“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
A Three Borders Federation Special Feature.
Mick & Lyn Chaplin of Woking.
Mick and Lyn Chaplin of the Pyrford club enjoyed a brilliant 2016 racing season, with the highlight winning, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th club, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th Federation, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th SMT Combine (1,591 birds) Falaise. A fantastic performance! The convoy was liberated at 09.30hrs in a south / south east wind and Mick said at that time, on the day the wind was spot on for his birds flying to his loft in Woking. His winning pigeon was his yearling blue chequer widowhood cock; ‘West End Vulcan’ and he won the Combine by five minutes. This champion cock has won 4 firsts and 2 seconds in the club in the first half of the 2016 racing season and won 1st club Exeter the week after he won the Combine. ‘Vulcan’ had five races as a young bird and on one side is bred from Mick’s old Burger family and his dam was a ‘Rutz’ pigeon from the late Tony Haywood. His nest mate has since won 1st club, 7th Three Borders Federation Kingsdown. Mick’s 2nd SMT Combine Falaise winner was his Jan Aarden Dark WF cock, ‘West End Jet’ and his parent came from the ‘House of Aarden’ lofts. This game two year old widowhood cock has previously won: 1st section G, 30th open BBC Messac, 4th section G, 88th open BBC Bordeaux. Mick told me, that season’s performances were a great follow up to his outstanding 2015 season, when he won: thirteen times 1st club, 1st section, 2nd section (twice), 3rd section (three times) in the BBC and 1st, 2nd section, 4th, 5th open in the BICC.
Born and bred in Knaphill, near Woking in Surrey, Mick started up in pigeons as a 15 year old, in 1962 with Gift birds from Jim Povey and John Furness, his first loft being a 6ft x 4ft converted shed. He joined the Woking RPC, which was one of the premier clubs in the Surrey Federation at that time. He recalls that he won his first race from Nantes in 1966, with a little black pied hen, and all the premier fanciers in the Woking jokingly said it must have escaped from the basket. He married his wife, Lynette, in 1971 and had to sell all his worldly possessions including his pigeons so they could buy their first house. He still maintained his interest in pigeons by clocking in for John Furness and cleaning his lofts out Sunday mornings. Finally in 1987 after moving to West End village he decided it was time to start up again and John Furness lent Mick several pairs of Frans Van Wildemeersch stock birds for three months. These, with a few of the Furness Burghers formed the base of the Chaplin loft today. Mick's great old cock "Champ" was bred from these original Van Wildemeersch pigeons. Further additions over the past few years of Stud Topper Busschaert lines, Van Loons from Tony Hayward and Jan Aardens from Derek Squire have further strengthened the team.
Like most of the Federations in the UK, the Three Borders Federation postponed the start of the 2013 racing season by two weeks because the adverse wintery weather we suffered in the first half of April. The first race was flown from Wincanton when members sent 1,128 birds and enjoyed a good fly being liberated at 12.00hrs in a light south east wind. Mick and Lynette Chaplin of Woking recorded their good Snootjens dark cock, ‘West End Paul’, to win the Federation doing 1422 ypm. Mick tells me this widowhood cock is the only sprint pigeon he owns, but has been a very good racer, winning six first inland racing, and has flown the Channel twice winning 47th open BICC Le Mans and 117th open L&SECC Alencon. On the day, Mick thought ‘West End Paul’ came from the wrong direction to be any good in the Federation from Wincanton, but came and trapped like a rocket. Looks like Mick was wrong! Mick is a member of Pyrford RPC where he is the chairman, the London & South East Classic club, the National Flying Club and the British International Championship Club. Lynette, Mick’s wife has been a brilliant help with the pigeons all through the years and their three grown up children although not really interested in the pigeons have always looked after them while they are away on their frequent trips abroad. Mick says that the small Pyrford club is friendly and well organised and its members have won no less than nine times 1st open London & South East Classic Club races.
Mick Chaplin has a very smart self-built loft 20ft long with three sections with stall traps and a small 6ft stock loft. The widowhood section has 18 nest boxes and the loft is cleaned out every day, when a light dusting of sand is thrown on the floor. He races 18 cocks on the widowhood system and these are paired up normally in mid-January but a couple years ago it was mid-February due to holidaying in Egypt cruising on the Nile. The Chaplin loft is flown on a basic widowhood system, with the racers being paired the same time as the stock birds, so the breeder's eggs can be floated. The cocks are put on the widowhood system while on their second round of eggs and are given as many training tosses as possible before the first race after which they are not trained with most of the team flying the whole programme. The hens are shown to the cocks on marking night for inland races only and get their mates for about an hour on their return from the race. Mick sometimes re-pairs a few cocks for the longer distance events and told me his good "69" cock which had won 1st club, 1st Federation, 7th open SMT Combine Le Mans when paired and sent sitting won 13th open L&SECC Pau & 6th open L&SECC Pau in consecutive years after which he was put to stock. The same procedure was adopted with the blue cock, ‘West End Boy’, resulting in 9th open NFC Saintes. Another very consistent cock is ‘West End Charlie’, who has flown the channel 20 times over the last 4 years winning many prizes including this year 35th open NFC Tarbes. With Mick’s small team he has to be selective in his race selection and only sends small teams to the channel races. At the end of old bird racing, the cocks are re-paired so the widowhood hens can be trained with the young birds and they are sent to the L&SECC, NFC and BICC Old Hens races. This practice has been very successful for the Chaplin loft in the past few seasons including 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th & 6th open in the L&SECC. In the NFC Old Hens over 20 open positions including 5th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 11th, 13th, 15th, 15th and 20th. Other principle recent L&SECC results include 1st open YB Guernsey, 3rd open Bergerac and in the BICC seven top 20 positions including provisionally 7th open in the old hens race also many club wins have been achieved.
The birds are never broken down but are fed a mix of Gerry Plus and Widowhood mix and as the channel races get longer Irish mix is added, medication is used only in extreme cases as over the years Mick is very selective in his introductions as he believes this is one of the main causes of disease that is prevalent these days as ones own pigeons natural immunity can be impaired when pigeons are introduced from other sources. Aviform products are also used regularly in the water. During the close season a winter mix and barley is used. He breeds 35 young birds for racing each season and they are put on the "darkness" system from weaning. After they are weaned, they are fed on maple peas for about four weeks and then are raced on a quality young bird mixture. The youngsters are raced to the perch, but nest bowls are put in the section and if they want to pair up for racing, they are allowed to.
The Three Borders Federation sent 931 birds to Messac on the last weekend in May 2010 and with a holdover, and adverse weather for most of the weekend, had one the hardest races of the 2010 season so far. The SMT Combine liberated at 08.15hrs in a strong west wind on the Sunday morning and had a good race. Mick and Lynette Chaplin of the Pyrford club two pigeons on the clock in six minutes to record 1st, 2nd club, 1st, 8th Three Borders Federation, 1st, 8th open SMT Combine. Just before the Messac race the Chaplin’s were on holiday in Cyprus for three weeks and the birds were looked after by their good friend, Martin Cutt, who seems to have a good edge on the condition with his feeding, as the birds were locked up for the three weeks. The first bird on the clock was, ‘Westend Jake’, a yearling Burger cross blue chequer cock and he had several races on his build up to his Combine win. He is bred from a line of good winners, with his grand dam winning 1st open L&SECC Guernsey (old hens) and his grandsire recording 6th and 13th open L&SECC Pau. The second pigeon recorded from Messac, to win 8th open SMT Combine, was the yearling cock, ‘Westend Lady Boy’ and he has been very good racer this season previously winning: 1st club Fougeres and second bird recorded from the NFC St. Malo race. His sire, another Burger cross pigeon, is one of Mick’s best racers recording: 1st club, 1st Federation, 7th open SMT Combine Nantes, 6th open L&SECC Pau and 13th open L&SECC Pau. A brilliant family of pigeons!
Mike and Lynette had a wonderful 2009 season, with the high lights being their 3rd open L&SECC Guernsey (old hens) and 7th open BICC Falaise (old hens), both recorded in August. The partners have put up many outstanding performances through the years, but their fantastic result in the London & South East Classic Race from Guernsey in 2003 must rate as their best ever! The L&SECC got the 2003 young bird season off to a good start, when the members sent 2,036 youngsters and 395 old hens to Guernsey. The Saturday morning of the race kicked off with full cloud cover over Guernsey, but the convoyer played the waiting game and liberated the convoy at 11.15hrs in a light northerly wind, with bright sunshine on the baskets. The birds cleared the Island well and returns were excellent. Mick and Lyn had the race of a lifetime, recording 1st open Young Bird Classic and 1st and 2nd open Old Hens Classic. When I visited Mick's home a week after the classic, he was bubbling with his brilliant success and he said it was the best race he had ever had. Mick clocked his Young Bird Classic winner first at 14.22hrs and it was his good "darkness" blue pied Frans Van Wildemeersch hen, “Chaplin's Girl", raced to the perch. This game little hen had three races on her build up to the Guernsey Classic and is bred down from "The Champ", who Mick says, is the father of the loft. Mick tried the "darkness" system for the first time that year and halfway through the season, Mick and Lyn went away on holiday for three weeks and their non-fancier son looked after the pigeons. He was given the instructions on how to keep the "darkness" system going, but Mick is doubtful that he followed them and is not sure if his youngsters were in total darkness or total light for the three weeks he was away. Mick says whatever the lad did he did the right thing, as the Chaplin youngsters had been coming brilliant! Mick told me that prior to the Guernsey classic the youngsters were flying well around the loft and in the week before the race, the whole team including the old hens were given four 40 mile training tosses, which he maintains put them right. He said the loft was on good form for about a month and recorded 1st club, 2nd Federation, 5th open Combine Bergerac (450 miles), 39th, 80th, 125th and 149th open L&SECC Bergerac, clocking all four birds on the day of liberation, just a couple of weeks before the Guernsey classic.
The Sparrow Hawk problem population has increased dramatically over the past few years locally and has lost at least five birds he knows of to attacks around the loft. Mick thinks that the future of pigeon racing as we know it is bleak as there are no youngsters coming into the sport. When Mick started pigeons there were six other young boys in the local Woking club all of whom turned out to be successful local fanciers. Also with clubs and federations getting smaller and smaller the way forward will be for amalgamations of clubs with the Federations undertaking inland racing only and the specialist clubs organising the channel racing. In the longer term the outlook for pigeon racing will be more centralised with individuals buying or breeding birds to be raced against others from a single loft by a loft manager/trainer on their behalf as is becoming more popular with the increase on single loft races. There you have it the wonderful success of Mick and Lynette Chaplin of Woking!
Dean Garrett of Feltham.
First and foremost Dean Garrett is a family man and with only limited spare time his pigeon racing is very much in second place these days. The 2016 racing season had seen him do well with his young birds racing in the very strong Spelthorne club and the Three Borders Federation. The Spelthorne club were runner up for the ‘Federation Points Trophy’ with 161 points in 2016 and had three 1st Federation winners. Dean won 1st club Yeovil, 10th, 93rd open BICC Falaise, 42nd, 66th open BICC Alencon with old birds and his youngsters were ‘on fire’ winning, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th club, 6th, 7th, 10th, 20th, 21st, 22nd Federation Blandford (1,110 birds), 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th club, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11, 12th Yeovil Federation (878 birds), 1st, 2nd club, 10th, 11th Federation Exeter (651 birds), plus some premier positions in National race. In the 2016 BICC young bird Guernsey race, there was a four day hold over and Dean clocked four birds in 5 seconds to win: 45th, 46th, 47th, 50th, and 63rd open. When I spoke to Dean at that time he told me, ‘a short while ago I brought in some birds from a superb pigeon flyer in Ireland named, Phillip Boal, and he races in the best competition of the Dromore club. Phillip has won the mighty NIPA several times and I would like to thank him for supplying me with these wonderful Willy Van Herks pigeons. I also bought in nine direct from Willy Van Herks and I’m now looking forward to getting back into middle distance racing, where my heart is. I recently joined the Spelthorne club and the members, who are all very dedicated pigeon racers, welcomed me with open arms. Thanks also Carol Francis, who does a great job at the club and as secretary of the British International Championship Club’. Dean is very keen on the BICC and had two very good young bird races in 2015 with them recording: 14th, 30th, 40th open Guernsey (1), 15th, 18th, 28th, 29th, 42nd open Guernsey (2).
A few seasons ago Dean told me that he and his partner, Cheryl, were expecting their first baby and this wonderful event would mean he would have to cut back on his pigeon racing hobby for a couple of years, but he was quite happy about that. Dean also mentioned at that time that his step daughter, Chloe, was his ‘side kick’ with the training of the birds and she enjoyed the involvement. Dean has enjoyed another brilliant racing season that year, winning with old birds: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Federation Wincanton, 4th Federation Kingsdown, 5th, 8th Federation Kingsdown, 4th, 23rd Federation Yelverton, 8th, 9th Federation Wincanton, 8th Federation Wincanton, 28th Combine Falaise, 8th, 9th Federation Kingsdown, 4th, 5th Federation Wincanton, 2nd Federation, 6th Combine Le Mans, 8th Federation, 8th, 12th Combine Exeter, 2nd, 8th Federation Exeter and the young birds were on fire winning: 1st Federation Kingsdown (by 5 minutes), 13th, 14th, 15th Federation Exeter, 7th, 12th Federation Exeter, 9th Federation Wincanton, 5th, 6th open L&SECC Guernsey (1) and top open positions in the NFC Carentan race. Absolutely brilliant pigeon racing!
That season saw Dean send only between four and ten widowhood cocks most weeks and these were never trained during the season, only exercised around the loft twice a day. He started the season with 35 young birds, which were put on the darkness system and trained twice a day weather permitting. He is up and out training at 04.00hrs and maintains you can’t give young birds to much training! Dean is a great fan of Versele Laga corn and all the birds were fed on it in that season. The star of the Tidbury & Garrett loft that season was a young Lambrect red cock, which recorded a staggering: 1st Federation Kingsdown, 5th open L&SECC Guernsey and 132nd open NFC Carentan (provisional). The great young cock was sent racing sitting eggs and was bred from a pair of stock birds that had bred three 1st Federation winners. Another great success story in the that season was Dean’s fantastic yearling De Meyer mealy cock, ‘Dean’s Dream’, who won the Federation as a young bird and has then recorded 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th, 8th, 9th, 22nd and 23rd Federation being raced on the widowhood system. As Dean said at that time, ‘absolute class’.
The L&SECC sent 2,450 birds to Guernsey in the August 2009 for the first young bird and old hens classics, and being liberated in a strong tail wind the member had a ‘banger’ of a race, with the winners recording over 1800 ypm. It was very refreshing to see one of our young fanciers win the race and was particularly nice that Dean Garrett of Feltham took the top honour, as was a very good pigeon racer and loved the sport. This up and coming ‘ace’ won the young bird classic with his Soontjen / Janssen blue chequer hen, ‘Bill’s Dream’, which was named after his late grand father, Bill Tidbury, who was his pigeon partner for several seasons. This game hen won the classic, racing celibate to a nest pan and previously won 9th Federation Guernsey when the Tidbury & Garrett loft won the first eight positions in the club. Dean told me at the time the parents of ‘Bill’s Dream’ cost him £90, being purchased from sales at the BHW Blackpool Show and her dam, called ‘The £30 Hen’, was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Arrowsmith. When the L&SECC secretary phoned him to inform him he had won the race he was over joyed and just looked up to the sky and thanked his late grandfather for his help! Dean enjoyed a brilliant 2009 young bird racing season winning a long list of premier position, including several firsts in his club, 1st Federation and 1st open L&SECC Guernsey.
Dean was born in Feltham, Middlesex (same as me) in 1981 and his late grandfather, Bill Tidbury, was a pigeon fancier, starting up when he left the armed forces. Bill fort in Burmah, finally being taken prisoner of war and Dean says he was his best friend as well as my granddad and still misses him very much. When Dean was a youngster he was a keen boxer, walking in the footsteps of his grandfather and his cousin, Eric Boon, who were both good sports men in the boxing ring. Eric was famous for knocking out Arthur Danaher in the 15th round of their bout and had many top encounters all over the UK. Dean started racing pigeons in partnership with Bill in 1995 and he trained the youngsters, single up, from Cranford Park on his grand dad’s old GPO ‘postman’ bike. Dean was only 14 years of age and says he loved taking those north road babies for those short tosses on that bike, which paid off as they won several good positions in the club. In the early days the partners had some good success with their mixture of gift pigeons, which were mainly from George Oliver and he raced Cattrysse, Kirkpatrick and Fear Brothers pigeons. When Bill passed away in 2000, Dean got rid of everything, loft, clock, pigeons, the lot and hit the night club scene, and enjoyed the normal teenager pursuits of drinking and woman. After he had got that out of his system, he re-joined the sport in 2004 with several gift late breds from Allen and Janina Jenkins. Dean told me the Jenkins’ gave him a lot of help in the early days and these two wonderful people now live on the Isle of Barrow, off the coast of Scotland, but still in his thoughts. His first real season back was in 2005, when won several good prizes with young birds and was always at sales looking for good stock birds, which were mainly Janssen. He went to a sale at the ‘Lion Brewery’ PH in Ash and purchased two pairs of Eddie Wright / Janssens very cheaply, and they produced his good cock called, ‘99’, which won several premier positions including 1st club, 2nd Federation, 2nd Combine Fougeres. Another good pigeon was the Marcelis red cock, which was purchased for £11 from Mr. Davenport and he won Dean’s first race for him, recording 1st club, 3rd Federation, 26th Combine St. Nazaire. Some outstanding pigeons have been obtained from several local fanciers including, Rod Berry, Clive Yates and the L&SECC winning partnership of Jenkyn, Barrott & Rolfe. His club was the Bedfont SR Club and told me it was a great club, welcoming him with lots of help and a gift pigeon clock. Dean tells me the best local fancier was the late great Jack Newell of Feltham, who was a legend, winning everything in his life time in the sport, including 1st open NCF Pau.
The main families now raced are Cooremans, Lambrects and De Meyers obtained from Jason Hulse and Kevin Head. Dean’s loft set up is a 21ft race loft with an 18 widowhood cock section and two hens sections, plus two 12ft lofts, one for his young birds and the other which contains 16 nest boxes for the stock birds. He thinks the main things needed in a loft is good ventilation, good light and above all must be dry. Dean loves young bird racing and breeds a good strong team of 60 babies every season to compete well in both Federation and Classic racing. The Tidbury & Garrett young birds are put on the ‘darkness’ system and Dean is a firm believer that young pigeons need to be trained, and he gives them a 32 mile tosses twice a day once they start to race. He maintains to be successful with the babies they have to be trained, trained and trained again, and fed correctly for the weather conditions and wind direction the next weekend. He lets the youngsters do as they want and has won with them pairing up, sitting eggs and even feeding a youngster, but maintain the only way to be successful in the National and Classic races is to be on the ‘darkness’ system. Premier young bird racers for the Tidbury & Garrett loft in recent seasons are: ‘Dean’s Dream’, bred by Kevin Head and winner of 1st club, 1st Federation Kingsdown, 8th Federation Wincanton: ‘Cheryl’ winner of 1st club, 5th Federation Yelverton: ‘Big Man’, Dean favourite youngster and winner of 1st club, 2nd Federation Wincanton, 16th Federation Kingsdown: ‘Bill’s Dream’ winner of 1st SW section, 1st open London & South East Classic Club Guernsey, 9th Federation Guernsey.
Dean races his old birds on the widowhood system, which suits his work as a brick layer and slabber, but he thinks the system of only racing cocks is a waist of good racing hens. He pairs up in early January and the racers rear a youngster before being separated for the widowhood and are later repaired for the training period, which is about six short tosses. The widowers are not trained during the racing season, but are exercised around the loft for an hour twice every day and the cocks are required to race the programme. The loft has won many premier positions in the first six in the club and Federation through the years and Dean prefers sprint / middle distance racing up to 400 miles, but in the future hopes to have a go at some long distance events. Recent racing seasons competing in the Federation have been very successful winning, 2006: twice 1st club, 2007: four times 1st club, 2008: nine times 1st club, fourteen times 2nd club. His ambition, after winning several seconds and thirds in recent seasons, was to win the Federation and he finally achieved it in the 2009 season from Kingsdown, with his game mealy cock, ‘Dean’s Dream’. He was delighted to win the Federation, having won 2nd Federation on the two weekends before, then came out and won 1st open L&SECC the week after. Great pigeon racing!
He tells me he has no idea about the ‘eye sign’ method, but likes to see a nice bright eye on a pigeon and he thinks the eye tells the whole story, with the bird’s general condition being seen in the eye. Dean says the local fancier who is setting them alight in the premier races this season is Mark Gilbert, who has had brilliant success. He maintains the moult is a very important time of the year and says a bad moult this year will almost certainly mean bad race results next season. In October the birds should enjoy some good relaxation and be given plenty of seed, oils and regular baths. He is not a fan of late bred youngsters for stock of racing, but lets the widowhood cock breed a round of youngsters at the end of the season, which he gives away to his friends. There you have it, the brilliant success story of Dean Garrett of Feltham!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)