“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
‘Show Racer World’ Number 10.
Les Petty & Phillip Crawford of Little Addington.
Lester Petty and Phillip Crawford are one of the leading Show Racer partnerships in the UK in recent years and they set a new record at the 2018 BHW Blackpool Show, by winning six classes in that show. I believe the previous record was held by Doug McClary and he won five classes. One of their best seasons was in 2011 when they won BIS and BOS at the RPRA Southern Region Show and also won BIS at the Dome Show, with a beautiful silver hen which was one of their most successful birds, also winning her class at many shows. Les and Phil ended that season winning class one (old cocks) at the BHW Blackpool Show and in the last seven years they have won class one four times. Last year they broke the record at Blackpool by winning six classes.
I recently met up with Les at the recent RPRA Southern Region Show and he told me, ‘I first met Phil Crawford when we both lived in Aylesbury back in 1998 and I was keen to acquire some show racers, and Colin Hill introduced me to Phillip. At that time Phil was very friendly with the late Paul Rogers and a lot of his birds had come from Paul. Phil gifted me my first show racers and Paul bred me six young birds, one a red hen called ‘600’, because of her ring number, bred me some really successful birds. I showed for a couple of years on my own and won my first class at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2000 with a mosaic cock bought from the sales class at the RP ‘Old Comrades’ show. We formed the partnership in 2002 and not long after that Phil moved to Wales and I moved to Northampton. We thought it would mean we could show in two societies so we joined the Monmouth and also remained members of the Midlands which we have continued to do until this day’.
The 150 mile drive up the M1 motorway to Nottingham in early November, to judge at the National Young Bird Show, started my 2015 judging commitment and I must say, I was looking forward to it very much, after my lay off from judging in 2014. The Rushcliffe Leisure Centre in Nottingham is a brilliant venue to hold a big show like the National Young Bird and this wonderful show has been run by Andy Lowe for about the last 25 years and the 2015 event was sponsored by Howdens and the Roper Store. Andy runs the show, being assisted on the Show Racer side by Les and Sarah Carter, who have been very successful for many years exhibiting the Colin Carter pigeons. The show is run under NPA rules and the entry was down slightly that year as there was another show staged locally, but about 400 birds were entered, which included the usual Racer and Show Racer classes and several fancy Tumbler, Fantail and Roller classes. The Les Petty and Phillip Crawford partnership won ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Best Opposite Sex’ with two wonderful mealies, which very closely related.
Les Petty was born in Greenwich, South London and he tells me his dad was a fancier, racing in the Friendly Homing Society. He had his first small 8ft x 6ft loft, which his dad built, with a small aviary on one end and he was about ten years old at the time. Les said, ‘my first pigeons were two pairs of Sion Mealies from one of my dad’s pals, Tom Sexton and another of dad’s friends, Ray Baker of Eltham, was very successful and taught me a lot about eye-sign. My interest in pigeons only lasted until I was about fourteen when football and girls took over. Years later in 1998 I was settle down and decided to restart and bought a pair of show racers at the Comrade Show, not sure how good they were I asked the opinion of an experience fancier standing by the sale pens. He turned out to be Ralph Howman and his birds form the basis of my red and Mealies today. At the time I was living in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and was introduced to Phil Crawford who lived about 10 minutes away, and he also kept show racers. He took me under his wing and taught me a lot about showing and encouraged me to join the Midland S.R.S. He also introduced me to Paul Rogers whose birds featured strongly in Phil’s team and I was given some of those birds whose bloodlines are still present in my team today’. He started showing in 1999 and in 2003 Phillip Crawford and Les decided to from the partnership and were quite successful. In 2005 Phil had to move to Wales and Les moved to Northamptonshire where he is still today and they are members of the Monmouth as well as Midland Show Racer Society. Several years ago Les met Alistair Tankard and on becoming great friend with him, have spent holidays at his house in the Scottish Highlands. Les says he has some of the best blues and blue chequers he has ever seen and Alistair has given Petty & Crawford some superb birds over the years. Two of Les and Phillip’s best Show Racers are: Red Cock GB 08S6522 winner of.1st Yearling Cock Bridlington 2009, Reserve Champion National Winners Show 2010, 1st Old Cocks Blackpool 2011 and Silver Hen GB 09S06208 winner of Best in Show Nation Winner Show 2011.
The partners have two lofts, the first a brick built 18ft x 9ft two sections structure with double glazed and is heated, which houses old and young cocks. Loft number two is made of timber and is 16ft x 8ft, with two sections and this houses their old and young hens. Les and Phillip pair up their 20 pairs of Show Racers in the second week of February each year and they breed about 60 young birds. They clean out twice a day and bath the birds twice a week during the show season, and keep more red and mealy birds than other colours. The partners have a penning room, which is heated and birds are penned the night prior to the show. Les Petty is currently the chairman of the Midland Show Racer Society and they only have about six members who show regularly, but the standard of birds is very good. Les is also a member of the Midland Columbarium Society based in Towcester Northants, where he also shows his German Beauty homers.
Colin Reynolds of Gravesend.
The Show Secretary of the Southern Counties Show Racer Society, Colin Reynolds, has won Best in Show at most of the major shows and he tells me he has a good winning family of blues, which believe it or not, originally started from a pair of blue chequers! He has been Show Secretary for about ten seasons and says he like the standard colours of blue chequer, blue, red chequer and mealy best, although he has several Mosaics in the loft. Colin keeps 20 pairs of Show Racers in his four section ‘L’ Shaped loft and pairs them up after the BHW Blackpool Show in January. The birds are fed on a high protein mixture, which includes Beans and Maple Peas. He has been keeping Show Racers since 2004, when the SCSRS was formed and says the Societies chairman, Jim Trim, was a big help in getting him going. The Reynolds loft has won Best in Show many times through the years, including BIS at the Thame Show in 2010. Colin started in the sport as a ten year old lad, when he got his stock birds by catching ‘roadies’ in old farm buildings near his home in Morpeth, in the North East of England. He has now been in the sport over 60 years and obtained his first racing pigeons in the 1950’s from Clarke Brothers who had won the Combine in long distance races. Colin moved to Gillingham in Kent, in 1971 and enjoyed racing long distance, with the Les Stevens / Fabry pigeons for many years. He raced very successfully with 16 natural pairs, but went completely over to Show Racer in 2004. Colin Reynolds, one of the sports workers and outstanding show men!
Eric Yule & son of Aberdeen.
I have had the great pleasure of judging several times at the NEHU Show at both Peterlee and South Shields over the years, including ‘Best in Show’ a couple of times. On one occasion that I judged BIS, Eric Yule won Best Opposite Sex with a wonderful blue chequer cock. I visited Eric's Aberdeen home in 1997 and was greatly impressed by the man and his wonderful team of multi-purpose pigeons, which have excelled at racing and showing. Over the years Eric has recorded many major positions in national long-distance races, with 1996 being his best season, winning 3rd North Section Sartilly (1) SNFC (587 miles); 1st North Sect Rennes SNFC (631 miles); 1st North Sect Sartilly (2) SNFC. The loft had won Best Racer in Show at the BHW Blackpool Show twice and also twice at the RP Old Comrades Show. Eric had had outstanding success with his good Kirkpatrick red chequer cock which won Best Racer in Show at both the major shows in one season, a fantastic performance. The Red Cock has also been a good racer, winning many cards in races up to 300 miles.
Eric's, smart 20ft loft has four sections and the birds are trapped through drop holes. The main loft has a closed-in front to keep the inmates warm and dry and the nest boxes are also very secluded, with hardboard fronts. Eric began in. the sport in 1963 with a pair in a rabbit hutch and is only really interested in long-distance racing. His 40 pairs of natural racers are paired up in early February and, after rearing a pair of squeakers, are parted again. They are trained and race the first four races apart, and then are re-paired for the rest of the season, it with the long-distance nationals in mind. The old birds get three 25-mile training tosses every week through the season. The birds are hopper fed a good mixture, with extra maize being added as the' distance increases. The star bird on my visit to the Aberdeen loft was a blue cheq cock and he was a blend of several top long-distance families which run through the loft. This cock has won several cards - racing, including 1st North Section 85th open Rennes (SNFC) 631 miles, sent feeding two big youngsters. A good type as well as good performance is preferred when selecting stock birds. Stock birds are paired up the same time as the racers so their first round of eggs can be floated in the racing loft. Since my visit to his loft, Eric has won Best in Show at the RP Old Comrades Show at Doncaster. He has been 'knocking on the door' at the national shows many times and this time had hit the jackpot.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).