“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
Mick Tuck of Witley.
Mick Tuck started his 2017 channel race campaign with a ‘big bang’, when he won the South Coast / Surrey Federations Amalgamation from their first race of the season from Fougeres in early May. The convoy was held over for a day and the birds being liberated in a head wind suited Mick’s natural racers perfectly. He won the Amalgamation with his good yearling blue cock ‘Blackpool Special’ and I had the pleasure of handling the winning pigeon on a recent visit to the Witley loft. This super apple bodied cock has had some good previous form, winning 1st club, 2nd Federation Wadebridge as a young bird in the 2016 season. His dam is one of Mick’s best Eric Cannon racing hens and although the Amalgamation winner is a cross, he looks and handles very much to the Cannon type. His sire is a Leo Heremans pigeon which Mick and his good friend, Ron Gammage purchased between them at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2016, and he was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Gregson of Preston. The Tuck loft continued to have a brilliant 2017 old bird racing season and finished up with winning the longest old bird race by recording: 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th Godalming club, 5th South Coast Federation, 5th Surrey / Sussex Amalgamation Bordeaux (445 miles). Mick clocked two of the Godalming club’s five day pigeons and his winner was an Eric Cannon yearling blue chequer hen, sent on hatching eggs on the day of marking. Brilliant pigeon racing!
Mick was in his usual winning ways in the 2016 season, with both his old and young birds. He is the ‘master’ of long distance racing with only a very small team of pigeons, winning countless premier positions in the Federation and National, including four times 1st Combine. I visited his loft at his home in Witley, near Godalming in January 2017 with the YouTube filming unit and spent several hours looking at his latest winners. His favourite race, which his whole loft is geared to every season, is the National Flying Club Tarbes Grand National, but because this race had been moved to a very late date, he decided to have a go at the Central South Classic Flying Club open Pau event. The Classic Pau race was held in mid-June and Mick maintains that the longest race should be held as near to the longest day as possible. The CSCFC sent 699 birds to Pau (540 miles) and Mick got three of his four birds entered on the winning day, with his last bird coming home next day. His first bird on the ETS was his good Eric Cannon blue chequer hen, ‘The 76 Hen’ and she was sent on 12 day old eggs, too record 5th open. Her mate, a handsome blue cock bred by Mick Parish of Essex, was the second bird clocked and he recorded 33rd open. A fantastic performance! He did well with the old birds again in 2016, racing in the channel events and finished the season off with his young blue cock, ‘Blackpool Special’, winning 1st club, 2nd Federation in the longest young bird race from Wadebridge.
Mick is totally natural with only Channel races in mind. He has only 15 nest boxes in the racing section but never keeps 15 pairs as he likes the inmates to have plenty of room. He only breeds 20 youngsters, as he thinks if you keep a small team, you can concentrate on them more and get them for races easier. He feeds a ready-mixed corn from a local corn chandler, called ‘Irish’ mixture and says it is first class corn and just adds a few tic beans and pea nuts for the long distance races. The birds are paired up on Valentine's Day or the nearest Saturday to it. Trapping the birds on race day is through ant bolts but this is never easy, as where the Tuck family live is infested with cats and the pigeons are always spooked. Mick starts training the old birds two weeks before the first Federation race, with two tosses every day, morning and evening. His work partner, Russell Barker, who is a former Godalming pigeon fancier, helps Mick train his birds and they go 28 miles and toss at a place called Cheese Foot Head (you must be joking!), near Winchester in Hampshire. Mick also likes early morning training tosses for his Cannel candidates off the beach in Hayling Island. When Mick arrives at the training liberation site, he lets the birds stand for ten minutes then liberates in one big group. The birds get Sundays off and are given a bath. He says being a natural flyer; he is stronger with hens, than the cocks and the birds fly the Federation programme, with selected National and Classic races for some birds. His ideal condition for a hen going to the long distance is sitting between 10 and 14 day old eggs, sitting quiet more often than two eggs. Mick maintains that he likes to have as much air flow in the loft as he can and says the loft should not be damp or overcrowded.
Mick Tuck’s 2014 racing season nearly finished a total disaster, after a cat entered his loft and attached his pigeons, killing one and injuring several others. He is a very successful long distance enthusiast and his whole season is a build up to the NFC Tarbes Grand National and the Bergerac Combine races. Mick gives his race candidates lots of early morning training tosses off Hayling Island, on the south coast, and a couple of days before the NFC Tarbes marking he returned from training to finds the cat in the loft. Needless to say he could not send to the Grand National and lost his entry money! The Combine Bergerac race was a few weeks later and he managed to get his small team settled back on eggs, and set up for that the longest and last old bird race in the Godalming Club. His good blue cock, ‘The Cannon Cock’ lost his hen in the cat attack, but paired up to a young hen and was sent to Bergerac sitting two day old eggs. The Bergerac race in 2014 was one of the hardest for many years and Mick clocked the blue cock at 19.38hrs on the day of liberation to win 1st club, 2nd Federation (449 miles). The race really was a ‘stinker’ with only three birds clocked on the day in the Federation and only 25 in race time, with the Tuck loft getting six home and timing three of them. ‘The Cannon Cock’ is a beautiful pigeon to handle and look at, and is bred from the very best of Eric Cannon’s wonderful long distance family. His sire is the 2007 bred blue chequer cock; ‘Tucky’s Pride’ and he won a long list of premier positions in the NFC Pau and Tarbes Nationals. In spite of his cat problems, Mick has had a good season winning: 1st club, 3rd Federation Nort sur Erdre, 1st Godalming club and well up in the Federation result from the Truro young bird race.
When I asked Mick what sort of racing he liked he replied, ‘definitely long distance! There's nothing worse than getting a phone call to say that the birds are up and predicting that they will be in the loft within 15 minutes, that’s rubbish. I like just a few birds on the day, that's my sort of racing’. I have known Mick for some twenty five plus years now, as he races in the Godalming Club and was a friend of my late friend, Eric Cannon of Wormley. Mick's main family of pigeons are Eric Cannon, with crosses into that being mainly for distance racing. He maintains that his friend, the late, great, Eric Cannon, of Wormley, was the best fancier in the Surrey area and his National achievements were second to none. When it came to racing in the Pau National, he really knew his stuff. Mick is very special pigeon racer and is defiantly a man with a small racing team, and big performances! He also enjoyed a brilliant 2013 season with the climax being the longest old bird race from Bergerac (450 miles) in France. The Bergerac birds were liberated at 05.40hrs into a strong head wind and Mick recorded the only four birds on the day of liberation in the very strong Godalming club, and won 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th South Coast Federation. This wonderful performance is typical of Mick Tuck’s performance from Bergerac year in and year out, he sends only about six birds and finishes up at the in the top few in the Federation and Combine. A brilliant fancier! Mick tells me the 2013 Bergerac race was also a very hard event, with only 16 birds recorded in the Federation on the day of liberation and his Federation winner was his beautiful blue chequer pied hen, ‘Tucky’s Favourite’. She is an Eric Cannon / Van Gill cross, being sent to Bergerac sitting ten day old eggs, and this two year old has had a brilliant 2013 season, recording 1st club, 1st Federation Bergerac, 2nd club, 10th Federation, 10th Combine Saintes and 4th club, 16th Federation, 16th Combine Messac. Well done toe Mick on his wonderful 2014 Bergerac performance!
Mick told me, his best all-round pigeon was the great 1999 bred blue chequer hen, ‘Tucky’s Delight’ and she was an Eric Cannon pigeon, being a daughter of ‘Pau Star’, winners of 2nd section A, 9th open NFC Pau Grand National (550 miles) and timed on a hard day of liberation. Her sire was a Cannon blue chequer cock which was always kept for stock. ‘Tucky’s Delight’ through her ring in the nest and her number is two away from her nest sister, as the ring was lost in the loft. This wonderful hen grew into a champion racer and breeder! ‘Tucky’s Delight’ won Bergerac (449 miles), the longest old birds in the very strong Godalming three times and as a yearling she recorded: 4th club, 6th Surrey Federation, 7th SMT Combine Bergerac, clocked on the day of liberation. She has won a long list of premier races including: 2003: 1st club, 5th Surrey Federation, 19th SMT Combine Bergerac, 1st club, 1st Surrey Federation, 9th SMT Combine Alencon: 2004: 1st club, 4th Surrey Federation, 9th SMT Combine Bergerac: 2005: 102nd open NFC Tarbes: 2004: 51st open L&SECC San Sebastian. ‘Tucky’s Delight’s’ nest sister is the great hen, ‘Tucky’s Choice’ and she recorded: 2004: 45th open NFC Pau (550 miles): 2005: 41st open NFC Tarbes (560 miles), clocked both times on the day of liberation. Two great hens! Mick says that ‘Tucky’s Delight’ turned out to be a ‘master’ breeder, producing many premier long distance racers over the years. In the 2005 season she bred ‘Tucky’s Supreme’, who as a yearling won 2nd SMT Combine Bergerac, beaten by a yard when club mate Ray Hammond won the Combine, with only three birds being clocked in the Combine on the day of liberation. Another great racer bred from ‘Tucky’s Delight’ was ‘Tucky’s Return’, who has some interesting history behind him! This five year old Eric Cannon blue chequer cock was lost from the NFC Fougeres race as a young bird, and returned one year later as Mick was basketing his young birds for the NFC St Malo race. Just unbelievable, but it’s true! He came back with most of the webbing gone from his flights and his perished rubber race rings intact. Mick kept him for a year and raced him unpaired to win several premier prizes in that season including 1st club Alencon (by 25 minutes) and 28th open NFC Cholet. ‘Tucky’s Return’ has never looked back and has won a long list of prizes including: 2013: 3rd club, 5th Federation Bergerac, 2nd club, 12th Federation, 13th Combine Fougeres, 2012: 4th club, 18th Federation, 18th Combine Bergerac, 2011: 4th club, 26th Federation, 26th Combine Bergerac. ‘Tucky’s Delight’ the champion racer and breeder!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).