NRCC Dunbar sections 2018
By George Wheatman
As with all classic racing, the North Road Championship Club offers different challenges to members, usually depending on where they are located and, of course, the weather conditions.
While the opening race of the season is very much a sprint for the short flyers, 100-plus miles further down the road it is often a different kind of bird, with different preparation, needed to win Sections H and I.
Always, however, there are fanciers up to the task and two of them competing from Dunbar were London-based George Chalkley and son Steven, winners of Section H at 324 miles, and Mr and Mrs Ronald Reason, of Manningtree, winners of Section I at 316 miles.
Ronald and Sam Reason
George and Steven are no strangers to NRCC section wins, but this time they were particularly pleased because it gave a boost to the breeder, David Hales, of Hockley.
George said: “Our winner was a blue yearling hen which has not been raced a lot, and comes from David Hales and his partner Duncan Goodchild, in Essex.
“When I told David he was very pleased, and I hope it gave him a bit of a boost as he is currently battling against illness. He is a top fancier, and a top man, and our winner is a granddaughter of Tubby, David’s overall average winner in BICC races two years ago.
“She had three races as a baby, and three races this year before going to Dunbar. She was raced on roundabout, and we sent eight and got all of them home.”
The section-winning velocity was 1267 yards per minute.
The name Chalkley has been a feature of pigeon racing for many years. George relates the moving story of how the family were bombed out three times in World War Two and his dad came out of the Army not knowing where they were living.
When they were re-united in Bethnal Green, he noticed a house nearby had been bombed and immediately re-cycled the floor boards to build a pigeon loft in his new garden.
Over many years now, George, urged on by Steven, has been a consistent winner. Moreover he has given the sport a great deal in a variety of capacities, always on hand to help out in any situation, so this latest success was a fitting reward.
Seven years ago, when turning back from the south to north road racing, Ronald Reason set himself a series of targets, as he explains here:
“After turning back north in 2011 season, due to family commitments, I have set my stall out in trying to win the Essex and Kent Combine, which I have done from Stonehaven, the Essex and Kent Amalgamation, which I have done from Wetherby, and my NRCC section which I have been lucky enough to win three times now, with lots of seconds as well.
“So I have been really pleased with the team of birds I have.
“I fly the roundabout system with hens on V perches in a separate section, and they trap to their own section all week, then to the cocks’ section on race day.
“Birds are fed super widowhood with bits added as I feel, depending on what sort of race is coming up. I use cider vinegar and Avidress in the water at times, but I do like clean water.
“The Dunbar section winner was a two year old roundabout hen with its first major card, but she is a very well bred Gaby Vandenabeele hen from my number one pair.
“ Dam of the section winner has won 3rd, 5th and 32nd Essex and Kent Amalgamation with up to 4417 birds competing in each race, so a very good hen.
“Sire of the section winner has had 17th Essex and Kent Amalgamation with over 4000 birds in an east wind, and other good prizes. He is a Delbar cross with my old family which I have had for years, with a few good birds added to them, performance birds rather than ‘paper’ birds. The basket always tells for me. I sent 10 and had 9 on the day by 17.30 and have not seen the last one.”
Since the Dunbar race, Ronnie’s birds have proved the loft is in form by winning Section I again from Perth 1.
This section win was by a four-year-old which has lots of prizes to his name.
Ronnie takes up the story in his own words:
“It is my wife Sam's favourite bird. She likes him as he is a pretty pied, and she always looks out for him. He is a Heinz57 from within my loft as he has a bit of everything in him. He flew NRCC Dunbar two weeks before and was my second bird home, but he has been looking really fit around the loft, so he was able to go to Perth.
“I sent 15 and had 8 on the day with the balance over the next couple of days.”
Section E was well supported by father and son partnership Graham and Michael Britton, of Newborough, Peterborough, and they were rewarded with the first three positions in the section.
Their story is told by Michael:
“We had a really enjoyable race.....just a shame the wind turned to a more South Easterly as, if it had remained as predicted North East, I think we could have got a little higher up the leader board.
“However we have taken the first three in Section E with our first - Blue Cheq Cock bird GB16X00813 being provisionally 17th Open NRCC.
Brittons Dunbar Section winner
“He was Dad's pick for the race but, as we don't usually do as well in the shorter races, we never pooled him. The Dam's side goes back to John Lovell’s last Perth NRCC winner, with the Sire being of our new family of Deweerdt X Brockamp. He came like a rocket on the day, some 12 minutes in front of our next bird and even brought a stray with him as well!
“Our second pigeon and 2nd Section E is "The Old Man" - Blue Bar Cock - GB11X00540.
Brittons Perth 2nd
This year he is bouncing and as good as he has ever been. However this will be his last year of racing. Fingers crossed for him for Lerwick!
Brittons Dunbar 2nd Section
“Our third home and 3rd Section E is my favourite - Blue Bar Hen - GB14X15702. Last year she was 2nd Section E, 21st Open NRCC Lerwick and has a host of positions won. She is of the new line Deweerdt X Brockamp.
“I would like to thank Tony Woolsey (Section B Winner of the Dunbar race last year) for his advice on feeding for these short races; it proved invaluable.
“And lastly both me and my father would personally like to thank all members of the Spalding "Tulips Flying Club" for welcoming us into their Club for the 2018 season, it is greatly appreciated.”
Following the Dunbar race, the Britton partnership was again on form from the Perth 1 race, showing that, while they are better known for performances at the distance, they have become born-again sprint-middle distance specialists.
Again Michael tells their story:
“ We had our best ever NRCC Perth race and at this stage it looks as if we will be 1st and 2nd Section E, provisionally 3rd Open NRCC. (It turned out to be 4th open). We have had to wait quite a bit of time since our last Section win at Perth, some 34 years in fact (1984).
“Firstly our thanks must go to Darren and Merv for looking after the birds so well. After all the days in the basket they really did look great when they came home. Patience is rewarded!
“Secondly we wish to say thanks to all the people we speak to for line of flight weather forecasts in the early hours of the morning, with a special mention for this race to Dave Harper who has been a great friend to the NRCC now over a number of years.
“Our first pigeon, Section E winner, provisionally 3rd Open NRCC, is Blue Cheq Cock GB16X00837 aka "Fruit Loop".
Brittons Perth Section winner
Unfortunately he never came on line and arrived over our heads out of the south. We thought when the London pigeon (which turned out not to be an NRCC bird) was leading, that "Fruit Loop" may have followed him down to, say, Cambridge before deciding to turn back for home.....nothing with this pigeon would now surprise us! His breeding is of the new family Brockamp X Brockamp/Deweerdt.
“Second in the clock, some 12 minutes after our first, is Blue Bar Cock GB16X00801. He is provisionally 2nd Section E and should finish hopefully in the first 50 of the Open. He is of the old family, with the sire being our first pigeon in the NRCC Berwick YB Race of 2008 and a full brother to one of our best Lerwick Diploma of Merit winners "Shetland Britannia" when paired to a hen that is of our "Miss Go Lightly" lines, again another Lerwick Diploma of Merit winner.
“Congratulations to both Terry and Vitor for two cracking birds to beat us.
Although we may send a few birds to the next Perth NRCC race they will only be sent to get some hours on the wing, so we now look forward to Lerwick. Fingers crossed the weather is kinder to us than we experienced at Perth and the predicted South Westerly winds aren't too strong.”
One of the most prolific winners in the NRCC is Kevin Lawson, and the New Ollerton ace added another Section B win from Dunbar to his long list of previous successes.
The section topper was a blue two-year-old Soontjen widowhood cock bird which had three races this year in preparation for the Dunbar race.
A previous Federation winner, it had proved to be Kevin’s best yearling performer last year and has as its Sire one of the stars of the Lawson loft, Starlight.
“They came all right,” said Kevin, who sent 12 and had 11 home.
A fairly recent convert to the ETS timing system, Kevin admits he should have made the move years ago. Now it has taken a lot of tension out of race day.
Kevin says that he is enjoying another good season despite being “terrorised” by the sparrowhawks in the woods near his loft. The constant attacks limit exercise around the loft to once a day.
He is race adviser to his federation and has become something of an expert in his interpretation for pigeon racing of the various weather forecasts now available on the internet.
The high quality of members of the NRCC is again emphasised by the winner of Section A. George Bell, who hails from Chester le Street in the North-East of England, but now races from Calverton, Notts, has been a regular winner of pigeon races since he took up the sport 60 years ago.
And he continues to do so despite a constant struggle with mobility issues.
He was in top form from the Dunbar race, taking the first three positions in Section A.
The Section winner was a two-year-old blue Soontjen cock bird which George describes as “a very good bird”. It had won the Nottingham Federation from Whitley Bay two weeks earlier.
Second section was another blue Soontjen, this time a hen which he lost the following week, and completing the 1-2-3 was a blue Soontjen cock bird.
George, who is secretary of the Calverton club, won the section from Lerwick a couple of years ago, and is enjoying another good season despite the painful arthritis in his shoulder, and having had two knee replacements in 2014.
His loft is in the middle of a field, which brings its own problems, but he struggles on because of his love for the sport and has a team of young birds poised for young bird racing.
X X X
Winners of Section C were the outright winners, Richard Mamwell and grandson Tom, of Louth, whose success has already been reported.
Top of the list in Section F was the successful March partnership of Moore and Ransome, whose past performances have proved them to be formidable NRCC competitors. Unfortunately I have been unable to make contact with them.
Mamwells Dunbar winner
Convoyer Darren Shepherd had a comfortable baptism to this first race of the NRCC season from Dunbar, and the possibility of an on-the-day liberation was never in doubt unlike the two succeeding races from Perth.
This is his report on the Dunbar experience:
“The journey for the first NRCC race of the season started at Nottingham where I helped with the basketing at the marking station. Once the birds were loaded onto the feeder truck, we set off on the journey to Wyberton where I met up with Merv, Ray and the chairman Brian Garnham who were all hard at work checking the birds and loading them onto the main transporter. When all were loaded, Merv and I said our farewells and started off on the journey along the A1 heading for Dunbar.
“During the journey I had my usual chats with Brian, the race advisor, regarding the plans for liberation. I also kept a check on the weather reports.
“We arrived at Dunbar at 21.30 with a very warm night expected. The sky was clear, and the stars were high .
“Merv and I had to work on a stubborn gate which was giving Merv trouble positioning the lorry .
“We let the birds settle for ten minutes then put the lights on and began watering.
I informed the secretary of our arrival and all was well. Following a short trip down to the town for a bite to eat, Merv and I got our heads down for the night .
“On Saturday morning I was awake early to open the cabin door and see a very nice day with good visibility and blue skies already showing.
“I opened the shutters, so the birds could get fresh air and see out.
At 05.30 am Merv joined me, Pete and Chloe from the Hull Federation, who were on site with us, and at .06.00am Brian rang to see how things were going and to feed me the information he had received about the line of flight
“At 06.15 am I started making a few phone calls to my contacts along the line of flight, also ringing several Scottish Federations and, in the Wakefield, and Ripon area, following which I contacted people in the Midlands, London and Norwich.
“At 06.40 am Merv and I exchanged information and I spoke with the Leicestershire North Road Fed which was standing at Berwick. They said the wind was, at that time, West North West with plenty of shape in the sky We agreed to keep in touch .
“At 06.50 am I spoke with Brian and said we were looking for a 08.30 am to 09.00 am liberation if he was in agreement .
“At 07.00 am me and Merv made further calls to various contacts and the three big Northeast Feds, and let them know our plans, and at 08.15 am we started to prepare the birds for liberation.
“At 08.25am I rang Brian again and we agreed to liberate into the South West wind on site turning South East en route at 08.30 am .
“With the strings all cut and the shutters down, Merv pressed the button and I took a video recording of the liberation?which showed the birds racing out into a bright blue sky and heading for home. They cleared well and all that was left for Merv and I to do was check all the crates. I rang Ian to let him know we had liberated all of the birds at 08.30 am, in a South West wind turning South East en route.
“Merv and I agreed that, with the winds so changeable, the race could be won anywhere.”