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Keith Mott reports on

ROBBIE & ANDREW WILTON

of Chadwell St Mary

 

The name Wilton has been at the top of the pigeon racing sport in the Essex area for many years and the current champion of the family is Robbie Wilton, who races in partnership with his son, Andrew. The partners had a wonderful season racing in the London & South East Classic Club in 2011 winning: 43rd open Alencon, 31st, 38th, 39th open Tours, 6th, 7th, 12th open Tarbes, 30th, 35th, 47th, 73rd open Bergerac, 75th, 79th, 80th open Vire (young birds), 34th, 36th, 45th open Vire (old hens), 27th, 46th, 63rd, 64th, 65th, 95thopen Carentan (young birds), 16th, 26th open Carentan (old hens) and lifted the ‘Fancier of the Year’ Trophy for winning the Combine Average (six races). Robbie and Andrew have won many premier positions in the L&SECC through the years including 1st open Tours in 2007.

The Wilton family really are a family of premier pigeon racing winners! Robbie’s youngest son, Adam, races in the Wilton & Orton partnership of Chadwell St. Mary and they won the L&SECC Yearling Derby from Tours in the 2010 season. Their winner was the blue cock named, ‘The Tours Cock’ and for such a young pigeon he had a very impressive record, winning 1st club Portsmouth as a young bird and 1st open L&SECC Tour Yearling Derby, 6th open L&SECC Tours as a yearling in 2010. Wilton & Orton also won 2nd open BICC Falaise. Robbie runs his own business as a painter and decorator, and says his dad helps out with the bird when he is busy working, and his daughter, Bethany, may start racing pigeons this year.

 

Robbie prefers racing up to 400 miles and his junior partner, Andrew, likes the long distance events best. Their race record over the years has been brilliant winning: 1st London NR Combine Berwick (Yearlings), 1st London NR Combine Stonehaven, 1st London NR Combine Newcastle (Young Birds) on the North Road and 1st open L&SECC Tours, 1st open BICC Falaise (Old Hens), 3rd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th NFC Young Bird National on the South Road. Robbie says winning the London NR Combine for the first time probably gave him his biggest thrill in his time in the sport! The loft currently houses some very good sprint widowhood cocks including the five year old chequer cock, ‘Self Harm’, and he has won the Thames NEC Federation an incredible six times. Two other cocks have won five club firsts, plus 1st Federation. In the 2012 season the Wiltons have two cocks going for the L&SECC Tarbes ‘Merit Award’, which is awarded to pigeons that score three times in the first fifty in the open result.

Robbie recently told me, ‘I started racing pigeons in 1978 at the age of 12 and first became interested in the sport after watching my uncle Roy’s birds returning from races. My uncle, Roy Wilton, was very successful racing the Dordin pigeons in the 1970s and he taught me how to get the best out of racing pigeons. My first birds came from Roy and they were Dordins and another successful old family called Joplins. They were successful straight away and I won my first race from Sleaford in 1979. Another successful local fancier, Keith Platt, was also a big influence on me at that time’. Robbie has never had any other sporting interests, only Pigeon Racing and has now been in the fancy for 34 years, with no breaks. His first club was the Chadwell St. Mary club, which raced North Road with the West Essex Federation and his first loft was the back end of a lorry, which was converted to house his birds. Robbie tells me, this loft still stands in his dad’s yard, but is no longer used for pigeons. Fortunately Robbie had a good teacher and was taught to race pigeons correctly, so he made very little mistakes in the early days, although he still tends to over crowd the loft.

The Wilton partners race 55 cocks and 20 hens for the long distance racing on the full widowhood system and these are paired up after the BHW Blackpool Show in January. They are all trained hard up to the first Federation race and then no more training is given, just regular exercise for one hour morning and evening around the loft to keep them fit. The distance team are paired up in March and may be given the odd training toss during the season off the south coast. Robbie tells me, he breaks down on Saturday and Sunday morning only and then the racers go back on full widowhood mixture. The birds are given peanuts sparingly through the season and they stay on full widowhood for the whole season, and are never re-paired, not even for the 600 mile races. For the inland sprint events the hens are shown on marking night, but for the channel races they are just given the nest bowl and on their return from the race the cocks get their hens for one hour on sprint races, but a bit longer for the channel. Andrew told me, the partners keep a section of cocks purely for sprint racing, but all the other racers are expected to fly up to 400 miles, with the distance team going further. The present loft is a very grand affair and is sited at Robbie’s dad’s small holding, where fortunately space is not an issue. The wonderful structure is 88ft long, eight sections, with tiled roof, full length corridor and ETS open door trapping. It faces south and east and has front plastic windows and clear tiles in the roof at the front for warmth. The stock loft 24ft long, with three sections and a large aviary running along the front. Robbie says, ‘I think the most important thing in good loft design is dryness and it should be well ventilated. I use deep litter in the young bird section for the first three months of their lives, so help build natural immunity. I must add that although we currently have a grand affair of a loft set up, we had as much success racing to our old lofts which were basic in comparison’.

 

Robbie and Andrew have 30 pairs of stock birds and young Andrew is the stock man, and is very interested in the breeding side of pigeon racing. The breeders are fed on GEM ‘Breeding’ mixture which the partners buy in bulk and the main families are Braspenning and Janssen / Van Loon for racing up to 400 miles. For the long distance racing the Wiltons have ‘Invincible Spirit’ Jan Aarden and swap pigeons with their good friend, Mark Bulled of Harlow, who is a winner from Tarbes with the L&SECC. Andrew told me there is still a sprinkle of the old families in the loft of Roy Wilton and Reg Barkers from Keith Platt. When bringing in new lines the partners are only interested in good performance and are currently trying out some new distance lines of Vale Cahors and Brockhamps. They 100 young birds to race each season and give many more away. The babies are raced on the ‘Darkness’ and sliding door system, and are trained hard from 45 and 70 miles every week between races. Robbie says he expects all his young birds to fly the English Cannel at least once and many of them go over more than once! They are fed on GEM ‘Young Bird’ and ‘Marimans’ once racing starts and he is considering pairing up some youngsters for the NFC National and the Tours Open in 2012.

 

Robbie is not a believer in the eyesign theory and generally doesn’t show his birds, but supports the local club shows occasionally. After the last race the partners separate their birds for the winter and they are not let out of the loft for two months. They are fed as much as they want on the very best corn and only go out once a week for a bath. Andrew is the breeder in the Wilton partnership and likes to inbreed and cross to produce the best racers. He likes a few latebreds of the very best birds for the stock loft and says generally he finds the best birds tend to be a bit on the wild side. Robbie is on the committee of his local club, but says he never gets involved with ‘Pigeon Politics’.

 

That’s it for this week. There you have it, one of the best racing partnerships in Essex, Robbie and Andrew Wilton! This weekend we are holding the ‘main’ event, the L&SECC Tarbes Classic. Good luck to all our members!

 

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