“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
BHW ‘Show of the Year’ Blackpool (Review).
It’s here again, the best weekend of the Show Racer calendar, the 48th British Homing World ‘Show of the Year’. The main event! Last year’s event attacked a show entry of 2,000 birds and ‘Best in Show’ over all at the Winter Gardens was won by a beautiful Show Racer silver blue cock owned by Darren Christie of Dunaghy in Northern Ireland. Darren has named his champion cock, ‘Barney’, and tells me he has had a lot of good wins previously, including ‘Best in Show’ at the INFC Show in Lisburn in 2017 and also won ‘Best in Show’ at an open show the week after the 2019 Blackpool event. He named his silver blue cock after his friend, John Barnes, who gifted him a silver blue hen which was his dam and his sire was blue cock bred through gift pigeons from Jimmy Fitzpatrick of Cambuslang in Scotland.
When I asked Darren what he looks for in a Show Racer he told me, ‘what I look for in a pigeon is a good darker eye, nice strong colour, pear shape in the hand and a good strong head. At present my birds are my own family and to create this family, I obtained birds from James Fitzpatrick, Alistair Tankard and John Barnes’. Darren was 12 years old when he started up in pigeons, the main reason being because his next door neighbour, Andy McCook, kept pigeons and he has now been in the sport 30 years. He obtained his first stock from Thomas Rouke and he gave Darren a pair of mealies to start him off and his first winner was a mealy hen. Thomas Rouke, Harry Spratt and Fitzpatrick & Fleming drew his attention on their performances in the early years. T. & K. Mawhinney of Ireland have a wonderful family of blue pied racing pigeons and they won ‘Best Racer in Show’ twice at the BHW Blackpool Show, first time winning ‘Best Racer in Show’ in 2014, both with blue pied cocks. Darren’s first successes were achieved with the Thomas Rouke and the Fitzpatrick & Fleming pigeons, when competing in the Northern Ireland Show Racer Society and his first loft was 10ft x 6ft, with two sections. He considers T. K. Mawhinney who shows Racing Pigeons to be the best fanciers in his area and he is a good friend, who gives Darren advice and help when needed. Darren was in partnership with Thomas Rouke for twelve years and they were known as Rouke and Christie. He tells novice to get pigeons from top fancier and look at different loft set up before choosing they own loft set up. Darren works as a council worker and is a part-time DJ, and told me his biggest thrill in his time as a pigeon fancier was winning ‘Best in Show’ at the BHW Blackpool Show.
The Scottish racing partnership of John McCord and Terry Turpie won ‘Supreme Champion’ at the 2019 BHW Blackpool Show with their super blue racing cock, ‘Moerbreke Blue Boy’ and to say he is very special would be an understatement. Talking to John on the phone he told me, ‘we have called the blue cock ‘Moerbeke Blue Boy’, after our good friend Stefan van Moerbeke, who sadly lost his life in a car crash on 29th April 2017 on the out skirts of Ypres in Belgium, which was his home town. How I meet Stefan was though the Ypres race, which the Scottish National Flying Club has every season. Stefan was the man who got this race point started along with Roy Seaton and I was the convoyer with the pigeons. We struck up a good friendship with him and his family who looked after us to perfection on our trips to Ypres. ‘Moerbeke Blue Boy’ was a latebred in 2016 and stood out like a sore thumb from day one, being raced lightly in 2017 and flew the Fife Federation program in 2018. His breeding is: his sire is a grandson of the late John Ellis of Wellbank near Dundee good black pied hen paired to a daughter of ‘Andy’s Boy’, winner of 1st open London & South East Classic Club Pau for Alister Muir of Abinger Hammer in Surrey. His dam is a daughter of ‘Kingdom Spirit’ raced by George and Brian Hunter of Dunfermline Fife and she is probably one of the best 500 plus mile racing pigeons about, winning two ‘Gold Awards’ with the Scottish National Flying Club and flew ten times across the English Channel in to Scotland. There has only ever been two pigeon in history to be double ‘Gold Award’ winners’.
Two previous winners of ‘Best in Show’ at BHW Blackpool Show, Harry & Tony Baugh of Hodnet and Jill & David Fisher of Bideford, enjoy some more outstanding success at the 2019 event. Tony Baugh won three classes at the 2019 show to follow his ‘Best in Show’ success in 2018. Chatting to Tony after the event in 2018 he said, that his late father, Harry, would have been thrilled to win Best in Show at Blackpool for the second time. Tony told me the cock was bred by Alistair Tankard and is now named ‘Koster King’. This beautiful pigeon had only had two shows that season, winning first at the Midlands Show Racer Society show, which qualified him for Blackpool, where he had recorded the Baugh loft’s second ‘Best in Show’ win. Jill and David Fisher won ‘Best in Show’ in 2016 and at the 2019 show they won two classes. Their ‘Best in Show’ at Blackpool in 2016 was won by a young Show Racer mosaic cock and when I spoke to Jill at that time she said, that the partners were thrill to win Best in Show and this performance was their best to date. The handsome cock was named, ‘Valentino’ and was a young bird champion in the truest sense of the word, winning: BIS South West SRS young bird show, then was first in the all winners class to be nominated in to the BSRF class at Blackpool, to win that and ‘Best in Show’.
As I previously stated, the BHW Blackpool Show has arrived again, but not for me, because I can’t attend again this year, because of my ongoing leg problems. I had to decline all my judging appointments this year again, including the Monmouth Show and my fifth time judging at my beloved BHW Blackpool Show. I was invited to be guest of honour at the Up North Combine prize presentation in Sunderland last winter and had to decline that! I’m gutted, especially not being able to judge at Blackpool for the fifth time! I can’t drive now and have been virtually housebound for months. People keep saying, ‘get your knees done’, but I have had other problems with my legs all my life, which prevents me from have them operated on. If I could I would! I’ve now have appointments to see medical specialist and hopefully we can get the problem sorted soon. I’m celebrating 50 years as a British Homing World scribe in January 2022 and let’s hope I can get back judging at Blackpool before that!
Meeting up with old friends.
Peter Taylor has been a close family friend of ours for many years and he raced his pigeon with outstanding success for many seasons to his loft which was sited in his daughter, Selina’s garden in Guildford. Everyone knows Peter Taylor, he was my ‘side kick’ when I judged at all the Society and National shows all over the UK for many years. About four years ago Peter’s family moved to Solva in Pembrokeshire to reunite with other family who lived in Wales. He is trying to race his pigeons there on the west coast of Wales, but it must be one of the worst places in the UK for Peregrine Falcons and Sparrow Hawks and is have big problems just getting a racing team going. Although I am still in constant contact with him, we haven’t seen him since he moved to Solva nearly four years ago. A few weeks ago Selina and Peter made the 300 mile drive up to Surrey to visit his sister, Margaret and they dropped in to Claygate to visit us for a couple of hours. I must say, now at 83 years old he really looked well and it was great to see them both!
Peter Taylor has been one of my best friends for over 40 years and everyone who knows him will tell you, he is a great out spoken guy, who ‘shoots from the hip’. A bit like me, there is no ‘bull’ with our Peter and he tells how it is! He has won many good positions in his life time in the pigeon racing sport, but one his best was in the month of July 2006 which saw one of the hardest Bergerac (450 miles) races of all time in the South of England! The London & South East Classic Club and S.M.T. Combine were both at the race point on the same day, so Peter sent a small team with both organizations, with outstanding success. The liberations were into a strong North East wind, on a very hot Saturday morning and there were very few birds recorded on the day. Peter recorded his good natural blue hen, ‘Selina’s Express’, on the day at 20.37hrs, and won 4th open London & South East Classic Club, with only half a dozen birds home on the day of liberation. This beautiful pigeon was bred by David Williams of Chessington from a son of Eric Cannon’s 1st open N.F.C. Sartilly winner, Champion ‘Culmer Marion’, which he purchased as a youngster at Eric’s dispersal sale in 2000, and a Janssen hen. This mating certain clicked, as Peter had a full brother to ‘Selina’s Express, which won: 71st open L.& S.E.C.C. Guernsey, 63rd open N.F.C. Guernsey as a young bird in 2002 and he was called ‘Orlando’s Express’. ‘Selina’s Express’ was sent to the Bergerac Classic sitting four day old eggs and she had some good previous racing form, winning: 2003: 87th open L&SECC Guernsey, 2005: 31st open L&SEC. Pau. A wonderful hen! Peter’s bit of bad luck on that very hard Bergerac weekend was he got a pigeon from the SMT Combine race at 08.15hrs on the Sunday morning from Bergerac and would have won the Guildford club by two hours, but the pigeon had no race rubber on her leg. This game little dark chequer hen, named ‘The Scotch Hen’, was bred by the late Jamieson & Simpson of Cleghorn in Scotland and she was sent to the SMT Combine race sitting four day old eggs. She previously scored in L&SECC, being clocked on the day from Bergerac and in 2005 returned from a race with cat gut tight around her foot, and lost her toe nail.
Just before Christmas we had a visit from our good friends, Ced and Clive Allwright, who drove the 90 miles up to Claygate from their home in Ashford in Kent to pick up a spare hen I had. The father and son partners had purchased a chequer cock very similar way bred and loaned the blue pied hen to breed with him for a year. The same as Peter, I keep in regular contact with Ced and Clive, but have not seen them for several years and must say the two lads looked really well.
Ced has been in the sport for over 70 years, starting during the war years with the help of a friend who was a local National Pigeon Service rep. His father was an outstanding fancier in London and specialised in long-distance racing, winning many premier positions in the London N.R. Combine. In turn his father was a great fancier, making Clive the fourth generation of pigeon fanciers in the Allwright family and Ced has racing diplomas dating back to 1912. For many years Ced flew on the north road in partnership with his late wife, Vera, and says that she was a great worker with the pigeons. She clocked in many winners from the long distance, when Ced was at work. Ced has been an all-round bird man for most of his life and for many years had a big bird room at the top of his garden where he bred prize Canaries and foreign Finches. On my many visits to the Allwright’s Kent home, I took great delight in looking around Ced’s bird room, when they were breeding.
Ced and Clive have won the National Flying Club three times and I first met them when I drove down to their home in Ashford to do an article on them in the BHW after their first win in 1998. The partners won the NFC Young Bird National for the first time from Pontorson (6,469 birds) in 1998 with their champion Haelterman blue pied hen, Champion 'Starlett', and both the parents where bred by Frank and Anne Tasker, from their fantastic 'Filmstar' bloodlines. The National Flying Club ended the 2003 season with a brilliant Young Bird National from Falaise in northern France, when members entered 6,175 birds and enjoyed excellent returns. This National proved to be a great delight for me personally, as my good friends, Ced and Clive, won the young bird race and recorded their second NFC win. The father and son partnership sent 15 youngsters to the National, recording their first bird, a 'darkness' blue chequer cock, now named ‘Falaise Supreme’, at 11.28, flying 164 miles. They topped up a brilliant day by recording the best five young birds and best old hen, by 30 minutes, in their local clock station. Ced and Clive's old bird finishing up 7th Open in the Old Hens National result, this hen being clocked approx. 18 minutes after the Young Bird National winner.
The 2007 season saw Ced and Clive finish up by winning their third National Flying Club race. At that time this must have been something of a record to win the NFC National three times and I wouldn’t think many fanciers have achieved its equal in past years? The Allwright partners won the NFC Guernsey Old Hen National in 2007 and to make it an extra special day also recorded 9th open Young Bird National. Their third NFC National winner was their champion yearling blue chequer hen, ‘Vera’, and she was bred down from the best of De Klak Janssen and Jim Biss bloodlines. A really great pigeon! ‘Vera’, named after Ced’s dear late wife, had three races as a young bird including the very hard L&SECC Yelverton event and after several short races in 2007 was sent to Guernsey sitting due to hatch. Clive trained eight old hens with the young birds and picked out four for the NFC Old Hens National, with an outstanding result. Ced and Clive’s 9th open NFC Young Bird National winner was a game little Tasker / Haelterman blue hen named, ‘Amy’, and she was sent to Guernsey feeding a small youngster. The partners were very proud that ‘Amy’ was the first pigeon into Kent from the NFC Guernsey National and won ‘The Vera Allwright Memorial Cup’, which they presented after Vera’s very sad passing three years earlier. Ced and Clive enjoyed another wonderful season in 2008, winning several firsts in the local club and Federation, but the highlight for the partners was recording 3rd Section E, 3rd open NFC St Malo (Old Hens) National, and coming so close to winning their fourth 1st open NFC National. Their 2008 ‘ace’ pigeon was their Jim Biss dark chequer natural hen, ‘Dark Malo’, and she had several channel races on her build up to her NFC success including BICC events and the NFC Tarbes (550 miles) race.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)