“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
South Coast Federation Bordeaux Race 2018.
The South Coast Federation held its longest old bird race from Bordeaux in the 2018 season and like most of the racing from France this year, it turned out to be a very hard fly for the birds competing. The Federation liberated with the Sussex / Surrey Amalgamation at 06.00hrs in a south east wind. I was a convoyer for nine seasons and visited the Bordeaux site four times, and must say, this site must rate as one of the best I visited in France. It is very spacious and has full facilities for the pigeons and convoyers. This site is the main lorry drivers stopover car park in Bordeaux and has a truckers hotel and petrol station, so it’s easy to water the birds and for the convoyers to get a meal and shower. The Bordeaux site is very near to a river and, like Pau, is prone to early morning mist. There were reports that the site was getting overcrowded as it is the main trucker stop, but on the four occasions I have been there, there were only ourselves and the British Barcelona Club on site. We always went to Bordeaux in July, which is usually the start of the holiday season in France and lorries are not allowed on the road at weekends, so that might be the reason why the car park was nearly empty when we were there. When we went to Bordeaux in the 2002 season we were attacked by Spanish gipsies, but nevertheless I think this is one the best sites that we visited. Bordeaux on the west coast of France is a good 450 miles fly for the fanciers in the south east corner of England.
The first ten in the Sussex / Surrey Amalgamation Bordeaux result were: 1) Eddie Jordan 1126: 2) Mr. & Mrs. Vince Durrant & son 1111: 3) Chris Slight & Trevor Taylor 1109: 4) T. Rose 1072: 5) Mick Tuck 1012: 6) Wayne Steptoe 982: 7) Karen Brown & A. C. Wickenden 964: 8) Richard & Ken O’Connor 960: 9) M. & J. Adcock & son 956: 10) E. Figg 946.
Eddie Jordan of Guildford had a ‘flyer’ on the day from Bordeaux and won the Godalming club, South Coast Federation and Sussex / Surrey Amalgamation by 15 ypm clear. Eddie was ‘over the moon’ with his performance and told me that he sent eight pigeons to the race and his game blue hen, ‘Shepherd’s Delight’ was clocked after 11 hours and 25 minutes on the wing, being sent sitting eight day old eggs. This two year old hen was bred by another Godalming club member, Ray Hammond and was bred down from Ray’s Bergerac SMT Combine winner; ‘Simply Wonderful’ and Wilf Reed’s, Champion ‘Endurance’, winner of 1st open BBC Palamos. Eddie has enjoyed a good 2018 racing season and early on recorded 3rd South Coast Federation Messac with his good chequer pied cock, ‘Don’s Boy’. This outstanding yearling was sent to Messac on ten day old eggs and was bred from Jim Biss pigeons, obtained from Eddie’s good friend, Don Bird. Two weeks after the Bordeaux race the Godalming club had it first young bird race from Blandford (80 miles) and the members had their 260 birds liberated with the South Coast Federation in a south west wind. Eddie Jordan was up at the top of the result sheet again, recording 1st club by 14 ypm clear! Eddie has been a member of the Godalming club for 35 years and maintains the club and its members are some of the very best in the South of England, including Mick Tuck, Vince Durrant and Ray Hammond.
Eddie is a carpenter by trade and loved working on the big building sites, but after some bad health problems and a big operation, turned his hand to gardening and grass cutting before retiring about five years ago. He is from a little village seven miles from Belfast in Northern Ireland and has kept pigeons from a very young age. He moved to Guildford in Surrey in 1969 and obtained his first racing pigeons from Richard Nicholas, winning his first race with a young bird. He tells me he has no interest in the ETS system and still enjoys clocking in his pigeons with the rubbers and the clock. Eddie enjoys visiting the big National shows in the winter months, but although he supports the Godalming open shows, he has no interest in showing his birds. He loves all racing, long and short distance, but especially enjoys racing his young birds.
The Jordan old birds are raced on the natural system and Eddie races ten pairs, which are paired up in mid-February. His 14ft racing loft has two sections, ‘bob’ wire trapping and a straw litter is used on the floor, but he scrapes the perch and nest boxes every day. The birds are fed on an ‘Irish’ mixture, with extra tic beans being added for the longer channel races and the only thing ever put in the drinking water is garlic. Most of his training is from Butser Hill (30 miles), but will have a toss or two off the south coast for the channel events and the young birds will get a couple of training tosses from Winchester. Eddie tells me he likes his candidates sitting 12 days on eggs for the races from France. His six pairs of stock birds are housed in half of an 18ft loft, with the other half being used for corn and baskets storage. The breeders are paired a bit later than the racers, depending on the weather and are also fed on the same ‘Irish’ mixture. Eddie is not a believer in the eye sign method, but when bringing in new breeders looks for a good 500 mile pedigree and likes good handling and balance. The main families kept are Jan Aarden and the Jim Biss pigeons obtained from his good friend, Don Bird of Maidenhead. He breeds 50 young birds to race every year and adopts a very natural approach with them, with no ‘darkness’ and racing to the perch. The babies are allowed to pair up if they want to for racing incentive, but only to sit ‘pot’ eggs and never allowed to rear youngsters. Eddie is a very hard trainer with his young birds, with lots of tosses through to Winchester (45 miles) and then they fly the programme, including the NFC Young Bird National.
The Godalming partnership of Vince, Sue and Jack Durrant recorded 2nd Godalming club, 2nd South Coast Federation, 2nd Sussex / Surrey Amalgamation from Bordeaux with their champion widowhood red chequer pied cock, ‘Jack’s Boy’. In the 2017 season this fantastic three year old cock won 1st club, 1st South Coast Federation, 1st Surrey / Sussex Amalgamation Messac (250 miles) and now in 2018 2nd Amalgamation Bordeaux. A brilliant achievement! ‘Jack’s Lad’ was bred in the stock loft from a cock that came from the late Eric Pearson of Godalming. Eric passed away a couple of years ago and was a life time member of the Godalming club, winning many premier prizes, including 1st SMT Combine and the ‘Spanish Diploma’ with the BBC. Nice to see Eric’s line still winning through ‘Jack’s Lad’! Jack Durrant tells me the Messac Amalgamation winner is a firm favourite at their loft in Surrey and he won the race by 20 ypm.
Whenever the Durrant family compete with their pigeon they are successful and the 2017 season was particular outstanding for them, with the highlights being 1st club, 1st South Coast Federation, 1st Surrey / Sussex Amalgamation Messac (250 miles), 2nd section E, 5th open NFC Tarbes Grand National (549 miles), 2nd club, 7th South Coast Federation, 8th Surrey / Sussex Amalgamation Bordeaux (433 mils). The Durrant partners sent a small team of pigeons to the NFC Tarbes Grand National (549 miles) in 2017 and recorded their super blue pied hen, ‘Vince’s Pride’ on the day of liberation. She was one of only five NFC pigeons clocked on the day and won 2nd section E, 5th open. A wonderful performance! She was also bred in the stock loft from a grandson of Eric Cannon’s Champion ‘Culmer Gold’ and a hen bred by Ray Hammond, which Jack purchased in the Godalming Breeder / Buyer sale. Ray’s hen won the ‘Futurity Race’ before going into the Durrant’s sock loft and on the weekend of the 2017 NFC Tarbes race another daughter off her won an inland race. To finish off a very successful 2017 old bird season Vince, Sue and son, Jack sent a team to Godalming club’s longest race from Bordeaux (433 miles), when the membership only clocked five pigeons on the day of liberation. The Durrant family clocked their good blue cock, ‘Blue Twin’, on the day, to win 2nd club, 7th South Coast Federation, 8th Surrey / Sussex Amalgamation. This game cock was bred from an Alasdair Muir cock and a hen from the loft of Ray Hammond, and Jack tells me he won 1st club Salisbury in the 2016 racing season. Pigeon racing at its best!
I have known Vince Durrant for nearly 40 years, with us being first introduced by our late great friend, Eric Cannon of Wormley, in the early 1980’s and Vince was winning big things with his pigeons then and is still winning with them today. These days Vince has three partners in the form of his wife, Sue, and sons, Jack and Sam, who are very instrumental in the lofts outstanding success in recent years. Vince and Sue have two sons; both are interested in the pigeons, Jack is a keen footballer and works in the meat industry, and Sam who was recently resident at University in Portsmouth. Vince tells me that pigeon racing has become very much a family sport, with everybody taking a great interest and involvement. The Durrant family enjoy all aspects of the sport, whether it is sprint or long distance racing and are always looking forward to the next race. Jack is a major part of the pigeon partnership and his specific interest is in National, Classic and long distance racing in general. Jack tells me that some of their best performances in recent seasons have been: 2009: 1st open BICC (old hens), 2010: 1st open L&SECC Guernsey (young bird), 3rd open SMT Combine Wadebridge (beaten on a decimal), 42nd open Tarbes (540 miles) and taking the first eight positions in a race in the very strong Godalming RPC using a conventional timing clock, and not ETS. The Durrant loft has won the SMT Combine twice and the Federation many times through the years.
The Durrant family have three really smart lofts set in the Surrey country side, not far from Hindhead; the main old bird racing loft is 42ft x 6ft with open door trapping, the stock birds are housed in a 15ft x 6ft loft with an aviary and the young birds are raced to a two section 18ft loft. The Durrant’s use conventional widowhood nest box front, with the front blanked out with ply to give the inmates peace and seclusion. Vince told me the birds are cleaned out regularly and they use a light floor dressing. The partners like racing every Saturday at all distances and race systems, natural and widowhood. The racers are paired up at various times starting in mid January and finishing with the long distance natural pigeons in early March. The partners have 32 cocks on the widowhood system and these are trained well up to the first Federation race, after which they get regular exercise around the loft, and the odd mid-week toss during racing to keep them fit. The sprint widowhood racers are broken down from Saturday to Tuesday, with cocks required for the longer continental races not being broke down at any time and the hens are shown to the racing cocks on marking night. The widowers are fed twice a day in their nest boxes and the sprinting cocks never raced beyond 300 miles and are kept inland, with the long distance cocks going through to Tarbes in the South of France, and these racers are never re-paired for the main event. The 24 pairs of natural racers (jealousy system) are kept only for the long distance, being set up sitting ten day old eggs for Tarbes and these birds are trained two or three times a week off the south coast, with Hayling Island being of the favourite training spots. The main families kept are Eric Cannon, Mick Tuck, Alistair Muir, Ron Dodd and Ray Hammond for the long distance events, with premier quality Janssen / Braspennings pigeons obtained from the late Cyril Luxton of Guildford for the sprint races. In recent years the Gaby Vandenabeele family from Mark & Dickie Evans have been introduced and these have proved very successful at the Godalming loft.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).