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N W C C Saintes Report 23-07-19

North West Classic Club


The quality of the club is reflected in the result.


This has not been a good season for the longer races with a lot of pigeons failing to make the grade. There is no doubt that the longer races are becoming harder year after year. A lot of this is probably down to the uncertainty of the weather but also there are more and more new lines of pigeons coming on the market that are not good enough for 500mls plus races, but sprinters are in abundance. This has reflected on the entries into this type of race, they are not strong enough for the challenge. This does not only affect the likes of this club but other National and Classic clubs, as can be seen by the entries.


The decision was made in my first year as secretary that the Saintes 500ml race would be open to fanciers within the radius of the club. Although there are non-members who have sent to the race the numbers are not what were expected. The North West is short of good 500ml races that they used to have years ago but times are changing, and more emphasis has been put on races up to 400/450mls. The club had hoped to revive a race like the Great Northern which was one of the best 500 plus mile races into the North West, but we are finding it hard work persuading fanciers that this is the race to be in. The other point is, when we are at the tail end of the old bird season there are not as many old birds about, especially those capable of covering between 500/550mls which is where most club members are situated within the club radius.


The entry for this race was up by 20% on last year so it is a move forward. The committee are hoping that this will become a big feature race in the North West where there is a lack of 500ml races. Many years ago, there used to be several very good races, but they are now limited. When you look at the pay out in this race for 122 birds the winners are getting good value for money. The first call on what was to be the liberation day was from race controller Roger Sutton informing me that there would be no liberation from Saintes. Roger went on to say that there was heavy full cloud cover in southern and central France, but all was looking good for the following day.


However as is often the case the following day did not see a good start which, is what the pigeons needed. Early on there was no sun about, and it was darker than normal and there was no breeze about to encourage the pigeons to get up and head for home. It was also a little colder here in the North West than it had been and as we know a drop in temperature soon changes the way the pigeons fly. At the end of the winning day there were 17 birds clocked and they certainly had to work for their perches.



1st Open 1st Section A sees another win for Roger Sutton from Astbury who has been the one to beat in the club and collects £223.60. Roger has had a real good season with the club and if he carries on with the young bird race, he will not leave a lot for others. The problem with Roger is he is quiet about everything and to me this does not give the pigeons the credit they deserve for many excellent performances.



2nd Open 2nd Section A is won by Malcolm Tweates from Congleton winning £345.10, these are the type of races that Malcolm likes to compete in. Malc was saying that he doesn’t rear youngsters to race, they are all latebreds so you can see the strength of pigeons he must have. This is a system I used (LJP), and it does work, too many young birds/yearlings are ruined before they can get any experience. This hen has been lightly raced, just two land races and a few tosses. She has had minor positions in NFC races and was sent to Saintes sitting 10 days.



3rd 5th 8th 9th Open 1st 3rd 6th 76th Section B sees a good race for Geoff Bebbington from Cuddington collect’s £547.20. Geoff also won the Alan Wicker non for 2 young birds which he has kindly donated to the Elimar Charity sale to be held in late august early September. I sent a few questions out and Geoff has done a good job with his reply.

Geoff Bebbington


                                                    Geoff Bebbington 1st Pigeon                                                       Geoff Bebbington 2nd Pigeon

Geoff Bebbington Loft

Inside Geoff Bebbington's Loft


Which races do you target? 
I have always been interested in the longer distances for young birds anything over 150 miles and older birds 360 and above. As soon as I get the race programmes I sit down and pick the races I am going to enter from different clubs. The hardest thing now is finding the preparation races before the main race with the feds. They appear to have any excuse to pull them back to a shorter distance. I know they are governed by the convoyer but something needs to be done. This year I approached a different convoyer from my local fed and sent mine as trainers to get a bit more distance and I will do so again if necessary
With this in mind, which bloodlines form the base of your loft?
When I started back up again I did a lot of research into the distance pigeons and the Van Wanroy’s caught my eye. They can fly long distances in hard races and hot weather, so they were the first birds I brought in then I introduced the De Rouw-Sablons and a few other distance-based breeds. 
Which individual pigeons are proving to be your key breeders and racers? 
In the van Wanroy’s the “Drogba” lines I have four grandsons of this top cock; three I have flying out two of them are nest mates, one of those is the sire of the bird that won the section. I purchased these as latebreds off elimar auctions and this year I met the lad in Blackpool who sold them. The fancier being Dean Garrett who commented on how cheap I got them. I cannot remember if it was £75 each or the pair worth 10 times that. One of them bred my brother’s single entry into Tarbes this year which turned out to be a really difficult race again. He got it back out of race time having been hit by a bird of prey with only two tail feathers and one of them was pushed through his skin.
When sourcing your base pigeons, what attracted you to them?
Research into their background the look and feel of the bird, the van Wanroy;s have feathers like silk, they have a good shape, I have never been a lover of reds but the pair I bought from Dean were “Droga” crossed with “Red Star” and both the cocks are red and breed quite a few reds so I am becoming a fan of them now and so is Rob my brother, so it shows if they win it doesn’t really matter what they look like. 
Have you evolved a particular type or line most suited to your methods?
I am not big on road training birds with the fed races as short as they are, I use them as trainers, and they seem to come from these. Last weekend the fed had an old bird race from Cheltenham which is approx. 94mls to me. I sent my 48 young birds; I have 45 so 3 down previous to that they have had 2 x 10mls and 2 x 20ml toss. The first one back was ten minutes clear of the others and sat on the roof for two minutes and would have been 5th club. 
How much emphasis do you put on motivation, and with this in mind what methods do you adopt?
Motivation is good but if the bird is right, they seem to motivate themselves well for the cock’s hens it’s a bit different. My young cocks are all over the sky’s now after their first race full of it chasing hen’s and fighting with anything that will take them on
How important is feeding? 
I have fed the same for years, Gerry plus with fat mix the longer the race the more fat I give them. 
How has your approach to feeding changed over the years and what feed do you now favour?
This year I swapped to Gerry Plus, Black Mazie, I don’t think it’s any one thing that makes a difference it’s a combination of different things.
Have you found any supplements of benefit?

I have been using the Vet-Schroder Tollisan products.
What medication, if any, do your birds receive?
When I first starting back there seems to be a lot more sickness about and you can tell where it is when you look at the fed result. You have clubs with 10 or 15 members hardly any birdage so last year I started to vaccinate for anything I could. This year I have had the best breeding season I have had for many years and the young birds are looking fantastic I cannot wait for YB racing to start but it will be the 10th of august before the fed is at Cheltenham, I won’t send to any shorter races than that because the just come out of the north back on themselves.
What balance do you strike between workload (home exercise, training and racing) and rest when preparing a bird for its main target?
As I have stated earlier I look for different races to prepare for the main race I will pick out the main race at the start of the year and work back. Since I have started back the North West Classic Saintes is always my target race 
How do you get a pigeon to peak?
Basket work.  
Describe, if you can, how your birds handle at basketing time when in top form.
I hardly ever handle my birds with having pigeon lung, when they are right they never seem to have enough weight on them, but they are in good condition.
How great a bond do you have with your pigeons?
Not good as I don’t handle the pigeons a lot I can walk about in the loft without too much flying about but when it comes to basketing it’s a different matter. 
How much emphasis do you put on loft design?
A lot the loft has to be right, not just for the birds but the fancier as well, especially with the loft I have now. I am still changing things around trying to get it right, the hardest thing I live on a hill so I have to keep the loft as low as possible so not to annoy the neighbours which means I have it directly on the floor with no air gap underneath. When it first went up I had a concrete floor I have changed it to insulation with wooden floor on top which seems to be a lot better.
Which fancier has influenced you most, in the way in which you fly your pigeons?
Geoff Kirklands methods simple and straight forward with good birds. 
Who do rate most highly of today’s fanciers?
I am really only interested in National and open races, the names that always seem to be there in my local area, North West of England is Roger Sutton is always about also Brain Lee have been flying a good pigeon. Geoff Kirkland albeit further down and further down still is Mark Gilbert. I saw somebody criticize Mark on sending, cannot remember the exact amount, I think it was 150 maybe 200 birds to one of the National races this always gets me. He could have picked out his ten best and sent them, what is he supposed to do with the other 190 they need to be in that race for the training. It’s no good sending them to a club race they are National birds and in Marks case international birds, so they need to go to national races. Most channel men send to their club and fed for training and are not bothered that there birds are only doing 1200 to 1400ypm when the winner is doing 1600/1800ypm because their birds can do 1200ypm all day long. If the channel men didn’t put their birds into the clubs and feds, I wonder what the true birdage would be if you took out the channel or distance birds and just left the sprint men who may fly 12 or 18 widowhood cocks. Mark Gilberts performances have been outstanding in the internationals and there are a lot more fanciers I could name like the Coopers and more. One I would like to mention who I had a hen off that crossed well into Geoff Kirklands birds, was the legend himself Brian Shepard who I heard sadly recently passed away.
Please give the readers the most memorable results that you have achieved.
I have had a few good results over the years, I am happy if I get into the top 100 of the National open result and top 10 in the section which I have done quite a few times in the NFC, MNFC and the BICC. I have won the section and been 2nd Open in the BICC National I would like to fly the MNFC again but there isn’t a marking station around me its Liverpool centre and I have been told it’s a nightmare to get to. Stoke the same or Penkridge 80ml round trip. I run my own building company which takes too much time out of my day to do these runs, that’s why I like the NWCC it’s set up more for the working man. I like to set myself challenges I have had 2nd open 2nd section NWCC Saintes so my aim is to better that not sure if 3rd open 1st section is better one step forward one back, the win is the one as for most pigeon Fanciers.

What are your future ambitions?
Win races I don’t mean the local club because if you win that its soon forgotten about, I will leave them to the sprint men as long as they don’t pull those in to far, mine need the distance for training. I mean Nationals, Open’s one loft races, it’s always good always nice to win thousands of pounds. I have had a joint first in the Las Vegas a few years back and a 3rd Europa, when that was running it was always a good weekend with free food and beer. I have entered into the Wild Atlantic and the Hoosier this year $500.000 would be nice 
Do you have any further comments about anything that we may have missed?
Just a warning to some of these members who like to cause trouble, I have seen quite a few of these over the years, there are a lot of the clubs about now who are struggling to find the members who are willing to take on the jobs to run the clubs. It won’t take much for these clubs to fold then you will have nowhere to fly your birds then you will have to fly in the National’s and open races or pack up. It’s up to a club as a whole to stop the trouble makers they are usually the ones that go from club to club try to find a win or get the club to move from fed to fed looking for a way to win a race instead of putting the effort into your birds and going to the club for a bit of fun and not causing trouble. The best thing we did as a club is let in the Curtis-Wall-Lunt partnership nice guys phenomenal flyers. I do the results they have fantastic performances even on the early channel races but the best thing about them they keep the half-wits away.


LJP. Don’t know where you got the questions from Geoff, they weren’t the ones I sent out, but a good job done.


4th Open 2nd Section B Dave Pritchard who is proving to be a top winning fancier winning £175.91.

Dave Pritchard


“I would like to start on Thanking yourselves and the team for brilliant Old bird Channel season and dedication to this programme for the NWCC and what a success you have created in a sort space of time” And congratulation’s to Roger Sutton on his brilliant win from Saintes and his fantastic season with the NWCC and all the members that have taken this club to their hearts”  

Roger and Pat Sutton


“I only started back into the sport two and half years ago after a 20year plus break. The blue hen “Dee Dee 18” is no newcomer to the NWCC as a young bird in 2017 she was 1st section B, 8th Open from Carentan and 3 x1st that year and has gone on to win a total of 7 x 1st in a system where my main race team are widowhood cocks, while I am trying a few hens on the widowhood/round about system that I am developing with no weekly exercising until the race which the hens are required for. The midweek club is used for exercising only and NO loft exercise is given, and only a few races are used to prepare the hens because of my busy work schedule. A light feed of barley is used daily based and one and a half days widowhood food is given before racing and are exercised more towards the appointed race with their diet increasing to the selected race. No training is given as I do not have the time. The mid-week programme is used for my loft exercise for the hens.

I keep to the natural products like cider vinegar and garlic twice a week and vitamin electrolyte on return. Keep it simple is what I was always told”   



6th Open 4th Section B is won by Hickman & Shovelton from Warrington plus £60.

Carl Hickman has been racing pigeons for many years and this year he is having help from Gary Wall and Alan Curtis. During the old bird land season, they were not doing as well as they would have liked to but thoughts were that the pigeons were more for the longer races. After this result they might be thinking that is the case.



7th Open 6th Section B goes to Jimmy Hinchliffe from Bury plus £51.04.

Jimmy is a keen member of the NWCC and does like to compete in this type of race plus of course the Nationals and was the longest flying member to clock in this very hard race, 548mls.


10th Open 3rd Section A won by Brian Lee with £187.97 and is another Congleton fancier who is never far away when it comes to the National and Classic races. This one was also 1st section A 1st open with “992” who is a 4yo chequer hen flown on the roundabout system and is a consistent performer. A closer look at her pedigree reveals all, her sire is a De Ruaw Sablon/Marcel Aelbrecht X Willy Thas/Casaert from Frank Taskers clearance sale, purchased by Saintes NFC winner from the Isle of White, Eric Wiltshire. The sire was gifted to me by my age-old pal Jeff Worthington from Bramhall Cheshire, who has known Eric for years. The dam is again De Rauw Sablon from my good friend John Brocklehurst’s Premiere stud stock and is inbred to champion “Gilbert”. Brian’s birds fly the channel every two weeks and sometimes more if the conditions allow.

Brian Lee

This may seem harsh but the only time they go in the basket is to race, Brian does not train old birds! They are fed on Vanrobaeys diet and Bordeaux mix for old and young and supplement this with fats as we increase the distance and dependant on the weather. Brian use’s most of the Vanrobaeys products that are on sale at Astbury Pigeon Supplies just outside Congleton, the proprietor being Brian’s very good friend Roger Sutton. Brian is one of those fanciers who believes in a robust regime of maintenance is observed weekly whereby the birds have a rehydration mix in the water when returning from a race. This can be Diarolite or own brand off the supermarket shelf, half a sachet to two litres of water and in the evening, this is replaced with clean water and Vircon S at a rate of 2.5ml to 2ltrs water, a broad spectrum viricidal disinfectant. The double whammy here is that your bird and drinkers are thoroughly cleaned out, the drinkers most important as the risk of infection/cross infection from this source is massive. Monday Cider vinegar is added to the water to balance the gut flora, now you have your bird fit for purpose once again.  



Secretaries. Mr Les J Parkinson. Mrs Kim A Crowley. 11 Rushton Drive, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 0NJ.

Tel: 01606836036 Mobile: 07871701585.

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