“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
Three Borders Federation (Newton Abbot Race).
The Three Borders Federation were at Newton Abbot for their last race of the season and members sent 464 birds, for what turned out to be a hard push home, being liberated at 7.45hrs into a no wind situation. Personally, it was very nice to see my two good mates, Chris Slight and Mike Charlton of the Esher club with the Federation on this, the longest young bird and last race of the season. Chris has raced very successfully for many years in partnership with Trevor Taylor, but with our Trev leaving the sport last year, Chris formed a new partnership with Mike Charlton.
Chris and Mike have enjoyed a good 2019 racing season winning several first in the Esher club and 7th, 14th Federation Blandford (719 birds), 25th Federation Honiton (633 birds), 7th, 8th, 9th Federation Blandford (713 birds), 17th Federation Yeovil (673 birds), 17th, 18th, 19th Federation Yeovil (990 birds), 6th Federation Blandford (1,044 birds), 12th, 14th, 15th Federation Kingsdown (677 birds), 1st, 19th, 23rd Federation Newton Abbot (464 birds). It goes without saying Mike is one of the nicest people you could ever meet and dose so much good work for the sport. To be quite honest Mike is the ‘backbone’ of the Esher club these days and carries out most the secretarial work in the club, with marking, results and a lot of week to week running work. It is great to see the name Mike Charlton at the top of the Three Borders Federation result! Well done to Chris and Mike!
The first ten in the Newton Abbot Federation result were: 1) Chris Slight & Mike Charlton 1285: 2) Eustace & Koby Benjamin 1282: 3) T. McCoy & sons 1281: 4) M. Burczak 1278: 5) T. McCoy & sons 1277: 6) T. McCoy & sons 1277: 7) G. Allison 1274: 8) G. Allison 1273: 9) T. McCoy & sons 1273: 10) T. McCoy & sons 1272.
Bearing in mind that the Esher club had won the Three Borders Federation six times before the end of old bird racing in 2014, when I saw the club’s result from the new French liberation site at Nort sur Erdre and saw that Chris Slight and Trevor Taylor had won the club by 50 ypm clear, I suspected they had won the Federation. When the dust settled, the Kingston partnership had won the Federation and 1st SMT Combine! Chris and Trevor’s third 1st Combine winner was a yearling blue widowhood cock bred from Leo van Rijn stock birds that were obtained from Phil & Maria Dunstall of Taplow.
The lads have taken in a third partner for the 2014 season in the form of Chris’ 12-year-old grandson, Cole, and he has named the Nort sur Erdre Combine winner ‘Charlie’. The parents of the Combine winner bred two young bird winners for Chris and Trevor the previous season, with the ‘Charlie’ recording 1st club, 4th Federation Wincanton (1,652 birds) and his nest mate, ‘25030’ winning 2nd club, 2nd Federation Blandford (1,050 birds) . Another full brother to this cock was gifted to Steve Streek, who races in the Godalming club and was there to win the club, but sat out for three minutes and ended up 8th club. So it looked like Slight & Taylor had a promising pair of Leo van Rijn stock birds.
After the race the partners brought the blue cock to my home in Claygate to have his photo taken and Trevor told me, ‘up the winning the Combine, the cock had been very consistent, winning as a youngster and we had another young bird winner the same way bred. We had kept our eyes on Phil and Maria Dunstall’s family of Leo van Rijn birds for a few seasons and we had discussed in the winter of the season leading up to the 2012 that we would source some in.
After looking around we saw that Phil had brought in loads of quality Leo van Rijn pigeons from different parts of the country and after a lay off was back racing again in the very strong Windsor club with the young birds and was winning not only the club, but taking the first ten positions in the Federation. Once contact was made we made our way over to Taplow on a Sunday morning and were made welcome as always with a nice cup of tea, a chin wag and a look through Phil and Maria’s race birds. After a few hours it was down to business to pick out six late breds for stock purposes. Phil had all the late breds in a section with an aviary on the front and once the doors were shut it was nice and dark inside. We like the cocks to be big and the hens small’.
The visit to the Dunstall loft was in late September and Chris and Trevor put the late breds in the stock loft to let them settle and then paired them up the first week in January. Even though the new birds were late breds they were surprised that they went down and laid so well. Once all the young birds hatched in the stock loft the new partner, Cole, got in and played with the young birds while they were in the nest, so that by the time they come away, all the babies were relatively tame.
Talking about his grandson, Chris said, ‘although Cole is 12 years old, he has a natural gift with live stock. We also keep canaries and have a couple of quail on the floor. Cole decided he would take one of the quail eggs and see if he could hatch it. Consequently one day looking through his clothes drawers the baby quail appeared and Cole hand reared him until he was old enough to go into the canaries. Cole races in the Esher junior section and does extremely well, and on some occasions at basketing night has been known to play a few tricks with the widowhood cocks who have then performed really well on the Saturday’.
Chris Slight and Trevor Taylor had been premier pigeon racers in the Surrey area for many years, but the 2013 season was one of their best to date and was top prize winners in the mighty Esher & Dist. RPC. Approaching the back end of the old bird racing season, members of the Three Borders Federation entered 1,237 birds into the Taunton race in mid-June. The weather was glorious for the whole weekend and the convoy was liberated at the horse racing course site on the Saturday morning at 08-30hrs in a strong west / south west wind. It turned out to be a ‘banger’ of a race, with the leading pigeons taking just over 90 minutes to fly the 125 miles to their home lofts and record velocities in the high 2200 ypm.
The Esher club were back on good form, winning 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th Federation and the Kingston partnership of Chris Slight and Trevor Taylor won the top spot with game yearling. The Slight & Taylor partnership’s 2013 performances in the Three Borders Federation were: OB: 3rd, 21st Federation Wincanton (1128 birds), 4th Federation Honiton (1327 birds), 15th Federation Exeter (938 birds), 5th Federation, 5th SMT Combine Yelverton (1596 birds), 1st, 4th Federation Taunton (1237 birds), 11th, 24th Federation, 20th, 42nd SMT Combine Truro (1393 birds), 3rd Federation, 6th SMT Combine Bergerac (400 birds), YB: 4th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th Federation Wincanton (1652 birds), 4th, 5th Federation Yeovil (1259 birds), 2nd, 7th, 10th Federation Blandford (1050 birds), 3rd, 8th, 23rd Federation Exeter (712 birds), 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 23rd, 24th, 25th Federation, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 38th, 48th, 49th SMT Combine Yelverton (963 birds). Well done to Chris and Trevor on a wonderful season!
While convoying for the Central Southern Classic Flying Club in 2010, I visited the liberation site at Messac twice and at the 250-mile stage it was one of the best sites I’ve visited in France. The Three Borders Federation had two races out of Messac, with the SMT Combine that same season and my ol’ mates, Chris Slight and Trevor Taylor, won the Combine from the race held in that June. The Combine sent 1,316 birds and being liberated into a Northerly wind, the members enjoyed a good steady race.
At that time, I asked Trevor about the partner latest SMT Combine winner and he told me, ‘The Messac Combine winner is Black yearling hen, now named ‘Non- Returnable’ and was bred by Colin Crook and Andy Iddenden of Epsom. Every year Colin and Andy give us a couple of coloured pigeons to brighten up the loft, as they have always said our loft is too dull with the blues and blue chequers. This little annual practice has gone for about five seasons now! The Messac Combine winner, ‘Non-Returnable’, is a van Reet hen which had already showed us a lot of promise as a young bird in 2009, being in the first four birds home every week but was always beaten by loft mates and most often we would get a few birds together but she was a little shy to go through the ETS first. This season as a yearling she did exactly the same, being consistent again in the first three or four birds to the loft every week but one time winning the Esher club from Kingsdown and finishing 18th Three Borders Federation with 1,623 birds competing.
We only normally send to Federation races and 2010 was our first-year racing hens, and this game little black hen was coming so consistent, so we decided to send some hens to the London & South East Classic Club, and ‘Non-Returnable’ finished up recording 33rd open Falaise. We kept her racing week by week and on the Wednesday before she won the Combine she had been pairing up with another hen and laid an egg in her box. She was nearly not sent to Messac as it was Thursday night marking and it meant she would lay her second egg in the race crate on the Friday. Chris and I thought this would affect her keenest to race home, how wrong were we! We decided to name her ‘Non-Returnable’ and what a lovely man Colin Crook is! When we phoned him to say we had won the Combine he said come over and get the dam and I must say mother and daughter are like peas in a pod, so much so, if you put them both together you couldn’t tell them apart only from the ring colour’.
Chris and Trevor kept 15 pairs of stock birds which were their own self-made family of De Klak, Busschaerts, Staf Van Reet and Van Loon and had introduced in recent seasons some class Leo van Rijns. They were hoping to start reducing the stock team down but at that time they just couldn’t as every pair had produced consistent birds and they said it was a nice position to be in. Trevor said at that time, ‘we much prefer to cross our birds for racing and inbreed / line breed for stock. All our birds are expected to race the full program and win at 87 miles and then at 450 miles. We are hard but fair with the birds and feed according to what the Saturday conditions will be. We keep twenty widowhood cocks and this year raced eight widowhood hens and it was with a hen that we won us a Channel race this year. We should race more hens as we have won the Combine and Federation with hens but its just having the room and the time to let everything out for exercise.
There is never enough hours in the day and pigeon racing can be a full time job. We breed around 30 to 40 young birds every year and they have to race the full program as we feel that this is important. We don’t like young bird racing, but over the past few years they have raced extremely well. We do the normal Cocci, Canker, Worms and PMV jab before racing and then Canker the birds that are racing every 4 to 5 weeks. Antibiotics are a no no in our loft and if anything does crop up then David at Belgica de Weerd or Medi Vet are our first point of contact. We are firm believers that if you keep the insides right then condition will come naturally.
We like the natural products of Carrs and Gemthepax which go onto the corn and the Aviform products in the water. As for training we have years where they get little or no training and other years they get roadwork but we do find that they let us know what they need just by observing them. Our type of widowhood goes against the books and the cocks some days have an open hole all day with the view that if they want to fly they will and if they want to relax they can. As long as the birds are happy so are we. Our advice to any novices or anybody that wants to improve is go to the best man locally in your area buy his birds and listen. Then the rest should come as they say’.
The Three Borders Federation held its longest old bird race from Bergerac (450 miles); in south west France in July of 2009 and member enjoyed a good testing race. The convoy was liberated with the SMT Combine at 05.55hrs in no wind at the liberation site and the leading pigeons coped well with the eleven-hour fly home.
Chris and Trevor clocked their champion blue cock, ‘Master Bates’, in a flying time of 10 hours 39 minutes too win the Three Borders Federation and 1st open SMT Combine! This was Chris’ great ambition to win the Combine, having won 2nd open many times and to win from Bergerac, the longest old bird race, has really put the icing on the cake for him. Chris told me at that time, ‘the blue cock is a three-year-old De Klak / Van Loon cross and has had every Federation race on the widowhood system since he was born, never missing a race, inland and channel. ‘Master Bates’ is the worlds worst trapper and has been home to win the Federation several times, but just sits on the loft looking at me waiting to put him on the clock.
The ETS has finely sorted him out, as when he come home, I hide and he clocks him self in, with no problems. The 2009 season had seen him win four good Federation positions, finishing the campaign with his 1st Three Borders Federation Bergerac’. Chris and Trevor had won six firsts in the Esher club that season and were delighted to get five birds on the day of liberation from the very hard Bergerac race.
Trevor Taylor is Chris’ nephew and they had been in the pigeon partner for a few seasons. Trevor had been in pigeons all his life and is a third-generation fancier, with his grand fathers being the great old Kingston pigeon aces, Jack Taylor and Eddie Chandler. I think I’ve known Chris Slight for well over 40 years now, in fact he used to drive for Pickford’s house removals, and he moved Betty and me in to our first flat over the Gardening shop in Surbiton and that was nearly 50 years ago, when we got married. Chris is the ‘old school’ type pigeon fancier and has no hard and fast system but records brilliant result every season. Back in the 1970’s we raced in the Kingston club together and today we both members in the Esher & Dist. RPC. Chris was winning Federations back in the Kingston racing days and he is still winning Federation today. A great fancier!
The 2008 season saw Chris Slight win the Three Borders Federation three times and win ‘Pigeon of the Year’ in the Esher club and the Federation. His top pigeon was a five-year-old blue chequer named, ‘Fred’ and this game widowhood cock recorded: 1st club, 1st Federation Kingsdown, 1st club, 1st Federation, 2nd open SMT Combine and 4th club, 11th Federation Yelverton. The Esher club secretary, Allen Palmer, won the Three Borders Federation twice in the 2008 season and one of those birds was bred by Chris, and was a son of ‘Fred’. What a pigeon!
He has won many other prizes previous to the 2008 season, racing on the widowhood and is off the old Slight family, being a mixture of De Klak, Busschaert and Staf Van Reet. ‘Fred’ was put to stock for the 2009 season, but because the partners were short of racing cocks, he was brought out of retirement mid-way through the season and won two more races! Chris’ other 2008 Three Borders Federation winner was the yearling Busschaert blue chequer widowhood cock, ‘Uranus’, and he won 1st club, 1st Federation, 4th open SMT Combine Poitiers. He is a son of Chris’ champion dark Busschaert cock, ‘The Old Fella’, which has recorded many firsts for the Slight loft, including 48th open L&SECC in a very hard Pau race (550 miles) and then being sent back to Bergerac (450 miles) three weeks later to record 2nd open SMT Combine.
Chris and Trevor raced twenty cocks on the widowhood system and stressed to me that they had no hard and fast rules or real system with his pigeon racing management and would pair up any time in January or February. They raced only cocks on the system and never broke them down, feeding a good quality widowhood mixture at all distances, long and short. The Slight pigeons were raced every week through the Federation programme, and he told me his favourite races were the middle distance at about 300 miles. His loft was 40ft x 18ft ‘L’ shaped and had always had open door trapping, although he has now installed ETS traps as he started to use the system with young birds in the 2008 season.
Chris told me he really enjoys the ETS as he can sit back and enjoy seeing the birds coming in from the races and maintains the youngsters don’t get spoiled by keep getting picked to be clocked. He had a blue cock which won’t trap because it had been caught so many times and had won about ten second prizes. The widowhood hens are put in with the cocks at lunch time on marking night and allowed to run with their mates until they go in the basket for the journey to the club. He has no hard and fast rule about his system and sometimes leaves the widowhood hens with the racers until Sunday lunch time. The widowhood cocks get an open loft all day, every day and the main families kept then were De Klak, Busschaert and Staf Van Reet.
Chris bred 50 young birds every season, only retaining 35 to race and trained from Petersfield (40 miles) every week. He had never raced the darkness system but started the youngster on the system in 2009 and raced natural to the perch. The Slight young birds were allowed to do as they like and Chris had won some good races with youngsters sent sitting eggs, and small babies. He told me he didn’t enjoy young bird racing but sends them through the Federation programme to the longest race for education and they also get an open loft every day. The young hens are raced well in the year of their birth, but once they are in the widowhood loft, they are never raced, although Chris is toying with the idea of racing a few widowhood hens next season. Chris kept very few stock pigeons but had a few De Klaks from Steve Clackston of Kingston and his best retired Busschaert racers. He paired his stock pigeons up the same time as the widowhood cock so the eggs can be floated in the race sections.
Chris has been racing pigeon on his own since he came out of the army in 1975 and has won many 1st Federation prizes from Blandford (85 miles) through to Bergerac (450 miles) and has been 2nd open Combine nine or ten times but had never won the Combine for many years. In fact, recently he recorded 2nd open SMT Combine twice in one season and has now won 1st Combine three times! His first pigeons were raced to his sister’s garage and he won his first race from Exeter with a mealy hen in the old Kingston club.
He is now a member of the Esher & Dist. RPC and BICC and tells me he prefers north road racing. His father, Lewis Slight, and his uncles were all good fanciers in his hometown of Portsmouth, and they were all north roaders. When Chris was a young lad, over 60 years ago, a local fancier gave him a pigeon and his dad wouldn’t let him put it in his loft, so he had to keep it in an old rabbit hutch. He sent that pigeon to Lerwick (550 miles) and won the race and his dad didn’t clock in! Chris maintains the sport is too much money orientated which is spoiling it, but really likes the ETS system and says it’s the way forward.
The 2019 Three Borders Federation young bird race winners are: Blandford (713 birds) G. Allison: Yeovil (763 birds) G. Allison: Blandford (481 birds) Ken Wise: Yeovil (990 birds) Carol Francis & son: Blandford (1,044 birds) Terry Goodsell: Yeovil (812 birds) G. Randall: Kingsdown (677 birds) G. Allison: Newton Abbot (464 birds) Chris Slight & Mike Charlton. The Ashridge club won the ‘Federation Points Trophy’ with 176 points, with Mitcham & Merton R/U on 169 points. Well done to Terry Goodsell, winner of the ‘Individual Points Trophy’ for the second year on the trot with 102 points, with Malik & Khan being R/U with 69 points.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)