“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
Three Borders Federation (Okehampton).
The Three Borders Federation were at Okehampton for their last old bird race of the season and members sent 660 birds, for what turned out to be a fast fly home, being liberated at 06.30hrs into a westerly wind situation. Personally, it was very nice to see my two good mates, Bob and Anthony Besant of the Esher club with the Federation on this, the longest old bird race of the season.
I spoke to Anthony after the race and he said, ‘we mostly concentrate on National racing these days, but we have really enjoyed our first Federation win for a few years. Most important it is to say thank you to Adrian Leach Brothers for sending us down six lovely youngsters last year, with two remaining after six or seven old bird races. Both have scored and one, ‘Toey’, so called because she had to have a toe nail removed, scoring 1st, 3rd and 7th club, as well as 1st Three Borders Federation Okehampton (169 miles). There was no special preparation, just good pigeons, being sent in the club every week. Thank you to Adrian’. It is great to see the name Besant at the top of the Three Borders Federation result! Well done to Bobby and Anthony!
The first ten in the Okehampton Federation result were: 1) Bob & Anthony Besant 1761: 2) M/M M. Burczak 1744: 3) M/M Skeete & Keen 1738: 4) M/M M. Burczak 1732: 5) P. D. Williams 1729: 6) M/M M. Burczak 1726: 7) M/M M. Burczak 1726: 8) E. & K. Benjamin 1726: 9) M/M M. Burczak 1726: 10) Freddie Ditch Junior 1725.
Bobby and Anthony Besant of Worcester Park own one of the all-time premier lofts in the UK, winning 1st open NFC (twice), countless times 1st Federation through many years, 1st open International Agen (10,510 birds) in the 2015 season and 1st, 2nd open BICC Cholet in 2019 . A racing record second to none, achieved over many years! Bobby and I have been friends since the 1970’s, when we both had shoulder length hair and were both ‘foot loose and fancy free’ in our flared bottom trousers and Cuban heeled boot. I have now known the Besant family for well over 45 years, and in that time I have seen them win every major award there is to win in pigeon racing. In the early days the Besant brothers, Ken, Bobby and Ron, won at club, open, Federation, Combine and National level and even in the 1970’s theirs had to be rated as one of the best lofts in the United Kingdom. When I first met Bobby and Ken in 1970 their dad, Cecil, had just passed away and the boys were about to take over the very successful C. H. Besant & sons pigeons. Although I never met Cecil, I had always admired his fantastic performances in the Surrey Federation. The boys carried this great fancier’s name on in pigeon racing history to an even higher degree.
As I have previously stated, Bobby has been a good friend of mine for many years and as I’ve written many times before, he is one of the best pigeon fanciers I’ve ever met! Bobby is a pigeon fancier of the highest order, but always knew where to draw the line where his family were concerned, always putting Angela and the kids first. Bobby is a great guy and a brilliant pigeon fancier. I was highly delighted to see him re-enter the sport at the beginning of 2008, after a fifteen years lay off and at that time I predicted he would set the sport alight and he really has! The partners have a very smart new 26ft self-designed racing loft, which has four spacious sections and ETS clocking, which Bobby enjoys very much. Bob and Anthony are just picking out their races these days and only competed in National Flying Club and British International Championship Club events. Bobby says, ‘the birds tell you if they are in good form and as we have one day pigeons we tend to set our loft up for the 450 mile National and Classic races’. One of the best racing cocks on Bobby’s restart in the sport was the blue cock, ‘Classic Near Miss’ and he had a brilliant racing record, winning six premier positions in the National and Classic including: 2008: 2nd SW section, 2nd open L&SECC Guernsey (1,590 birds): 2009: 2nd SW section, 2nd open L&SECC Bergerac (1,135 birds). This champion racing cock was bred by Page Brothers of Yorkshire and is down from their ‘Gladiator’ bloodlines.
Bobby and Anthony won 1st open International Agen in the 2015 season and they named their winner ‘Noble Dream’ and this wonderful champion was a two year dark cock, raced on the widowhood system. Bobby told me he thought it was a decent time when he came in from Agen and ‘Noble Dream’ did his usual party trick of landing in next doors tree before coming in to the loft to be clocked. He had won several premier positions before his Agen (499 miles) International win, including 3rd Three Borders Federation, 4th SMT Combine (699 birds) Nort sur Erdre (278 miles) as a yearling in the 2014 season. I handled him on my visit to the Besant’s home after the race and he handled very like a true champion, being medium, with very good silky feathering, and looking at him in his nest box, he had a big character and presences in the loft. What a great buzz it was to see and handle Bobby and Anthony’s great champion that day!
It's always great to hear of any premier worker in the sport winning a good prize with his pigeons. It's hard to excel at racing with very limited time in the loft, so I was delighted to hear that Bryan Poulton, the hard-working Secretary of the Three Borders Federation of over 30 years in office had won his favourite race from Bergerac again several times in recent seasons. He also won 1st Three Borders Federation in recent years from Seaton with 1,249 birds competing! It has been well documented in my articles what a bad race the 2014 Bergerac race was, with only four birds in the Federation and eleven in the SMT Combine being recorded in race time. It was nice to see Bryan doing well at this the longest old bird race again, recording 1st club, 3rd Federation, 9th SMT Combine (512 birds). One of Brian’s best races from Bergerac (450 miles) was in the 2013 season, winning 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th Shepperton club, 10th, 15th, 23rd, 25th Three Borders Federation, 13th, 22nd, 31st, 33rd SMT Combine. Great pigeon racing Bryan! The 2013 Bergerac winner was Bryan’s five year old dark pied cock, ‘70532’ and after several training races was sent to Bergerac sitting 14 day old eggs. This game cock was bred from a cross of all Bryan’s old families and his sire recorded 1st club, 5th Federation Bergerac in 2012 and flew it again in 2013. He is bred from the very best, with his dam being a Cattrysse / Dordin cross and winner of 1st section E (by over an hour), 10th open NFC Tarbes Grand National. Bryan tells me his loft houses several Bergerac winners at the present time! In the 2012 season Bryan won 5th and 13th in the Bergerac Federation result and winning the Shepperton club. He finds it very hard to find the time to race his birds properly these days, with the demands on his time running the Three Borders Federation and it’s great to see him have some good success. The Poulton pigeons are now his own inbred family and he says they have always tended to be better from the longer races. From the Continent, he maintains that his best performance was a few years ago racing from Bergerac in two clubs on the same weekend, taking the first three positions in one club and the first two in the other, all with birds clocked on the day of liberation.
Bryan was born in Hersham, near Weybridge in Surrey, and first became interested in pigeons as a 14 year old when visiting his friend, Dave Newman, who was a pigeon fancier. Bryan's father wasn't a fancier but was very keen on greyhounds, so with Dave's help Bryan obtained pigeons from Harry Wheatcroft of Reigate and Freddie
Ranaboldo of Molesey, to start himself off in the sport. He started racing his pigeons in 1954 and says he admired the performances of Freddie Ranaboldo and Charlie Maycock, who were the premier local fanciers at that time. He had his first race with young birds in 1955, flying in the Walton RPC and recorded 3rd and 4th club.
The first Poulton loft was an orange box on stilts and after some help from local fanciers, including Mark Finestone, he progressed to a 20ft loft with a large bay.
Bryan says he likes the loft to have plenty of air circulation, but it must be dry and warm. The loft houses 30 natural pairs of racers, which are paired up on 14th February. Bryan says he likes to treat them as pets and tends to over feed them. He has no stock birds, only breeding from his best racers, and has a young bird team of about 50 birds each season. His pigeons are the original Heide family bred from the Wheatcroft cock birds and the Ranaboldo hens. He thinks the original Harry Wheatcroft stock came from Rey Brothers of Scotland. In recent years, he has introduced the Dordin and Cattrysse pigeons with outstanding success. The Poulton pigeons are now his own inbred family and he says they have always tended to be better from the longer races. From the Continent, he maintains that his best performance was racing from Bergerac in two clubs on the same weekend, taking the first three positions in one club and the first two in the other, all with birds clocked on the day of liberation.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)