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Enzance Young Bird National



Brendan McLoughlin

Penzance Young Bird National

The Irish National Flying Club held their annual Young Bird National from Penzance on Thursday 15th September 2011. Originally scheduled for Wednesday 7th September, the weather throughout that week was never good enough to even consider basketing the pigeons. The race controllers Willie Hore, Tom Marshall and Davy Black showed great patience in delaying the basketing to give the pigeons a chance. Basketing was arranged for Monday 12th September as there was a chance that Wednesday would have been suitable for a race but with rain along the Welsh coast and on up into England a race wasn’t possible. Thursday morning saw the weather much better and the pigeons were released at 8.45am in bright sunshine. Wind at the race point was a very light southerly and was also southerly on the line of flight. 382 members sent 1879 pigeons to compete for £18,518 in pools and prizemoney.  There were 130 birds recorded on the day with the positions filled early on the second day.


1st North section, 1st Open Simon Miller, Randalstown, vel 1417, flying 323 miles winning £450, and the J M K McGugan Perpetual Cup


The winner of the Penzance Young Bird National is Simon Miller from Randalstown. Simon is a relative newcomer to the sport having only started racing in 2006 and this was his first attempt at the Penzance Young Bird National. However he is no stranger to success and last year he was 1st section B, 6th Open St Malo with the NIPA and on the same day was 10th Open in the Yearling cocks race.

Simon was working on the day of the race and his father was looking after the birds. In the afternoon Simon received a call from his father to say that the ETS pads weren’t working. After telling his father what to do and hanging on until he made sure everything was working alright, Simon began to clear up at work to head home and hopefully make home in time to see the pigeons come home. Two minutes later his mobile rang again and it was his father again. Obviously Simon thought that the ETS had faulted again but no everything was in order and his father was just calling to say that he had just timed a bird at 3.26pm, which turned out to be the winner of the National.

The winning pigeon is a Van De Weyer x Busschaert hen racing on the darkness. The Van De Weyer is Timmy Mawhinney’s number one stock cock. This bird bred the pigeon that was 2nd Open in The NIPA Yearling cocks race in 2007, and its nest mate had 6 firsts. The dam is a Larkins Busschaert that was a gift from Tommy McMullan Randalstown. Tommy had bred this bird for stock and she was unrung. She had bred prizewinners last year down Ireland as young birds and the pigeon that was 37th Open NIPA from Penzance this year.

Simon has PIPO nest boxes and the National winner always sat on top of the boxes and was always very alert when Simon entered the loft. Approaching the race Simon brought the yearling hen that sat in the same place last year back into the young bird loft and used this as the motivation for the National winner.

Simon would like to thank his good friend Timmy Mawhinney for all his help over the past five years, and especially for the loan of the sire of the National winner. Simon is planning to take a short break from the sport to spend more time with his young family but hopefully he will be back racing again soon.

Simon Miller


2nd North section, 2nd Open Blair & Rankin Ballymena, vel 1398, flying 328 miles, winning £330


This is another great result for the popular Ballymena partnership of Bertie Blair and his brother-in-law Billy Rankin. When Bertie started racing it was with his father-in-law and the partnership was Rankin and Blair but nowadays Bertie is the main man. The partnership have had some very good results at NIPA and National racing over the years but one of Bertie’s fondest memories was of taking 2nd Open in the Young Bird Derby in 1974.

The pigeon timed here was a chequer hen that had previously been 4th club Fermoy and was also in Talbenny. Bertie was persuaded by his good friend Martin Graham to get the ETS system this year and he finds he great for seeing how the birds have performed throughout the year. He was able to tell me that this particular hen was in the first three birds to the loft from nearly every race this year.

The dam of the hen timed here is a Van Loon from Danny Dixon, Ballymoney and everybody knows what a racing record Danny has. The sire is a Frank Sheader Soontjens from good friend Paddy McManus, Ahoghill. Bertie tells me that this friendship goes back many years.

The hen at 2nd Open here was sent to the race flying to the perch but was his fancied pigeon on the day.

Bertie would like to pass on his congratulations to Simon Miller and pointed out that Simon is a relation of his wife Doreen.

The 2nd Open winner for Blair & Rankin


3rd North section, 3rd Open A & N Lewis Doagh, vel 1393, flying 319 miles, winning £827


This another top result for the lofts of Anthony and Norman Lewis from the Doagh club in Co Antrim. The pigeon timed is another hen now named ‘Bethany’s Girl’ after Anthony’s nine-month-old daughter Bethany.

The breeding of this youngster is absolutely top drawer. The sire is their Merit Award winner for twice in the prizes from the Kings Cup when it was 98th and 180th Open. The grandsire on this side is a direct son of Alan Darragh’s Friendship National winner, ‘Swallow Brae at Last’, while the grand dam was bred by Mathieu De Clippel of Belgium, an Ace distance flyer. The dam is from the racing loft and arrived home from the King’s Cup on the second morning, just missing out on the prizes. The grandsire is ‘Joe 90’, a top breeder for Alan Darragh and a full brother to ‘Golden Dreams’, which is a Gold Medal winner. The grand dam is direct daughter from Anthony and Norman’s "Le Premier" - 1st club, 1st Section, 5th National from Lamballe and she is full sister to "Jimmy" - 1st club, 1st section, 4th National from St Malo and 450+ miles RPRA award winner.

This line has excelled for them at National racing and they have now been 8 times in top ten positions in National Racing in recent years, not including many club, section and open positions won.

This young hen was their third pigeon from the Young bird Talbenny. She was sent to Talbenny paired to a white cock and sitting 10 days. He too was sent to Talbenny and only came on the Saturday morning before the birds were sent to Penzance, but he went back to the nest with the hen and gave her the necessary motivation for this race.

Anthony and Norman would like to congratulate Simon Miller the winner of the race and Bertie Blair who was second.


4th North section, 4th Open A Gault Ballyclare, vel 1386, flying 323 miles, winning £355


This is another wonderful result for Andy Gault from Ballyclare who has had some great results in the Nationals this year. He was 43rd Open Kings Cup and then 8th and 38th Open in the Friendship National.

Andy raced pigeons when he was younger but when he got married and had a young family he just didn’t have time for pigeons and so he left the sport. However in 2002 he was working with Davy Strain and got the bug again. Pigeons were introduced from Davy’s Novara Stud and these form the base of his lofts now.

The pigeon timed here, another hen was timed at 3.35pm and was having only her fourth race, although she made the club result from Tullamore earlier in the year.

The dam was bought at the Chimney Corner Auctions and is from the Gold Wing Lofts. A grandson of this hen has been 19th Open in the Young Bird National. The sire is the same way bred as the pigeon that was 2nd Open in 2007, being Herman Brinkman x Jan Theelan. This is similar to the pigeon that was 8th Open in the Friendship National and is from the Davy Strain line of pigeons.

With the race having been postponed for a week Andy’s hen would have been off her eggs for the rescheduled race so he slipped her a young one on the Friday before basketing. The young birds are flown morning and evening but Andy doesn’t take the young hens off the nest, instead they are flown with a dozen later young birds and fly at least ¾ of an hour.

Andy Gault


5Th North section, 5th Open J & E Calvin Annaghmore vel 1381, flying 302 miles, winning £120


This husband and wife partnership has a superb record from this race. They had four birds home here when many were struggling to get any home at all. Last year they timed seven birds in the race and when we look at the breeding of this hen we will see many more birds that have been in the Young Bird National result.

The hen timed here is a granddaughter of the pigeon that was 4th Open four years ago on a velocity of just over 900ypm. This hen has bred many prizewinners from this race. Another daughter was 40th Open last year, and a grandson was 22nd Open three years ago. The Calvins had five birds in the prizes last year all from this breeding. Another daughter of the 4th Open bird will be going for the Triple Crown next year having made the prizes in the Young Bird National two years ago and in the Yearling National this year.

The Breeding is Busschaert from Eddie Wright’s Fountainhead Stud. The bird timed here is off a son of the 4th Open hen when paired to a daughter of ‘Miss Bee’ and ‘Mr Gallant’ (winner of the Pau National). The father of the 4th Open hen was a direct son of ‘Neptune’.

The birds are seldom trained and are just flown around the house morning and evening. The cocks and hens are separated and don’t see each other during the week but see each other for an hour prior to basketing.


6th North section, 6th Open Rafferty & Toman Gilford vel 1374, flying 1374, winning £521


In 6th North Section 6th Open is the Gilford partnership of Jim Rafferty and Barry Toman. The Gilford club has had a tremendous season with Dan Campbell winning the Kings Cup and Tom Wilson winning the N.I.P.A. St Malo.  Jim Rafferty is a previous winner of the Yearling National in 1995 and has a string of big race performances.  The winning bird is a blue cheq hen raced on darkness and sent just noticing a young cock. She flew the entire Young Bird programme including Talbenny. The loft was only racing 23 young birds. The sire was bred by Billy Harper while the dam was 1st Section 12th Open Rosscarbery Yearling Hens and is a half sister to the partnership’s Glenavy Gold ring winner. Both were bred from Geoffery Douglas' good blue cock.

The loft timed four birds in Penzance National with the other three taking 95th, 96th and 107th North section, 121st, 122nd and 139th Open. All four birds had been in the Young Bird Talbenny.


7th North section, 7th Open C & L Woodside, Ballyclare vel 1372, flying 321 miles, winning £409


Colin & Leslie Woodside of Ballyclare had a super race from Penzance for in addition to finishing 7th Open they had two more on the result sheet at 59th and 73rd Open. Their pigeon at 7th was a blue cock. A darkened young bird he was racing to a big youngster and just starting to notice his hen again. His sire is from Wilf Reed of Wales whilst the dam is the Woodside’s great breeding hen, now 12 years old which bred the 2007 Open winner. She is a Legeist x Janssen from Billy Matthew of Bray. The blue cock himself was always steady having been in every race and before going to Penzance was extensively trained, several times on Ron Williamson’s trailer and then privately being in Rathfriland the Friday before going to the race.

Leslie Woodside

Winner of 7th open


1st South section, 8th Open J McLoughlin Blanchardstown vel 1365, flying 229 miles, winning £476, the William Erwin Memorial Cup and the Harkers Trophy


This has been another season to remember for Joey McLoughlin of the Blanchardstown club in Dublin. Having been 5th section, 5th Open in the Yearling National Joey followed that up with 1st South section, 8th Open here to win the Harkers Trophy for the best average in these two races. Joey also wins the William Erwin Trophy for the winner of the section not winning the National.

Joey has had a good young bird season winning 4 x 1sts and winning the young bird averages in the club.

The young bird timed here was bred in the racing loft. It’s sire won as a young bird and got injured as a yearling so taken off the road. Joey put him back on the road this year and unfortunately lost him. The grandparents are Janssen x Soontjens from P Martin, Sandyhill. A pigeon the same way bred raced well this year, being timed in the South Road Fed’s difficult Sennen Cove before being sent to the Kings Cup when she homed just outside race time.

The youngster timed here is a darkness youngster sent sitting on overdue eggs. He had been in Skibbereen on the Saturday before basketing when the winners were doing over 2000ypm.

Joey McLoughlin with John Paul Halpin


8th North section, 9th Open W McClelland Doagh, vel 1358, flying 320 miles winning £297


At 9th open is Willie McClelland of Doagh with a blue pied cock and again a darkened young bird. This cock had 3 or 4 races before Penzance including Talbenny, which he flew on the day. For Penzance he was sitting eggs 4 to 5 days. This cock’s dam is a Herman through Eric Fox and a son of ‘Bakewell’. The Sire is a Vandenabeele of Belgium origins. Again this is another loft with more than the one bird in the prizes, Willie’s second bird finishing at 87th Open.

William McClelland


9th North section, 10th Open G & P Brown Annsborough vel 286 miles winning £939


Geraldine and Patrick had their first real taste of success at National level last year when they were 1st North section in the Skibbereen Young Bird National. They followed this up with an amazing year racing in the East Down Combine this year taking 1st and 2nd Open two weeks in a row from Fermoy and then in the Skibbereen Old Bird Classic.

The pigeon timed here, a cock, was their only entry in this race. This bird as with most of their birds is from stock they obtained from good friends Kevin and Kristopher Rooney Annalong. The sire is off Kevin and Kristopher’s NIPA Fermoy Open winner when paired to a hen that won four good Open positions for them in the East Down Combine, before being put to stock. It is Lindelauf from the ‘Ass Doffer’ lines and Soontjens from ‘Tours’ lines. The dam is Lindelauf off a son of ‘Miracle’ when paired to a daughter of ‘Miracle’. Patrick’s brothers Collie and Willie timed two pigeons the same way bred as this bird to take 4th and 20th Open East Down Combine Young Bird Talbenny this year.


Thanks to Samuel McCausland Ltd and Veterinary Services for Birds for their sponsorship of this race. Thanks also to Clifford Browne and Davy Black for their help in compiling this report and to all those who helped with photographs.


Brendan McLoughlin

INFC Press Officer