberated the convoy at 06.30hrs in a brisk south / south west wind. It started to spit with rain at 08.00hrs and then the Guernsey weather took a nose dive, and at that time our birds were just hitting the south coast of England and were hot-foot on their way home. It was a work of art getting a liberation and good race that day from a rain soaked Guernsey, but we beat the weather and enjoyed a good young bird classic! The race was won by Brian and Dick Chitty, with their young champion Soontjens blue chequer cock, ‘Davey’s Lad’, and after racing the young bird programme he was sent to the Guernsey Classic driving a hen to nest.

 

Brian and Dick have been racing in their present Chitty Brothers partnership since 1986 and have been premier prize winners in the local club and Federation many times. They tell me their best NFC position is 12th open; they have won the L&SECC twice and have won 1st open Combine eight times. The best pigeon in the loft in recent years was the dark widowhood cock, ‘Geraldine’s Lad’, and he has won over £2,000 in Nation races. Some of the Chitty Brother’s best racers in recent seasons have been: ‘Geraldine’s Lad’, winner of 2004: 1st club, 1st Federation Tours, 2005: 59th open NFC St. Nazaire (8696 birds), 2006: 125th open NFC Sennen Cove (5350 birds), 2007: 24th open NFC Alencon (6079 birds). This champion dark chequer cock won over £2,000 racing! ‘Rucklers Express’, winner of 1st club, 1st Federation, 1st open UBI Combine Lessay. ‘Pam’s Girl’, 2007: 38th open L&SECC Guernsey, 2008: 46th open NFC Alencon winning £1,444, 14th open NFC Angers winning £170. ‘Dick’s Choice’, 2008: 12th open NFC Alencon winning £980, 71st open NFC Angers winning £1,237, 348th open NFC Fougeres (9435 birds). ‘Brian’s Lad’, 2008: 65th open NFC Angers. ‘The Allport Cock’, 2006: 1st open L&SECC Exeter (1,154 birds).

 

The main families housed at the Hertfordshire loft is Staf Van Reet, Koopman, Soontjens and a few Marriotts for the long distance events. The Chitty’s race most distances but prefer sprint and middle distance racing. The stock birds are paired up the same time as the race team and are fed a good breeding mixture, with extra maple peas added. Brian told me when selecting new stock birds he looks for good feathering, a strong back, good balance in the hand and bright eyes. The stock loft houses a good pair of Koopman pigeons that breed excellent scoring youngster every year, but his champion breeders are a pair of Soontjens which breed winners in most nests and originate from Davey Allport of Darlington. This wonderful pair of Soontjen stock birds bred 1st open L&SECC Exeter in 2006 and 1st open L&SECC Guernsey in 2008. A once in a lifetime pair of breeders! The brothers enjoy young bird racing and breed 80 babies every year to race, which are put on the ‘darkness’ system on weaning. Once they can fly, the young birds are let out the loft twice a day and are darken down between 17.00hrs and 09.00hrs, with them coming off the system on 6th June. This method has been very successful for Chitty Brothers in recent seasons and they feed the young and old birds racers the same, with Beyers Young Bird Mixture with extra maize added. They do not encourage the babies to pair up, but will put bowls in the young bird section if they do and start training three weeks before the first Federation race. The young birds get every race including the L&SECC and NFC races, and are given some mid-week training during the racing season.

 

The brothers were born in Hemel Hampstead, Hertfordshire, but lived most of their lives in Kings Langley and started their involvement with the pigeons in 1954, when Brian was 13 years old. At that time their father kept rabbits and a stray pigeon was found wandering around the hutches, and the brother caught it and started their pigeon racing story. They were helped in the beginning by a fancier who lived in their street by the name of Mick Hill and he gave them their first stock birds. Brian and Dick had good success in their first club, the Hemel Hempstead NR Club, and Brian says if his memory serves him well, they won their first race from Dorchester in 1956, and it was bad day weather wise, but won the race by 20 minutes. Brian has always been interested in sport and when he was a young man competed in cross country running races and was very interested in Football and Boxing. Brian remembers that the brother’s first 12ft x 6ft loft was self built from scrapes of wood and recycled chicken sheds and in the mid 1950’s the local fancy was dominated by two great pigeon racers named, Charlie Farnes and Cox Brothers. He recalls their biggest mistake in the early days was excepting gift birds from local fancier at the end of the year, which were their none performers that season and throw outs. But having said that Brian told me he was from a big family and money was very tight, so beggars could not be choosers when it came to obtaining their pigeons. One of the brother’s best racers was the old 1987 cock, ‘Mulle’, and he recorded some wonderful positions from Nantes, including 14th open NFC Nantes (10,308 birds), 52nd open NFC Nantes and won over £3,000. They told me their most thrilling races were winning the two L&SECC young bird races and recording 52nd open NFC Nantes in their very first National event.  Brian is a retired milkman, serving 37 years in the job and Dick is a self employed gardener, but for most of his working life had his own Garage business.

 

Brian says he not really an eyesign enthusiast, but likes to see a nice eye on a pigeon and enjoys the occasional show ay the local club, but can’t take it seriously. He has a few jobs in the sport and is the President of the Boxmoor HS. The thing that Brian finds disappointing is the fact that clubs are getting much smaller, with the lack of support and some fancier just racing solely in the Nations and Classics. Chitty Brothers advice to new comers to the sport is to buy the best latebreds they can afford for stock, make sure the loft is kept dry and master the feeding side, as it is most important. They told me the best local fanciers for sheer consistency must be Mark Gilbert and Garry Inkley, who are always in the first few in the Nation and Classic results. The partners like to cross breed their birds, but always mate the best to the best and like to breed the odd latebred for the stock loft. As soon as racing finishes the birds are split for the winter months and are fed a good moulting mixture, which they maintain is very import. Congratulation to Brian and Dick on their wonderful performances in the 2016 racing season!

 

I hope my readers have enjoyed reading this article as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Brian and Dick are one of the best racing lofts in Hertfordshire.

 

I can be contacted on telephone number: 01372 463480

or email me on: keithmott1@virginmedia.com

 

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT

(www.keithmott.com)

 

 

 

 

 

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