“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
A Three Borders Federation Special Feature.
Robert Winton of Aldershot.
The Three Borders Federation held its last and longest old bird race of the 2014 season from Bergerac (450 miles) in mid-July and in the words of the Federation secretary, Bryan Poulton, ‘it was probably the most disastrous race in the sixty he has been in pigeon racing’. With only four birds clocked in race time in the Federation and only eleven in the SMT Combine, everyone was pretty unhappy with the outcome of the event. There has been a lot conjecture since the race, to what coursed this disaster and many say it might have been rain and cloud cover in France. The birds were held over until the Saturday, being liberated at 06.20hrs in a West / North West wind. A good old fancier and friend of mine, the late Colin Mott of Molesey told me 50 years ago, if the flying ants leave their nests on a Saturday it is aways a bad race that day. The flying ants left their nests in their millions on that Saturday and every one north and south road had bad races. I took my youngsters for a 22 mile training toss that morning and they took three hours to come home, the only time they have slipped up. Talking to the Esher ‘ace’, Colin Crook, after the event and he tells me his babies took an hour to long on their training toss that day. I’m not suggesting for one moment that the millions ants flying in the sky affect our pigeons, but the atmosphere and weather conditions that trigger them to leave their nests is not conducive for good pigeon racing. I’m not personally really convinced what coursed our almost total wipe out at Bergerac, but the flying ant theory is food for thought!
Robert Winton of Aldershot won the Federation and 2nd open SMT Combine with his wonderful mealy black splash cock ‘Robbie’s Delight’ and he had flown Bergerac (445 miles) six times, scoring in the club five times. His fantastic racing record reads: 2009: 6th club Fougeres: 2010: 6th club Bergerac: 2011: 3rd club Bergerac: 2012: 1st club, 7th Federation, 20th SMT Combine Bergerac: 2013: 2nd club, 19th Federation, 27th SMT Combine Bergerac: 2014: 1st club, 1st Federation, 2nd SMT Combine Bergerac. A champion performance! Robbie told me at the time that he bred him in 2006 from one of his old Bricoux cocks and a mealy hen, he purchased from Bryan Siggers when he packed up pigeon racing a few years ago. ‘Robbie’s Delight’ was raced on the widowhood system all the season, being paired up just before the Bergerac race and was sent in his favourite condition, sitting ten day old eggs. The 2014 season saw him fly the English Channel six times leading up to his Bergerac success!
Robert Winton had enjoyed good racing in the strong Guildford club in recent seasons and told me he liked all the Federation races, but was becoming a bit of a Bergerac specialist. I don’t know if Robert was lucky or unlucky, when he recorded 2nd club, 2nd Three Borders Federation, 2nd open S.M.T. Combine Messac (241 miles) in the 2006 season, beaten by less than a yard by the Guildford ‘ace’ partnership of Mr. & Mrs. David May. If I won 2nd open Combine, I would at least expect to win the club, but this demonstrates how strong the Guildford club is! Robert’s ‘star’ pigeon was his two year old white Billy Parks Busschaert cock, ‘White Lightning”, bred by Dave Robinson of Normandy and he was raced on the widowhood system. Robert told me at the time ‘Lightning’ wasn’t the greatest trapper in the world, but was also the first birds clocked from the NFC Sennen Cove race and recorded 270th open National.
Rob raced 28 cocks and 28 hens on the widowhood system and these were paired up on 1st. December. The racers reared a single youngster each and then were parted, to be repaired two weeks before the first Federation race. The Winton widowers got plenty of training to sharpen them up, including twenty chucks at 25 miles before racing and four tosses every week during racing. He liked sprint / middle distance racing best, as he hated long waits, but repaired the birds two weeks before Bergerac, to have a go at the longest old bird race. The racers were broke down for the first half of the week on the short races and were fed on a first class widowhood mixture. Rob showed the hens for ten minutes on marking night and on their return from the race they stayed together all afternoon. He had two 12ft x 6ft ‘Blakes’ racing lofts, with ‘sputnik’ trapping and used wooden floor grilles. Rob told me, the 2014 season was his first on the ETS and he thought it was great, wishing he had dumped the old clock years ago.
Robert had 25 pairs of stock birds, which were mainly Busschaerts from Dave Robinson and these were housed in 8ft x 6ft aviaries. The breeders were also paired on the 1st. December, with their eggs being floated under the race team and were fed a good ‘breeders’ mixture until they were split up in June, when they went on break down mixture. He bred 100 young birds to race every year and there was no darkness system, he raced them natural to the perch. Rob liked to give his youngsters a good education and started training them at the end of May, with them flying the whole Federation programme and the National event.
The name Winton is very well known in the pigeon fraternity around the Guildford area, as Robert flew very successfully in partnership with his father, Richard Winton, since 1988. Rob started up on his own in 2004, with young birds at his own address and told me, the competition with his dad was very hot. The partners raced the Bricoux pigeons on the natural system and one of their best seasons was in 2002, when they won 1st club, 1st Three Borders Federation Bergerac, 2nd open S.M.T. Combine Messac. There you have it, Robert Winton and his champion mealy cock, ‘Robbie’s Delight’.
Peter Sharman of Old Woking.
The Three Borders Federation sent 1,652 birds to Wincanton for the second young bird race of the 2013 season and Peter Sharman of Guildford won the race in great style, recording 1735ypm. Peter told me, he missed the first young bird race and was highly delighted that his game youngster came brilliantly and won the Federation on its first ever race. Peter’s had enjoyed a good season, taking several premier prizes in the Guildford club, but his young birds were really on form, also winning 1st club, 22nd Federation, 30th SMT Combine (963 birds) Yelverton.
Peter Sharman has several lofts, with all ‘sputnik’ trapping and races 24 cocks on the widowhood system. If the weather is good he pairs his racers up in January and the widowhood cocks are not bred from, as he finds they race better dry. On pairing up he never selects pairs in the racing sections, they are left to run together and the cocks pick their own mates, so they are happy. He lets the racers sit time on pot eggs and then puts them on the widowhood system, with them being trained three times a week right through the racing season. He never races the hens and widowhood cocks run with their mates for an hour on marking night, which Peter says, is a lot longer than the method used by most widowhood fanciers, but it works for him. The cocks are put on break down in the early part of the week and get their hens all afternoon when they return from the race. The main feed is a top quality widowhood mixture and uses only ‘multi-vits’ in the drinking water, from time to time. Peter likes all racing, with his favourites being sprint / middle distance and has recorded pigeons on the day from Bordeaux (450 miles). He has recorded many premier positions through the years, with the best being 8th, 49th open L&SECC Angers, 13th open L&SECC Tours, 49th open L&SECC La Ferte Bernard, 2nd Surrey Federation Honiton (3,080 birds) and now 2nd open SMT Combine Yelverton (2,241 birds).
One of Peter’s best races was in 2006 when the Federation sent 1,212 birds to the first Combine race of the season from Yelverton and with tail winds on the day; the members enjoyed a good race with the leading pigeons recording nearly a mile a minute. Clear winner of the Federation and 2nd open SMT Combine, was a handsome blue chequer widowhood cock owned by Peter Sharman. This two year old, named the ‘The Yelverton Cock’, was bred down from the very best Janssen bloodlines obtained from Derek Squire of Addlestone. Peter’s loft was certainly on top form that day as his second pigeon on the clock from Yelverton, a yearling Van Loon widowhood cock called ‘The Dark Cock’, recorded 2nd club, 10th Federation, 18th open S.M.T. Combine. A wonderful loft performance!
Peter started up in the sport at the age of nine and on getting married came out of pigeon racing for a few years, restarting at his present address in Old Woking in 1998. His first winner was in 1972 from Seaton, when racing to his first 12ft.x 8ft. loft, which was a gift from the Woking ‘ace’, John Carrey. Peter told me Johnny was a great help to him on starting up, along with the late John Furness of Knaphill. The Furness loft was legendry in the Surrey Federation years ago and Peter used to clean out his loft as a lad, when he was his paperboy.
Peter keeps 14 pairs of stock bird, which are mainly Janssen based families and Van Loon. These birds are housed in two small lofts, one with a flight and are paired up in January with the race team. They are fed on a heavy ‘breeders’ mixture and has never used deep litter in any of his lofts, preferring to scrap out on a regular basis. When I asked Peter what he looked for when selecting new stock birds, he said, ‘I used to purchase birds ‘blind’, out of adverts in the fancy press, but most times was disappointed when the pigeons arrived at my loft. Now I must see and handle new introductions and select them on my ‘gut’ feeling on the inspecting of the bird. I like the usual thing in a pigeon, good handling, silky feathering and nice rich eye’. He defiantly thinks there is different types of pigeons and maintains it’s ‘horses for courses’, a type for sprint racing and a type for long distance racing.
He races 30 young birds on the natural to the perch each season and these are put on the darkness system from weaning until the 1st June. During the darkness period they are closed down from 6pm until 7am every day and Peter maintains the system has no adverse effect on the birds in later life. The young birds are fed twice a day on two widowhood mixture, one much lighter than the other, and are trained regularly through to Winchester (35 miles). They race the whole Federation programme, with a few fancied young cocks being stopped for the widowhood system. A few years ago, Peter liked racing Guernsey and the youngsters were sent over to the Channel Islands in September with the L&SECC. He likes his yearling to race through to the 300 mile stage.
Peter has been a good worker for the sport for many years and is basket steward cleaning out and sealing the Guildford club race crates every week. He is not too keen on the ETS and told me he is one of the old school, and likes to wait and clock his pigeons in from races. Peter has been a very good Angler all his life and still does a bit of ‘tiddler bashing’ today, when he gets the time. His biggest fish is a 33lb. Mirror Carp hooked at the Woking A.A. waters in the 1980’s and he also banked a 29lb. Common Carp, which was the second biggest in Surrey at that time. I’m still hoping he is going to tell me how he does it! He likes to show his birds in the winter months and said the sire of ‘The Yelverton Cock’ had won many firsts in the show pen. His pigeons are a good type and his friend Kevin Wells of Leatherhead had a blue hen, sister to the Yelverton Federation winner and she had won everything in the show arena. Although he is a widowhood racer, he told me he likes a natural hen sitting eggs for the long distance races over 500 miles. He maintains his good friend Derek Squire is one of the best pigeon fanciers he knows, saying, ‘Derek is a small team man, but a big winner’.
I’ve known Peter Sharman, through our common interest of pigeon racing, for many years and although he is first class fancier, he is also a brilliant Angler. Years ago he came close to a sea fishing record with his 4lb 2oz Whitting and in recent years has caught some very big Carp, with his heaviest being a fantastic 33lb 4oz. Mirror from a Surrey lake. Peter says, he is very lucky to have a very understanding wife, as he has known lots of dedicated Carp fisher men finish up in the divorce courts! Carp fishing can get a hold on you and can become obsessive to the degree that you want to spend every minute in a ‘bivy’ tent on the bank of a lake, waiting for big Carp to pull your string. He used to fish every weekend, from Friday night through to Sunday evening and then again one night during the week, going straight to work next morning from the lake! He did this for five years and tells me he caught eleven fish one year and twelve the next, that’s how hard big Carp fishing is. He says in those days he was nutty! An old friend of Peter’s was the 27lb 8oz. Mirror Carp named ‘Girty’, who resided in a lake near his home in Old Woking and he caught this whopper four times, but she has since died of old age.
Peter was born in Woking and has been an Angler since he was a school boy, when he used to catch Perch with worms from his local River Wey. He used to be keen on sea fishing and his big Whitting, which appeared in the ‘Angling Times’, was caught off Brighton beach and was only 2oz. off the British record at that time. He used to go wreck fishing in the English Channel with his brother and they caught some 50lb Conger Ells, and on one occasion boated 1,000lb of Ling. The main baits they used for drifting under wrecks were Squid, Sand Ell and Mackerel. He started Carp fishing at the age of 16 and used to ride his motorbike down to Britons Pond in Guildford, and used the original ‘Herron’ buzzers, which he has still got in his cupboard at home today. Although his number one quarry is Carp, he has done some river fishing in the past and has had Barbel up to 11lb out of the River Thames at Weybridge, which took him nearly two hours to land on 2lb line. That day he was fishing for Roach with Hemp and Tares, and had thirteen Barbel on, but only landed three! His 33lb Mirror Carp was caught on 5lb bottom braid, which in those days was only coloured white, but Peter used to blacken it off with a freezer pen. He always used big boilies as bait for his Carp fishing and caught his big Mirror when he first used the new mini 12mm boilies. When I asked Peter if he had any favourite flavour boilies, he said he had caught big fish on all flavours, but did make his own boilies out of Koi Carp pellets. The most important fact with Carp baits is to try something new, something the fish have not had before and are not familiar with. He used a simple kit, in the form of two 12ft 2lb test curve Carp rods, ‘410’ reels and open bail arms to bite indicators. He says these days fishing tackle is more technical, with bait runner systems and electronic bite indicators, but the most important thing is to be in the right place at the right time.
Will Worley of Laleham.
I’ve been writing articles in the fancy press since 1972 and after all that time I still enjoy visiting successful lofts, and writing them up. It still gives me a ‘buzz’ to visit the successful fanciers with big smart set ups and lots of good pigeons, but having always been a small team man myself, it always gives me an extra little ‘buzz’ to visit a successful fancier who wins with only a small team of birds. The month of September saw me take the family for a holiday in the New Forest and the weekend before I went, I drove to Laleham near Staines, to visit the 2013 Federation winning loft of Will Worley, and you can’t get a smaller set up than his. Will had had a lot of good success in recent years and the 2013 season had seen him win 1st, 2nd Spelthorne club, 1st, 3rd Three Borders Federation Yeovil (1259 birds), 1st Spelthorne club Taunton, plus several other premier positions in one of the strongest clubs in the Federation. The premier Spelthorne racer, Derek Reid, bred Will a batch of ten young birds to race and the 1st and 3rd Federation winners were part of that job lot. The Federation winner was the handsome dark chequer cock, ‘The Dark Cock’ and Wil told me he really liked the pigeon from the first time he saw him, and the 3rd Federation winner was, ‘The 52 Hen’, a blue chequer hen. These two birds were mated together and went to the Yeovil race sitting eggs in a bowl on the loft floor. The two birds came from the race together, trapped together, but were split in the Federation result by Will’s slow clocking method!
When I say that Will had a small loft set up, I mean small, with his young bird loft being a 6ft x 4ft garden shed with a ‘sputnik’ trap screwed to the door! The window of the shed had wire fitted over it for ventilation and the inmates enter the loft through a hole in the door, via the ‘sputnik’ trap. On race days the hole in the door was blocked off, so Will could de-rubber his arrivals straight out of the ‘sputnik’ and then walked the rubber to the clock which was on the window ledge inside his back ‘French’ doors in the house. If Will had any problems with the birds in the ‘sputnik’, he put a little net over them and slipped the rubber off their leg. He had only had a small team of youngsters that season, which were basically the ten gift babies from Derek Reid and four of his own Jan Aarden youngsters. There was no ‘darkness’ system at this loft, with everything being raced on the natural system and Will told me if he sees two young birds pairing up he gave them a nest bowl. The young birds were fed on a good quality mixture, with condition seed for trapping and let out every morning at 06.30hrs shape for an hours exercise. They flew so well around the house, that they had very little training, only three or four tosses from Basingstoke. Will maintained the Yeovil race was set up dead right for his birds, as the liberation was at 06.30hrs and that was the time his youngsters went out for their fly every morning. They came like rockets! He said the young birds need a regular routine and need to be fed and exercise the very same time every day.
On the day that I visited Will’s home in Laleham his daughter, Sally, was there doing some house work for him and she was very keen on his birds and carried out a few little jobs around the loft for him. He kept no stock birds, in fact he only owned three pairs of old bird and these were Jan Aardens from Louella Pigeon World. Will won an old bird Taunton race in the very strong Spelthorne club that season with his natural blue chequer cock, ‘The Taunton Cock’ and he was a Louella / Jan Aarden pigeon. The old birds were housed in another small garden shed which was very dark, but the inmates looked in great condition and happy in there. When I asked him when he paired up, he said they were never split up and were paired up all the year around, and he fed all the pigeons on the same mixture, which has no beans. Will thought fanciers feed to much Barley and said that was one feed he would never use! He said Mick Nunn, the Spelthorne secretary at that time, was a good friend and he had been very successful in recent seasons winning the Combine twice. The old birds got plenty of training from Basingstoke (35 miles) with inland racing in mind and sometimes he sent them training in a taxi cab. Will liked sprint racing mainly, but had had some good success with racing from France. The very successful brothers partnership of Peter and Les Worley were Will’s two nephews and they have been two of the leading Middlesex fanciers for many years.
Will had his first pigeons in the 1950’s when he raced in partnership with his father, Les, and brother, Ron, and they were successful from the outset racing on the north road. Will always had a passion for pigeon racing and eventually went to the Ashford South Road FC, where he met his great friend, Jim Terry, who was the secretary at that time. The late Eric Matthews, Rod Berry and Joe Parker were three of the very best pigeon racers in the South of England at that time and they were all members of the Ashford club. Will says he had some great and enjoyable years at the Ashford club, and won his first race on his own from Avranches in about 1970. He remembers that he beat the late great Eric Matthews by 2ypm that day! The pigeons he kept and raced in the early days were the ‘Silver Dawn’ strain obtained direct from Hugh Ambler, who was a great fancier at that time. The Worley loft had won several major prizes in Continental racing including 3rd open Combine twice. Will had a good blue cock called ‘The Niort Cock’ and he won a long list of premier performances including 3rd Combine Niort. This wonderful cock came through the Tony Prior of Feltham bloodlines and Will told me, Tony was a very good friend, helping him a lot with the pigeons in the early days. Will was retired from work, but used to be a lorry driver and used to take his birds to work with him for training, with his basket perched on the passenger seat beside him. He told me, win or lose, the main thing is to enjoy your pigeons!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).