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“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.

 

‘Show Racer World’ – Number 17.

 

John & Alice Bell of Catrine in Scotland.

 

John and Alice Bell enjoyed yet another great show season in 2018 and kicked off with a ‘Best in Show’ with 641 birds entered at the NEHU Show in South Shield. The partners had a 340 mile round trip to this event and won BIS with a mosaic cock, which qualified for the ‘Supreme Champion’ class at the 2019 BHW Blackpool show. The day after the NEHU Show, John and Alice had another long drive down to the Midlands to win ‘Best in Show’ at the Black Country BSRF Show and the winner was the Mervin Hosking mosaic cock, which previously won BIS at the RPRA Southern Region Show for Nicole Bell. A brilliant weekend! John and Alice next show was the Clydesdale Open Show, where they won ‘Best in Show’ with a yearling blue chequer cock and with 532 birds entered, he also qualified for the ‘Suprema Champion’ class at the BHW Blackpool Show. This cock went on to win ‘Supreme Champion’ Show Racer at the 2019 BHW Blackpool Show. The day after the Clydesdale Show the partners made the 360 mile drive to Skipton in Yorkshire for the BSRF Open Show, to win ‘Best in Show’ with another Blue Chequer Cock. The next weekend they made the 800 mile drive to High Wycombe for the RPRA Southern Region Show and won ‘Best in Show’, with 474 birds competing. I judged the specials at the Southern Region Show that day and picked out a wonderful yearling Show Racer blue chequer to win ‘Best in Show’ and the hen, now named ‘Dottie’, was owned John and Alice Bell of Catrine in Ayrshire. ‘Dottie’ won her class at the BHW Blackpool Show in January 2018 and then went on to win, ‘Best YB in Show’, ‘Best Hen in Show’, ‘Best Opposite Sex Show Racer’ and ‘Best Opposite Sex’ over all with over 2,000 birds competing. Her dam, another beautiful blue chequer hen, won her class on the day at the RPRA Southern Region Show and was ‘Best in Show’ at the Region Show in 2017. John and Alice also won ‘Best Racer in Show’ with beautiful six year old blue chequer pied hen and she had previously won ‘Best in Show’ at the Kingdom of Fife open show (450 birds), and then won ‘Best Racer in Show’ at the Kingdom of Fife in 2017. Talking to John at the Region Show he told me, he had entered eight classes on the day and won six firsts. The following weekend they made the 150 mile round trip to Fife for the Kingdom Open Show (510 birds) and won ‘Best in Show’ with young blue chequer hen, which was a full sister to Southern Region Show winner, ‘Dottie’. John and Alice travelled the length and breadth of the country to compete with their wonderful team of Show Racers and won six times ‘Best in Show’ and had four birds qualify for the ‘Supreme Champion’ class at 2019 BHW Blackpool Show. A wonderful performance!

 

Thousands of fanciers made the drive up to Blackpool in mid-January 2018 for the main event of the Show Racer calendar, the 46th British Homing World ‘Show of the Year’. John and Alice Bell won ‘Supreme Champion’ at the Blackpool Show for a record sixth time. There winning pigeon was a wonderful sliver blue hen, now named ‘Mary’s Dream Supreme’ after John’s late mother, Mary and she won Best in Show at the Kingdom of Fife Show (506 birds) to qualify for her place al Blackpool. The Bell show loft has had tremendous success at the Blackpool Show over the years winning: ‘Supreme Champion’ six times, including winning it over the last three years on the trot, Reserve ‘Supreme Champion’ five times, ‘Best in Show’ twice and Reserve ‘Best in Show’ twice. ‘Mary’s Dream Supreme’ is a half-sister to ‘Bell’s Young Supreme’, the Blackpool ‘Supreme Champion’ in 2016. A fantastic achievement! I had a conversation with John after the Blackpool show and he told me that they had a bad start to the current show season, with Alice going in and out of hospital over the period of the first three major shows, but once she got back in to her roll of the pigeon management they won BIS at the RPRA Southern Region Show (six firsts), BIS at the Kingdom of Fife Show (six firsts) and BIS at the Black Country Show (two firsts). John and Alice had two class winners at the Blackpool Show, with a young blue chequer hen winning: Best Hen, Best Young Bird, Reserve ‘Best in Show’ and the loft won ‘Fancier Gaining Best Points’.

 

Best in Show over all at Blackpool in 2017 was won by a yearling Show Racer mealy cock owned by John and Alice Bell and when I spoke to John at the event on Saturday morning he said, that the partners were thrill to win Best in Show at Blackpool for the second time. The handsome cock named, ‘Anniversary Supreme’ is a Show Racer champion in the truest sense of the word, also going on to win ‘Supreme Champion’ of the Blackpool Show in 2017. This wonderful Scottish partnership were also runner up in the ‘Supreme Champion’ class with a full brother to their good two year old blue chequer cock, ‘Bell’s Young Supreme’, the winner of ‘Supreme Champion’ at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2016. The sire of these two champion cocks was ‘Bell’s Supreme’ and he was also in the ‘Supreme Champion’ class this time at eight years of age, and he won BIS (800 birds) at the SHU Show in 2016 and 2017. John tells me the partners have won ‘Supreme Champion’ at the BHW Blackpool Show five times and thinks it is a record. A fantastic achievement! John and Alice Bell always have great success where ever they compete and before their 2017 Blackpool Show success, they also had a brilliant 2016 Blackpool Show winning four first, several trophies and ‘Supreme Champion’. The Bell partnership started showing at Blackpool in 2003 and have won ‘Supreme Champion’ an amazing six times and have been runner up five times! This Blackpool success finished off a wonderful 2015/16 show season for them, when they had won several premier shows. That season’s ‘Supreme Champion’ was their good yearling blue chequer cock, ‘Bell’s Young Supreme’ and to qualify he won BIS at the RPRA Southern Region Show in November. I judged four Show Racer classes at the Region Show and John and Alice won three of them, with ‘Bell’s Young Supreme’ being one of those winners. This wonderful cock is a son of, ‘Bell’s Supreme’ the 2011 Blackpool ‘Supreme Champion’ winner and he in turn is a brother to, ‘Wild One’, the 2007 Blackpool ‘Supreme Champion’. What a fantastic family of Show Racers! The 2015/16 show season saw John and Alice enter seven open shows prior to the Blackpool show and they won six of them, including: Shildon Open Show, NEHU Open Show, Shildon BSRF Open Show, RPRA Southern Region Show, Clydesdale Open Show and SHU Open Show.

 

John finished with racing pigeons and concentrated solely on Show Racers in the 2006 season and won the Hurlford open show, recording his first Best in Show with his dark chequer cock, ‘Wild One’, bred from his ‘Old Silver Hen’. The following January this wonderful looking cock went to the BHW ‘Show of the Year’ at Blackpool and won ‘Supreme Champion’. Alice told me, this was the best day of their Show Racer life, to win the Supreme prize on their first attempt. It was a dream comes true! The Bell partners had three open show wins in the 2007 season, four more in 2008 and went on to win Reserve ‘Supreme Champion’ in 2009. In 2010 John and Alice had three major open show wins and so went to Blackpool with three birds in the Supreme Champion class. On entering the Winter Gardens on the Saturday morning they were amazed to see that their yearling Blue Chequer Cock had won his class and Best in Show, so was their fourth candidate in the Supreme Champion class. This cock’s nest mate won Supreme Champion and he was BIS, Reserve Supreme Champion. John told me he didn’t think this had ever been achieved before, with a nest pair winning the two premier prizes at Blackpool on the same weekend. Three of his Blackpool ‘Supreme Champions’ cocks were bred from a seven year old blue chequer cock bred by Darren Gibbons and he said, ‘it goes to prove that old pigeons can still breed champions’. John and Alice enjoyed a very successful 2011 show season, winning four open shows and qualified for the ‘Supreme Champion’ class at Blackpool in January 2012. With a lot of hard work this family of winning Show Racer has been formed from four pairs of original stock birds and the Bell partners told me it is well worth the effort when you win at the very top level with your own family of birds!

 

I asked John how he started up in pigeons and he told me, ‘I started with racing pigeons in 1974, at the age of nine and my first birds came from local fanciers, Eric Wilson of Mauchline who gave me two cocks and Sonny Mathieson who gave me two hens to mate to them. A year or so before that a friend of mine got some pigeons and I got hooked on them when I visited his garden. My parents agreed to allow me to keep some birds and with no experience I raced the whole young bird programme in 1975. I won my first race the following season and scored at the mighty Scottish National race from Rennes (552 miles), and I must say it was a great feeling! To breed and race birds that can race from France to Catrine, Ayrshire in the west of Scotland is a great buzz, as it is a very hard place to race pigeons too’.

 

John flew his birds until the 2000 season when sadly his friend and mentor, Louis Campbell, passed away. He was always keen on showing his racing pigeons and took then to events all over Scotland, where he was very successful in local and open shows. The Bell loft had four racing pigeons that had won open shows in the same year with over 500 birds competing, at that time, and qualified for the Supreme Champion of Great Britain class at Blackpool and won Reserve that year. Whenever he went to the big National shows he would spend long periods of time looking at the Show Racer and thought how great they looked. Alice used to go with John to the big shows and she also took a liking the wonderful looking show birds, so they both decided to get a few and give proper showing a go. The first Show Racers were brought in, in 2002 and quality specimens proved very difficult to obtain. He was lucky to know, Raymond Murphy of Cambuslang in Glasgow, who was a very good showman who was going out of the sport, and was having a clearance sale. John visited Raymond’s loft and purchased a five year old silver hen and her son, which was a three year old silver blue cock, both being top quality. Other birds were obtained including a young blue chequer cock from Darren Gibbons of Grimsby. In the 2002 season the ‘Old Silver Hen’ won three big open shows and her son, the silver blue cock, won two classes at open events. John and Alice went to the RP ‘Old Comrades’ where the young chequer cock won his class and went on to win the Best Young Bird at the Scottish East Region Society Show, then went forward to Blackpool to represent the Society in the BSRF class. The 2003 season saw more good success with several open show wins with racing and show birds. John told me that Alice was very instrumental in the success as she spent a lot of time with the birds and made them very tame. They responded really well to her and sit on her head and feed from her hand. John maintains making her a full pigeon partner was one of the best things he ever did, as she manages the loft when he is working, cleaning out and feeding the birds.

 

John told me his best show racer is his old dark chequer hen, ‘Alice’s Celtic Lass’ and she has won many premier positions including: the Hurlford Open Show,  the Kingdom of Fife Open Show and the North Eastern Open Show, with over 450 birds entered. The beautiful hen has been a class winner at many open shows, even in 2014 at the age of seven, but she has been a champion in the stock section, breeding champions with different cocks each year. In the 2009 season she bread a nest pair of chequer cocks, one of them won Best in Show at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2011 and he also went on to be reserve ‘Supreme Champion’  at the same show, being beaten by his brother. The chequer cock’s nest brother won Best in Show at the North Eastern Open Show in 2010 and then won most consistent bird Scottish East Region Show Racers Society 2010 and the went to Blackpool, winning ‘Supreme Champion’ in 2011 and beating his nest mate. John said, ‘I don't think this has ever been done at Blackpool by a nest pair before. ‘Alice’s Celtic Lass’ also bread a chequer hen in 2011 and she won the Kingdom Open Show, and then went into the ‘Supreme Champion’ class at BHW Blackpool Show. The next year this hen went to Blackpool and won the Inter Society Yearly Hen Class and then went on to win reserve Best in Show. This great hen then went on to other top cards at the Blackpool Show. She bred a chequer cock in 2012 that won ‘Supreme Champion’ at the East Region Show Racer Society Show in 2013. He went on to win five firsts in the Society and was the most consistent bird award, and represented Scottish East Region in British SR Federation class at Blackpool in 2015. The champion chequer hen, ‘Alice’s Celtic Lass’, also bread a chequer cock in 2013 which won Best in Show at the North Eastern Open Show, then went into ‘Supreme Champion’ this year. As you can see she has bred champions each year with different cocks each time. Her father was a 2002 bird, with her mother being bred in 1997, so as you can see old birds can still breed champions Show Racers. ‘Alice’s Celtic Lass’ father was five years old and her mother was ten years old when I bred her and I hope she lasts as long as her mother did and still breeds champions’.

 

John and Alice have two 24ft x 8ft lofts, which have a nice 3ft wire flight running along the front so the birds can get out in the weather and bath, and these are cleaned out by Alice twice a day. John works long hours and says a lot of loft management is down to his partner, which includes cleaning out the lofts as many times as ten times a day on the build up to big shows. He maintains this cleaning out is very important as the birds don’t have to be lifted and pulled about to clean their feet on basketing for the shows. Alice told me that if the bird’s feet are not cleaned on basketing day they look nice and powdery and not an unnatural pink. The birds are bathed at the beginning of the week and no litter is used on the loft floors. John mixes his own corn and this has a big maple pea content, and the birds are never fed condition seed. The pigeons are never fed maize prior the going to show, as Alice maintains it makes the candidates loose and messy in the pen. The twelve pairs of birds are mated up in late February as the partners like to enter two open Society shows which are after the Blackpool show at the back end of January. No stock birds are kept as all birds are shown and about 60 young birds are bred each, which are brought down to about twelve just before the show season begins. John told me, ‘I enjoy judging and have no favourite colour, when judging or in my own loft. I just love good quality Show Racers, whatever their colour! Showing is very hard work and to get a team ready for a big National event it can take up to a month to get them right. Our best ever Show Racer is the Darren Gibbons blue chequer cock and although we don’t keep stock birds, he is our main breeder, being the sire of many winners. I’ve lost count of the many open shows he has won and he has also won several times at the RP ‘Old Comrades’ Show and the BHW Blackpool Show. I would like to finish this article by saying how important Alice’s hard work is to our good success with our Show Racers. She is a wonderful pigeon fancier’. John & Alice Bell own one of the top Show Racer lofts in the UK at this time.

 

Well that’s your article for this week and our last in the ‘Show Racer World’ series. We’ve finished on one of the very best on the show scene. 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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