“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
David Coulter of Maghaberry.
The NIPA in Northern Ireland held its annual St. Malo (450 miles) National on the same weekend as the NFC Tarbes Grand National in the 2018 season and as everyone knows it turned out to be one the hardest weekends of the year for pigeon racing. Members of the NIPA sent 1,841 birds and only seven game pigeons were clocked in on the day of liberation. I think is fair to say that racing pigeons out of France into Northern Ireland is one of the hardest routs in the UK and to get these seven pigeon home on the Friday was a fantastic achievement! I got a phone call from David Coulter of Maghaberry in Northern Ireland on the Sunday to tell me the good news that he clocked on the day from the St. Malo National to win 2nd open and the blue chequer hen was bred from two stock birds bred at the Keith & Betty Mott’s loft in Claygate. I really enjoy those phone calls and Betty and I would like to thank David for taking the trouble to let us know. When I asked the delighted David about the St. Malo National, he told me, ‘the blue chequer hen is now named, ‘Charlotte’, after our second granddaughter and she was bred from ‘Foxwarren Contraband’, a daughter of Champion ‘Foxwarren Fred’ and ‘Lady Tuff Nut’ when mated to, ‘Young Expected’, a son of the ‘Bourges Pair’, ‘Northern Expected’ and ‘Northern Star’. ‘Charlotte’ was not raced as a young bird, but was lightly trained. In the 2017 season as a yearling she had three inland races and a Talbenny (195 miles), plus a Penzance 305 (miles). In 2018 ‘Charlotte’ had three inland races, one Talbenny race, where she won 1st club doing 1422ypm velocity. She was then being set up for the Bude race two weeks after, but the NIPA cancelled and had an inland race due to weather conditions. After the birds are on the channel I don’t like bringing them back into Ireland, so her next race was the St. Malo National and in between she was flown at home one hour morning and night, seven days a week, not missing a day. She was sent to the St. Malo National (450 miles) sitting 14 day old eggs and after her near 13 hour fly, was clocked on the day of liberation looking as ‘fit as a butchers dog’. My wife, Siobhan, and my granddaughter, Olivia, are both very interested in the pigeons and like to spend time with the birds. It was such a hard race and my family and I are highly delighted with the result’.
The Coulter loft has won many club firsts inland, but these are some of David’s race results from France in the last few years: 2014: 82nd open Quimper (458 miles) 1108birds, 2016: 42nd, 64th open Quimper (1134 birds): 2017: 8th open Lamballe (446 miles), 2015: 164th open St Alloustre (479 miles) 2833 birds, 2017: 131st, 184th open St Alloustre 2546 birds, 2015: 46th, 92nd open St Malo (450 miles) 1477 birds, 2016: 32nd open St Malo (450 miles) 1841 bird, 2018: 2nd open NIPA St. Malo National (450 miles)1835 birds.
I asked David how long had he been in the sport and he told me, ‘I was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland and pigeons were always in our family from as long as I can remember. I’m 54 years old and have had my pigeon now around 50 years, and have raced at my present address for 12 years. I started here in Maghaberry with pigeons from Harold Elliott from Lisburn, who was a well-known and respected fancier who timed pigeons from France almost every year for over 40 years. Sadly he passed away last year (2017) and his wonderful English Channel racers were the old Irish pigeons, tried and tested. They would be the base of my pigeons today, with the three pairs from Keith and Betty Mott of Claygate, and a son and daughter from the ‘Kings Cup’ winning pigeons, ‘Mowo’ for Maurice Wilkinson and ‘Riverside Red’ for Gorielly & sons. I have eight stock pairs in total, including a pair of Ronnie Williamsons pigeons from Northern Ireland. I started going to the pigeon club with my dad when I was a small boy and that was the now defunct Largymore Invitation club in Lisburn. I now race in Glenavy Homing Pigeon Society’.
The Coulter loft is a wooden structure, with the ventilation being one of the most important features and has vents along the front, with both sides and back open at the roof level. David said, ‘my loft is nothing special to look at, but it has plenty of ventilation and is dry. The loft is 16ft long, one 10ft section with 12 nest boxes for the natural racers and a 6ft section for my young birds’. All the birds are raced on the natural system and were paired 12 days later this year, on the last week in March, but would normally be paired on the 17th March, with racing from France in mind. The feeding is ‘Irish’ mixture, with the hopper of tic beans, maple peas and tares, plus ‘Homoform’ and ‘P40’ pellets. The birds are not wormed, but on the Blackpool Show weekend, every year the food and water is taken away and after three days any worms are clear. David treated for canker, cocci and respires before racing starts and then again three weeks before the French races. When looking for stock birds to bring in, David dose a bit of reading and research for a well-tested family of birds that are turning in for different fanciers, then he goes back to the well and tries to purchase as close to possible to the main pigeons. He says he is not into eyesign and has never studied it and doesn’t really care to. He likes an eye to be sparkling, which he believes shows good health. He maintains he wouldn’t pair two eyes the same together, that’s the only rule he has and he doesn’t really know why! As he doesn’t usually race young birds he has not tried the ‘darkness’ system, but doesn’t believe we should not force nature, so it’s not really for him. The birds are cleaned out twice a day during racing and given fresh water at the same time. He sometimes use garlic and cider vinegar, also honey in the drinker during the summer months.
David normally keeps 20 pairs of racers, but in the 2018 season had 26 pair, hence holding back a couple of weeks before pairing up. He breeds 40 young birds and doesn’t normally race them in the year of their birth, but the yearlings race out to across the Irish Sea, to Penzance (305 miles). When I asked David if he sent yearling to France, he said, ‘I don’t normally send yearlings to France, but tried one last year and was 8th open from Lamballe (446 miles). So what do I know? My biggest thrills to date was obviously this result, but also timing my good hen, ‘Olivia’. She was named after our first granddaughter, Olivia and was three times in the prizes from France, twice from St. Malo (450 miles) and once from Quimper (458 miles). She was retired to stock last year at seven years old and the yearling that won 8th open Lamballe was bred direct from her. Her full sister won 32nd open and another sister bred a section winner for Sam English in Lisburn, from St Malo’.
David has a very limited time with his pigeons and works in a local hydraulics company, and leaving home 07.15hrs every morning, returning 17.15hrs in the evening, 5 day week. The racing birds receive 3 or 4 tosses before their first race, which will not always be in the first week, then are flown around home with very little training done after that. They go to the short races to build up fitness and stamina, and a couple of weeks before the French races, they would receive few more training tosses. Dave races in the Glenavy club, and told me, ‘although there is not a lot of members, it’s very competitive club, and if you can get a bird before Ian Gibb and son his son, Peter, you are never far down the section list’.
David says he has made plenty of mistakes through the years, including not keeping enough of that old family of birds intact and trying crosses to improve speed, without any real success. The old family of pigeons are the ones that turning up in good time, year after year! David maintains the moult in pigeons is very important and his birds are fed heavy protein all year round, and are never broken down, so never have any problems with the moult. Feeding like this will never win a sprint race! He tells novices, ‘anyone thinking of starting up in the sport must decide what you want before you get the birds, be it sprint or distance, and approach the fanciers in your area that are winning out of turn. Ask them for a couple of late breds and if he is a good pigeon man he shouldn’t refuse! Don’t spend money in sales with pigeon pedigrees as long as your arm, and don’t try to run before you can walk. Be patient and try to read and learn as much as possible’.
The breeding of ‘Charlotte’, the 2nd open NIPA St. Malo National winner is the very best of two the ‘legends’ of long distance racing in the UK, Eric Cannon and Brian Denney. Her dam was the blue white flight hen, ‘Foxwarren Contraband’ and we bred her from Champion ‘Foxwarren Fred’ and the great, ‘Lady Tuff Nut’. Champion ‘Foxwarren Fred’ was a red chequer cock bred by us at Claygate, and he has proved to be one of the best 550 mile stock cocks we have ever owned. He was bred from the very best of Eric Cannon’s wonderful long distance family and was a grandson of ‘Culmer Sam’. ‘Foxwarren Fred’ is the sire of many premier long distance champions including: 1st Federation Bourges (581 miles), 2nd Federation Bourges, 2nd Federation Bourges, 2nd Federation Bourges, 3rd Federation Bourges, 5th Federation Bourges, 8th Federation Bourges, plus 2nd Amalgamation Bourges and is grand sire of 1st, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 4th Federation, 1st, 1st Amalgamation Bourges (581 miles) in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He is now grandsire to ‘Charlotte’ winner of 2nd open NIPA St. Milo National (450 miles) in the 2018 racing season. ‘Lady Tuff Nut’ brilliant stock hen bred by Brian Denney and daughter of Champion ‘Tuff Nut’, winner of 1st section K, 5th open NFC Pau (738 miles), 1st North East 700 Mile Club, 2nd RPRA UK Long Distance Champion, plus other prizes from the long distance. This wonderful champion is probably one of the best all round long distance cocks in the UK, being the sire, g.sire and g.g.sire of many premier 750 mile racers. The Champion of Champion! We have donated several youngster from this hen to charity sales and a late bred was sold at the BHW Blackpool Show Charity Auction for £740, and another in the NFC Phone-In Auction for £600. ‘Lady Tuff Nut’ is the breeder of Federation winners and the long distance ‘master’, Brian Denney has had young birds back off this wonderful stock hen! The sire of ‘Charlotte’ was the blue chequer ‘Young Expected’, bred by us in 2015 and he is a son of the ‘Bourges Pair’, ‘Northern Expected’ and ‘Northern Star’. The champion long distance racing cock, ‘Northern Expected’, recorded 1st club, 1st Federation, 1st New North Amalgamation and 8th North of England Homing Union open result (2,355 birds) in the 2013 season for Fred Dickson of Cramlington. This wonderful round about cock flew Bourges (581 miles) three times and won 1st, 3rd and 4th Federation and was clocked on the day of liberation. A fantastic achievement! ‘Northern Expected’ is a son of Fred’s Champion ‘Five Times Bourges Cock’ which was killed by a Sparrowhawk early in 2013. ‘The Five Times Bourges Cock’ was sire of two 1st Amalgamation winners from Bourges and was a son of Champion ‘Foxwarren Fred’. ‘Northern Star’ was also raced by Fred Dickson and only flew Bourges (581 miles) once and won 1st club, 2nd Federation in the 2012 season, being clocked on the day of liberation and is a daughter of the champion Eric Cannon stock pair, Champion ‘Foxwarren Fred’ and ‘Northern Producer’. This wonderful hen is the sister to several premier 580 mile racers, including 1st Federation Bourges (581 miles) and is half-sister to the ‘Five Times Bourges Cock’, winner of 3rd, 5th, 8th Federation Bourges and sire of 1st, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 4th Federation, 1st, 1st Amalgamation Bourges. Sire of ‘Northern Star’ is ‘Foxwarren Fred’, one the best 550 mile stock cocks we have ever owned and bred from the very best of Eric Cannon’s wonderful long distance family.
‘When it rains, it pours’.
In the week after David Coulter’s phone call I had three more fanciers phone me, telling me about more winning pigeons bred from Keith & Betty Mott stock birds. They say, when it rains, it pours! Two of our best friends, Steve and Tessa Howard of Guildford recently won 2nd and 33rd open BICC Poitiers and the sire of ‘Gee Force’, their 33rd open winner was bred by us. The cock was another son of the ‘Bourges Pair’, ‘Northern Expected’ and ‘Northern Star’. The premier fancier, Dave Johnson of St Austell in Cornwall recently won 12th open BICC Cholet (292 miles) and the dam of that game pigeon was bred by us in Claygate. She was bred around the champion breeder, ‘Foxwarren Fred’. Terry Haley of Watford has been one of our closest friends since the early 1970’s and he always has a couple of youngsters off us every year, with one the ‘Watford Wizard’, going on to win 1st Combine Aycliffe. Terry had a youngster, ‘04367’, off ‘Foxwarren Renegade’ and ‘Thelma’ in the 2017 season, which has gone on and proved quite handy. ‘Foxwarren Renegade’ is yet another son of the ‘Bourges Pair’ and ‘Thelma’ was bred by Brian Denney and is a daughter of Champion ‘Brian’s Blue’, the NCF record holder, being clocked at 748 miles from Tarbes on the day of liberation. As a young bird ‘04367’ flew some very hard channel races and was then turned 290 mile north road to Berwick and returned home in a very strong south wind. In the 2018 season, as a yearling, she had five hard channel races and was in the clock five times, to record: 2nd club, 5th Inter Counties Federation (899 birds), 9th UBI Combine (1,263 birds) Carentan and was first bird on the clock from the longest old bird race, to with 15th Inter Counties Federation Poitiers. Well done to all these fanciers!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).