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"ON THE ROAD" WITH KEITH MOTT.

'We Go Where Glory Waites': New Milton in Hampshire!


We recently had a week’s holiday in Hampshire, with no family members and it was great! No kids, brilliant accommodation and weather, and Betty had no cooking, because we ate out at a top restaurant nearly every evening. Just brilliant! We’ve been to Tenerife five times, Gran Canaria twice, Spain, Malta and the South of France many times, but my favourite holiday destination is the south west of the UK. If the weather is good, there is no better place in the world! We have been going down to Highcliff, near Christchurch, off and on for almost 40 years and first went there when our kids, Mark and Caroline, were toddlers. It’s not too far to drive and the fishing is brilliant! It is now the home of the ‘Middlesex Mafia’, with several top Middlesex pigeon racers retiring to the Christchurch area, including: Les Kidd, Charlie Lakeman, Billy Sandy, Gary Frewin, Rod Berry and the late, great Eric Matthews. Even my old mate and fellow pigeon scribe, Terry Peart of Croydon has moved down to Bournemouth! You lucky people, it’s a great place to live! The lads say it’s brilliant with the New Forest and Bournemouth just up the road, but the pigeon racing is hard where they live, with the birds coming over the English Channel, and ‘dog legging’ back to New Milton in most races. I don’t normal get involved with pigeon matters while on holiday, but while in the New Milton area, I thought I might take the opportunity to have a couple of hours on my own, to visit a couple of old pigeon fancier friends who live there and shoot some film for my YouTube channel.

 

 My first visit was to the home of Les & Cynthia Kidd of New Milton. Les was a leading long distance racer in the London area for many years and moved to New Milton about 16 years ago and continued his racing success there in Hampshire. When he lived in Sunbury he was a great supporter of the London & South East Classic Club and was the member who suggested the clubs motto, ‘We Go Where Glory Waits’, which was on all the clubs stationary, diplomas and sign written on the Transporter. Every time Les and I cross paths, he says, ‘why don’t you pop around and see the birds next time you are in the area’ and this was my second visit to his home in recent years. When I arrived at Les home the sun was shining and I was very impressed on how good his loft looked in his wonderful garden. He tells me, his wife, Cynthia, must take the credit for that, as she is very keen gardener and works very hard to keep it looking so nice. She is also a great help with his pigeon management! 

Les has a very smart 16ft racing loft, which is of the old design, being open with a full length bay and trapping is through ‘bob’ holes off the top of the bay, with ETS timing. He tells me the main feature of his loft is plenty of fresh air and has tried deep litter on the floors, but found it too dusty, so cleans out every day. The loft has a 10ft section, with wooden natural nest boxes, for the old birds and a 6ft section for the youngsters, and an eye catching feature in the loft was Les’ self-built Plywood corn hoppers, that are filled with farm Tic Beans all the year around. The Kidd pigeons are all, racers and stock birds, fed on farm Tic Beans and get a tip-bit of condition seed for treat. The very small stock bird team of four pairs are kept in a little 6ft x 6ft self built loft at the top of the garden near Les and Cynthia’s bungalow and this loft houses four sons of the champion breeder ‘Sadler’s Wills’ and their mates. The Kidd’s 20 pairs of old birds are raced totally on the natural system and are paired up the first week in March, with 550 mile racing in mind. Les uses the shorter races to get the birds trained and ‘match fit’, and likes to send them to the main long distance events sitting ten day old eggs. He doesn’t train his old birds these days because in 2008, when training his old birds from 20 miles, they were attacked by birds of Prey and he suffered losses and several badly injured birds. Les told me, it was like a blood bath in his loft when they returned! He decided not to train again after that terrible day and now, after flying well around home, he jumps them into the first 200 mile race and it works. He maintains after five seasons with not training his old birds his long distance performance are even better! Les like his race team to have eight hours flying from France before going into the maim long distance events and this sometimes means two flies from Messac. He breeds about 25 young birds, plus a couple of late breds each year and rarely races his youngster, but maintains if he was a serious young bird racer he would use the ‘darkness’ system. He likes his babies to grow and is looking ahead two years, that’s when they are tested from 500 miles. Although Les doesn’t train his old birds, the youngsters are trained from 3 miles every day to teach them about the basket and says, they go off and run along the south coast for well over an hour every morning. 

Les Kidd is a 100% long distance enthusiast and has no interest in any other racing what so ever. He has had many years of success racing at the very top level in the long distance side of our sport. He has a big job remembering, but the highlights are: winning the gold medal and 1st open Combine Bordeaux (4,364 birds), clocked five birds on the day of liberation in the NFC Pau Grand National (560 miles) to record 5th, 10th, 64th open (6,066 birds), lifting ‘The Queen Coronation Cup’ and ‘The Orchardson Challenge Trophy’ for best two bird and three bird averages. Some of his best racers were: ‘The Lerwick Cock’ 8th section NRCC Lerwick (flew 604 miles on the day), then turned south road to win 1st club, 11th Federation Bergerac (450 miles). He was another premier breeder for the Les Kidd loft. ‘The Pau Cock’ 4th open L&SECC Pau (flew 556 miles on the day), ‘My Favourite’ 10th open CSCFC Pau (north east wind): ‘Favourite’s Sister’ 21st open BBC San Sebastian, ‘Pyrenees King’ 8th open BBC Barcelona (702 miles), north east a very hard race, ‘Misty Lady’ 5th open CSCFC Tarbes (526 miles), ‘Princess’ 9th open CSCFC Tarbes (526 miles), ‘Barcy’ 8th open BICC Barcelona. ‘Lady in Red’, a Fear Brothers / Titmuss cross hen bred by Gary Frewin and winner of 15th, 16th open BBC Palamos (655 miles), ‘Le Mome Piaf’ (means ‘Little Sparrow’) 5th open BBC Barcelona (672 miles), 45th open Tarbes, 59th open Tarbes. Les owns two famous pied hens that have won the ‘The Blue Riband Certificate’ merit award for scoring three times in the first 100 open in the Central Southern Classic Flying Club Tarbes race. 

The main family raced is A. E. Sheppard of North London and go back to 1905, and these were originally obtained from the great Surrey long distance fancier, Ian Benstead of Capel. Les brings in a cross from time to time and has had great success with all English bloodlines, including: Mike Young (Spangles), Peter Titmuss, Norman Southwell and Fear Brothers. Johnny Will of Frimley is a great friend of Les’ and he is famed for his great success racing long distance with the Ian Benstead pigeons, and years ago he bred Les a youngster which turned out to be the father of the New Milton loft. The champion breeding cock was the blue chequer, ‘Sadler’s Wills’ and Les tells me, nearly all his best birds through the years go back to this wonderful pigeon. This once in a life time stock cock was named after the champion stud race horse and Les’ good friend Johnny Wills! His long distance birds have given him a lot of fun over the years and he still gets a great ‘buzz’ from seeing his birds arrive home from races from France and Spain. Les tells me he has been a pigeon fancier for 71 years and kept pigeons as pets as a nine year old lad where he lived in Brentford, Middlesex, and tells me there was a lot of pigeon fancier on the council estate where he lived. He played a lot of football when he was young and was called up for a trial for Brentford Football Club the same as he was called up to do Army National Service at the age of eighteen years old. He got married to his wife, Cynthia, and built his first loft which was small 6ft x 4ft structure and Ernie Cloves of Ealing started him up with his first proper racing pigeons in 1962. In the early days he liked sprint racing and won the Federation from Bournemouth, Exeter and Penzance and in 1965 he won the Combine, which made up from five Federations in those days, from Bordeaux (4,364 birds). After 71 years in the sport, Les remembers that his first club was the Ealing HS and two of the legends of the day, Freddie Meale and Tubby Tate, were in the membership. He laughed when he told me, his first birds were a right mixed bunch of ‘mongrels’ and the main novice mistake he made in the beginning was, sending his best birds to every race. 

Being a good worker for the sport for over 70 years, Les tells me he has been a clock setter for most of his pigeon life and was taught by the old Feltham legends, Bob Carter and Jackie Newell. He told me if he could change anything in the sport he would bring back three races only per season for the National Flying Club, British Barcelona Club and Central Southern Classic Flying Club. Les maintains the Classic and National clubs are turning their programmes into ordinary Federation type programmes and are not really special any more. They should go back to one middle distance race, Tarbes or Palamos and a young bird race from France. The thing he really hates is sending his birds to 550 miles and having them liberated at mid-day, and says what’s the point and what does it prove! He is a great believer in inbreeding and line breeding, and has only brought in about five or six birds in to his loft in the last 35 years to cross into his A. E. Sheppard base family. He breeds a couple of late breds each season off his best racers to even up his pairings for the following year. 

On my visit to New Milton, Les took me the loft of his good friend, Gary Frewin, who has had a wonderful 2017 racing season racing on the long distance. Gary moved from Ealing down to New Milton in 2000 and tells me he was one of the first of the ‘Middlesex Mafia’ to relocate in Hampshire. Gary has been in the sport 50 years and in the early days raced with great success with his father, Len Frewin, in the Ealing Club (West Middlesex Federation).

The father and son partnership were very successful racing both South and North Road. Gary says he likes living in Hampshire and has no regrets leaving London! Gary loves long distance racing and told me his main aim being in the sport of pigeon racing is to enjoy his pigeon and if he wins racing prizes that is a bonus. He really is ‘Mr. Natural’, with his old and young birds living together in the same sections in his 30ft loft and in March when pairing up he just lets the birds go together and pick their own mates for the season. His loft is sited under a canopy of several trees and the pigeons spend most of the day sitting up in the branches. Gary had a brilliant result in the 2017 Central Southern Classic Flying Club Pau race (520 miles), when he clocked two birds to win 1st, 18th SW section, 3rd, 25th open with 594 birds competing. First pigeon on the ETS from Pau was Gary’s good blue hen, ‘Mandy Loo’ and she was sent on chipping eggs. This game hen has several other premier positions in long distance races and was bred from a Les Kidd cock and a Rod Berry hen, both ‘Middlesex Mafia’ members. Gary Frewin’s video can be viewed on my YouTube channel. 

That’s it for another week. It was great meeting up with Les and Gary and I must say how well they both looked living that wonderful Hampshire sea air. Thanks to them both for two most enjoyable loft visits and for taking part in the YouTube videos! 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.keith mott.com)

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