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“On The Road” With Keith Mott

 

Nicole Bell of Catrine in Scotland

 

The John and Alice Bell partnership have won ‘Supreme Champion’ at the BHW Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’ a record five times and are a ‘house hold’ in the UK Show Racer fraternity. Not many people know that their daughter, Nicole, is an outstanding pigeon fancier in her own right, winning several premier shows, including ‘Supreme Champion’ at the RPRA Southern Region Show held at High Wycombe in November 2016. Her winner was her four year old mosaic cock, ‘Mervanic’ and he was a gift Show Racer from Mervin Hosking of Wales. Nicole is only 23 years old and works for the National Autistic Society as a support worker. She tells me, her work commitments¬† is the only thing that makes her miss the shows, but she tries to work her shifts around it and uses her annual leave to cover time off so she can attend the pigeon shows.

 

I recently had a chat with Nicole and what a smashing girl she is! She has very definite and positive views on the direction she is going in with her pigeons, and this is what she had to say, ‘I have been brought up with pigeons all my life, with my mum and dad being John and Alice Bell. Dad raced pigeons from 1975 until 2006, when he parted with the racers and started with show racers. From about 2002 till the present day I was always in the loft with the birds, starting when I could first walk and I loved it when the babies were parted and I could sit on the floor with them. People used to say to dad, she will frighten them or pull a feather out of them, but dad said they will soon get used to her. I always went to the shows with them up until I was about 12 years of age, then I did want to go as much, as I wanted to play with my friends. Then when mum and dad were away I was left to look after the birds and I started to get interested again, so I asked them if I could have my own team to show. So I set about picking my favourites from mum and dad’s loft and at the end of that season.

            

 

In 2015 I had two Society shows and then it was into the BHW Blackpool Show. In my first season I had some success in the Society events, but when it came to Blackpool I knew it was a different ball game. I had a 2nd and won the fancier with most points Inter Society classes and this was a fantastic achievement for someone to get in their first season. This year, the 2016/17 season was my first full season showing and I finished up at the Society with runner up to mum and dad for the ‘points trophy’ and won one of the best trophies in the Society. It was the ‘A. & A. Clark Trophy’ and this is for the birds that won Best in Show or Reserve Best in Show at the Society during the season. They are all put in a class at the end of the Society season and judged the ‘Best in Show’ out of the eight winning birds of the season. My yearling blue chequer cock that won the trophy also won the accumulator money of ¬£100 for the first nominated bird to win a ‘Best in Show’ and a bottle of Rum donated by the judges on the day. As everyone who shows knows it's very difficult to take this team on and beat them, but I did and gave them a run for their money, finishing up with a good few firsts and a load of cards. Then it was the open shows, I wanted to beat them at this so everyone would see I was dedicated to my team and not just helping mum and dad. I showed at all the open shows this season winning 1st prizes and cards at all of them. The best result by far was when we traveled all the way (800 miles round trip) to the RPRA Southern Region Show held in High Wycombe and my mosaic cock that Mervin Hosking kindly gave me when I started, won his class of coloured cocks and then went on to win ‘Best in Show’. With 478 birds entered in the Region show, that got him qualified for ‘Supreme Champion’ class at the 2017 Blackpool Show. I was over the moon just to beat mum and dad, and to also win my first big open show in my first full season showing. Mum and dad won ‘Supreme Champion’ for a record 5th time at Blackpool 2017 and congratulation to them for that wonderful achievement, but I will be back next year and to try again. I also had a first in class 8 with a young chequer hen and I hope she keeps improving all year for a shot at the big shows at the end of 2017.

 

I'll have to go in mum and dad's loft when they are not in and ring a few young birds for myself! You know accidents happen. LOL! My plans for this season 2017/18 are to copy dad's feeding methods more strictly and keep my eyes and ears open. Dad is a heavy feeder and always says the birds will only eat as much as they need and the mixture he uses is his own method of tic beans, maples peas and barley. The barley is there for when the birds have had enough, the barley will always be left and if they don't eat that then they don't get any more corn. So that's what I will be doing in 2017, with no tip bits for them because dad said mine were too heavy. I have to say a big thanks to my mum, as when me and dad are working she cleans and feeds the birds for me as well as her own. Hope to see all of the fancies at the open shows for 2017 and can I also give a special mention to all the members in ‘Team Bell’, as they all have helped me get started not only with birds but with just about everything  that has to do with me showing, from lofts to birds and advice and friendship’.

 

Nicole has got only six pairs for the 2017 season, so hopes to get around 20 young birds. She will not be breeding off the six pairs and will be breeding off four pairs and the other two pairs will be used to rear the babies for her. She said, ‘I know some people will think why not take young birds off all, but they have to be compatible to one another and this is why only four pairs will be bred off. Dad always does this and what he does is good enough for me. I always travelled with mum and dads to loads of shows when I was younger and just listened and watched what they done and now I just put this into practice. I have handled all mum and dad's birds, but dad never makes me pick the same as them and I pick my own type and colour. My favourite bird is the mosaic cock as he is tame and likes fighting with me when I am in the loft and this is good because tame birds are easier to work with and when you have them like this they love coming to you and sitting on my shoulder showing off. This makes the young birds tame as well, as when they see their parents are okay with me it steadies them and give then confidence’.

 

Nicole hasn’t got a favourite colour, just looks of good handling abilities and a good body with tight feathering. She doesn’t like birds that are looking slack and puffy, as they need to be standing straight and showing themselves off, with tight condition, white wattles and nice clear eyes. She maintains the showing game is all about opinions and everyone likes different things, so she just stick to what she likes and if she wins great, if she doesn’t then she just has to take it and come back again. Nicole said, ‘when I show against mum and dad is hard to beat them but I'll give it my best and see what happens. I have been very lucky to have mum and dad to supply me with two quality birds and I know when you start up in showing it is very difficult to obtain good birds. People think I get it easy but I can assure you that I don't, if I make mistakes dad just says make sure you don't do it again and learn from it’. She told me, they are always there for her, but she likes doing her own thing in my short showing career. She has done fantastic, with her mosaic cock, ‘Mervanic’, winning 2nd at BHW Blackpool Show in 2015 in the Inter Society cock class and he then went on to win ‘Best in Show’ at RPRA Southern Region Show in 2016 with 430 birds competing, he then was in ‘Supreme Champion’ class at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2017. Nicole also had a 1st with a young chequer hen in class 8 (young hen handling) at Blackpool 2017 and plus a few other cards. She was runner up in Society to her mum and dad and I was part of the Society that won best Society at the BHW Blackpool Shoe in 2017. She had firsts in classes at SHU Open Show 2016, RPRA Southern Region Show 2016, Midlothian Open Show 2016, the Kingdom Open Show 2016 and Dublin was the only open show she didn't get a first prize at. She told me, ‘that's not bad for a beginner! Some people don't give me credit for what I have achieved in my first full show season because they think it's all mum and dads work, but it's not. I only missed two shows all season and travelled 400 miles each way on the same day to show at the RPRA Southern Region Show and this is not something you would do if you are not mad or mad keen. LOL! I get my own birds ready for the show pen, them at the shows and clean them if needed and mum and dad do their own birds’. Nicole is now looking forward to pairing up on Valentine's Day and then the time will soon come when she will have babies. She likes this time best, but doesn’t like pairing them when the cocks start pecking the hens, and get too rough with them. She is looking forward to the show season and hopes everyone has a good breaking season and gets plenty of quality young birds. What a girl, she really is ‘Miss Dynamite’! ‘Supreme Champion’ at a National show in her first full season competing, what a fantastic achievement!


Steve & Tessa Howard of Guildford

 

My good friend, Steve Howard of Guildford has also enjoyed a good 2016 racing season with broken pigeons after a recent change of address. The first time Steve came to my home about 25 years ago was when he had won the SMT Combine from Bordeaux with his good cock; ‘Scot’s Boy’ and we were sorting out an article. He moved down to Cornwall for several years and is now back living in Guildford racing pigeons with his partner, Tessa. Like me, Steve is a long distance enthusiast and was keen to look at the super 600 mile families at the Ponderosa. Steve is a really nice man and being an acquaintance of the late great Eric Cannon, has a good knowledge of long distance racing.

 

Casting my mind back 25 years, I remember I made the 20-mile drive to Guildford to visit Steve Howard, who had just had a golden two weeks racing his team of natural pigeons. From the London & South East Classic Club's Yearling Nantes Derby, he clocked a Bill Johnson Busschaert blue cock, which was especially paired for the race after being spare all season, to record 2nd open (1,443 birds). Two weeks later he clocked his good yearling blue chequer cock ‘Scott's Boy’, on the day from Bordeaux, 436 miles, to win 1st open SMT Combine (2,143 birds). This game cock was unpaired, flying to his nest box, and was 10 hours 4 minutes on the wing to top the Combine. All Steve's yearling cocks were unpaired because, at the start of the season, he had eleven hens and one cock killed by sparrow hawks. ‘Scott's Boy’ was bred out of an Eric & Pat Cannon of Godalming cock and a hen obtained from Mr & Mrs Newman of Petersfield. As a young bird he was very consistent, being raced to the perch and on his build up to Bordeaux, had several inland races and the L&SECC Yearling Nantes Derby. Steve started up 40 years ago with ten pairs obtained from his friend and his father, Don and Richard Nicholas, who were good fanciers in the Guildford area many years ago. He likes races from 250 miles, through to 500 miles, and has won many premier prizes in the N.F.C. through the years, including 24th open Pau with only one pigeon sent.

 

That’s our article for this week! 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).


 

 

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