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I N F C Sennan Cove 02-07-18


The Irish National Flying Club’s Yearling National was held on Wednesday 13th June this year. Once again there was a good entry for this very popular race in the racing calendar. In the end however the overall entry was just slightly down from last couple of years with 673 members sending 3984 pigeons to compete for £32,235 in pools and prizes.

The birds were liberated in Sennen Cove at 6.45am in a Lt Northerly wind which was due to turn south westerly on route. The race was won by Martin Graham Ballymena & District with the Thorpe, Ward & McMorrow team from Trim RPC best in the South Section. The race this year was sponsored by H Beattie & Son and we are very
grateful to them for their continued sponsorship.

1st North Section, 1st Open Martin Graham Ballymena & District, Vel 1419, flying 332 miles, winning £725 and the Nelson Corry Trophy

Martin Graham from Ballymena & District outside his magnificent lofts at Old Cullybackey Road.

Every fanciers dream is to win a National and at 1.37pm on Wednesday 13th June this dream was fulfilled for Martin Graham of Ballymena & District, a club steeped in long distance tradition. His blue cock "Denman" romped home to win this seasons Yearling National event in some style. Over the last years forty two year Martin has only concentrated on the Derby and National races and has amassed many fantastic results. They include 1st section, 1st Open NIPA Skibbereen OB Inland National with "Sunnyhill Lass", 1st Section & 2nd Open NIPA Lamballe OB National with "Champion Siobhan", 2nd Section & 4th Open NIPA St Malo OB National and only last season with "Brenda Anne" had the only bird in the Mid Antrim Section B and 7th open NIPA St Malo OB National. The list goes on and on.

“Denman” winner of 1st Open INFC Yearling National from Sennen Cove, raced by M Graham.

Now to the winning Blue cock, and a bit of a story here. Martin’s father in law Denis Craig gave up the pigeons at the end of last season and Denis gave him a few birds to break in. During the beginning of this year Martin broke the birds in and "Denman" was one of these. From the Rosscarberry OB National "Denman" won 1st Club, 23rd Section & 88th Open NIPA and then was placed 2nd Club in the Skibbereen INFC National. On to the motivation and he was feeding his first ever youngster and in Martin's own words "I had noticed the previous Monday before the National he had got very keen as the eggs were chipping. Between Wednesday and Friday of that week when I came home from work I lifted his hen every evening making him sit until after 9 o'clock at night. On the Saturday and Sunday evening I noticed him pushing the hen off the youngster and he continued to sit on it until 9.00pm every night". He had a full wing and hadn't dropped a flight and also dominated the section he was in not allowing another bird near.

Breeding is Hartog, Soontjen and Busschaert and was bred by M.D.C. Magill of the Harryville HPS in the town. In closing Martin would like to thank all the fanciers who called at the door, rang or texted him to congratulate him. He would also like to thank his father in law especially for gifting him this wonderful yearling cock which has turned out to be a racing machine, hence why Martin named the cock after him. Mervyn Eagleson PO.

2nd North Section, 2nd Open Jeff Greenaway Dromore HPS, Vel 1394 flying 300 miles, winning £1240

Jeff Greenaway from Dromore HPS holding his winner of 2nd North Sect & 2nd Open INFC.

Man of the moment and as I mentioned in the Skibbereen report he would probably return with more top positions, and very nearly won the Open from Sennen Cove. Dromore in County Down is a real hot-bed for the sport and a lot of talk about the Golden Mile, I think there is more to it than that. Not a lot of info but the winner this time is a grandson of the “200 cock” which has been responsible for many winners. Well done Jeff, knocking on the door What Next?

3rd North Section, 3rd Open Danny Dixon Ballymoney, Vel 1386, flying 342 miles, winning £390

The 3rd Open winner for Danny Dixon is joined by his hen which returned on the 2nd morning.


The ever consistent Danny Dixon races the birds to Dunloy and after topping the Muckamore Centre from Skibbereen was well placed again just behind the winner Martin Graham. Danny has Champion birds going back many years and this one here is the bloodlines of one of his earlier successes, of which there have been many. The 3rd Open Yearling National bird returned to the nest his hen was also away and she arrived early second morning. He is a grandson of the lofts 1998 Skibbereen YB National on one side, his sire is a son of Sumo, and he is a brother of the RPRA Meritorious award pigeon “Double 5” that was 2nd Open from Penzance.
4th North Section, 4th Open Kennedy & Lyons Lagan Valley, Vel 1379, flying 304 miles, winning £1154

Danny Dixon “Double 5“a winner of the RPRA Meritorious Award and 2nd Open NIPA Penzance.


The new Kennedy & Lyons team have had a dream couple of seasons winning in all member clubs and getting up close in all the major organisations including INFC. The bird they clocked out of Yearling National was bred in June last year, he got just 2 races as young bird he was on the Roundabout System. He flew most races this year he was fed on Garvo Marathon corn. His breeding is Leo Hermans and Van Loon, top cross from their own Cherryfield Lofts stock.

Roy Kennedy (l) and Carson Lyons display another winner at Cherryfield Lofts.

5th , 6th & 9th North Section, 5th, 6th & 9th Open Alan Darragh Cullybackey, Vel 1373, 1371 and 1361, flying 332 miles, winning £422 and the Sam Buckley Memorial Cup for Best 2 Bird Average

Alan Darragh from Cullybackey holding his first bird home in the Yearling National.

What more can be said about the racing achievements of Alan Darragh that has not previously been said, for the last number of year he has been the loft to beat in the Mid Antrim area in all INFC Nat races from Skibbereen to the Kings Cup. As far as the Yearling Nat goes he set the record back in 2010 with a fantastic treble , 1st, 2nd & 3rd Open, this time he has three birds again in the Top 10. All told Alan put six birds in the result, the first 3 in the 2018 Yearling National all go back to “Champion 05” what a line this was winning the NIPA Skibbereen OB Inl Derby way back in 1988.


      “Champion 05” his bloodlines are in all 3 birds for Alan Darragh.                       “Swallow Brae Lad” the Sennen Cove Ylr Nat winner of 1989 for A Darragh.


Looking back through a bit of the history I noticed in 1989 from Sennen Cove 332 miles, in the Yearling National, flown under the auspices of the Irish National Flying Club. Blue cock named ‘Swallow Brae Lad’ after his performance, won 1st Open on a velocity of 1027, the only pigeon in the race to have a velocity over 1,000ypm. His winnings on this occasion were £4,000 plus a new Car. Sire of this was from the Blue McCartney Cock when he was paired to the ’White Headed Hen’, a FVW. Dam of ‘Swallow Brae Lad’ was from one of the original McCartney hens, when paired to a miss-rung cock from Alan and Jack’s old family. In one of the most successful of the INFC 6 Race programme the Yearling Nat put forward by the late L O Barr and myself the Darragh loft has won the Nelson Corry Cup on two occasions and came very close to a third win in the event.

“Swallow Brae Star” 1st Open INFC Yearling Nat for Alan Darragh in the year he finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd Open INFC.

7th North Section, 7th Open McCracken Bros Banbridge, vel 1371, flying 296 miles, winning £2274

McCracken Bros of Banbridge have been going for as long as I have been involved with the sport, always had great success at the distance and Robert who now is in full charge told me Raymond who at well over 90 years is currently in hospital, timed the first bird from France after the war years that just before I was born. As I complete this report I have just learned Raymond has passed away over the St Malo race weekend, sad news indeed. The grandsire of this hen flew France twice in the one year, the dams grandmother was bought of good friend Jeff Greenaway, this hen was also 10th Open YB Penzance 2017. This partnership was originally Raymond and his late brother Bobby. Nowadays it’s Raymond and his son Robert and they have enjoyed continuous success still getting up to the top in the local Banbridge Club. A bit more detail obtained from an earlier report shows the sire of the pigeon here is off a pigeon that was in the prizes from both St Malo with the NIPA and Quimper with the Irish National Flying Club. The breeding is their-own old Krauth lines and Jeff Greenaway lines. The dam is pure Jeff Greenaway, looks like a good mixture of sprint and distance. Training is all private training, usually to the Carrickdale car park (20 miles) but they add extra tosses from Castleblaney in the run up to the longer races. The winner was well fancied and collected pools and prizes of a cool £2,274.

Robert McCracken from Banbridge holding his big cash 7th Open INFC winner from Sennen Cove, 10th Open in last season’s YB Nat Penzance.

8th North Section, 8th Open Arnold Thompson Ballyclare & Dist, vel 1362, flying 324 miles, winning £358

East Antrim lofts support this event big time ever present at the Muckamore Marking Station and no loft is present more often that Arnold Thompson from Ballyclare who must rank this race as one of his favourites, along with the Kings Cup. Over the years his lofts have won many positions and when I was reporting on this area he was ever present in the East Antrim result list. In the Yearling Nat the loft has among many other positions, 4th, 5th & 6th and last season 13th Open INFC. Arnold is an out and out distance loft and is Chairman in one of the top distance clubs Ballyclare & District. Recently he has taken up a position on the INFC Committee, a good worker for the sport. His Blue cock had five races in Ireland and Sennen Cove was first time across the water, the Coorman cock sire was purchased at Blackpool Show and the dam is Ash the best “Iron Lady” lines from John Greenaway of Bondhill Social.

Arnold Thompson from Ballyclare holding his 8th Open Sennen Cove bird. Photo Noel Higginson.

10th North Section, 10th Open R G & G Donaldson Blackwatertown WE, vel 1360, flying 302 miles, winning £713 and the Charles Ingle Memorial Trophy for 10th Open Yearling National

10th Open Yearling National goes to the Portadown Lofts of R, G & G Donaldson, Roy, Gary & Graeme form the uncle/nephews partnership known as United Lofts. The partnership was formally formed in 2006 with both boys having the bug from children. The United Loft boys are no stranger to success on the channel in recent years and have an impressive haul of prizes to boot.

Roy and Gary Donaldson from Blackwatertown with their bird that won 10th Open Sennen Cove.

The wee mealy hen clocked at 13:16 was sitting 10 day eggs and was returning to her cock. She was lightly raced this season with only 3 inland races before facing the channel for the first time from the national. She was raced on roundabout in the early season and let go to natural when the birds returned from 1st Talbenny. The birds are trained with Ron Williamson as often as possible and on the open-hole dependant on the work situations.

Mealy hen was timed at 13.16hrs to finish 10th Open INFC Sennen Cove for United Lofts.

The Sire is a mealy cock that is a direct son of the boys late good friend Eddie McKnight’s Old Walkinshaw foundation pair. The old hen when paired to one of the 2 foundation scotch cocks was the foundation of all Eddies highly successful team.
The Dam of is a hen that Gary purchased from Kieran Shannon’s Clearance Sale and is a direct daughter of his Silver award winner.

The United Lofts team would like to take the opportunity to thank the late Eddie McKnight for all his years of friendship, advice and the countless pigeons he gifted them from the very best of his national winning family to form their own family in his memory.

The INFC Committee are grateful once again for all the help at the race marking, and also all those involved in the various Clock Centres across Ireland, every little bit of help is appreciated. On a personal note thanks to all those who supplied text and photos for this report or helped in any other way. The more info we get the better job can be done, any little snips, details of the bird itself plus info on the sire and dam.

Any awards won previous, how long in the birds etc.
Willie Reynolds - INFC Press Officer
Tel/Fax: (028) 256 44683 - Mobile: 07538 238364
Twitter: willie reynolds@homerbhw
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