“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT
Mike & Theresa Horner of Alton
One of Mike and Theresa Horner’s red hens is one of my favourite Show Racers and that is reflected in how many times I have personally carded her in Classic and National shows. I first became aware of the wonderful red hen, ‘Cilla’, when she won Best in Show RPRA Southern Region Show for her owners, Mike and Theresa Horner, in 2007. The day after the Southern Region Show, Mike showed at the Southern Counties SR Society show held at Gravesend and ‘Cilla’ won Best Opposite Sex, being beaten by her half-brother, who won Best in Show. Mike and Theresa won Best Opposite Sex at the 2008 RPRA Southern Region Show with their champion red hen, ‘Cilla’. Mike tells me she has won 69 cards in premier shows, including 33 firsts and both her parents were very successful breeding reds, with her sire being obtained from Colin Carter in 2003, and her dam from Tony Williams. Champion ‘Cilla’ won: BIS RPRA Southern Region, BOS RPRA Southern Region Show, BIS Southern Counties SRS Open Show, BOS Southern Counties SRS Open Show, BIS CHASE Charity Show, BOS CHASE Charity Show, BIS Thame & Oxford Open Show, BIS South Coast Championship Show, BIS Reading ‘Gold Cup’ Show and was five times best red at the Southern Counties SRS Shows. She was bred in 2004 and no longer lay eggs, but has bred many winners, including card winners at the BHW Blackpool Show. What a fantastic hen!
I first met Mike Horner back in November 2006, when he first won Best in Show at the R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show and I was there at the High Wycombe event judging. To say he was over joyed at his performance would be an under statement. This was his best performance ever with his Show Racers and he was over the moon! His team for the Southern Region Show were exceptionally good that year and in the light of that he fancied his chances. Mike and Theresa Horner won Best in Show (645 birds) with their four year old Mosaic show racer cock, ‘Barny’, and he has plenty of previous good form, having won in the show pen twelve times. He won Class 7. (Coloured Cock or Hen) at High Wycombe and also lifted two trophies, ‘Best Show Racer’ and ‘Best in Show’. He was a brilliant stock cock, breeding many winners including being the sire of ‘Bella’, winner of eight firsts and grand sire of ‘Misty’, winner of Supreme Champion SCSRS Show. A fantastic Show Racer cock!
Mike has been in pigeons, in one form or the other, all his life and is from a racing pigeon family, with his father and grandfathers being pigeon racers. He had racing pigeons up to the late 1970’s and flew in the Godalming & Dist. F.C. (Surrey Federation) with all the old greats of that time including, Stan Edgington, Paul Bridgewater, Alec Martin, Ron & Chris Cox and Eric Cannon. In those days he got lot of help from Pat McFadden, the secretary of the Godalming club at that time and raced the Channing of Wales family of pigeons. Years ago Mikes also kept a few Show Racers obtained from Bill Meader of London. The Horner racing loft had some good success, mostly from the longer channel races, as he flew on the natural system. He started up with the Show Racer properly on marring Theresa in 1980, with birds from Tony Williams, which were reds and mealies, and later some stock from Mr. & Mrs. Colin Carter of Churchdown. Mike’s latest champion, ‘Barny’, was bred from these original bloodlines.
He is a member of the Devon & Cornwall Show Racer Society, the Southern Counties Show Racer Society based at Gravesend and says he never missed a show for years at the Midland Show Racer Society, but it has now mover up to Birmingham and it’s to far to travel. His main show loft is a two section 18ft x 8ft structure, which houses his 32 bird show team and has a thick wood shavings litter on the floor. The few pairs of stock birds he owns are kept in a smaller loft and all are paired up in late January, producing about 30 young birds each season. Mike likes to split the show pairs up again in late May or early in June to get the moult going, ready for the show season the following winter. His nest boxes are removable and are taken out of the loft at the time of the birds being parted and replaced with ‘V’ perches, which the birds sit on through the show season. The birds are fed on a heavy racing mixture called ‘Cranleigh A1’, which he gets from Des McFadden’s ‘Pet’s Pantry’ at Cranleigh and
Mike gives them a conditioner every Sunday morning. Grit and Minerals are in front of the birds all the time. When Mike brings in a new stock bird he looks for a good type and likes a bigger bird in the hand. The birds never fly out and are given a bath at least once a week, with bath being moved from section to section every day. Mike is a busy self employed builder and hasn’t got the time for special preparation on his birds in the week leading up to a big show, but says his system has got a regular routine, which is the same week in and week out. His present day Show Racer family are bred down from the original Tony Williams / Colin Carter pigeons and has added a few blue chequers from Les Petty. Mike and Theresa travel around a lot judging at the National and Society shows every year and he says his wife is very helpful with his hobby. His favourite colours are reds and mealies and Mike told me the competition on the Show Racer scene is getting better every season and it’s getting harder and harder to win. His birds get about 15 shows in a season and Mike maintains the Welsh boys, Ron McCarthy and the late Norman Perry, were the fanciers to beat in the open National shows. Mike told me the fanciers on the Show Racer scene are a smashing bunch of lads and he really enjoys their company!
Some of Mike and Theresa’s best birds are: ‘Princess’ a red hen bred in 2000 and she was one of the top pigeon in the Alton loft winning fourteen firsts in Society shows. Mike says this grand ol’ hen is well past showing now, but has producing some outstanding young birds. ‘Blue Boy’ was a blue cock bred in 2004 and he won eight Society firsts to his credit. ‘Freddie’ a mealy cock also bred in the 2004 season and he had won six firsts in the Show Society events. Another beautiful blue cock that graced the Horner’s loft was ‘Cassius’ and he won twelve firsts in the show pen and two of them at SCSRS Shows.
Every January we all looked forward to the CHASE Charity Show and Auction, held at the Horsham YMCA Football Club and were put on by the Horsham Pigeon Club, under the leadership of Show Secretaries, Gordon and Delia Marsh and in later years, Clive Turner. Mike and Theresa Horner won BIS in the Show Racer classes several times and I can remember one of the wins with their champion red hen, ‘Cilla’, who had at that time previously won BIS at the 2007 RPRA Southern Region Show and then BOS at the 2008 RPRA show. What a fantastic hen, that went on and won everything in front of her after that!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT