The Joe Murphy Column
The selling of the New Kim has brought get interest within our sport, with many non-fanciers speaking about her and the publicity she has received. The New York Times even said ‘It will sell more than a local American artist; in fact they compared it to a ‘Picasso’ painting.’ In the pigeon racing world, breeding brings big bucks — but never before as much as for New Kim, a 2-year-old female pigeon who sold for a record 1.6 million euros, about $1.9 million dollars’; after a bidding war between 2 Chinese buyers at a Belgian auction. This was far above the previous auction high of €1.25 million, set last year for another Belgian pigeon ‘Armando’ a 5-year-old male with a long winning record who went to the same Chinese buyer, publicly identified by the pigeon auction house PIPA only by the pseudonym ‘Super Duper’. The record was reached on Sunday, after bidding started on November 2 at €200. In the sport, which dates back to at least the 1800s, homing pigeons are acclimated in a shared loft before being taken 100’s of miles away and released; the winner is the first to return. Soaring auction prices are only one sign of the sport’s increasing glamour and competitiveness in China: Two men were convicted by a Shanghai court in 2018 of trying to fix a high-stakes race by putting their pigeons on a bullet train. New Kim, according to Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the founder of PIPA, had 2 distinctions that helped her reach such an exorbitant price: She “performed as the best bird in Belgium in 2018,” and she was among the last birds to be raised by Gaston Van de Wouwer, a famous breeder who has since retired. The seller did not want to comment, Mr. Gyselbrecht said, and the buyer also wished to remain anonymous. Belgium has long been a competitive hotbed for pigeon breeding and racing but an increasing number of high-end buyers are from China, taking almost all of the nine highest-priced birds sold on Sunday. Mr. Gyselbrecht estimates that about 50 % of PIPA’s annual turnover, which totals around $50 million, is from China. And the prices still appear to be rising. The Hok Van de Wouwer auction achieves a total yield of no less than 9.55 million EURO. Smashing the previous record held by Gaby Vandenabeele (6.5 million EURO) in November 2018, exactly 2 years ago. Below is a report of the auction. The ‘Kaasboer’ dynasty is definitely a thing of the past, at least in the lofts in Berlaar. Because worldwide, and especially in China, the descendants will undoubtedly ensure great success in the coming years. PIPA & Gaston van de Wouwer first worked together in 2009, when 2 children of the ‘Kaasboer’ were sold for between 3,000 and 4,000 euro each. At that time, the ‘Kaasboer’ was only a known pigeon in Antwerp. More than 10 years later, he has become one of the most famous pigeons of all time. The more than 10 years of cooperation between the Van de Wouwer family and PIPA had a fantastic apotheosis over the past 2 days. On day 2, 288 pigeons were sold for a total amount of 4,780,350 EURO. Added to the 157 pigeons that were sold yesterday, the total amounted to 9,551,200 EURO for 445 pigeons, an average of 20,992 EURO per pigeon. The pigeons that were sold for 100,000 EURO or more in recent days: New Kim - 1,600,000 EURO; Maria - 700,000 EURO; Golden New Kim - Child Golden Prince X New Kim and also father of Diamond Kim - 600,000 EURO; Mother New Kim - 400,000 EURO; Diamond Kim - 6th best young bird in Belgium over 4 flights - 390,000 EURO; Palme Kim - 204,000 EURO; Brother Anette- 204,000 EURO; Kimi - 180,000 EURO; Golden New Kim 359 - Child Golden Prince x New Kim - 154,000 EURO; Grandson Kaasboer 358-14 - 132,000 EURO; Son Porsche 911 X New Kim 583 - 124,000 EURO -; Julienne - 116,000 EURO; Anette - 112,000 EURO; Daughter Porsche 911 X New Kim - 100,000 EURO; Herna - 100,000 EURO. The child Porsche 911 x New Kim is the most expensive un-flown pigeon ever sold to a European buyer. This pigeon goes to Combinative Wakker in the Netherlands for 124,000 EURO. The following records were broken in the past days: Most expensive pigeon in an online auction / most expensive hen ever: New Kim, 1.6 million EURO; Highest total yield for 1 colony: 9.55 million EURO; Highest yield for an un-flown / unproven pigeon: child Golden Prince x New Kim: EURO 154,000; In recent days, PIPA has regularly been asked how a hen for such a price can be a good investment? The answer was given today on day 2. New Kim's 12 children together raised EURO 1.46 million. The 26 grandchildren New Kim together raised 694,500 EURO. Theoretically a number of pigeons that can be bred in 1 year; New Kim is currently only 2 years old and these 12 children and 26 grandchildren raised 2.15 million EURO, more than New Kim herself.
On a lighter note
I entered a Last Man standing football competition for the very first time in my life; which had an entry of £10 per person; you had to pick a team from the English Premiership game each week. You could not pick the same team twice. So it was a matter of selecting a different team each week. There were 94 people into the competition and I was still in the competition the last game of the weekend. My choice was West Ham to beat Fulham and in the 91st minute West Ham scored a goal and (my whole family all in their own houses were going crazy; they phoned and face timed me) then in the 94 minute Fulham were awarded a penalty if they had scored then I was out of the contest I could not watch. I had my hands over my eyes and then heard a great cheer, the goal keeper had saved it and I was the winner winning £940. (See photo of organiser David Graham presenting me with my winnings) Unfortunately even this amount was not enough to purchase a pigeon at the above sale, but it was a very special happy moment for ALL my family.
Last Man Standing Winner Joe Murphy with David Graham
The Year 2020 written in 1989 by Uno Solo
While doing research for the Dewar Trophy winners I came upon an article in the Racing Pictorial number 234 volume 20 which came out in June 1989 issue. Named: - ‘The Year 2020’ winner of the Pictorial first entry in their; ‘Our Short Story’ competition written by Uno Solo. PLEASE REMEMBER WHEN READING THIS IT WAS PRINTED IN 1989.
‘I had a dream, not the usual one of being 1st, 2nd & 3rd club, or 1st 2nd & 3rd Lerwick National. I think it must have been brought on by watching ‘The Year 2000’ on TV and reading about all the new clocks being sold with computer print-outs etc. Or it could have been the excitement of seeing my 12 year old grandson getting his first 50 not out in the cricket match for his college. There again it might have been the plate of garlic King prawns and bottle of 1984 red wine I had for dinner; it’s hard to guess what caused it. However, let’s go to the beginning. I am walking down to Stoke FC with a basket with 6 birds for the Selby YB race; the time is 07-30am; Saturday morning. Arriving at HQ there’s a table and a couple of chairs with Reg Gibson taking the money. Stacked by the table are wire pens, like show pens, only these are upright. I handed my race sheet to Reg, the only thing I could really understand on it were the ring numbers of my birds, the sheet was covered in all sorts of dots and dashes, it was put in a box like a small TV and figures and words came up on the screen. ‘That will be £600 plus £2 transport fee’ says Reg. I paid him with a £500 note and a £200 note and got four small £20 coins back in change. Ron Mortimer penned my birds, he just read out ring number of each bird and was told what pen to put it in; all birds were in single stalls, no race rubbers. Marking over, a long rod was passed down the centre of each stack of stalls to lock and seal them; each stack had four small wheels on the bottom. ‘Hurry Up’ was called, ‘the transporter will be here in a minute’.
The trolleys were pushed out of the pub yard and onto the road then over to the Dock Commission ‘Heli pad’. We waited at the barrier until our transporter arrived. An ex-Army transporter hovered overhead and finally landed in the middle of the pad. The Fed, they tell me was lucky to be able to get it for just under 2 million pounds. We pushed our trolleys over to the transporter, bud goods in the side were open and a ramp lowered. Six empty trolleys were pushed out and out clubs were then loaded. The convoyer told us he had one more call to make and he should be at Selby at 10-30 and would liberated at 11am, so with NW wind we should get arrivals about 2-30 -3-00pm.
I made my way home, put my basket in the shed and went over to the loft. It was a different design now; all covered in with apex roof, just a landing board on front, with six entrances holes. I opened the door and went inside. There were three shelves with show pen style stalls on them, 24 inch all, only four of these stalls had birds in them that was all I had left out of the 20 I had bought from Brawns Pigeon Supplies. It crossed my mind that perhaps I would get better birds from Adam Bird Aviaries.
No on reeds their own birds any more just bay some each year from the local suppliers. I went to the entrance holes and adjusted the camera to cover all the entrances and clean the front of its lens. I emptied the droppings trays underneath each stall and adjusted the automatic water and feed system. A glance at the thermometer on the air-conditioning system showed that inside the loft it was running at a comfortable 55-60 degrees. Outside the loft I opened up the control panel box and put the switch from ‘Off’ to ‘On’. On the box it was written ‘Telecom Computer Systems, property of RPRA.
Now it was indoors for a couple of hours on the bed as I had been on night shift. I told the wife to call me at 1-30pm. On awakening it was a quick bacon sandwich and a cup of tea and off to the club house. Several members and quite a few of the general public were in the room. There were three TV screens, one had a print-out system attached, and another was showing the local bookies odds on the local club races, also the Federation. Another set was showing arrivals in the National races. The one with the print-out system was for Essex & Suffolk Border fed clubs. The one in our clubrooms had been programmed to show Fed arrivals and give print-out of Stoke FC birds arrivals and final print-out of club result when al prizes and poos had been won and all members timed in.
The bird had been liberated at 11am in a NW wind and it was now 2-15pm and birds were being recorded at Cambridge. When the birds arrive at the loft the camera on the landing board reads the birds’ ring number this is transferred into ‘the system’ and up on the screen comet the time, ring number, club, pools, and latest betting odds.
I walked over to the betting machine. No more bests were being taken on the fed result as birds were being timed in. However odds were still available on club result. I saw that I was quoted at 10-1 to win the club. I was having a poor year not having won a race and only one 2nd so far. I had a blue pied cock which has been put into stall 186 and fancied him the most out of the six birds I had sent. I pushed a button in the machine and found I could get 15-1 for the blue pied cock. A couple of £20 coins went into the machine, and out came my bet ticket.
I was just in time because birds were being recorded into NE of Ipswich. There was however a batch coming in over Bramford way and the North Road boys were falling in. It was just like watching the BBC sports report on a Saturday afternoon and the football results coming in. Everybody in the pub was now crowded around the TV screen and a bit of cursing going on when they realized they had backed a loser. ‘Oh’, said someone, ‘there’s a flier here at Maidenhall’. I could hardly get a look there were so many non-members crowded in front of me. ‘Who is it Slim?’ I called. ‘Is it you?’ he was the tallest of the club members. ‘No- you lucky so and so it’s you’. ‘What One?’ – ‘Don’t know it’s gone now- have to wait till the print-out of the club result’.
After about five minutes it flashed on the screen – Stoke FC result complete (all members timed in), rings verified, when the result is completed ring numbers are flashed through to RPRA HQ and ownership of the birds verified. A system just like horse racing when weighing – in is announced after the race. The Secretary pushed a couple of buttons and out came six copies of race result. At the same time as the bottom of result were details of the birds of our members which had entered other lofts. This was a new system of reporting strays. The result was a good one for me being 1st & 3rd. It read; ‘First stall -186 18uks77881. B,P, Ch, C Velocity 1491-025. Pools ABCD-Pontoon- Total prize money £741-50p, owned and trained by W Button. A system like this allows prizes to be paid out immediately after each race.
Within ten minutes the clubroom was virtually empty and I left to wind my way home. On the way I thought of the old days when we used to set the clocks on the Friday night and checked them again on the race night.
On both nights we used to stay until the pub shut and there was plenty to talk about pigeons. No more frustration of getting you pigeon to trap after you had seen it come, as soon as it was on the landing board the camera photographed the ring number and the computer recorded the time according to the clock at RPRA headquarters, you don’t have to stay at the loft-go away for the week if you want. No worries about getting the wife to clock in if you are at work. As for breeding this was all a thing of the past. Just buy them from the local pet shop; an exchange of a 1st prize winner would bring in extra YB’s. Pigeon clock makers were now out of business. Only a few fanciers in the UK now raced so called ‘Long Distances’ over 300 miles. Races were held all the year round except Christmas Day.
Winter races were from 50 to 100 miles, the air transporter would take them to a ‘Heli pad’ so the birds always had a tail wind. To cope with all this the union had now got a 12-floor office block in the centre of England at Birmingham; nearly 7000 were now employed on a 24-hour shift system, 364 days a year. There were a further 2,000 field engineers distributed around the country to service the loft camera and computer systems. £500 was charged a quarter for renting your system. The club systems were free providing you had 20 or more members.
I reached home and went to the loft to see how many of my 6 I had got. Five were there in their correct pens and the water and feeding systems were working. OK, I locked the door and switched off the computer system. Indoors I mentioned to the wife the result of the race. The Fed committee had organised for our transporter to go to Paris for a day trip on Sunday, and I sked the wife is she would like to go. ‘Well seeing that you have picked up some money at last, I think we will go’. And the dream, ended with the wife bringing me the morning cup of tea.
I lay there sometime, enjoying the early morning beverage not quite sure whether I was in this world or the next. Then I began to think. Well-why not? If you go into a shop these days at the check-out counter – whatever you have is put on the ‘scanner’ and out comes a ticket telling the shop assistance what you have bought-cost- and a code number etc.- why can’t a pigeon land on a ‘scanner’ and have its ring number read?. This information in a split second is relayed to central control computer and all the necessary work carried out. Then all information comes up on any desired computer screen.
When I first come from Suffolk to live out in Australia I established my bank account at Salisbury. Now I go to any branch of that bank in South Adelaide and the ‘teller’ just punches a few buttons on her computer and up comes my account at Salisbury- this is the world today (remember this was written in 1989)
What’s it going to be in 20-50 year time in pigeon racing? Velocities and variations after World War 11 when I was on clock committees. As for air transport- we have gone from handcarts to horses, to Lorries in my lifetime and the roads are now overcrowded it must mean in time that a lot of traffic will take to the air. A loft of the Services air transporters must be now and again become available for resale.
Breeding studs are springing up all over the UK and Continent and must be producing millions of squeaker each year for resale. Here we have a situation where it started by studs having a fixed price then some auctions- now they take them round to different locations, next it must be that ‘Franchises’ will be available. These ‘Franchises’ being taken up by pet shops and garden centres, more you buy the cheaper they get. ‘Specials’ will be on just –like ‘Soap powers’ and ‘margarines’ in the supermarket. And of course you will be able to do this all on your bankcard. With money now pouring into the sport bookmakers will rub their hands it will be more profitable to them than dog racing and maybe horse racing, the ‘Sport of Kings’ which is after all what some people would like the sport to be instead of a workingman’s hobby.
Now all this will bring pressure to bear on the Union to bring back the old ring licences and different studs etc.; will have their own colours, numbers and letters etc. just like the says of the old RP and HW rings which were refused licenses in the 1960’s. The licences will be issued with the excuse that it will keep annual subscriptions down which will be in the region of £50 a loft.
The ‘modern age’ is upon us whether we like it or not- ‘Computers’ Micro-chip’ ‘Man on the Moon’ ‘Sky Channel’ came in 3 years ago and all I do now is press a button on my TV and I can see the FA Cup live or the Grand National, Boat Race etc. and this year the Aussies knocking hell out of the Poms at Lords in the Test, all live. There again press another button and it will record on the video and I can watch them at my leisure. Yes my dream was not all fantasy – pigeon racing as a workingman’s hobby on Saturday afternoon is being killed as sure as eggs as my old daddy used to say. What really annoyed me about my dream was the wife waking me up before I had time to collect my prize money and winnings from the bookmaker!!! Don’t forget correspondence is a pleasure, all letters answered. Uno Solo 37 Milner Street Prospect 5082 South Australia
I hope you have enjoyed this short story and it is surprising that here we are in 2020 and some of the items Uno spoke about are now part of our pigeon sport. I wonder if anyone would like to predict what our sport will be like in the year 2040. ANYONE CARE TO TRY……….
This week’s photo’s
My thanks to Jim Hannah who has forwarded me some photographs of pigeons taken recently, the first is Brooker Girl winner of 1st open Lanarkshire federation Billericay. Owned and raced by C & E McMillan of Allanton.
The second pigeon is ‘Clydeside Sue’ winner of 1st open Glasgow federation Arras; bred and raced by Joe Musleh of Clydebank.
Two Yanks in a Dundee café, one asks for two horse steaks, the waitress says, ‘We don’t eat horses over here’. The Yanks says ‘So how come that guy over there ordered mare soup?’ That’s for you George Briggs ha ha.
Who wish my weekly contribution portfolio on pigeon topics from Scotland
© Compiled by Joe Murphy