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Friendship National St Malo



Brendan McLoughlin


Friendship National – St Malo


The Irish National Flying Club Friendship National was flown on Saturday 9th July with the pigeons liberated at 7am in a light southwest wind. 278 members sent 1046 birds which was a good increase from last year and a good race was anticipated. With the early pigeons timing after 5pm it was expected that there would be good returns on the night but this wasn’t the case with only 20 birds timed on the first day of the race and all positions not quite filled after the three days. In some ways this was disappointing after the very successful King's Cup the week before which saw 160 day birds and all positions gone by early morning on the second day. Having said that, when we look at the result all the familiar National names appear with the winner of the Friendship National being a double King's Cup winner in Joe Doheny of Malahide.


1st Open J Doheny Malahide & District Vel 1052, flying 381 miles winning the Friendship Cup and £1154


The winner of the Friendship National this year is Joe Doheny, one of the most consistent National racers over the past 30 years. Joe won the King’s Cup twice in 1982 and again in 2002, to make him one of very few double King’s Cup winners. He was also 3rd Open in the Friendship National in 2005 and again in 2010. He has taken 4 or 5 other top ten positions from the Friendship race. One of his other top performances in the Irish National Flying Club was when he was 2nd Open in a difficult Young Bird National from Penzance. Joe won the Fancier of the Year twice in the Flying Club and reckons this is as hard if not harder to win than the King’s Cup.

The pigeon timed here to win the Friendship National was clocked at 5.38pm and is a two-year-old widowhood cock. When asked about the breeding of the pigeon, Joe said that it went right back to the birds he obtained from Billy Walkingshaw, Killyleagh in 1962. There have been a few introductions since then but this is the basis of his pigeons. Joe added that the breeding could be best described as “Survivors of the Basket”. Joe is of the opinion that pedigrees count for little but that the basket is the only way to sort out pigeons.

This two-year-old cock has been a consistent racer and as a yearling flew through to Talbenny and Bude when it arrived almost in the dark. It was raced through to Penzance this year with no training between this and the Friendship race.

For feeding Joe uses his own mixture of tic beans, dog tooth maize, wheat and barley with a few peanuts added approaching the French races. Joe maintains there are no hard and fast rules in preparing pigeons for French racing but adds that it is essential that they are in peak form going to these races.

Joe Doheny's Friendship National winner


2nd Open Houston & McDonald Glenavy, Vel 1041.57, flying 453miles, winning British Barcelona Club Cup and £759


This is another loft with a tremendous record in this race having been winners in 1981 and in 2002. On both those occasions they had only one entry. This year they had two birds in the race and had their second pigeon home around 6pm on the fourth day. They have had some great results in this race as well as their two wins so it’s always been a race that they have enjoyed. Nowadays it’s just Angus Houston racing on his own but maintaining the original name.

The pigeon timed here is a two-year-old Van Geel hen with a cross from Tommy Kirkwood, Killyleagh. This pigeon was timed in the King's Cup last year as a yearling just outside the result and the plan was to send her back this year. However approaching the Kings Cup Angus changed his mind as he really fancied her to do better in the Friendship race. Her nest mate was actually the last pigeon in the Friendship National result last year taking 84th Open.

In preparation for this race the hen had all the inland races plus Talbenny. She was then single tossed a couple of times a week from the north so that she would be flying into a head wind. For the week before the race she was given complete rest. The pigeons are raced on the natural system and given an ‘open hole’ throughout the racing season.  She was sent to the Friendship National sitting slightly overdue and then slipped a youngster the evening before basketing.

The birds are fed the Gem Irish mix with plenty of peas and changed to Royale three weeks before the French races as it contains more maize.

Angus Houston with 2nd Open Friendship National


3rd Open N Black & Son Dromara, Vel 1041.41, flying 441 miles, winning £192


3rd Open is N. Black & Son, Dromara, a loft, which has been enjoying a purple patch of form over the French races. Fresh from having two birds in the top ten of the King's Cup they are 3rd Open here plus two more birds timed on the night for 18th and 19th Open with only 20 birds making it on the day. They also timed another the next morning for 57th Open.

The bird in 3rd Open is a three-year-old blue cock, raced natural and as a young bird had only two races. As a yearling he had two inland races and the Yearling National from Sennen Cove. Last year as a two-year-old he had three inland races, plus Talbenny and Vannes where he returned on the third day none the worse for his efforts. This year he was prepared for St Malo with three inland races plus Talbenny, Bude and Penzance where he was third club. After Penzance he was flown one hour at night and morning plus as many fifty mile tosses as possible, he was sent feeding a seven-day young bird and was just starting to notice his hen again.

The breeding is top-drawer distance bloodlines. The sire is a son of Harry Silcock’s ‘Pinehill Lass’, 27th and 35th in the Kings Cup while the dam is a daughter of their first and second King’s Cup pigeons. The feeding is all Frazers, mainly widowhood and high energy three or four days before basketing. Multivitamins are given twice a week and as many supplements as possible.

Alan Black with 3rd Open Friendship National


4th Open J Carey Malahide & District, Vel 1039, flying 381miles, winning £466


At 4th open it is back to the Malahide & Dist club to the loft of a previous winner of this race, for back in 1998 Jason Carey won this race on a velocity of 721 flown on that occasion from Dinard timing at 21.35 pm on the 1st day, and earlier that year fellow club member Art Kelly had won the INFC Yearling National. Both these facts are important for both these birds were to play a part in this year’s 4th Open Friendship bird which is a Mealy Pied yearling hen which had five races on the land then sent to Penzance before the St Malo National.

She was paired in February and had two nests then separated, after that she was left with the cock every now and then. On the day of race marking she was left with the cock all morning. She was clocked at 17-46-00 on the day for the 381 miles. The breeding of this hen involves the two national winners mentioned above. Her sire is a stock bird never raced and her dam topped the ECF and was 43rd in the Yearling National in 2000. Her grand dam on both sides is Jason’s 1998 Friendship national winner. Her sire which is stock is off the 1998 winner when paired to Art Kelly’s Yearling national winner so you can see this yearling mealy pied hen was bred for the job.

Jason Carey with 4th open StMalo


5th Open D O’Connor Arklow Utd RPC, Vel 997, flying 340 miles, winning £466


5th Open goes to Des O’Connor of the Arklow club with a two-year-old chequer hen. The breeding is mainly Huybrect and Beverdam and comes from a line of pigeon that have performed well on the channel. Des doesn’t pay a lot of heed to pedigrees and is a firm believer in mating the best racers together regardless of breeding. He only rears around 30 young birds every year so it is important to him that they are bred from pigeons that are capable of doing the business on the channel.

Des was working on his digger when the bird arrived and he didn’t see it come but when he swung the digger round he saw the bird stuck in the stall trap. You can imagine how quick he got off the digger. She was sent to the race on nearly chipping eggs. She had reared a pair of youngsters earlier and this was only her second sitting this year, as Des doesn’t start to breed until late.

This two-year-old hen flew the Yearling National last year and was second club in the IHU National from Sennen Cove this year.

Des O'Connor's pigeon at 5th Open Friendship National


6th Open Gregory Bros Rathnew, Vel 983, flying 355 miles, winning £65


This partnership is made up of Tommy and Roger Gregory and they are no strangers to success at National level having won the Young Bird National from Skibbereen in 2002.

The pigeon timed here to take 6th Open Friendship National is a blue yearling hen. The breeding contains Soontjens, Staf Van Reet and Jan Arden lines. Some of the bloodlines come from G Buckley & Son and Jeff Greenaway as the brothers are very friendly with both. The pigeon timed here is a cousin of the 2007 Yearling National winner for J & J Merrigan, a pigeon bred by the Gregorys. The grand dam was 1st club, 4th East Coast Fed from St Malo in 2009.

The hen was raced on the roundabout in the earlier part of the season and was re-paired for the channel. She had all the inland races and the difficult Penzance. For the race she was sent sitting on a 16-day-old young bird and with two new eggs about 5 days. She had just dropped her first flight a few days before basketing.

Tommy and Roger have just started to send pigeons to France in the past three years and have picked up that art very quickly. The birds are trained before racing starts and thereafter are flown an hour morning and evening.

Gregory Bros


7th and 10th Open F & J Crowe, Gorey RPS, Vels 975 and 943, flying 342 miles and winning £293 plus the Henry Beattie & Son Trophy for best 2 bird Average


In 7th and 10th Open are F. & J. Crowe of Gorey, Co Wexford, where they race with the South Leinster Federation, they also win the H. Beattie & son trophy for the best two bird average.

This partnership is father Frank and son James. Frank has been in pigeons since 1983, James was interested since a boy but the partnership name was only changed about four years ago. They raced north road originally but changed to the south 7 or 8 years ago and are now committed National racers. These men are very good racers with their Federation and have won the channel averages for the past two years. They also had eight birds in the Open result from the Yearling National with the INFC last year. This year they sent 5 to the Kings Cup and had 2 in the money. In the Friendship National they sent 6 and had 3 in the money.   The first bird timed was a four-year-old cheq pied cock called "Podge". The sire was Walkingshaw and Kilpatrick while the dam was a Domino hen. He was raced inland as a young bird and flew the Yearling National as a yearling. As a two-year-old he was in the prizes from Bude and was 3rd club, 3rd Fed Vannes. Last year he had a few inland races but was then injured and stopped for the year. This year he had four inland then Sennen Cove where he was 1st club and 5th Fed, seven and a half-hours on the wing, after this he had about five 30-mile tosses and sent on chipping eggs.

The partnerships second bird is a two-year-old blue cheq cock called "Rodge". The sire is from Wilf Reed of Monmouth and the dam is from their own family. Raced inland as a young bird, he flew Penzance and Sennen Cove as a yearling. This year he had four or five inland plus Bude then three 35-mile tosses and sent sittings eggs 16 days.  The feeding is three quarter Gerry Plus one quarter Marimans widowhood. They also have some hemp and homoform midday and a few peanuts in the evening. Multivitamins, cider apple vinegar and their own home made tonic are also given. They race about 50 old birds.


8th Open A Gault, Ballyclare, Vel 970, flying 464 miles winning £152


For 8th Open we go to the loft of Andy Gault in Ballyclare. Andy had three birds in the race and timed two of them to take 8th and 38th Open. Andy timed his first bird at 9.03pm on the first day and his second bird at 9.47am on the second morning.

Andy has named the pigeon at 8th Open ‘Carnlea Belle’, and she is a lovely hen, not big but oozing with quality. Andy was over the moon with his latest success and was quick to point out that a lot of his success is due to good stock and knowledge obtained from Davy Strain, Novara Stud.

‘Carnlea Belle’ contains the very best of the Novara Stud bloodlines. Her sire was bred by the Dutch long distance champion, Herman Brinkman and is a grandson of his 3rd National St Vincent winner. The dam was bred by Davy and is the best of the Novara Stud's Jan Theelan family being closely related to the famous ‘Kweeker 42’ and the ‘Bauer 014’.

Andy’s loft was in great form over the past few weeks having been 43rd Open in the King's Cup the week before, again with Novara bloodlines.

Andy Gault with grandson David


9th Open Belshaw & Anderson Derriaghy, Vel 957, flying 449 miles winning £152


This Derriaghy loft is no stranger to the prize list from the Friendship National having previously been 2nd from this event. This year Jim Belshaw timed a two-year-old Grizzle cock which had not been raced as a youngster although he was trained and then as a yearling had only had 2 races both of which were from across the channel from Talbenny. This year this grizzle had one inland race, Fermoy and two cross channel races Talbenny and Bude and then went to St Malo feeding a two-day-old youngster, his first of the year. I should perhaps add that although he only had the three races he had had plenty of training before going to St Malo with Skerries being one of Jim’s favoured liberation sites.

Jim is very grateful to the Downpatrick partnership of F Black & Sons who bred this bird for Jim.

Jim Belshaw with his 9th Open


Thanks to Versele Laga for their sponsorship of this race and to all who assisted in the compilation of this report.


Brendan McLoughlin

INFC Press Officer