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Looking back at London & South East Classic Club winners (Part 9.)


Alan & Gary Young of Croydon.


The father and son partnership of Alan and Gary Young have set the Surrey pigeon fancy alight in recent season with their fantastic young bird performances, which include 1st open National Flying Club, 1st open London & South East Classic Club and 1st Combine.


Alan and Gary had three pigeon come together from the second London & South East Classic Club young bird Guernsey Classic race (2,000 birds) and produced a fantastic result by recording 1st, 2nd and 3rd open. The first pigeon too hand and to win the Classic was the blue chequer cock, ‘Anto’, and he had previously won 4th open Federation (1,495 birds) Portland. His sire was bred from the T.B.O. Partnership’s champion racer, ‘Mack-One’, winner of four times 1st Federation, when mated to, ‘Shore Bet’, also winner of four times 1st Federation. The dam of ‘Anto’ is a M. & D. Evans hen bred down from their champion ‘Hillcroft Fantasy’. This game cock was a ‘darkness’ youngster, flying his fourth race when he won the Guernsey Classic and was sent sitting seven day old eggs. In fact he was mated to the 3rd open Guernsey Classic winner, ‘Amelia’, which had previously won 3rd Federation (1,495 birds) Portland, 13th Federation (1,667 birds) Blandford. When Gary came around to my home in Claygate after the event to have his birds photographed, we had a good chat about the race and he said, the three birds were in the loft together and it was just a matter of which one came to hand first would be the Classic winner. The 2nd open blue chequer cock, ‘Danny Boy’, was bred from a Geoff Kirkland pigeon, the same one that bred the Young’s 2006 NFC Chale winner, Champion ‘Louisa’, making then half brother, half sister. Gary says, it was a shame he didn’t clock ‘Danny Boy’ first from Guernsey, as it would have meant the Kirkland pigeon would have bred a National winner in 2006 and a Classic winner in 2007. Mind boggling! ‘Danny Boy’ was the Young’s first bird clocked from the first Guernsey Classic two weeks previous, to record 33rd open and I think he must be a good contender to win the ‘Wally Dann Memorial Cup’ for best young bird of the year. This young racing machine was sent to Guernsey sitting eggs and had previously won 5th Federation (1,696 birds) Blandford.


The weekend before the Guernsey Classic, Alan and Gary sent a team of 17 youngsters to the NFC Guernsey National (5,408 birds) and recorded 5th, 7th, 11th, 23rd, 99th, 176th open, lifting 2nd Gold Ring National. The partners got two pigeons together from the National and first one on the clock to record 5th open was the Belgium rung blue chequer cock ‘Willy’, and he was obtained from a fancier up country named Steve Hole. This cock was raced to the perch and previously recorded 3rd Federation (1,692 birds) Blandford.


The 2007 young bird team were set up for the London & South East Classic Club and National Flying Club races and were trained off the south coast, from Bognor and Portsmouth. Gary told me that they were trained on the Winchester line for a while with the ‘foot and mouth’ ban, but once this was lifted he turned them back to the coast. They also got additional ‘four up’ tosses from 10 miles in the evenings and came home from the Federation races in batches. The youngsters were fed on ‘Gerry Plus’ and were given regular exercise around the loft. The young birds were split in to two teams because of the ‘bird flu’ seven day rule and both performed brilliantly. The youngsters were put on the ‘darkness’ system on weaning and taken off  two week earlier than usual, in early June, because Alan went on holiday. They were darkened from 5pm until 8am and the sexes were kept separated for the first three races, then they were allowed to run together for the rest of the racing season, with fantastic success. In the 2007 season training started about six weeks before the first race, with short tosses then went in big jumps down to the south coast. My good friend, Bobby Besant, had been given the partners one or two pointers with their pigeon management that season and great results came about.


The old sporting saying of, ‘when it’s your day, it really is your day’, applied very strongly to Alan and Gary Young when they sent to the 2006 N.F.C. Chale young bird race and didn’t just have one pigeon come to win 1st open, but had two come together. The first pigeon on the clock to win 1st open National was the partners little blue pied hen, Champion ‘Louisa’, and she was bred from Geoff Kirkland and Dave Hunt bloodlines. She had four club races on her build up to her National win and the L&SECC race from Yelverton, when she recorded 35th open. In my opinion, ‘Louisa’, is a perfect pigeon, small, apple bodied, wonderful feathering and eye, with a brilliant racing record to finish it off! My type of racing pigeon! The second pigeon on the clock from the Chale National was the blue chequer cock, ‘The Huntsman’, and he was a bit slow on the trap but still recorded 5th open National. This game pigeon had previously won 54th open L&SECC Exeter, a couple of weekends before.


Alan flew pigeons in the 1960’s, with his son, Gary, became a pigeon partner about ten years ago and they race in the Surrey Valley Club (Surrey Federation). Alan and Gary have been racing from the present Croydon address for fourteen years and their two section 24ft x 6ft racing loft has sputnik trapping. The partners race 20 cocks on the widowhood system and these are paired up on their return from the Blackpool Show in late January. The racers are fed on light mixtures and Gary told me the partners like National and Classic channel racing best. The racers rear a pair of youngsters, with the hens being taken away with the young ones at about 17 days old and the cocks are given about six 30 mile training tosses when they are repaired just before the racing season starts. Gary says his racers are a bit fat at the start of the season, but the first few inland races knock them into shape. Although firsts have been recorded in the Saturday club, Gary says, most of their best positions have been won in the National and Classic clubs, including 8th open L&SECC Bergerac (450 miles). One of the premier racers at the Croydon loft is ‘The Mosaic Hen’ and she has an outstanding racing record, including 1st open Federation (1,328 birds) from Lyndhurst.


The Young’s keep ten pairs of stock birds, which are housed in a 7ft x 5ft loft, with aviary and are mated the same time as the racers so the eggs can be floated. During the breeding season a wood shavings and sand litter is used on the stock loft floor These birds are fed a first class ‘breeding’ mixture and a lot of the stock birds have come from Gary’s good friend, Dave Hunt of Dagenham, in the east end of London. The partners told me, Dave has been a very good friend, giving them some first class stock birds and excellent advice. One of the main stock birds is the blue pied cock, Champion ‘Mack One’, which was bred and raced by the T.B.O. Partnership and he has sired several good winners, but Gary says his grand children are outstanding. This wonderful cock was champion young bird of Europe in 1999 and won 1st open Bosmolen Gold Ring Classic, 1st open Amalgamation (by 30 ypm), four times 1st Federation and was undefeated at Federation level. What pigeon to have in your stock loft! Other bloodlines at the Croydon loft are Geoff Kirkland and M. & D. Evans. The Young’s breed 70 young birds for racing each season and Gary says he likes to go training with them at 4am, and sometimes they go down the road twice a day. Alan and Gary really enjoy young bird racing and start training about five weeks before the first race, working them up to Petersfield (45 miles). During the racing season the babies get a couple of 12 mile tosses each week and the hens race the programme, with a few cock being stopped after a few races and saved for the widowhood system. The young cocks and hens are kept in separate sections during the racing season and run together on the marking day. When picking out new stock birds, Gary says he is only interested in good winning bloodlines and not type. He maintains that if a fancier lives in a club radius and is of good character, he should not be refused entry in a club, regardless if he is a good racer or not. The partners like to show their birds in the winter months, but only at club level and not at National events.


Ian West of Kingston.

Ian West won the L&SECC Guernsey (1) old hens classic in the 2007 season, when I liberated the 421 birds at 09.25 hrs in to a light East wind. The old hens were released with the 1,715 classic young birds and Ian’s game blue hen put the best overall velocity that day. The latest West classic winner is named, ‘Princess Taia’, and was bred from the very best of the old K. & R. Besant of Kingston bloodlines, being obtained from Ian’s good friend, the late great Ken Besant. She is bred down from several of the Besant’s best racers, including Champion ‘Besant’s Bishop’s Pride’ winner of 1st open NFC Bordeaux, 1st Federation Weymouth, ‘Showman’, winner of 13th open NFC Pau, 1st Federation Weymouth and ‘Versatile Lady’ the outstanding widowhood hen and winner of 1st Federation inland, plus 11th open NFC Pau. On her build up to her classic win, ‘Princess Taia’, had two club races from 118 miles and  one from 230 miles, then had nothing for six weeks only a short training toss from Guildford on the Monday before the Guernsey classic race. The training toss almost turn out to be a disaster, as the sky turned black and it started to rain after Ian liberated them, but the birds got through and turned up at the loft in just over the hour. She was sent paired to another hen and sitting four eggs, previously being celibate all the season, and was specially mated up for the old hens classic, three weeks before. Ian told me at the time, his hens exercise brilliantly around the loft and being kept celibate stay in excellent condition all season. Ian’s second hen on the clock was his good Staf Van Reet mealy named, ‘Natalie’s Pride’, and she has won several premier prizes including 2004: 57th open L&SECC Guernsey (old hens), 2007: 50th open L&SECC Guernsey (1) (old hens), 11th open L&SECC Guernsey (2) (old hens).

Ian West is from a good pigeon racing family, with his father, Dave, being an outstanding winning fancier, in the Kingston club about 40 years ago. Ian is carrying on the West winning ways and has won the Three Borders Federation twice and L&SECC twice in recent seasons. Ian first London & South East Classic Club winner was in the 2004 young bird season, when members sent 2,142 youngsters and 564 old hens to Guernsey. The convoy was liberated on the Saturday morning at 10.00hrs in a north-west wind, in what seemed to be perfect racing conditions. The race turned out to be a very hard event and some members returned their clocks empty. Ian won the Old Hens Classic, clocking at 13.30hrs with his two year old blue chequer pied hen, sent paired to another hen and sitting four eggs. Ian told me this game pigeon had been only lightly raced and was bred from two gift stock birds from John Keywood of Hersham. She is of course his champion hen, ‘Ladies Girl’ and is bred down from the very best Jan Huybregts bloodlines.

Ian started up in the sport only in 2000 and tells me his friend, the late Ken Besant of New Malden, was a great help in getting him started. In the 2003 season the West loft won the Inland Average in the very strong Hersham Club and his biggest thrill was winning ‘The Ken Besant Memorial Trophy’ with a pigeon that Ken had bred for Ian to start him up. The West loft’s Three Borders Federation winner at that time was the two year old blue chequer Van Loon widowhood cock ‘Wayne's Boy’ and he was bred from pigeons obtained from Steve Clackston and Frank Butler. Ian's father is the good old Kingston fancier Dave West, who flew a brilliant Channel pigeon in the 1970s and I can remember him winning the Bergerac race in the very strong Kingston Club the season after we won it. The good ol’ days! Dave won the longest old bird race with his good blue chequer hen ‘Charter Flight’, which recorded 5th open SMT Combine. Looks like Ian is following in his father's footsteps!

The Three Borders Federation held a Taunton race in mid-June 2012 and was good to see the birdage pick up a bit after the weather problems in the first half of the season. It was also good to see the wind turnaround from the east to south west and give the 1,100 birds entered an easier fly over the 125 mile coarse home. The first half of the season saw us have strong east winds, with rain, rain and more rain, which took its toll of bad losses, with the consequence of plummeting birdage. Ian West of the Esher club won the Federation by a ‘country mile’ with his good two year old blue chequer widowhood cock, ‘Deon’ and Ian tells me is son of two of the best racers in his loft. The Taunton Federation winner is a son of ‘Ladies’ Girl’, winner of 1st open L&SECC Guernsey (OH) in 2004 and the champion sprinting cock, ‘Wayne’s Boy’, the winner of: 1st club, 1st Federation Lulworth (2384 birds), 2nd club, 5th Federation Lulworth (1269 birds), 1st club, 6th Federation Exeter (1108 birds), 2nd club, 7th Federation West Bay (1737 birds), 4th club, 17th Federation West Bay (1748 birds), 1st club, 20th Federation Lulworth (1629 birds). ‘Deon’ went on to win 2nd Federation Taunton (1,237 birds) in the following 2013 racing season. What brilliant line of winners!

Although Ian flies in the Esher Club, he lives several miles away in Kingston and is a small team man with big success. He races only 11 cocks on the widowhood system and says he would like to race hens, but his job as a postman limits his time with the pigeons, so he keeps it small and simple. He used to keep small birds and finches, and his loft is his old aviaries, which are well ventilated, converted for the pigeons. Ian pairs up his racers in February and the racers never rear a youngster, being put on the widowhood two weeks before the first race, when the hens and their eggs are taken away. The cocks get very little training and he says they had only eight 15 mile tosses in the last two seasons, being trained while sitting their eggs, prior to going on the widowhood system. Ian says he uses the first Federation races, to get the racers fit and races the old birds inland only, not being interested in long-distance Channel racing. The cocks are not broken down, being fed on a good widowhood mixture, and are exercised around the loft for an hour twice a day. Ian has 12 pairs of stock birds, which are Janssen Van Loon and Staf Van Reet, and a team of 15 young birds are bred for racing each season. They are not put on the darkness system and are raced only lightly to the perch.

Well there you have it for this week, two great Surrey lofts and winners of Federation, Combine, Classic and National.

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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