Stafford & Wilson (Skinningrove UK) win the Queen's Cup from Burbure
In only their third full season after re-starting racing Stafford and Wilson of Skinningrove UK have won the Queen's Cup one of the highest achievement in the north-east of England's pigeon racing scene. In this article he tells us of the preparation for the race and the weekend of the race itself
Sparky Wilson (l), Pam Grange (Combine Secretary) and Ian Stafford with grandson Finn (r)
I could never have imagined how happy I feel after this race. To think that in 2013 I was diagnosed with cancer, went through 2 years of chemotherapy, re-started with the pigeons and in only our third full season back won one of the highest accolades in pigeon racing in the north-east, namely the Queen's Cup.
The weekend of the race saw us racing from Oakham, 126 miles on Sunday. In this race we had our twelve sprint hens and six sprint cocks which is our whole sprint team. We also sent a team of long distance birds destined for Bourges which is our longest race scheduled for two weeks time, we got three of our Stefaan Lambrecht hens come together, they took half a turn and ended up 2nd 3rd and 5th club, 2nd 3rd and 5th fed and 2nd 3rd and 5th section out of approximately 2,500 birds beaten by 2 seconds so it wasn't a bad result for the first race of the weekend. This showed us the birds were in good form. The Queen's Cup race pigeons were held over on the Saturday, then again on the Sunday making everyone feel down, wondering if they would ever get a race from France. Monday morning dawned, and I went on the live web-cams in Arras and Gravelines in France and there were blue skies had not been forecast. However, the weather at Roye was still not good enough so it was decided to bring the birds back to a shorter racepoint nearer the coast. Burbure is a distance of approximately 310 miles to the front droppers and 390 to the back men. The wind at the racepoint was a brisk north-east headwind veering east in places on route and swinging back north east at the home end, so a stiffish race was on the cards especially after five days in the basket. The estimated arrival time was about 7 hours 30 minutes giving a rough velocity of 1250 ypm. However, as there had been a touch of east in the wind en-route you had to be on the lookout earlier.
At 6 hours and 40 minutes we were calculating rough velocities, comparing the last time we won the National from the same distance in 2010, when we achieved a velocity of 1399ypm. On comparing, we came to the conclusion that 7 hours would be a good one. We hadn't got the words out of our mouth when the little check and white hen (now known as Little Finn) came tearing out of the south and trapped like a rocket. We couldn't believe she had done it in this time and to say that everything after that moment was a blur is an understatement!
We then continued scanning the skies looking for more birds but there was nothing travelling. Then approximately eight minutes later a batch of about fifteen birds appeared in the sky coming from a south easterly direction. We understand that our good friends, Pearson and Purver who fly approximately one mile behind us, got two from this batch and ended up 2nd and 4th Open, winning the Danish cup of friendships for the best two bird performance A fantastic performance from 2 of my best friends here, Golly and Tubby and loft helper Evo.
Stafford & Wilson
There were so many similarities to the 2010 National as there was 16 minutes between our first two pigeons, the direction she came and the same distance race, we never thought for one minute it was possible on that wind, that she could top the section never mind the open. After that the pigeons began coming in steadily. Mark (Sparky) went to the marking station one and a half hours after timing the first bird, only to find the station locked up. This started us thinking we might have a good bird. After fifteen minutes people started turning up. Mark was then informed by a fellow member that there was a bird three minutes in front of ours in our federation so straight away he felt deflated. However, when the guy came into the marking station he had not clocked until eight minutes after us, changing the mood yet again! We ended up winning 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th club; 1st, 8th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 22nd and 37th federation.
Before Mark returned to the loft we got a phone call from the federation chairman jokingly saying he would be coming to drug test us, as our birds had been flying so well in recent weeks and had now topped the federation for the second time this season. He also informed us that there was a bird in our section 6 minutes after us flying 5 miles further, leading us to believe that we had won the club and fed, a result we were more than happy with. However, two hours later, one of our good friends rang us to tell us he thought we had a good one in the combine. We said this couldn't be possible due to the fact that we knew of the other bird in our section. Graham then said this was not possible as their federation winner was not clocked until nearly twenty minutes after us. As the hours passed by we got more and more phone calls from friends saying our bird was looking like a good one and that there was nothing near her. Although we were hopeful at this point we didn't dare be too confident since we were second national last year beaten on the trap from Rheims (430 miles). As time went on and more information came in it became apparent that Little Finn was well clear in the Combine.
Later on that evening we got the phone call we were now hoping for: we were told we had won the Up North Combine We were ecstatic! What's more we were also told it looked like being first open by a clear eight minutes (approx. 27 ypm). A federation official informed us he would be down to verify the bird at 9pm and this is when the feeling of elation started to click in. That night Mark and myself sat in our conservatory, both in a daze. Our phones were red hot with so many people ringing and congratulating us. I must say this was one of the best nights I can every remember in my time in pigeons.
The next morning I was up at 4am having hardly slept a wink and sat there trying to take in what we had done. Later that morning we got a phone call from the North of England Homing Union informing us we had not only won the Up North Combine, but we had also won the Queen's Cup for first open. This was the icing on the cake - definitely the stuff dreams are made of! At this point Mark and myself would like to thank everyone for all the congratulations and good wishes we have received since Sunday.
Little Finn is a two year old hen of Rudy de Saere breeding. She was raced lightly as a young bird, however as a yearling she flew three channel races as well as all the inland programme, scoring on a few occasions, being sixteenth federation from the same race last year. This year she has flown three club races and the 2two national races from Eastbourne and Burbure, only to night out at Burbure 2 weeks ago. The only difference was she pulled around immediately and the very next day it looked like she had never even had a race. She was flown on widowhood with her cock being at home all the time. She now will be retired to the breeding loft as we always look to the future, as in our eyes winners breed winners. She is bred from a direct son of Rudy de Saeres Favoriete a winner of first and second national for Rudy. Her mother is our No 1 de Saere breeding hen Winter Rose who incidentally bred both of our Loftus Breeder Buyer winners in 2016 and 2017, winning in excess of £12,000. She is bred from New Tours, winner of first national for Rudy and which was the long distance champion pigeon of all Belgium.
Take a look at the pedigree of Little Finn here...
We bought the 1st de saeres in 2014 and when I say we I mean my partner in the breeding loft James Parker from Reading we have a joint breeding loft that supplies youngsters to race from the 2 loft locations under the banner of JPSLOFTS we only ever bought from Rudy's very best and have at least 2 youngsters from all of his national winners and main breeders At first we were slightly unsure of their capabilities as in the past we had put more down to looks and handling than necessary. However, we needn't have worried as both Rudy and Thomas Gyselbrecht of Pipa told us these were super birds but like most Vandenabeele based birds they were not the best in the hand. The more we raced Rudy's birds, especially from the distance and head winds we began to realise they were special as both James and myself are now finding them to be formidable pigeons. James flying as James and Pete Parker have already won the section this year with Rudy's birds. Also a fact worth mentioning is that Tam Blair in Scotland bought a full sister to Little Finn and this bred the winner of 1st UK Ace Pigeon, 6th International Ace Pigeon and 8th Int in the final of the Gran Canaria Atlantic Challenge.
We would personally like to thank Rudy de Saere for supplying us with the most fantastic middle distance birds we have ever bought. Also thanks to Thomas Gyselbrecht and Peter Oberheister of Pipa for recommending these birds.
After savouring the moment the hard work must continue for both Mark and myself as the big races are coming thick and fast. I don't think it could get any better than this, but that won't stop us trying.
Ian Stafford and Mark Wilson are the only loft ever to win the Queens cup in Skinningrove HS in 55 years and only the third loft in the federation ever to achieve this accolade .
Here is a brief rundown of how the 2018 season is going for the lads up to the national win,4x1st clubs 4 x 2nd clubs 7 x 3rd club 4 x 4th club 5 x 5th club and this in one of the strongest clubs in the UNC, at federation level they have 3 x 1st fed 3 x 2nd fed 2 x 3rd fed 2 x 4th fed 3 x 5th fed 1 x 6th federation and 21 other positions in the top 30 in one of the biggest and strongest federations in the mighty up north combine so you can safely say there birds have been coming pretty well as a whole .
To finish off here is a quick rundown on what mark and Ian have won at national level .
Ian won 3 x 1st WDA Nationals and 1 x 1st open to all NEHU Lillers at his previous addresses.
2x1st up north combine
2x2nd up north combine
1x3rd up north combine
2x1st open NEHU fut race
3x2nd open NEHU fut race
1x1st open all NEHU Lillers open at the present address where the birds have been raced for only 5 full seasons in total and prior to going in with Ian, Mark was already an accomplished flier in his own right winning 2 x1st up north combines with one of his previous partners and 1 x 1st up north combine with another although his name was not on the partnership form he was still an active member when they won it .
So all in all in the short career Ian and Mark have had in the red river valley (Skinningrove )they have been a major force to reckon with and hopefully will not be the last we hear from these two top lads .
With kind regards,
Met vriendelijke groeten,
Mid freundlichen Grüßen,
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Mit freundlichen Grüsse
20 Marham Drive
+44 1452 724657
+44 7803 420699