Thoughts on racing part 2 by Les J Parkinson
During my loft visits there have been questions that have related to how pigeons used to be when I first started racing, all-rounders. Does a pigeon have the capabilities of racing both short and long-distance races, a question that many passed on? Also, a question that is related to an all-rounder, what distance can a pigeon actually still “RACE” as opposed to homing from any race point? These are hard questions to answer because there are fanciers who race in sprint and middle-distance races but go no further. On the other hand, there are fanciers who are only interested in the longer races of say 600mls plus. We were in Holland a few years ago at Kuypers loft when they were the ones to beat at the distance. One of them was always at the lofts on race days while the other would rather go down to the pub until they came to the longer races.
I have noticed the velocity that a pigeon races home have increased over the years. The preparation of pigeons to cover the 600 to 700ml races has changed and this is where conditioning a pigeon comes more into winning races. However, I must add that some pigeons are bred more for the distance and I feel that unless a pigeon has it in him to cover the distance, they will not do it.
Let’s break that down into three points;
Firstly, a racing pigeon needs to have the right breeding to cover such distances, not just any pigeon will do it. Therefore, the breeding and the constitution of the pigeons is the major factor in long distance racing.
Secondly, a pigeon needs those energy sacs filling with oils to help them achieve top results from 600 plus mile races. According to information that I have received a pigeon can store oils up in their body and call on them when they are needed, in a long-distance race.
Thirdly, the fancier has to know what they are doing in the first place. Many years ago, I put the success rate of pigeons 75/25% down to the pigeon and I had a fancier pull me up on that point. He was saying the further you go the more it is down to the fancier. I didn’t at the time and I still don’t agree with that because you don’t find baskets of pigeons that will race from such distances. There are only a limited number who will do the job. The adjustment that I have made is down to 60/40% in favour of the pigeon. I had a Dark W/F Cock who covered the distance from Pau & Tarbes nearly 700mls on several occasions. Now I wouldn’t put that down to mostly me because I never found a loft full that would do it. I had one pop up every now and again, in fact all the years I was racing I only had 4 pigeons that appeared well up on the National result from those two race points. On the other hand, from other shorter channel races there were plenty.
There are more pigeons covering the longer distances all the time because the actual racing that the pigeon does is governed by the owner and not by rules. The actual racing that a pigeon does has improved immensely since I first started racing pigeons because the fanciers themselves have more opportunity to prepare and keep them, the facilities have also improved. When I first started you were lucky to get one on the day from Nantes (412mls) into the Middlewich, but if you don’t get one now you want to know what has gone wrong.
I remember years ago talking to the late Denis Gleave and he said, “If you give them 10hrs in the club then you need to knock one hour off for the National racing”. At the time that was probably correct, but I now believe that the gap has closed, and they are now more or less the same. The pigeons will even race from Tarbes into the North West given the right conditions, but they don’t come along very often, and Pau is 697mls to Middlewich.
For that reason, I think that everyone should be given the same chance in the NFC Blue Ribbon race through a mid-day liberation and then they have a chance of racing home. I think the Blue-Ribbon race was far better when they did go for a mid-day lib. The further down the road that they go the less chance there is of them racing home as compared to homing. I do know that some fanciers down south prefer an early morning lib, but I don’t think they are thinking about the pigeons arriving on the channel when the light is fading. Once they start that channel crossing there is no going back and when the light has gone, they are in no mands land, I don’t think some fancier’s even consider that point.
Pigeons have more brains that they are at times given credit for and will pace themselves to get home from the 600/700ml races, which is why I believe that some pigeons come home near enough as fresh as when they went. I also feel that this is a contributing factor in a distance pigeon’s success. Birds successfully cover long distances year in year out with the better ones getting better as the years go by. Once they have been to the longer races it is not very often that you can bring them back to a sprint race and win, that is unless they come across a hard race where they have to work for a living. I have seen some good sprint pigeons that have never been sent across the channel because their owners are winning so much with them on land but given a chance many of these pigeons would cover a greater distance and win.