“SHOW RACER WORLD” – Number 6.
Colin & Jean Carter of Churchdown.
The 2015 BHW Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’ was its normal outstanding success! When I heard it was great news that my ol’ friends, Colin and Jean Carter of Churchdown had won Best in Show and Best Inter Society classes. I spoke to Colin on the Monday morning and he was delighted to finish off a brilliant 2014 / 5 show season with a Best in Show at Blackpool.
Colin & Jean Carter won Best in Show for the third time at the 2015 BHW Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’, with his champion silver hen, ‘Cotswold Silver Star’. This hen was bred from Steve Wheatley and Ron McCarthy stock birds and the Blackpool show was her first time in the show pen! Colin and Jean have had very successful 2014 / 15 show season and another principal pigeon was their mosaic hen, ‘Cotswold Southern Belle’, and she won this time: 1st Blackpool show and Best Inter Society (350 birds), BIS RPRA Southern Region Show (729 birds), BOS Stithians Show, 1st South West Open Show and 2nd ‘Duchy’ Open Show. What a great season! Colin told me at that time, ‘this hen, ‘Cotswold Southern Belle’, is bred from our well known and successful mosaic family, which we have established over the last seven years from a pair of mosaic pigeons from John Robilliard, and a number of mosaic pigeons loaned from Ron McCarthy. By winning Best in Show at the RPRA Southern Region Show this winter, ‘Southern Belle’, she qualified for the ‘Supreme Champion’ class at the 2015 BHW Blackpool Show, but we decided to enter her in the normal show, and she won 1st Class 10 and Best Inter Society Classes 9 to 14 (350 birds). By making this decision we helped secure ‘Most Points’ and £100 for the Devon & Cornwall Show Racer Society.’
Jean Carter passed away on the weekend of 16th May 2015, after several months of ill health. I had several phone conversations Colin and I was aware that she had not been well since the Blackpool Show in January, but I didn’t realise how ill she was. What a nice lady Jean was! We used to meet up with her every winter at the big shows, when she would be walking around the pens looking at the birds with Colin. Colin and Jean, were fanciers who enjoy their pigeons, top or bottom of the result sheet, they always enjoy themselves! Colin’s wife, Jean, was his pigeon partner and was very active in the sport, playing a big part in the management of the birds and attends all the big shows with him. The Colin and Jean Carter pigeon partnership was one of the all-time greats on the UK Show Racer scene!
When walking around the National shows in the winter months, we quite often bump into Colin Carter and being one of the premier Show Racer fanciers in the U.K., more often than not he had pigeons on the winners table, which is great achievement as his is a small team loft, with quality and not quantity being the criteria for their pigeon regime. Colin was born in Portchester, Hampshire in 1938 and no member of his family kept pigeons only shot them for food, along with wild rabbits, and chickens for their eggs. He became a pigeon fancier at the age of 15, when he caught a couple of strays at the local abattoir, where he worked as a slaughter man. In a short time he met up with two local fanciers, George Brister and Bill Harris senior, who set him up and got him going in the sport. His first club was the Fareham & Dist. F.C., flying both south and north road and he won his first race on the north road. At the age of 18, the young Colin had to go off and do his National Service and formed the H.T. Carter pigeon partnership with his father, Harold. The Carters were founder members of the Portchester Flying Club. Colin is a very keen fisherman and spent a lot of time out on his cousin’s boat in Portsmouth harbour. Fanciers he admired and gave him advice in the early days were Norman Southwell, Russ Dowden and Colin’s idol, Vic Robinson. Colin says he can remember Vic giving his opinion on eyesign, saying, ‘it’s eye site they need not eyesign’.
Colin’s first show birds came from Cyril Lowe of Guernsey in 1965 and at that time Bill Harris was a stoker on the boats that went on regular trips to Guernsey from Portsmouth. Bill would bring show birds over from Cyril to go to the big London shows. When Colin saw these Show Racers he was hooked and when Cyril Lowe found out he gifted Colin with several pairs. At that time Colin married his wife, Jean, and started a family. In 1970 work took the Carter family to Gloucestershire, where they set up home in Churchdown and because of lack of time all the pigeons had to be sold off. Colin restarted up in the sport in 1991 with a few race birds and joined the Newent & Dist. F.C. On visiting the Old Comrades Show at the N.E.C. Birmingham that winter, Colin bumped in to Doug McClary, who he hadn’t seen for over 20 years. One thing led to another and he soon had some of the McClary Show Racers in his back garden, replacing the racing pigeons. He joined the Monmouth Show Racer Society and more show birds were introduced, mainly from Ron McCarthy, Tony Williams and the Wheatley family in the north east of England.
Some of Colin and Jean Carter’s main achievements in recent years have been: 1995: B.I.S. Louella Fancier of the Year, Reserve Champion British S.R. Federation Show: 1996: 1st. Pairs class B.H.W. Blackpool Show (Colin’s first attempt), B.I.S. East of England Spectacular: 1997: B.I.S and B.Y.B. at the B.H.W. Blackpool Show, Best Yearling at the Old Comrades Show: 1998: Club champion of the Devon & Cornwall S.R. Society, B.O.S. and Best yearling at the Old Comrades Show: 1999: B.I.S. and B.O.S. R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show, B.I.S. and B.O.S., Best yearling at the Old Comrades Show, Club champion of the Devon & Cornwall S.R. Society, B.I.S. Pensilva Show: 2000: B.Y.B. at the Old Comrades Show, B.I.S. Pensilva Show: 2002: B.Y.B. at the Old Comrades Show, Best Show Racer National Young Bird, B.O.S. to club champion and Champion Young Bird Devon & Cornwall S.R. Society: 2003: B.I.S. and B.Y.B. at the B.H.W. Blackpool show: 2004: B.Y.B. Plymouth Open Show, Best Show Racer R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show: 2005: B.Y.B. Royal Welsh Show, B.O.S.Y.B. South West Open Show, B.I.S. Devon & Cornwall S.R. Society Young Bird Show, B.Y.B. and Reserve Champion Young Bird in the final club show.
Some of the premier pigeons in the Gloucestershire loft are: Champion ‘Cotswold Queen’, Best in Show B.H.W. Blackpool Show 2003, 1st. National Young Bird Show, B.Y.B. and Reserve Champion Devon & Cornwall S.R. Society Show, 1st. R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show: Champion ‘Cotswold Gem’, Best in Show B.H.W. Blackpool Show 1997, Best Yearling Old Comrades Show: Champion ‘Cotswold Star’, Best in Show Old Comrades Show 1999, 1st. Thame Show, B.I.S. West Country Medley: ‘Young Ron’, Winner of the fancier of the year at Louella Show, beating all breeds in 1995. B.O.S. Thame Show, 1st. B.H.W. Blackpool Show: ‘Cotswold Lad’, B.Y.B. Old Comrades Show, B.Y.C. Royal Welsh Show, 1st. R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show: ‘Cotswold Girl’, Best in Show East of England Show 1996. Colin has owned many champions pigeons in his time and when I asked him which was his best bird, he had a good think and finally answered, ‘my good hen ‘Cotswold Jeanie’. She was my most consistent pigeon, being shown 44 times and taking 37 cards, including twice Best in Show and six times Best Opposites Sex in Classic and National shows. She was best hen at the Edinburgh International Show and was a fantastic breeder, producing many premier show birds, including ‘Colin’s Cracker’ winner of BIS BHW Blackpool Show in 2009 for Ron McCarthy of Wales’.
Colin told me he likes to keep his family as close bred as he can and that way, he can produce the type of bird that suits his management system, produce the type he likes. The loft has 18 nest boxes and at the final show, Blackpool, the loft is normally housing 12 pairs. The birds are paired up at the end of January and he breeds a maximum of 30 youngsters for the show pen. No stock birds are kept; all the old birds have to go to the show arena and competes in about 16 shows each season. Colin maintains that if a pigeon is six years of age or older in his loft, it is something very special and likes to breed off young pigeons, and not from old stagers. All young birds are pen trained, but are naturally quite tame and any showing wild tendencies are disposed of, as it upsets the rest of the loft. The show loft has four compartments, two for cocks and two for hens, with the birds being separated at the end of July. The young and old birds are run together and get a bath once a week. The perches are scrapped every morning, the floor three times a week and no deep litter system is used in the loft. The water fountains are topped up every day and the birds are fed on farm peas and beans, with a young bird mixture added in the summer months. T.W.P. is given before the shows. When judging, Colin likes a bird that is well balanced, silky feathering, handsome looks and good colour. He doesn’t mind what colour, but the bird must be good in colour, not ‘wishy washy’, or one of those pretty ones you sometimes see, and of course handle fit, and not short in the keel.
Harry & Tony Baugh of Hodnet.
Thousands of fanciers made the drive up to Blackpool in mid-January 2018 for the main event of the Show Racer calendar, the 46th British Homing World ‘Show of the Year’. Everyone anticipates and looks forward to this wonderful weekend in Blackpool, not only for their annual fill of ‘pigeon fun’, but mostly to meet up with good pigeon friends.
The 2018 event attacked a show entry of 2,000 birds and M. Koch had the job of judging the specials this time, including Best in Show. Best in Show over all at Blackpool was won by a four year old Show Racer red chequer cock owned by Harry & Tony Baugh of Hodnet in Shropshire and when I spoke to Tony after the event he said, that his late father, Harry, would have been thrilled to win Best in Show at Blackpool for the second time. Tony tells me the cock was bred by Alistair Tankard and is now named ‘Koster King’. This beautiful pigeon had only had two shows that season, winning first at the Midlands Show Racer Society show, which qualified him for Blackpool, where he has recorded the Baugh loft’s second ‘Best in Show’ win.
Tony Baugh and his late father, Harry, started racing pigeons in the 1950’s and were very successful at club and Federation level, winner several firsts every season. They switched codes to Show Racers in 1960 and their first big performance was winning a trophy at the premier ‘Peoples Show’ in 1963. Harry passed away in 1992 and Tony still competes under the same partnership name of H. Baugh & Son. They have been a major force to compete with at National shows over the year, with the highlights being: 1975: BIS RP Old Comrades Show, 1984: BIS BHW Blackpool Show, 1995 BIS RP Old Comrades Show, 2016: BOS BHW Blackpool Show and 2018 BIS BHW Blackpool Show. Tony judges a lot and has judged at the Blackpool Show four times over the years, and he told me, he thinks he is the only founder member of the Midlands Show Racer Society left in the club. He only keeps a small team of Show Racers in his 22ft x 8ft loft, which has three sections and an aviary. Tony feeds a 50/50 mixture of ‘Young Bird’ and ‘Channel’ mixtures and uses ‘Loft White’ on the loft floors after cleaning out on a daily basis. He has no secrets behind his success and the birds have no special management build up before the big shows, he just looks after the birds well for 52 weeks of the year. No stock birds are kept, with all the breeding being done from his 12 pairs of Show Racers and his favourite colours are powder blue and blue chequer.
Doug McClary of Australia (formally of Exeter).
Doug McClary is a fancier I have admired for many years for his showing, racing and wonderful writing in his regular page in the fancy press, and several books he has had published. He is famous in the Show Racer world for holding the record for many years, for wins at a BHW Blackpool Show, with five first, which is now held by Petty & Crawford, with six firsts in 2018. Doug and his wife, Ann, recently up sticks and moved, pigeons and all, to Australia, to start a new life down under with family that were already living there. I must say, he is greatly missed on the English showing scene, but in regular email that we exchange, it seems he is really working hard to get the Show Racer code going in Australia. Back in the mid-1990’s I went to Exeter, in Devon and had the good fortune to meet this great fancier for the first time and look at his 'Ace' team of pigeons and lofts. Doug is famous in our sport for being one of the top show men in the world, but in recent seasons had raced a small team on Widowhood with outstanding success.
In showing he has won most of the top shows including three years running B.I.S. at the Great Yorkshire Amal, B.I.S at the B.H.W. Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’ and many other top awards. In recent years showing has tended to take second place owing to business demands and because of growing interest in racing. Through the years, pigeons have taken him to many parts of the world including several times to the USA, where he judges many of the top shows on the eastern seaboard. His most thrilling experiences in the sport have been winning the GYA three years on the trot, winning his Section in the National Flying Club, and being invited to judge so often in the USA. He first judged there at the National YB Show at Louisville, Kentucky in 1981, and after judging a huge entry of over 600 birds, he awarded BIS to a cracking blue cock owned by Jim Isslehardt. Four years later he judged at Charlotte, North Carolina and awarded BIS to the same blue cock and of course in the meantime had not seen the pigeon or the owner. That pleased Doug, greatly! Racing his pigeons, Doug has won every race point North Road to Thurso and on the south he has won Section D of NFC twice, been 3rd Section and taken several other good positions, always with a small entry of two or four birds. Top pigeons at the Exeter lofts were: 'Brian' blue chequer cock: winner of nine 1sts racing all Devon County Championship Club Nantes races, a fantastic pigeon!
The list of champion Show Racer to grace the Exeter loft would be far to many to list, but here is a few: "Medallion Cock” mealy cock: winner of Welsh Region RPRA showing award; Devon & Cornwall Region RPRA showing award, Supreme Champion Devon & Cornwall SRS, 1st Old Comrades Show, 1st and Best Opposite Sex at the B.H.W. Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’, four times Best In Show. 'Sparnon Queen' blue hen a great show winner, 1st Birmingham Mail, 1st GYA, 1st and B.I.S. GYA, 1st and B.I.S. at the B.H.W. Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’ (when her sister was runner up), 1st. B.H.W. Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’, 1st and B.I.S. Southern Region Show, 1st Welsh Open Show, a total of 13 Classic show positions. “Del Boy” blue white flight cock, one of Doug’s finest breeders, winner of several times Best in Show, including three at successive shows of the Devon & Cornwall S.R. Society. “Georgia” blue hen, winner of Best in Show at the National Young Bird Show (1,364 birds) and many other premier wins. This wonderful hen is now at stock in Australia. “Double Eight” mealy cock. Doug says, this cock is a wonderful type and colour, and is an excellent breeder. “Roly” blue white flight cock. One of Doug’s favourites and he told me he was one of the best powder blues he had ever seen. A magnificent pigeon!
Doug had a very smart loft set up, which overlooks rolling hills and wonderful Devon countryside. The show racers, racers and stock birds were all housed in separate lofts, which have all got corridors running along the fronts. Ventilation is by adjustable glass .louvers along the front and in the rear of the lofts. He considers the most important factor in pigeon loft design is space for the fancier. This may seem unusual but he is quite convinced that a corridor of sufficient width allows for much easier control of the loft, a better flow of air and the opportunity to observe. Compartments should be of optimum size to allow the birds room, yet to control them. Doug mainly raced Widowhood, with nine pairs, but in 1996 worked a team of nine cocks on the celibate system and he says he found it very easy to use and also rewarding. He feeds a varied good mixture throughout the year, varying it as the seasons. Dictated by moulting, racing, showing and winter resting. His birds come to his house back door for small doses of Red Band and peanuts, and Doug maintains this helps the understanding between fancier and pigeons. Old birds training was varied with a couple of north road tosses, before having a last one or two south on the line of flight. In showing he is founder member and long serving secretary of the Devon and Cornwall Show Racer Society, as well as former president and founder of British Show Racers Fed. Doug says in some ways the sport has progressed in recent years, thanks to better clocks and better technology. Transportation of race birds must be improved and economy is the enemy of pigeon comfort, too many fanciers do not even know what conditions their birds experience when they go off to the race point. He maintains we must design and build better transporters, ,and our pigeon unions should do much more to make the sport more professional. Our leaders seem more interested in maintaining their official standing than in promoting the sport and money within the sport shou1d be used to make it better for fanciers .and birds. The Fancy is however in great danger from the predations of raptors and we must all do our part to safeguard the sport in this respect. The problems of fanciers in the south west, Wales, Cumbria and Scotland will soon be problems of all. Doug McClary’s loft was first Show Racer set up that I ever visited, and it gave me a great buzz to start with one of the best!
Stan Wheatley of Middlesbrough.
While I was in the North East of England, judging at the N.E.H.U. Peterlee Show, I visited the top show racer loft of Mr. & Mrs. Stan Wheatley of Middlesbrough. Stan has a very smart 9ft.x 6ft. self built loft, and only keeps a very small team of 16 pigeons, including stock birds. Stan maintains it only takes one bird to win a show and his ‘motto’ is quality and not quantity. The loft is full of quality, winning at every major show, many times through the years, including B.I.S. at the R.P. Old Comrades Show three times, twice Supreme Champion at the B.H.W. Blackpool Show, Reserve Supreme Champion Blackpool, eight times B.I.S. N.E.H.U. Peterlee Show, B.I.S. Nottingham National Young Bird Show three years on the trot, B.I.S. Scottish Championship Show and B.I.S. at the last Louella Classic Show.
The wonderful loft has two sections, closed in glass front and has a floor dressing of loft white, and play pit sand. The loft has ‘V’ perches, as Stan doesn’t like box perches, as the birds are sitting in their own droppings and are harder to clean up on show day. The birds are paired up in mid-January and Stan only breeds off five pairs. He likes Mealies and Reds, and maintains good stock birds are like gold dust, with outstanding show birds not always making good stock birds. Stan’s champion Mosaic hen, winner of B.I.S. Old Comrades Show 1991 and B.I.S. N.E.H.U. Show, had never bred her like. This great hen was the family pet and had won B.I.S. countless times at premier shows. The Mosaic hen was always paired to Stan, being very tame, and at night wouldn’t go to her perch until he had come to the loft and said good night to her.
Stan has been in the sport over 50 years and has had the Doug McClary family of pigeons for many of those years. Most of the present day team are bred around the old Mike Hale Mealy cock, ‘Caesar’, and he had bred winners at every major show for Stan and many other fanciers in the Show Racer world. ‘Caesar’ was always paired to a Red and Stan told me, ‘the darker the Red, the better’. Another ace we looked at in Stan’s loft was a wonderful Dark Chequer hen, and she had won everywhere, including B.I.S. Louella Classic and had bred many good winners.
Stan’s birds are shown unpaired and go to eight to ten shows in a season. He doesn’t like his birds to be too tame, and maintains flighty birds keep themselves more show fit. In the show pen flighty birds don’t tend to lay down and always look tight feathered and on their toes. The birds are fed on a mixture of beans, peas, and maize, with Stan’s own seed mixture, and get garlic in the water, three times a week. The birds don’t fly out, but Stan says that he wishes they did because they would stay fitter for the pen. Stan is very proud of his grandson, Stevie Wheatley, who shows pigeons in his own right, with outstanding success. Stevie has won B.I.S. at the N.E.H.U. Peterlee show many times and Supreme Champion at the B.H.W. Blackpool Show in 1997. Stan’s son, Steve senior, races pigeon with outstanding success, flying in Middlesbrough, which is one of the hotbeds of pigeon racing in the north east of England. Stan won B.I.S. at the R.P. Old Comrades Show for the second time in 1997, with a four year old Dark Chequer hen and she had previously won a second at the 1996 Old Comrades. She was a full sister to the champion Dark hen that won B.I.S. at the last Louella Classic. A brilliant family of Show Racers!
The late, great John Lock of Abercynon.
One of the best Show Racer lofts that I visited was that of the late John Lock, the South Wales ace, who was in partnership with some local Welsh lads, calling them selves, Lock, Little and Barry. John had been in the sport for 30 years and the show loft was sited at his Abercynon home, with the stock birds some miles away at Ron Barry’s address. The partners housed most colours in their show loft, but liked Silvers best. The loft had won countless firsts through the years, including B.I.S. R.P. Old Comrades Show, B.I.S. B.H.W. Blackpool Show, twice Champion at the Young Bird National, B.O.S. Old Comrades Show and many more championship wins. On my visit to John’s loft, he showed me his champion Silver hen, which had won many major wins, including B.I.S. Monmouth Show and firsts at the B.H.W. Blackpool Show, R.P. Old Comrades Show and the Louella Classic. This wonderful hen was bred down from original pigeons from Doug McClary of Exeter, in Devon.
The main show loft was 24ft. long and had normal box perches and widowhood style nest box fronts. The partners bred 60 young birds each year, and after grading them, a few were sold. The youngsters mainly got three major shows and four society shows in their first season. The show loft housed 20 pairs of old birds and the thing I remember the most about John’s loft, was the thick bed of clean savings all over the floor. The stock partings housed 12 pairs and when bringing in new stock the partners liked to see a good skull on the bird. The birds were fed on widowhood mixture and got a bath once a week. John always said his management was nothing special and was always kept very simple. The partner’s team was formed in 1984 with birds from Doug McClary, the Silvers from a fancier in Gwent and the Doug McClary Mealies through Dave Williams of Swansea. The late, John Lock was a wonderful show man!
Colin Bullard of Lowestoft.
The month of November 2013 saw us make our annual drive up the M40 to High Wycombe for the RPRA Southern Region Show, which is one of the high lights of the show calendar in the South of England every winter. That year’s show held at the Hazelmere Community Centre turned out to be one of the best ever, with 596 birds entered. There was the usual auction of gift birds and the funds raised by the show and sale was donated to the RNLI and The Air Ambulance. I have been associated with the RPRA Southern Region Show since it first started all those years ago.
On the day ‘Best in Show’ was awarded to a beautiful opal hen who took every body’s eye in the pen as they walked around the hall and she was owned and shown by Colin Bullard, who travels all the way from Lowestoft on the East coast to show at High Wycombe. Colin is always the man to beat in any show he competes in and won BIS at the Southern Region Show in 2012, also with a another opal hen. He has had racing pigeons since he started at the age of 16, being very successful at club racing and has had Show Races about 30 years. His latest Southern Region BIS winner is closely related to his BIS winner at last year’s show and both are members of his mosaic family, which originate from birds obtained from George Bartle of Wretford. His opal hen is no stranger to winning, having won first at other premier shows. Colin has three small Show Racer lofts, which house about 20 pairs and these are all paired up in mid-February. He maintains the main factor in good loft design is that it is clean and dry, so his lofts are closed against rain and bad weather. He uses a sand and saw dust litter on the loft floors and the clean out is his first job every day. He has no special preparation in the days before a big show, but the birds get a bath every week.
No stock birds are kept and about 30 young birds are bred each season to show, and no Show Racers fly out. Colin has judged at all the main shows, including the BHW Blackpool Show and has won BIS East Coast Show, BIS Norwich Spectacular Show and BOS RP ‘Old Comrades’ Show. The Bullard garden is also the home of Colin’s racing pigeons and he races natural, with long distance racing in mind. He pairs the race birds the same time as the show birds and all are fed the same heavy maple pea and tic beans mixture. He really enjoys seeing the bird come in from the French race points and has won a nice few races through the years. Colin tells me he is only in pigeons for pure pleasure and only races in his local club and is not a member of any National clubs. Colin also won Best Racer at the Southern Region Show this year with handsome Dordin / Cattrysse blue pied cock too go with his BIS. Colin’s daughter, Lynn, has had her own 8ft x 6ft loft of Show Racers since she was ten years old and has been very successful through the years. She is now in her 30’s and has her own family, so time with the pigeons is hard to find, but she managed to win a class at this year’s Southern Region Show. Lynn has judged at many premier shows, including a class of Show Racers at the BHW Blackpool Show. Colin recently went in to hospital to undergo some surgery, which meant he could not lift for several. He has asked me to thank the local pigeon fanciers who helped him with his pigeons through this period, especial Phil Harrod, who cleaned his lofts out.
Phil & John Harrod of Suffolk.
I recently had the pleasure of judging at the Southern Counties Show Racer Open Show, held at Gravesend in Kent and the turn out was excellent, with over 350 birds being entered. This was the fourth time I have judged this event in the last five winters and my granddaughter, Sasha, was my steward for the day. The hall at the Gravesend Rugby Club is ideal for holding shows and the SCSRS use the venue for all their Society and Open shows.
A young lad named John Harrod of Suffolk won Best in Show with a young blue show racer cock and entering a team of 30 plus birds that day, had won a hat full of prize cards. The parents of this near perfect cock were obtained from the premier Show Racer fancier John Bell of Scotland and were bred from a line of top show winners. John was ill on the day of the show, so did not attend, but his dad, Phil, penned the birds and lift the prizes for him. The Harrod loft won BIS at this event twice previously and the last time I met up with young John he had won BIS at the RPRA Southern Region Show a few winters ago. John told me then that he has all colours in his show racer team, but his reds, which were obtained from his father’s friend, are particularly strong in quality and win well whenever he exhibits them. He says his best performance to date is BIS at the RPRA Southern Region Show and has won several firsts at the BHW Blackpool Show. Fantastic performances put up by this young lad! John hah only been into Show Race for about seven years and says at that time that he had three lofts, which housed his big team. He feeds a heavy racing mixture and cleans out regularly, not being keen on deep litter on the loft floors. His dad, Phil, is very interested in the pigeons and drives John to all the shows.
Julian & Joanne Rice of Suffolk.
The 2010 RPRA Southern Region Show was a bitter sweet affair for me personally, the down side being told that my good friend of many years standing, Ron Lacey, was packing up as show secretary, and this event was his last. He told me he was now approaching 80 years of age and was having trouble coping with the vast amount of work involved in organizing this wonderful annual show, which I can well appreciate. When I say that Ron is one of the sport’s great workers, it is an under statement, he has spent a life time working for the RPRA and the sport of pigeon racing in general. The 2010 Region Show attracted over 700 birds, which Ron told me at the time was a record.
Best in Show was awarded to a handsome dark pied cock who took every body’s eye in the pen as they walked around the hall and he was owned and raced by Julian and Joanne Rice of Suffolk. Julian likes the racing side of the sport and told me the BIS cock had flown the English Channel in the 2010 racing season. He has enjoyed a good racing season in 2010 winning some premier positions from Tarbes (600 miles). His teenage daughter Joanne is the show girl and has made quite a name for her self in recent years, winning many top honours at the Show Racer Society and National Shows around the country. She could not attend the Region Show this year, as she had to work, but I’m sure she had a surprise when she got home that night and saw her new BIS silver ware. She started up with show racers in 2003, with pigeon obtained from Collin Bullard and John Robilliard, and tells me she likes the yellows, creams and mosaics best. She has 20 pairs of show racers and gets a bit of help from her father, Julian, who has had pigeons since 1980. The Rice family race and show pigeons, and won best racer at the ‘Old Comrades’ Show, but say their Southern Region BIS is their best performance to date. Joanne has two lofts for her show racers and uses a sand litter on the floors, with fed being a good widowhood racing mixture. The birds are paired up the weekend after the BHW Blackpool Show and their get a bath every Monday, including the week before a show. The Society held its first show of the 2007 season at Gravesend in October and the members entered 150 young birds. Joanne Rice does a lot of her showing at the Southern Counties Show Racer Society these days and won Best Show Racer in Show with her beautiful blue chequer hen a few seasons ago, which was a really good performance, as this was the first time she had shown in the Society.
Darren Christie of Dunaghy in Northern Ireland.
Many fanciers made their annual drive up to Blackpool in mid-January for the main event of the Show Racer calendar, the 2019 British Homing World ‘Show of the Year’. This year’s event attacked a show entry of 2,000 birds and ‘Best in Show’ over all at Blackpool was won by a beautiful Show Racer silver blue cock owned by Darren Christie of Dunaghy in Northern Ireland. Darren has named his champion cock, ‘Barney’, and tells me he has had a lot of good wins previously, including ‘Best in Show’ at the INFC Show in Lisburn in 2017 and also won ‘Best in Show’ at an open show the week after the 2019 Blackpool event. He named his silver blue cock after his friend, John Barnes, who gifted him a silver blue hen which was his dam and his sire was blue cock bred through gift pigeons from Jimmy Fitzpatrick of Cambuslang in Scotland.
Darren was 12 years old when he started up in pigeons, the main reason being because his next door neighbour, Andy McCook, kept pigeons and he has now been in the sport 30 years. He obtain his first stock from Thomas Rouke and he gave Darren a pair of mealies to start him off and his first winner was a mealy hen. Thomas Rouke, Harry Spratt and Fitzpatrick & Fleming drew his attention on their performances in the early years. T. & K. Mawhinney of Ireland have a wonderful family of blue pied racing pigeons and they won ‘Best Racer in Show’ twice at the BHW Blackpool Show, first time winning ‘Best Racer in Show’ in 2014, both with blue pied cocks. Darren’s first successes were achieved with the Thomas Rouke and the Fitzpatrick & Fleming pigeons, when competing in the Northern Ireland Show Racer Society and his first loft was 10ft x 6ft, with two sections. He considers T. K. Mawhinney who shows Racing Pigeons to be the best fanciers in his area and he is a good friend, who gives Darren advice and help when needed. Darren was in partnership with Thomas Rouke for twelve years and they were known as Rouke and Christie. He tells novice to get pigeons from top fancier and look at different loft set up before choosing they own loft set up. Darren works as a council worker and is a part-time DJ, and told me his biggest thrill in his time as a pigeon fancier was winning ‘Best in Show’ at the BHW Blackpool Show.
When I asked Darren what he looks for in a Show Racer he told me, ‘what I look for in a pigeon is a good darker eye, nice strong colour, pear shape in the hand and a good strong head. At present my birds are my own family and to create this family, I obtained birds from James Fitzpatrick, Alistair Tankard and John Barnes’. Darren has three lofts, with the main Show Racer one being 25ft x 7ft with a two foot outshoot with four sections for cocks. The second loft is 16ft x 7ft with a two foot outshoot with two sections for hens. The young bird loft is 10ft x 7ft and he breeds around 50 to 60 youngsters each year. Darren keeps around 20 pairs of Show Racers and likes to have five or six spare hens so he can change the pairs around.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).