Views and News from Les J Parkinson
Friday morning 28th Feb I received an early call from a fancier telling me that the RPRA were following up on one of my suggestions that I have been pushing for the last 5yrs or so. At first, I didn’t know what he was on about because I hadn’t seen the BHW, I then saw the two page add “Flying Back 2 Pigeons” which brought me up to date. I say 5yrs, it was about that time I started suggesting to many including the RPRA that they should contact past fanciers because they were the ones most likely to add numbers to the sport. In my job I see fanciers coming back into racing pigeons each year after they have seen their own family leave home and are looking for something to fill their time. This was what started me writing about getting fanciers back in the sport in my notes a few years ago. Only last year, I sent a 2-page letter to the RPRA about the way forward and heard nothing back which surprised me. Anyway, I have an even better idea which if taken up would need to have the right criteria to make it work. I have mentioned it to a few including my bank manager who thinks it’s a very good sound idea and has suggested a way of doing it, but we shall have to wait and see.
As I carry on sorting the boxes of material out, I came across the 1997 booklet for the Three counties Combine when I was Secretary. There were 28 pages of adverts which raised good money to support the Combine. I also found some Mid Cheshire Fed results from the 90’s when there were some good clubs about. Middlewich sent 449 to Worcester, Rudheath sent 317 to the same race. Crewe Premier 521 to Wincanton. Nowadays these clubs don’t often go much above 100 to the land races and only then if they are lucky, they used to send more than that across the channel. Some clubs are no longer with us, Sandbach, Knutsford, Weaverham. A result from nearly 30yrs ago saw just a few still racing their pigeons today, Eric Taylor, Mellor Bros, Kenny Burke, Tommy Hulme & Son, Anthony Evans (K Evans & Son) plus we have Mark Smith, son of Roy from the Smith Bros partnership. It’s always interesting looking back at results to see just how long some fanciers have bene racing and winning. Also, the few who have never been big winners but continue to race their pigeons, shows how dedicated they are to their hobby.
Winners and losers
In many sports there are always winners and losers, some win more than the average because of the position they are in, that is always going to be the case. There are all sorts of things we could look at; in the sports world you need time to train and the ambition and drive to do it in the first place. You also need things to go your way to win with pigeons or in fact anything in life. Take the shambles that they call VAR in football, the system probably looks good on paper but, it is overused and spoils the game. On a similar basis, I was watching the first T20 cricket match between England and South Africa. Eoin Morgan was given out but in the first shot they showed the bowlers foot when down being over the line. They then slowed the shot's down so that the bowler’s foot was not over the line by a millimetre, so the batsman was given out. Like VAR there was a minute showing that it was a no-ball but, the camera worked its magic in favour of South Africa. I think anyone who saw the initial shots of the foot going down could see that this was a clear case of the camera being manipulated so that Eoin Morgan was out, to me that’s cheating. Going back to the VAR system, I was watching one match when the VAR line showed an elbow an inch over the VAR line, but the rest of the players body was not, so goal disallowed. There are a lot of points lost through VAR and those millimetres and that will result in teams being relegated. Like the cameras with the dismissal of Morgan, the VAR system in football can be manipulated by the addition of an extra slide either forwards or backwards. In athletics there are countries who have the money to develop drugs so that their athletes have an advantage, because in the early stages those drugs are not detectable. Nothing to do with racing pigeon’s but I am just pointing out that no matter what type of competition you look at there is always an advantage somewhere along the line.
There has and always will be a lot to be said about the location where pigeon lofts are situated. One thing is for sure they are located at the fancier’s home address or on an allotment but never far away. Position does help to win the day but is there an alternative to make racing pigeons have an even balance. No matter what angle you look at pigeon racing from it is never always going to be fair. However, that is life and we do like a challenge and getting pigeons to win against the odds is always going to see a competitive streak in any person who participates in competition of any sort not just pigeon racing. We can train all we like but pigeons are partly directed by the weather conditions on the day of liberation. As the saying goes, “The wise ‘person’ lives in the east” As we know that old saying does not always come out on top because we have all seen top class fanciers winning against the odds, that’s why they are top fanciers in the first place. I don’t know if it has changed but when we were last in Malta it was first on the clock who was the winner. The difference in Malta is it is only a small island and if the pigeons are 1 degree offline, they can overshoot and end up coming back into Malta or missing the Island altogether. This may seem a strange system to some, but all areas will have their good and bad days. The point I was starting to make was, should there be breaking points to areas to even things up. This is something that has been talked about on and off for many years. Could there be such a thing as a breaking point at the start of your fed, you would need two such points considering where the wind is, east or west. No matter what we do in pigeon racing there is always going to be a challenge.
The problem is if you go to that system you would have the same issues as VAR, there is always an advantage and it never always goes the way you want, or in fact as VAR has shown, not the correct way through over use. Yes, we all know that wind and position does give an advantage in the shorter races. In fact, it can also be an advantage in the longer races if the winds are blowing from the east on the continent. It doesn’t happen very often in these races, but it does happen when the birds are blown towards the west coast of France. If the wind is blowing from the west on the continent, then the likes of the Internationals are not going be much of a gain because they are being blown into the European countries. The winds and International races were a discussion recently over the extra BICC marking station at Barnton. As we were saying if enough send and are trying then the west side of the UK up into the North West could one day have an advantage and win the International, what an achievement that would be. I know that winning fanciers do not like to think they are getting an advantage, but as we know, sometimes they are, a fact of life. When there have been good east winds on the continent, we have seen pigeons end up in Ireland when racing from France so there is an advantage for the fanciers in the west of the UK. It’s the same if there is a good west wind the fanciers on the east side of the UK are at an advantage but less of a chance of winning the National/International races. Having said all that if there is a big enough batch of pigeons heading your way, especially in land Federation/Combine races they will hold a better direct line no matter which way the wind is blowing. Do all these things matter in pigeon racing, I say that because I think most fanciers like to race their pigeons no matter what the result. They are not chasing wins for financial gain they are chasing a winner because they are pigeon fanciers who enjoy their sport. They are the people who like a challenge, they are the people who keep pigeon racing going. As I have said before, there are going to be people who make money out of pigeon racing because there has to be businesses to keep the sport going, that happens with whatever we do in life.
Pigeon families/fashion we keep.
The Krauth’s were a family of pigeon’s that I raced in the late 70’s early 80’s and one of the best lines I have ever had. I say that because they would win from 60 to 700mls and more often than not come home from the longer races as if they had been on a training toss. As we know there are many lines of pigeon families that have their day, what I call the latest fashion. We had a good team of the Martin Krauth pigeons through Dave Johnson and Malc Hewitt whose pigeons were based the George Corbett and Aubrey Adamson lines. Both Malc and Dave had some top-class pigeons from these fanciers, and they produced many winners. We had a chequer cock “Elimar Joe 90” who won 8 individual firsts and an award with the fed.
"Elimar Joe 90"
The sire was a pigeon known as “The North Road Cock” a winner of 12 x 1sts winning on both the North and South routes, raced by Dave Johnson. The sire is a good stock cock called “Knighton” out of “Harrowgate Hill” & “Alwinton” with the other two grandparents being “Flass” & “Falcon Inn”. Aubrey Adamson used to name his pigeons after places up north. “The North Road Cock” bred us some good pigeons and we changed his name to “Elimar Supreme” He was the sire of “Elimar Joe 90” as mentioned above.
He was also the sire of “Elimar Powerhouse” a yearling that was the Ace Pigeon out of Nantes with the Mid Cheshire Fed plus a few other winners. I remember Denis Gleave calling one day and there were 3 young birds just moved that were up for sale with the young bird loft being full. Denis bought the 3, one won him a few 1sts and one bred him winners, the other was lost off the loft. We were at Dave’s loft one day looking at what he had. I picked out “The North Road Cock” and handled him, saying to Elizabeth what a nice pigeon he was. She asked Dave how much he wanted for him, Dave looked at Elizabeth and said £110, we’ll take it she said. I stood there looking and thinking, that’s a lot to pay for a pigeon, this was around 1980, when I though £50 was a lot for a pigeon. When we were coming home, Elizabeth said don’t tell anyone what I have paid for this pigeon. I then started to look for a hen to pay for him and being friends with Malc Hewitt I bought a blue hen off him. We came away with a blue hen being a direct daughter of “Champion Troy” who was a cracking pigeon. “Troy” was a winner of at least 6 x 1sts from across the channel topping the Mid Cheshire Fed and was also a Western Region Meritorious Award winner. The parents of this cracking cock came from Syd Montgomery who was also a star man when it came to the Krauths. “Troy” was paired to a daughter of “Speckle Head” winner of 32 prize cards, plus being sire and g-sire of over 40 different prize winners and was a son of “Fellihouse Fell” & “Cushendun”. The later pair were class breeders of winners including “Witpen Celia” 3 x 1sts Etc. We also had another off “Champion Troy” which was a blue pied. In those days we had lathes on the end section instead of wire. We got up one morning and could see from the house the blue pied with half its neck ripped out, so it had to go. Elizabeth was not amused because she had taken to this one and due to the injuries had to go. They were good winning lines and we had a few generations of them. A very good hen was 29553 who won 3 x 1sts topping the fed. You know those occasions when you see a pigeon come from a race and never forget. Well this he was one of those pigeons, we saw three pigeons racing down the canal, she dropped out and straight through the door and into the clock to top the fed. There were so many winners in these lines, for a lot of fanciers. On the subject of seeing pigeons homing from a race “Elimar Joe 90” had a good line straight down Warmingham lane and if he was off that line, he was out of the prizes which was a rarity. He didn’t race for many years because a cat struck him and pulled the feathers out of his back and tail so was not raced again. He has 32 prize cards with his name on winning from Worcester to Rennes 352mls, never sent him any further even though one brother was the Ace Pigeon from Nantes as a yearling and another was 2nd from Niort. I was telling Malc about finding these pedigree’s, so he has asked for a copy to show Peter Symcox who also raced well with the Krauths at the time. In fact, the best distance pigeon I had was off Peter’s birds.
"Elimar Pint Pot"
He was a pint pot Dark w/f Cock “Elimar Pint Pot” winner of 3rd 4th 17th Section 138th 175th 375th Open Pau National 684mls. 5th Section 250th Open National Bordeaux and a 3rd Section 113th? Open National but I cannot find the card. He figured on the result with other National races. I remember sending him to Rennes with 4 nest flights and one member said, if he beats me tomorrow, I’ll pack up. He did beat him, but we didn’t want him to pack up. That year I think he went to every race through to Rennes before going to the Middlewich 2B where he was 7th Open and the following year 6th open both from Angouleme over 530mls, that was a good club in those days. I had him re-registered at 10yrs old to go to his last race and he didn’t let me down, will have to have another look, he is on a result at that age. Good distance pigeons that keep going have a strong constitution which makes them what they are. Even though he was only a small cock he had more go in him than any other pigeon I have ever had. Even coming from the longer races, he would finish as if he was on a training flight.
Another family that I had at the time were the Planet Bros Janssens that went to the Galleywood Lofts of David & Jenne Coward-Talbott. There were many good winners that have come out of these lines and they were record breakers in the sales at the time with averages above anyone else. David did well with them having pigeons out of the best from the Planet lofts including the “Golden Pair” with the “Golden Cock” being out of the fantastic “Principles” one of the all-time great breeders. The “Golden Hen” being out of a half-sister to the magnificent “Scrumpy” and “Sure Return”. “The Golden Pair” of David’s bred “Champion Navigator” who was raced up to 2yrs old and won 15 x 1sts incl 1st Combine.
1st Club 1st Fed Retford 2,462 birds
1st Club 1st Fed Weatherby 3,120 birds
1st Club 1st Fed Weatherby 2,115 birds
1st Club 1st Fed Berwick 1,915 birds
1st Club 1st Fed 1st Combine Berwick 2,975 birds
2nd Club 2nd Fed Retford 2,434 birds beaten by loft mate. Etc.
“Navigator” is one of if not the best pigeon that David has ever had, he was so reliable week after week.
“Navigator” is out of “The Golden Cock” GB84H61548 direct son of “Principles” when paired to GB83L00238, as a baby won 5 x 1st including 2 x 1st Feds. She was a direct daughter of The Golden Cock x The Golden Hen of Planet Bros. The dam of “Navigator” was “The Golden Hen” GB84H61569 a direct daughter of “Pretty Boy” x the fantastic “Champion 05”. “Navigator” was also a half-brother to “The Equaliser” 2 x 1sts fed etc.
“The Golden Cock” was paired to different hens to breed winners including “The Good Hen” line of the great “05”. “The Golden Cock” paired to “The Good Hen” is the line of Planets “05 Hen” who bred such pigeons as “Scrumpy” 30 x 1sts and “Sure Return” 18 x 1sts. Planet Bros rated the “05 Hen” as the best breeding hen they ever had. When you look at the pedigree of “The Golden Hen” you can understand why she produced so many good pigeons. As mentioned her sire is “Pretty Boy” but when you look at the breeding of “Champion 05” she is a direct daughter of the famous “Camalot” who was paired to the even more impressive “the Gay Hen” a Van Loon Foundation stock hen. David also bred a daughter of “Navigator” known as “Queenie” who was a top stock hen. In three generations of breeding she has “Navigator” “The Golden Cock” “The Golden Hen” “Principles” who was paired to a hen who won 5 x 1sts. “Pretty Boy” “Champion 05” “The Janssen Cock” “Princess” “Bange 77” “Merckx Hen” “Mercedes” and “Magnificent Lady”. All these pigeons can be found in the breeding of many Champion racers and breeders through the selection made by Planet Bros, John & Gary Squibb”
“The Good Hen” escaped from David’s stock loft in 88 and as she had never been out at any loft she was lost for good. Her offspring went on to win many prizes, such pigeons as “The Equaliser” “J.E.T” “Dolly” “The Tick Eyed Hen” and many more, she was a great loss to the lofts, however these offspring also bred winners. “Navigator” also bred for Graham Jones in the North East a Blue Cock that was to become one of the best producers in the Up North Combine. “Navigator’s” blood remains in his lofts today.
David also raced a hen named after my daughter Hayley known as ‘Hayleys Comet’ she won 10 x1st including 2 x1st Essex North Road Combine racers from Thurso, the Blue Ribbond Race on the North Road, David recalls never knowing another pigeon to have won 2 x 1st Combines in the Essex Combine. She was eventually sold to the USA along with most of his team when David took a break from racing to spend more time with his children for a few years before returning to race South Road.
Other pigeons that David had through Planet Lofts was “The Janssen Cock” son of “Bange 77” who was paired to “Merckx Hen” a reported as never breeding a bad one and is a daughter of “Jonge Merckx Van 70” 15 x 1sts a Janssen Legend. “The Janssen Cock” was sire of many winners including “Tyson” 5 x 1sts in his first full years racing on the widowhood system. Another was “29” winner of 3 x 1sts etc. “The Janssen Cock” bred well with “Princess” a direct daughter of “Mercedes” & “Magnificent Lady” both bred by Janssen Bros.
When you look at these pigeons and the ring numbers you will find that there was a cracking team of stock birds in David’s lofts mainly bred in 1983/84. “The Good Hen” “The Golden Cock” “The Golden Hen” “The Janssen Cock” “Princess”. Their children then became top racing and stock pigeons keeping the winning line going. Such Pigeons as the legendary, “Navigator” and his nest sister, “Tyson” “J.E.T” “The Big Hen” “The Tick Eyed Hen”. What David did was to put the cocks off the stock team on the road and the hens into the stock loft where they produced many winners.
Around this time, I was at Planet Bros Lofts and saw how they selected their pigeons so I can understand why they bred so many good pigeons for both breeding and stock purposes. The quality of breeding then excelled at David’s lofts where they bred many winners and in turn their children also produced winners. It was a case of, if you put a blindfold on and handled these pigeons you could tell they were quality without seeing them.
Still with the Janssens another good winning line that David had was “The Hunnisett Cock” sired 12 x 1sts Federation winners and over 30 x 1sts in total. Alan Hunnisett was known for his strong team of Janssens that were winners for many fanciers world-wide. There are still lofts about today who have the Janssens, they are a long-term winning family. However, I do think the Janssens are very often better as a cross, it puts a bit of strength back into an inbred family.
I remember compiling a loft report on Alan Hunnisett of dover many years ago and wrote about the David Coward-Talbott cock in Alan’s report. I was touched by a comment from Alan when I last saw him, he had put in his Will that after his death all his pigeons were to be sold by Elimar. The comment and one of the nicest things a pigeon fancier has said to me when I asked about why me, he said, “Because I can trust you to do a good job form after I have gone” Anyway back to the to what Alan had to stay about David’s “Hunnisett Cock”. “
This is what Alan had to say. “Yes, the two hens were "092" & "093" here are a lot of very good pigeons all around Germany from these lines, in fact around the world they are responsible for so many winners. The Coward-Talbot cock that we mentioned earlier was bred down from these hens because he was a great g-son of "092". They bred an awful lot of pigeons and I had a nest pair direct from the Ponderosa, I think they cost me £35 each which was a great investment in those days. Alan McQuillium from Enfield had a son out of the original pair and just to recall the "Hunnisett Cock" of David Coward-Talbot, he was out of the brother to the "McQuillium" Cock. The "Hunnisett Cock" of Coward-Talbot is probably one of the very best to come out of these pigeons because he bred over 30 different winners and 10 x 1st Federation winners. I was talking to David recently and he has started racing again with the basics of the same family and in his first race back in 1996 he had a brother and sister to "Dillon" who is a son of the "Hunnisett Cock" immediately won. The "McQuillium" cock bred over 20 x 1st Federation and I am not certain whether it has been reported how many club winners, I think 39 comes to mind. So, if you mention two top breeders like that there will obviously be many more that have proven their worth at stock but not been reported back. These particular lines are either line bred or inbred to the "Merckx" lines and they run all through my present-day team on the one side or both”
It was a sad day when “The Hunnisett Cock” died after injuring himself in the loft, he produced winners from 70 to 500mls with regularity.
Even after the team of Janssen’s had mostly gone David has still won with other pigeons that he has brought in, that is the sign of a very good pigeon fancier. Just a bit of information on the lofts now. David’s main racing loft has five sections and is, 50ft x 8ft and he races cocks on the widowhood system. The racers are normally paired up in the second week in February, but the cocks don’t rear any youngsters, being trained on eggs before the first Federation race. For many years David has only interested in Classic and National racing from France and likes to use the Federation inland race programme as a training system in preparation for the main events. Fanciers might think that is a lot, but he is very selective of what he breeds from. He generally has about 42 pairs of stock pigeons which are paired up at Christmas and these are housed in a 16ft x 12ft loft with a large aviary.
The lofts loft produces about 150 young birds to race each season and these are put some of my youngsters on darkness. The middle-distance pigeons go on darkness, and the long-distance youngsters are kept on the natural system, it’s about half and half. David told me he is very hard with his young birds and is always satisfied he has the best left at the end of the season. He is from a pigeon racing family with his grandfather being J. E. Talbott of Ipswich, who raced pigeons successfully as long ago as the 1890s. In 1934 the last Empire Games were held at White City David’s grandfather won the race against 34,000 birds. David still has all the information on this race including the winning silver trophy and brochures.
David’s father and uncles were all ‘pigeon and dog’ men and he has never known life without pigeons. David has won it all in during his years in the sport and when he raced north road, he won 1st open Combine nine times. David has also won the NFC and Classic races so has achieved a great deal in pigeon racing.
Going back to the number of birds housed, David was saying he has teams for all types of competition. He, like many more National minded fanciers do send in the club but they are not looking at winning every race and enjoy the weekly banter at the clubs. His intentions are to compete in more of the longer races and to do that properly you need a few more birds to race and prepare. The type of race David gets most satisfaction out of winning are when he won, National FC and 3 x 1st BICC National and 1ST London and South East Classic.