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King's Cup 2012



Brendan McLoughlin



Originally scheduled for Friday 6 July, the weather over the weekend was never going to be suitable for a race at all. The race team kept a close eye on the forecast and were in daily contact with Meteireann in an effort to ensure that the pigeons got the best conditions possible. Basketing had been planned for the Monday evening and we received regular updates via pigeonline or through the INFC website. On Thursday we eventually got the green light and marking was arranged for the Friday evening for a possible race on Monday morning.

Monday morning brought us the news that the pigeons were released at 6.30am in a light northerly wind which was to turn westerly wind en route and then northwesterly as the day progressed. 794 members had entered 2,783 birds into Ireland’s premier race and were racing for £31,192 in pools and prizemoney. Once again the race was sponsored by Samuel McCausland Ltd.

The first bird timed was at 6.37pm and was the eventual winner for Gerry O’Reilly and Sons Derek and Niall from the Malahide and District club in the Dublin area. As the pigeons began to arrive in the north just after 8.30pm the prospects looked good for returns but at the end of the race there were only 71 birds timed, with just 12 on the first day 


1st South section, 1st Open G O’Reilly & Son Malahide & District, vel 1020, Flying 421 miles, winning £1568 and the King George V Challenge Cup and the Harkness Rose Bowl for best two bird average


The winners of the 2012 King's Cup are G O’Reilly & Son from the Malahide & District club and are the third winners of the King's Cup from Malahide following wins for J Cullen in 1992 and P Rock & Son in 1997. While the partnership name is G O’Reilly & Son there are actually two sons involved as Derek and Niall both have a keen interest in the pigeon sport. Gerry had pigeons as a small boy but it was only in the 1960s that he started to race seriously. Through the pigeons he developed a great friendship with Jim Anderson, in Cullybackey and he used to bring the boys with him when he went to visit Jim, and Gerry feels that it was Jim that sowed the seeds of interest of distance pigeons in the boys as children. Indeed the O’Reillys still race the Anderson pigeons. Of course the O’Reillys are no strangers to success on the National stage having won the Harkness Rose Bowl for the best two bird average in 2009. To win it again three years later is a magnificent achievement. This was to be a dream 24 hours for the O’Reillys as the day after the King’s Cup they timed two on the day from the Friendship National from St Malo when only seven birds were timed on the day altogether.

The winning pigeon this year is a three-year-old red cock now known as ‘Champion Riverview Red’. It can be traced back to pigeons that they got from Jim Anderson some 20 years ago. The breeding is from Frank Cheetham who was a great flyer from Pau into Yorkshire. Gerry tells me the King’s Cup winner is very much the Cheetham type. These birds have always been kept pretty much pure Cheetham with only an odd new bird added from Jim Anderson over the years. As their friendship developed birds were swapped on a regular basis. The red cock has a good race record having been 5th club Penzance 2010 and last year he was 3rd club, 4th Fed, 14th Open Friendship National from St Malo. This year he had two races prior to the Kings Cup, one from Pilmore Beach and the other from Mallow. He got one or two tosses a week, depending on the weather from the Cooley area north of Dundalk. Gerry feels that training from here helps the birds to break if they get carried north.

The birds are fed the usual stuff like GerryPlus, which is mixed with other brands. Peanuts are added approaching the race and the French candidates are hand fed in the last few days. This year the weather made preparation very difficult and the cock was sent sitting 16 days on eggs. The birds are raced “absolutely natural” with the Kings Cup winner racing to a cardboard box on the floor with a hole in the front of it. At the beginning of the year when he nested he did so on the floor and the cardboard box was put in to cover the eggs and prevent the cock having to protect the eggs by chasing any other pigeon that came to the floor. Incidentally he flew to the same little box last year. 


1st North section, 2nd Open W Neill Annaghmore, vel 1002, flying 489 miles, winning £2484 and the Nelson Vase and the NIPA Trophy


2nd Open goes to Annaghmore’s W Neill timing at 8.49pm for the 489-mile fly. Now, this loft was bang on form having timed nine on the day the previous week from St Malo, with eight of these in the prizes. The ninth bird was timed at 10.52pm.  Remember that this was not an easy race and Willie took the following Open positions: 20th, 27th, 29th, 34th, 73rd, 105th, 109th and 150th, and was 5th, 7th, 11th, 26th and 33rd in the competitive section E.  He also won a Gold medal with a bird four times in the prizes in this race and a Silver medal with a bird three times in the prizes. Prior to the French races Willie had won all the channel races into the very competitive Annaghmore club.

The pigeon taking 1st North section, 2nd Open in the King’s Cup is a four-year-old red cheq hen, known as ‘Champion Ivy’, named after a neighbour. ‘Champion Ivy’ wins a Hall of Fame for three times in the prizes from the King’s Cup having been 182nd Open in 2010, and 111th Open in 2011. It’s no surprise then that ‘Champion Ivy’ was Willie’s selected pigeon for the Single Bird Challenge, which she won here. The breeding on the sire’s side is from Tommy Cairns & Son and Van Loon from Norrie Sharpe, while the dam’s side is the old Gilmour & Beattie lines through Ron Williamson. ‘Champion Ivy’ showed promise as a young bird when she made the result from the young bird National from Penzance in 2008. As a yearling she was sent to the Yearling National and just missed out on the prizes. Had she made the prize list there she would have won a Triple Crown in 2010 when she was 182nd Open in the King’s Cup.

Champion Ivy - 2nd open

Willie usually likes to send the birds sitting 7 to 14 days on eggs but this year she was sent sitting 15 days due to the delay in the race marking. Willie told me that the birds are given as much as they want to eat twice a day and feeding is Beattie’s Champion Supreme, which he buys from Thomas and Andrew Willis, Annaghmore Spar. Willie acknowledges the immense help he gets from Paul Larkin and says this help together with decent pigeons to start off with is the secret to his success.

Willie Neill - 2nd Open


2nd North section, 3rd Open C & G Quinn Milltown, vel 1001, flying 481 miles, winning £4043


2nd North Section 3rd Open are C. & G. Quinn who race with the Milltown club and live just outside Blackscull, between Donacloney and Dromore. The partnership is made up of father Gerry and son Chris. The lofts were a credit to the boys being extremely tidy and super clean. They have also installed a system to take the stale air out of the ‘darkness’ loft, which they had seen in Blackpool. This looked very impressive. They timed their 3-year old red cock, "Hunter", at 8.37pm. This cock is fast proving himself to be a very good pigeon, having been 31st Open in last year's King's Cup. He is the highest money winner this year lifting £4,043 plus £400 for being second in the I.N.F.C / B.H.W Single Bird Challenge. A lovely handler with a strong back of medium size he was sent with his third flight just up and sitting eggs 15 days. The sire is from their own family while the dam was a gift from one of Banbridge's long distance stalwarts, Jim Butler and I know it will give Jim great satisfaction to have been involved with the breeding of this very good bird. Raced on darkness as a young bird he had the full programme plus Penzance Young Bird National. As a yearling he had 5 or 6 races plus Talbenny. Last year 6 races plus Rosscarbery then 31st Open Kings Cup. This year the boys were a little nervous and he had just 3 inland races, Clonmel, Fermoy and Roscrea but was flown twice a day with the young birds, plenty of 30/40 mile tosses plus some tosses with the young birds. The feeding is all Beatties with the usual additives, apple cider vinegar etc. They also give extra peanuts in the run up to the race. The birds are checked out every year by Armand Scheers at Cyril Beatties.

Chris and Gerry Quinn with Hunter - 3rd Open King's Cup


3rd North section, 4th Open L Magee & Son Lisburn & Dist, Vel 992, flying 485 miles, winning £982


The Lisburn & District lofts of L Magee & Son have been very consistent National fliers over many years but with the death sadly of the senior partner Len a year or so ago, the loft is now managed by son Jackie who is ably assisted by his brother Alan. Between them they have recorded yet another top placing in this year’s King’s Cup at 4th Open a position which equals that of their 2005 result when they were also 4th Open in the King’s Cup. Previous to that in 1997 they were 5th Open and when you add these to the many other top placing in Nationals over the years you can see why this is a loft to look out for in Irish National Racing results.

In this year’s King’s Cup they have the added distinction that this blue cheq cock was the first yearling recorded and for this they win the McCloud Cup. Now, to this yearling cock himself. He is a Busschaert from the family, which the Magees have cultivated over many years. This yearling cock has excelled this year having had all four channel races and was a prizewinner in the club in both Bude and Penzance.

Most of the season he was raced unpaired and went to the King’s Cup sitting his first eggs after having been paired up after the 2nd Talbenny race. Jack & Alan’s success in the King’s Cup follows on from also being amongst the prizes from the NIPA’s St.Malo the week before, when they were 101st.


4th North section, 5th Open N Black & Son Dromara, Vel 983, flying 479 miles, winning £2367


4th North Section 5th Open are previous winners and last year's National Champions N. Black & Son of Dromara. This is the now the 16th time in the last 18 years that the partnership have been in the top 10. They have also won four Harkness Rose Bowls (Best two-bird average), three Hall of Fames (three times in the prizes) and this year a Gold medal (four times in the prizes). This year's timer is a three-year-old blue cock called 'Rocky' who has proved himself one of the partnership’s best ever birds. His sire is a son of the partnership’s King's Cup winner in 1996, when paired to their 2nd Open Redon pigeon. The dam, which also bred the Gold medal cock is a half sister to the lofts 'Annie Mary', 4th and 8th Open Messac, out of a daughter of the 2nd Open hen. The loft has now produced 3 double top ten birds in the last 18 years.

Raced natural as a young bird ‘Rocky’ had two races up to 120 miles. As a yearling three races plus Talbenny and then Sennen Cove Yearling National where he was second bird to the loft and 71st Open. Last year he was prepared for the Kings Cup and was timed at twelve and a half hours to be 8th Open and help win the Harkness Rose Bowl. This year he was paired on 14th February and was only allowed to sit 2 round of eggs. He was then parted and raced celibate for 6 weeks. He had 4 inland races to Fermoy plus 2nd Talbenny, and was flown one and a half hours morning and night plus as many 40 mile tosses as possible before being paired again and sent to the Kings Cup on a one day young bird. Timed at 8.48pm flying 14 hours 18 mins he lifts £2,367.

The loft was founded in 1973 on birds from Jim Moreland, John McMullan and George Casement and the same family of birds is still being cultivated today. The feeding is Frazers, mainly continental widowhood with high energy in the lead up to the big races. In recent years lots of different oils plus other vitamin and mineral supplements have been used to great effect.

Alan, David and Andrew Black with pigeonss that were 5th and 17th Open and their Gold Medal winner


5th North section, 6th Open C & L Fryers Dromara, Vel 948, flying 474 miles, winning £457


5th North Section, 6th Open winning £457 is a loft which has been timing birds from France for over 40 years, that of C. & L. Fryers of Dromara. Timing their first bird from France in 1969, they were 5th Open Nantes in 1970 and have a string of good performances since then, including a gold award with the N.I.P.A this year. In fact he was racing to the nest box above the King's Cup hen. There is a fabulous view from the lofts, which form an L shape in the garden. The partnership consists of Laurence and wife Christine and they race to between Dromara and Seaforde in Co Down.

They timed a small but lovely handling two-year- old blue cheq hen at 9.10pm sent sitting 14-day eggs. Her sire is Lol Green/Mr & Mrs Bates, while the dam is from their own family. A ‘Natural’ young bird like the rest of Laurence's young birds, she was not raced but well trained including plenty of containers. As a yearling she had 3 inland races plus Talbenny where she took three days. This year she had 3 inland races plus Talbenny and plenty of 30/40-mile tosses with the last couple from Portaferry. They are fed a no bean mix plus beans in a hopper, also different oils on the food. Johnston's tonic and Naturaline are also used plus an anticanker treatment. It has proved to be very hard to win Dromara club in a National race, with members 2nd, 8th and 10th last year and 5th and 6th Open this year. Remember that Cromie & Magee & Son have won the Skibbereen National already this year.

Laurence Fryers - 6th Open


6th North section, 7th Open Collins & Pursley Doagh & Dist, Vel 837, flying 501miles, winning £1006


The Doagh partnership of Sid Collins and Norman Pursley timed 3 birds in the prizes in this difficult King’s Cup at 7th, 9th and 53rd Open. Sid who is the President of the Irish National Flying Club has raced in partnership with Norman for many years, originally in Ligoniel.

Their first pigeon is a two-year-old black Busschaert cock of “Rainstorm” lines through Eddie Wright of Fountainhead and Chris Gordon. This cock has been a very consistent racer and was in the prizes as a yearling in 2011 from St.Malo. This year he had four Inland races plus one Talbenny and did his racing in the early part of the season on the roundabout but was sitting 4 eggs and feeding a big young bird for the King’s Cup race. In addition he and the rest of the lofts French candidates were well trained. Starting some 4 weeks before the King’s cup they had 3 tosses per week from Balbriggan.

Sid Collins


2nd South section, 8th Open G O’Reilly & Son Malahide & Dist, Vel 813, flying 421 miles, winning £439


We go back to this year’s winners for 2nd South section, 8th Open to G O’Reilly & Son. This bird helped the O’Reillys to the Harkness Rose Bowl for the best two-bird average. The pigeon timed here is a five-year-old hen from birds obtained from Brian Denney in Yorkshire six or seven years ago. These birds have been going well from them and resulted from the friendship built up between Niall and Brian over the years.

This was actually this birds fourth time to fly France. In 2009 she was timed at 6.30pm from Vannes and was 9th club, 54th South section but just out of the Open result. In 2010 she was clocked on the 2nd morning to take 11th club but again just missed out on an Open position. The following year she was 12th club, 18th Fed, 182nd Open having been timed at 9.30pm on the day. This year she was 2nd club, 2nd Fed, 8th Open to claim a well-earned Merit Award.

This hen first came to prominence in 2009 when she was 3rd club, 50th Open East Coast Fed from Talbenny, and from that she was targeted towards the King’s Cup. This year she was sent sitting on chipping eggs.  Prior to the King’s Cup this year she had only one race from Pilmore Beach and was flown around the loft and trained once or twice per week, depending on the weather. With pigeons of this calibre the O’Reillys think there is no point in taking risks with them so they watch the weather very closely and only send when it is favourable.


7th North section, 9th Open Collins & Pursley & Collins Doagh & District, Vel 804, flying 501 miles, winning £507


Collins & Pursley’s second bird was a blue cheq yearling cock and this one has already been on the National prize list this year when he was 180th Open, 117th North Section from the Sennen Cove Yearling National. He also flew the Skibbereen Old Bird National with the INFC earlier in the year. This bird went to the King’s Cup sitting 15 days on eggs after having raced Roundabout for the early part of the season.

The breeding of this pigeon on the sire’s side is Davy Booth of Omagh with bloodlines of Tom Marshall and Nevin Bros of Coleraine, while on the dam’s side it is down of “El Sid” a former Hall of Fame winner and again from Tom Marshall, Newtownbreda. So you can see that this is one bred for this type of race. Its not very often that somebody will have two birds in the top ten in the King’s Cup and not win the Harkness Rose Bowl but that’s what happened here as finishing 7th and 9th Open only left Sid and Norman in second place for the Rose Bowl.


3rd South section, 10th Open J Cullen Malahide & Dist, Vel 802; flying 399 miles, winning £221


10th Open goes to former King’s Cup winner Jimmy Cullen from the Malahide & District club. Jimmy raced in the Malahide club for many years and although he moved to Bray, in Co Wicklow he remained in the Malahide & Dist club such is the club spirit within the club.

Jimmy had one of the best result sheets on the day with 5 birds in the result out of an entry of 9 birds when many fanciers failed to time at all. This was a super race for the 1992 King’s Cup winner who clocked his first pigeon at 9.02pm on the day. The pigeon is a two-year-old cheq pied hen, which is down from his Stan Biss pigeons. The sire’s side is down from ‘Turban’ who was 3rd in the Pau National. Jimmy has had the Biss pigeons for 20 years now and most of his pigeons are from this source.

As a young bird the hen had only one race, then as a yearling she was sent to Owenahincha and was clocked from Bude. This year she was sent to the Skibbereen National, a race that Jimmy used for all his French candidates and then to Pilmore Beach. Following that she was trained in preparation for the King’s Cup.  She was sent to the race on chipping eggs and her youngster had hatched when she got back. Jimmy mixes his own feed and uses a lot of pellets.

The week before the King’s Cup Jimmy clocked 3 in the St Malo Derby so the signs were good for the King’s Cup. The 3rd pigeon clocked in the King’s Cup was 1st Open East Coast Fed from St Malo last year when the only bird beating her in any of the Irish organisations was the Miller Gold Cup winner. This bird contains the best of Jimmy’s racing stock, being down from the Kings Cup winner in 1992, the Hall of Fame winner in 1995 and the Miller Gold Cup winner of 1997 which was the only bird on the day. Jimmy’s fourth bird timed at 8.45am on the third day was a gift bird from Cooley Bros from Derry.


Thanks to Davy Black and Clifford Browne for their help in compiling this report and to all those who helped with the photographs. Thanks to McCauslands Ltd for their continued support in sponsoring the race. I would also like to thank all those who helped at the marking station and at the clock centres.


Brendan McLoughlin

INFC Press Officer