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1st Three Borders Fed Messac - June 2012

by Keith Mott

The Three Borders Federation continued its 2012 racing season with a race from Messac at the end of May and encountered yet another really hard race. This was the second race with the SMT Combine and the convoy was liberated at 05.45hrs in to an Easterly wind. Across the board what a terrible racing season we have had so far this year, with strong Easterly winds, rain, rain and more rain which have taken their toll! Generally the first half of the current season has been so bad, we have seen some organizations bring birds back from race points to liberate short, change race dates and even cancel races. A consequence of this bad start to the season is the massive drops in birdage, in some cases, thousands of birds. It’s been the worst start to any racing season I can remember! Well done to the Three Borders Federation convoyer and race advisor who have made the best of the adverse weather conditions and produced some reasonable racing so far this season!


I visited the Messac liberation site in France twice a couple of years ago and was really impressed with the facilities there. I completed my first convoying stint for the Central Southern Classic Flying Club in mid-May 2010 and I must say it was one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve had to France with the birds. One of the main reasons that got me out of retirement and start convoying again that season, was the prospect of visiting some new liberation sites and our first destination was Messac, which is on the west side of France, midway between Rennes and Nantes. I think it is fair to say it is one of the best sites I’ve visited in France. The birds are liberated at the top end of the picturesque marina, on a raised tarmac area which is site between the water and open fields. The pigeons have a perfect fly out on their liberation, with no obstacles to hamper them at all and the site is very quiet, with only the odd person walking their dog passing the transporter. On our arrival on site we were given a code number to the lock of the Shower / WC block and I must say this facility was spotlessly clean. The liberation site at Messac is brilliant and is one that I strongly recommend!


As I’ve already stated the SMT Combine race from Messac was a very hard event and Andy Kyriacou of Richmond won the Three Borders Federation and 2nd open SMT Combine. Andy’s winner was his nice little two year old blue chequer, ‘Carol’s Girl’, which he has named after his wife, Carol, who he says is a great help with the pigeons. He told me Carol would not own a loft of pigeons, but would always help out if needed with feeding, exercise and general loft management. ‘Carol’s Girl’ was bred from a Dutch stock cock that Andy purchased in 2003 when mated to a hen from his old Jim Dursley of Millwall family, which have very successful since he brought them in in 1972. Andy has always been a natural racer, but since meeting his good friend, Roy Barnett of Kingston, about four year ago he has been on the round about system. Roy show Andy the system, including the feeding and training, and he has been very successful. The Federation winning hen was paired up on 14th February, with all the other racers, and reared two babies, and had every inland Federation race before the Messac race.


Andy says in his opinion the roundabout system gets the best out of the cocks and hens, where the widowhood is only a good system for cock birds. The racer are split into two teams at the beginning of the season, one for inland racing and one for channel racing, which he says he prefers. He has a small three section loft, which is just over 4ft wide and this houses his roundabout racing team, and his stock birds and youngsters are kept in tow other small lofts. Andy has ten pairs of stock birds and keeps two families, which are his Jim Dursley pigeons, which he has had for over 40 years and some Jan Aarden pigeons. Andy told me Jim Dursley was very successful in the 1970s and won the ‘Tommy Long Trophy’ several times, and since he first brought the Dursley pigeons in in 1972, they have won good races from the very first season. The stock birds are paired up the same time as the racers in February and the whole loft is fed on ‘Irish’ mixture all the year around. He says being a channel racing man he used to be a ‘bean’ feeder, but has changed with the times, but has never broken down for natural or roundabout. He likes to make shore that his birds get plenty of grit and minerals, and a special thing he does for the birds is crush up the used Bar BQ ashes, he maintains they go mad for them. Andy’s 24 young birds are raced on the natural and never put on the ‘dark’ system, and never likes them to pair up, but says his are latish bred and rarely want to mate up. The youngsters are trained well up to 50 miles before the first Federation race and go through the programme from start to finish, and are trained most days during the season.


Andy was born in Cyprus and came to live in the London area just after the war in the 1940s. His dad served in the British army and as a lad Andy keep rabbits, as most house holds then did, for the table. A pigeon fancier named Len Toomey lived just the street from the Kyriacou home and he started the young Andy off in pigeon by gifting him two pairs of white Logan pigeons. He was hooked on pigeons from day one and his first loft was a small converted garden shed. He soon wanted to race his birds and joined the Willesden Premier Club, which at that time had 150 members on their books. Andy told me in those days all the local clubs were huge and the member used to contribute money and pay the annual subscription for any young lads who wanted to join. The Kyriacou family lived in Willesden, which was a hot bed of pigeon racing after the war and a local fancier gifted Andy a Sky Master clock, so he was up and runner in no time. He had his first pigeons at the age of 12 and won his first race in the Willesden North Road club at the age of 14, and recalls it was one of the short sprint races. All the young lads used to go to all London clubs in the lorry on marking night to pick up the birds and take them to Kings Cross station, and then load them on to the train, to take them to the race point. Andy says it was brilliant fun when he was a kid and pigeons keep the lads out of trouble! Andy Kyriacou joint the Richmond club four years ago after the Putney club disbanded, which he had been a member of for many years. He was a founder member of the old Putney club and says it was a sad day when it packed up. On joining the Richmond club he met and formed a partnership with the late, Peter Wilson, who was at one time the secretary of the old Richmond North Road club. Peter Wilson was a larger that life character and his pigeon partnership with Andy proved very successful. They won several top races, including the only two birds on the day from Fraserburgh and these were clocked within 30 second of one another. Andy says he has never kept records of his pigeon racing wins, but showed me a big stack of racing results and he has certainly been an outstanding fancier over the years.


Andy says since he met Roy Barnett they have become great friends and Roy has helped him a lot with the pigeons. Andy has a few health issues and has to go and live abroad in the winter months every year, and Roy looks after his pigeons for him. Roy is an outstanding fancier in his own right, being from a great pigeon racing family and he showed Andy the roundabout system. When ‘Carol’s Girl’ won the Federation from Messac, Roy Barnett was 4th Federation with his good blue pied cock, ‘Charlie Chaplin’, and he was bred by Andy Kyriacou. Brilliant stuff! Andy has bred several good pigeons for Roy in recent seasons including the super two year old blue cock, ‘Andy’s Boy’, and he is the Alencon specialist, winning: 2012: 1st club, 2nd Three Borders Federation, 3rd SMT Combine Alencon: 2011: 1st club, 10th Three Borders Federation, 14th SMT Combine Alencon. Roy is good worker at his club, the Esher & Dist. RPC, and is a second generation pigeon fancier, with his late father being the Kingston ‘ace’ of the 1970s and 1980s, Roy Barnett senior. He was never in partnership with his dad, but as a lad helped out around the loft, cleaning out and training the birds. In the 1970s the Barnett loft had several outstanding pigeons, one being ‘Billy’, winner of ten times second prize and won the £5 pool in the very strong Kingston club most weeks. The loft also housed several Federation winners. Roy still has his loft in his dad’s garden and although it is a new loft it is the same design as the old Barnett loft. He maintains his roundabout system is very simple, with the birds getting a few training tosses at the beginning of the season and then they are exercised around the loft twice a day for an hour. Roy races eight pairs on his system and pairs them up in early January, with Federation racing in mind. The racers rear one pair of youngsters, then are split and put on the system before they lay their second round of eggs. The birds are not broken down, being fed a good widowhood mixture and Roy is only interested in Federation and Combine racing from 90 miles through to the longest old bird race from Bergerac, 450 miles.


Andy ran his own fish and chip shop in Putney for over 25 years and it was site just up the road from the Putney pigeon club, and on Friday and Saturday nights it was always full with local pigeon fancier. He told me he would like to see more young people come in the sport, but says it is an electronic age and kids these days are more interested in computers than hobbies like fishing and pigeon racing. Andy maintains the sport has progressed with the ETS clocking, training and feeding methods, but he is very much against keep treating pigeons. He maintains too many pigeon losses from races are blamed on Hawks and Peregrine Falcons, and although some are because of the raptors, he thinks some the birds are not up to doing the job because they are over treated.


The first ten in the Three Borders Federation result from Messac were: 1) Andy Kyriacou 973: 2) Abbott & Hawkworth 943: 3) Slight & Taylor 942: 4) Roy Barnett 941: 5) M/M David May 891: 6) Reg Whenman 889: 7) M/M Glass 844: 8) A. Antoce 839: 9) Mick Nunn & son 836: 10) A. Antoce 834.


Please Note: The SMT Combine will be convoyed and liberated with the London & South East Classic Club at Bergerac on Friday 13th July. The Combine is now marking for this the longest old bird race on Monday 9th July and pigeons must be marked ten birds to a crate. The reason for the importance of ten birds a crate is the birds will be transferred in to different 30 bird panniers and are not handled, but re-crated via a tunnel system. This system is much less stressful for the birds, but can not be counted in to the new panniers. Normal only twenty birds are convoyed in these 30 bird panniers, so ensure the inmates comfort.


TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)