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Keith Mott

Writes about winning fanciers past and present

 

L.& S.E.C.C. Guernsey (1) race.

After several months of Continental racing bans caused by ‘bird flu’ and the more recent ‘foot and mouth’ outbreak, the pigeon racing situation looked hopeless! But out the blue and to every ones delight, the ban was lifted, and we were allowed to race the two London & South East Classic Club young bird races from Guernsey . The first one was flown on 25th. August, when members sent over 2,000 birds and enjoyed a good steady 165 mile race. My assistant convoyer, Spencer Noble, has recently changed his job and could not do the last two Classic races of the season, so I recruited two excellent replacements to finish the season. We were very honoured to have one of the sports retired superstars riding ‘shotgun’ for the Guernsey Classic that week! They were once described by the late, great Eric Cannon, as being one of the best handlers of racing pigeons he had seen. Of course most people now know that my daughter, Caroline, was my assistant for the first Guernsey classic and I must say, did a wonderful job! That weekend she watered the birds, drove the transporter and lifted more baskets, empty or full, than most people! A great pigeon girl! She has been interested in pigeons all her life, being introduced to them when only a little baby and as a toddler she carried them around under her arm. She was my pigeon partner when she was a young girl and won a first with her good mealy hen at the big R.P. Capital Show in London , many years ago. Caz is a good judge of a pigeon and has judged many shows, including twice at the R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show. If I’m still the L.& S.E.C.C. chief convoyer next season, it would be wonderful to have her as my full time assistant, she did a very good job and it was great fun being on the road with her. Caz is 30 years old next February and has three wonderful kids, Sasha, Ryan and Sophia to look after, so that is very unlikely!



As I’ve previously written in this column the next pigeon fancier is my grand daughter, Sasha, aged seven in November and she wanted to be my assistant for this weekends Guernsey classic. I told her it was imposable, as she was far too young, but she is no ‘five minute wonder’ pigeon fancier kid and I’m sure she will do the job one day! It’s true to say that our Sasha loves all animals and quite literary would not harm a fly. When ever she is at our house in Claygate, most of that time she spends in the pigeon loft and although she is only six years old, with tinny hand, she handles pigeons like an 18 year old! She has a wonderful affinity with the pigeons and the young birds alight all over her when she sits in the loft feeding them. Every season she picks out her own youngster and last year it was a blue pied hen bred by my good friend Tom Gilbertson of Carlisle , which she named ‘White Top’. Although this yearling has only had three races as a young bird, she has appeared twice on television in recent months and with Sasha’s great enthusiasm for her pigeon, ‘White Top’ has become quite famous at the school she attends, St. Andrews School in Cobham. Ray Hough, the producer of the B.B.C. ‘Inside Out’ London programme featured her in our recent appearance on the show and I gave Sasha a copy of a D.V.D. I produced of the programme.



For several days before the first young bird event from Guernsey, according to the early weather reports, it looked like it was going to be a very good but steady race, with the wind being in the East over the Channel Islands that weekend. True to the predictions by the weather people, I liberated the 2,000 plus birds in a very light Easterly wind at Guernsey and according to phone calls and emails received on my return home, the members enjoyed a very steady race, with excellent returns. On our arrival at the car park liberation site, at 03.30hrs, the birds were watered so they had a drink in front of them at first light and the Guernsey sky was clear and starry. We tried to get some sleep and awoke at 05.35hrs, when we topped up the water troughs. I rang my race advisor, Steve Appleby, at 07.00hrs and he gave me a favourable weather report for the English Channel and main land England , but I delayed the liberation because of some local mist and the cold morning temperature. The sun came on strong, sorting out our little problems and I liberated the convoy at 09.25hrs in a light East wind. This was my twelfth visit to Guernsey liberating pigeons for the London & South East Classic Club and have never seen young birds clear the Island as fast as they did this time. They were gone in no time! The Central Southern Classic Flying Club liberated 3,000 birds at 10.00hrs and they also cleared brilliantly. I must say it was great to see my ol’ mate Phil Fishlock, he looked in great form! As always thanks to Steve for his great help with the weather and a special ‘thank you’ to my daughter, Caroline, who did a brilliant job as my assistant for this race. Two great guys who are always a help at the Guernsey liberation site, is Albert Harley and Mat Bentley, thanks also to them.



Many Federations and Classics race their young birds from Guernsey each season and, in my opinion, this race is a great education for the birds in later life in channel racing. The only draw back with going to Guernsey is its very expensive on the Ferries and much cheaper to take the birds in to France . I been to Guernsey twelve times with the Classic youngsters and it’s not the easiest place to race from as mist and rain can cover the island in just a few minutes, with no warning, but on a good day it is second to none for racing young birds across the channel. The liberation site is a big sports field and has full facilities for watering the pigeons and convoyers. On race days the site has a good atmosphere, as the local fanciers come to watch the liberations and many yarns are exchanged. The site agent is my good mate, Albert Harley, and he is always ready to oblige and help in any way he can. Once again, I think this is one of the best sites we go to, as it is spacious and the birds can clear easily. The London lads fly 170 miles out of this Channel Isles race point.



Well that’s it for this week’s column! As you read this week’s B.H.W. I will be on my way to Guernsey with the classic birds, for the second young bird classic race and my son, Mark, will be riding ‘shotgun’. Good luck to every one this weekend! I can be contacted on telephone number: 01372 463480. See yer!



TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT.


 

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