“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
LOOKING BACK OVER THE YEARS (PART 25.)
Reg and Richard Maybey of Virginia Water.
The loft that set the Surrey / Berkshire pigeon fancier alight in recent seasons was that of the late Reg Maybey and his son, Richard, who raced in partnership with their wives, Jocelyn and Silvie. The pigeon racing at the Berkshire loft was very much a family affair with Reg and Richard being a father / son partnership and another important part of the team was family member, Harold Coleman, who had been helping out with the very successful pigeon management for over 20 years. The partners won the Three Borders Federation four times in one season and also won the Berkshire Federation four times, and to topped off a brilliant season by winning 1st open SMT Combine (3,174 birds) Messac. The Combine winner was the two year old widowhood blue chequer cock, called quite plainly ‘The Combine Cock’, and previous to his Messac win he recorded several premier positions including 1st club, 5th Federation Yeovil. On the first race of that season Reg and Richard put up a fantastic performance by recording 1st, 2nd, 3rd Three Borders Federation and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Berkshire Federation on the same day. The partners won 1st Federation eight times in that season. Brilliant pigeon racing!
The Maybey partnership raced their old birds in two teams, one on pure widowhood in the Berkshire Federation and the other on the roundabout system in the Three Borders Federation. The racers were paired the same time as the stock birds in late December and the widowhood pigeons rear at least one youngster before going on the system. The racers started training three weeks before the first Federation race and were given ten tosses up to 35 miles. Richard told me, un-like most widowhood fanciers they continue to train for the first two weeks in the season and then they just got exercise around the loft twice a day. The roundabout racers were not broken down, getting a ‘Sports’ mixture all the time, but the widowhood cocks got depurative mixture for two days after the race as a break down and then got the ‘Sport’ mixture for the rest of the week. Both teams saw their hens on marking night for about two or three minutes and on their return got their mates for about an hour, depending how tough the race had been. The partner’s very smart loft was the late Roy Bishop’s old Kidby loft which was sited at Weybridge and it was extended five years earlier, making it 65ft long and ‘L’ shaped. Reg maintained a loft must be dry and they used deep litter in the stock and young bird sections, with the old bird racers getting the floorboards scraped regularly.
Maybey partnership’s performances in the Three Borders Federation in that year were: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 21st Federation Wincanton (1,367 birds), 5th, 6th, 8th, 17th Federation Yeovil (1,837 birds), 7th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th Federation Kingsdown (1,703 birds), 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th Federation West Bay (2,027 birds), 11th Federation Fougeres (1,038 birds), 1st, 22nd Federation West Bay (1,691 birds), 1st, 8th Federation Messac (1,008 birds), 1st open SMT Combine, 3rd Federation Exeter (1,415 birds), 1st, 12th Federation Kingsdown (1,453 birds), 20th Federation Tours (825 birds), 13th Federation Portland (1,228 birds).
In that same season the winners of the London & South East Classic Club ‘Brooker Gold Cup’ were Reg and Richard, with their good yearling widowhood blue pied cock, called ‘The Gold Cup Cock’. His sire was bred by Orly en Dirk Pals of Bovenkerk and was purchased on trip to Holland in 2007. His dam was a Grizzle gifted to the Maybey’s by club mate John Waldron and Richard said, ‘I took a shine to this hen the first time I handled her at the club and John promised me that when she retires I could have her’. She was a 2002 bred pigeon who has scored over the channel many times, with her mother being a Combine winner from Nantes and her father was a purchase from Lier market in Belgium. The partners previously won the ‘Brooker Gold Cup’ in 2007 with their good blue chequer hen, ‘The Classic Hen’.
Reg and Richard bred 100 young birds each season, 50 for racing in the Three Borders Federation and the other 50 for the Berkshire Federation. Starting at 5 miles, they were trained on a gradually build up to 40 miles and were not raced on the darkness system, but kept natural all season. When they were weaned they went on to a ‘Breed and Wean’ mixture for a while, then on to their own light mixture of young bird and depurative. The old and young birds were all raced on supplements supplied by Ken Wise of Isleworth, from Travipharma and Natural Products. The partners had enjoyed many successes through the years with their pigeons, including 2009: 1st open SMT Combine Messac, 2008: 2nd open L&SECC Bergerac and 2007: 2nd open L&SECC Guernsey (OH). Reg said at the time, over the last few seasons they had specialised in sprint / middle distance racing, but in recent seasons had become members of the London & South East Classic Club and National Flying Club, so hoped to enjoy some quality long distance racing in the near future. Their family raced well up to Bergerac (450 miles) and in the last three seasons had won over 80 first prizes, including 18 times 1st Federation. Richard told me it was a great thrill to win the SMT Combine from Messac in 2009 and to achieve that allusive first after winning 2nd, 3rd and 4th open many times over the years. In their short time racing in the L&SECC, Reg and Richard had been very successful racing hens, with their main classic stars being ‘The Bergerac Hen’ and ‘The Classic Hen’. Both these two champion hens had put up fantastic results in the classic being raced on the roundabout system. I think their performances are well worth a mention with them winning: ‘The Classic Hen’: 2nd open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 5th open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 12th open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 23rd open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 55th open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 72nd open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 8th Federation Picauville: ‘The Bergerac Hen’: 2nd open L&SECC Bergerac (450 miles), 6th open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 15th open L&SECC Guernsey (OH), 108th open L&SECC Bergerac, 3rd Federation Kingsdown. Two fantastic hens!
The Maybey family were originally based in Hounslow and at that time, Reg had been in the sport about 40 year, with Richard coming into the partnership as a six year old ‘floor scraper’. Reg recalled his first birds were six gift squeakers from his good friend, Charlie Francis of Shepperton and the only other family member to keep pigeons at that time was Uncle Arthur who lived in Wellington Road, Hounslow. Reg’s first club was the Egham North Road RPC and won his first race from Leicester. Early mistakes were over feeding. The first loft was a 16ft x 8ft structure, with 12 natural nest boxes and was purchased from a man whose divorce story appeared in the Daily Mirror and News of the World newspapers at that time! Reg tells me the fanciers who were doing all the winning locally in those early days were Fred Elliot, George Worsfold and the Besant partnership of New Malden. The partners got more and more interested in the sport and bought in some Vandevelds, Delbar and Dordin pigeons which started to win straight away. A few years later a good Krauth hen was purchased from an auction at Ascot and she turned out to be a champion in the stock, producing winners every year, and then six Krauth youngsters were purchased from George Corbett to strengthen up the family. The Van Loon pigeons were introduced in 1989 when Reg’s wife, Jocelyn, purchased a pair from Clwyd Lofts at the RPRA Southern Region Show and they were called ‘the wonder couple’ as they bred many winners over the years. Reg told me one of the best performances in the early days was clocking early in the morning to win 1st club, 2nd Federation, 3rd open Combine Dax (550 miles).
Richard said, when they brought in new stock birds it was normally a bird that has caught their eye, but they did like a bold looking medium sized pigeon, with good feather quality and nice eye. The partners liked the eye sign as one of the characteristic of the pigeon’s make up. They fed the stock birds moulting mixture, with high protein mixture and 30% Barley. Richard told me, they were very fortunate to own several pairs of stock birds that were responsible for breeding multiple winners. The main family raced was Ludo Van Tuyn and he was a Belgium fancier who has had a lot of success with his family of pigeons racing in Thailand and Germany. Reg and Richard still had a few Van Loon, Luc Bart Geerinx, and Joop Hock and at that time had purchased some original Willy Thas.
Reg and Richard both worked in the Airfreight industry and the whole family were involved in making the team tick! Reg and Richard tended not to get involved with the politics of the sport, as they found their work stressful enough and viewed pigeon racing as a sport and a way to relax. They said, in their opinion the best local fancier was the late great Fred Elliot of Thorpe, as his results and achievement in the sport over a long period of time, with a small team of birds were second to none! They also said Mark Gilbert of Windsor had been exceptional over the last few years. Richard was asthmatic and told me the moulting time of the year is the worst for him, but nevertheless it was a very important time, with the birds being separated and fed on a good ‘Moulting’ mixture. At that time most of the birds in the loft were line-bred and the odd late bred was reared off the premier racers for the stock section. On looking over the information Richard had given me for this article, the thing that demonstrated the brilliance of their pigeons for me was the performance of their blue pied widowhood cock, ‘The 70906’, winner of 3rd Federation Kingsdown, 3rd Federation Wincanton, 6th Federation Lulworth, 15th Federation Exeter, 16th Federation Kingsdown and never scored higher than 3rd in the club, being beaten mostly by loft mates! Reg and Richard Maybey, a fantastic pigeon racing partnership!
Ludo Van Tuyn of Ranst in Belgium.
I first heard of the brilliant performances of the Ludo Van Tuyn pigeons through my good friend, Richard Maybey of Virginia Water, who had won a long list of premier prizes in the Three Borders and Berkshire Federations with the pigeons he has imported from the Ranst loft.
Ludo was born in Lier, but I lived his whole life in Ranst and his father was an outstanding pigeon fancier. He was eleven years of age when he started up with the pigeons and was in partnership with his father, racing under the name Van Tuyn & son. The young Ludo sat many times all day with the young pigeons to make them, what he describes as ‘domestic’ and every year the performances got better and better. Ludo married in 1980 and in 1982 he started up on his own with the pigeons and at the start took one pigeon from his father’s loft, and one from his uncle’s loft too mate to it. These two pigeons were a very good breeding pair, the first youngster from them was ‘Deugnietje’, which means Scamp in Belgium and all her sisters and brothers were very good racers and breeders for the Van Tuyn loft. When Ludo was young he played football, ping-pong and tennis, together with the pigeon racing, but the pigeons always took the first place. He has now been in the sport over 50 years and has raced all that time in the Ranst club, mostly specializing in short distance racing. I asked Ludo if he could recall any early mistakes he had made and any other interesting facts regarding your novice days in the sport and he said, ‘In 1988 I made a great mistake, I had two very good widowhood pigeons, that where two yearlings, they raced very well and I fancied them to win the championship. The two cocks were not 100% in condition but I played them every week on 210 km. They won that championship, but the years after they won nothing more. I would say: don't play for a championship when the pigeons are not 100%, it’s better that they stay a week at home and you not win the championship. I should have not played for that championship when those two cocks were not in perfect condition and saved them for future years. Look very good at your pigeons before race! The same problems can occur when you play with young bird widowhood, when they are not 100% and this can ruin the birds for their racing life’.
I also asked Ludo about his very successful racing system and told me, ‘I race all my pigeons on the widowhood system and for the 2010 season I have 24 cocks and 9 hens for racing. The cocks are mated up around 15th March, the hens early April and after five days together, weather permitting, the racers start their training for the season. In the racing season widowhood racers don’t see their mates before they go the race. The yearlings have two or three races and after that they know their hen is waiting for them at home. When they come home, they get their partners for about one or two hours, depending on how hard a fly they have had. The widowhood hens are paired to the stock cocks in early April and I start them training when they have eggs. When their youngsters are 14 days old the cocks and youngsters go to another loft and are the hens are then on the widowhood system. I haven’t raced with hens many years. Every season I had the problem that the hen racers loved to much their boss and because of that their racing was not good. In 2009 I have made another loft, the hens are sitting in darkness in the corridor and they train for an half hour, and eat and drink in the loft and, after a half hour they go back into the corridor. I was happy with the hens races in 2009 and because of their good results; I do the same in 2010. The hens see their partner about an hour before they go in the basket for racing. I think that for the long distance it’s better to send sitting on the nest, and perform best flying with little birds in their nest’.
Ludo had 20 pairs of stock birds for the 2010 season and the special line of ‘Superman’ (13 times 1st) and ‘Licht Tours’ (1st Provincial and Interprovincial Tours, 557 km) are the base, together with many good pigeons obtained from his friend Luc Geerinckx, which are the Soontjens and Willyke bloodlines. At that time Ludo had three children from his Olympic-pigeon ‘Gladiator’ in his stock loft, also he had ‘Bolt’ in his loft, who was in the 2008: 1st National Ace-Pigeon Short Distance Young Birds Superduif and his children won more than 95% prizes in 2009, and said it is possible he a super breeder. He pairs up the stock pigeons around 1st December and they are fed premier quality food from Versele. One of Ludo’s very good breeders was ‘Johnny’, from Johnny & Yves Jonckers and his origin was Engels and Aelbrecht, and his children have won many top prizes. He told me, ‘I think that a loft must be dry, that’s important and if it is possible use deep litter. When you have a loft in the garden, I think it’s difficult to use deep litter. I did it one time and after three weeks I had to clean it out and now I believe it’s better to clean the loft out every day’.
Every season he breeds about 120 young birds for himself and the first and second rounds go on the darkness system from the end of March until mid-June, from 17.30 hours to 09.00 hours. The third and fourth round youngsters go into a separate loft and are not put on the darkness. Although Ludo separates the young cocks and hens for racing, he insists he doesn’t specialize in young bird racing, and never pairs them up. When they have flown a couple of races from 100km, several old cocks are run with the young hens and a couple of old hens are put in with the young cocks for about an hour before going to the marking station. If Ludo thinks his young hens are fit and right in the moult he would certainly send them to a 590 km race!
Ludo has been retired from work for the last several years and raced his pigeons with his father up to 2007, but now races in partnership with his wife. His wife goes to the local pigeon clubs with him and sits with him when waiting for the pigeons from the 500 – 700 km races. Ludo likes the sprint racing, but with the old pigeons he races the races from 300 to 700 km and with the young birds he raced a few pigeons every week on 100 and 210 km. The pigeons from the bloodline of ‘Superman’, winner of 13 times 1st are the best sprint pigeons; they win easy and have won many first prizes. For the flights from 450 to 700 km the ‘Lichte Tours’ bloodline are the best, but when he crossed them with the ‘Geerinckx’ pigeons are they good for all the distances. Ludo says he thinks that you breed the best pigeons from young parents. Ludo’s most thrilling pigeon experience was in 1998 when two pigeons came home together for the first nomination for the old birds and the first nomination for the yearlings from Montluçon (556 km). They won the first prize for the old pigeons provincial and semi-national and the first prize for the yearlings provincial and semi-national. That was a very great moment. Also a thrilling moment was when ‘Bolt’ in 2008 flew his last race, being sent in top condition and he won the first prize by two minutes from 210 km.
Ludo says, the eyesign theory is of great interest to him and he uses the method when pairing up his breeding and racing pigeons. He has won many major prizes when showing his birds, but doesn’t enjoy having them lock in a pen for several hours. He is secretary of his local club and tells me it is a good working club, with all the members ‘pulling their weight’ with the work. Ludo thinks there is far too many races in the Belgium calendar and says, one short distance race, one little half long distance, one great half distance and one long distance every week is more than enough. When I asked Ludo what advice you would give to a new starter in the sport, he reply was, ‘that’s a nice question. Buy an old loft and go to a fancier who will do anything for a new player. We have in our club a new starter and I give him pigeons. I visit him every month as I’m looking that he has not too much shemozzle and to tell him what I think of the condition of his birds and comment on his system. He received all my pigeons gratis. And when it’s a man or women who will listens to advice, they must have luck and win many prizes’. Ludo told me the best fancier in his area are for sure Geerinckx Luc, Bart and Jurgen and they are always his greatest opponent, but they are also his best friends. They won in the 2009 season 1st Limoges National, 2nd Argenton National etc. They are the best because they have the best pigeons at this moment.
Ludo believes in inbreeding his best pigeons and maintains the offspring are very good for stock, but there are also many pigeons to be culled. But when you inbreeding, but not so close, they can produce many good pigeons for racing and breeding. He doesn’t breed late breds normally, because you must have them a whole year before you know anything about them. Ludo likes tame pigeons and told me, ‘Bolt’ in the 2008 season, was a pigeon who was with me, he did not have a hen, he sat every time before my feet and then he alighted on my shoulder. He raced eleven times, won eleven prizes and eight at the top of the result. Fanciers should never think that they have the best pigeons of the world, search all the time for better pigeons. He said, ‘When you breed and there is a young bird that not so good in development as the other pigeons, cull it, even if it’s from your best pair. They are never going to be successful’. Well that’s the Ludo Van Tuyn story. What a great fancier!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)