STOBBS BROS & MOSEY
STONEHAVEN LOFTS, WEST DURHAM, UK
by Tony Harte
CREME DE LA CREME
Crème de la crème, borrowed from the French and translated as ‘cream of the cream’, best of the best, something superlative, the very best! I think that this sums up the fantastic winning partnership of Stobbs Bros & Mosey who compete at the highest level within the whole of the UK. The North East of England is the equivalent of the Antwerp Union in Belgium. Within this radius are the mighty Up North Combine, the Durham Combine, the New North Amalgamation and the West Durham Amalgamation. This partnership’s lofts lie within the Consett & District Federation, consisting of ten separate clubs and the partnership race in two clubs in the Consett Federation, the Leadgate and the Medomsley. The Consett Federation is the most north westerly of the WDA and the North East Homing Union. Each week during the racing season these four organisations race their own programme but for certain chosen classic races, come together to fly under the banner of the North East Homing Union. The Consett Federation sends up to 2000 pigeons, the West Durham Amalgamation up to 10,000 and the NEHU Open competitions up to 45,000 pigeons, being the largest liberation within the whole of the UK. Now you will appreciate why the winning pigeons from the north east of England are held in such high regard.
Stonehaven Lofts are situated at Iveston, a small country village with a population of about 80 in County Durham and it was only since 2006 that pigeons have been raced from here.
Paul Stobbs in the stock loft
Paul and Mark Stobbs used to race pigeons together in the Annfield Plain Federation when they were young schoolboys, supported by the pocket money of their father, (Billy). Billy was keen to provide his sons with an interest that would hopefully, keep them out of trouble. In these early years they served their apprenticeship, learning the hard way, racing against the best. Then, due to work pressure, Paul getting married and starting a family etc, the brothers took something of an enforced break from pigeon racing, which was to last nineteen years. However, during this time both Paul and Mark maintained their interest in the sport and kept up to date with new developments in management, racing systems and so forth as well as noting the source of top performing pigeons. During this time, Mark continued to refine his skills and knowledge of eye-sign theory.
They then decided to start back up in the sport with Paul building new purpose-built, stone lofts at his new home in Iveston. These lofts incorporate grilled floors in both the nest boxes and floors, running water, tiled corridor floors, radiators with temperature & humidity control, controlled lighting, state-of-the-art security etc. The new stock were primarily based on Jos Soontjen pigeons from Frank Sheader and Nigel Laycock, together with the odd Busschaert and Staf Van Reet.
Since the brothers started racing young birds in 2006, Stonehaven Lofts has been well and truly at the top of the result sheets and has surpassed expectations with some record breaking performances. Since the 2006 young bird season, the partnership have won 1st Federation sixty-eight times (up to the end of the 2014 season), topping the West Durham Amalgamation 13 times and this was also when, due to their business commitments, they did not race during 2010 and only raced young birds in 2014. In 2009 they held a reduction sale, as they planned not to race in 2010. Prior to this, they won the coveted Queen’s Cup from 15,720 pigeons, against the cream of the very strong NEHU membership, with their super hen, Surprise Surprise, which was also awarded the NEHU Bird of the Year Trophy and the British Homing World UK Best Pigeon Middle Distance Trophy.
Billy Mosey holding a 2014 young bird that topped the Federation on two occasions
Up until this time Paul and Mark had been fully supported by their father Billy, but they felt it unfair to put too much responsibility on him, as their business pressures were restrictive the time available to manage the pigeons. After the auction they reflected on the way forward, retaining 23 pair of pigeons, including Surprise Surprise, Bob’s Choice, the Gypsy, Modeste and all the individual WDA winners. However, with their batteries now recharging, the brothers looked to strengthen the already formidable stock loft. They left no stone unturned in trying to obtain exceptional local performance pigeons from within the NEHU. The pigeons they obtained included Wyncroft Girl, the winner of NEHU Folkestone Classic, 45,989 pigeons, raced by Mr & Mrs Baxter, Haswell, plus several other Up North Combine winners. During the same time, Billy Mosey had begun helping the brothers. Billy had previously been a double WDA winner in a previous partnership, but was now racing pigeons from a loft based on property he did not own. They then decided to ask Billy to join them in the partnership for the 2011 season.
Billy had been racing pigeons from around 1975, at first racing from the Craighead club in the Sacriston Federation. Then, around 1982, he raced from the South Moor club, where he won the ‘Inland Averages’, with ‘broken’ pigeons, in 1983. However, in 2002, Billy was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to give up the pigeons. Later, thankfully, having won the battle against his illness, he began helping top fancier, Ian Stafford at Skinnigrove, but this finished when Ian moved to a new location. So it was with this pedigree of his pigeon racing abilities that Billy joined Paul and Mark, to create one of the most feared partnerships in the north east of England. All three partners wished to race without putting themselves under undue pressure. All partners enjoy the winter social scene. Billy has pigeon-fancier friends in Tenerife and both Paul and Mark have friends in Malta, Ireland etc and they all enjoy visiting friends, attending pigeon shows, and so forth.
The main racing loft
In 2011 they bred a team of young birds from the cream of the original team plus additions from the newly purchased stock, as well as some gift birds from close friends. The 2011 season was a tremendous success with 6 x 1st Consett Federation winners from a nine-race young bird programme. At the first Wakefield race, the partnership had the first thirteen pigeons and in the last race from Newark, they took the first fifteen places in the Federation and to top this off they were also 12th and 13th WDA Maidstone National.
It was at Billy Mosey’s insistence, that both the cocks and hens were raced, as Billy was willing to step up to the plate and to take on board the extra work entailed and what a good thing he did! They had a team of 35 hens and 30 cocks, all yearlings, apart from Diamond Queen, a blue white-flight hen, which had been 3rd WDA, 1,667 pigeons, behind loft mates Bob’s Choice and Surprise Surprise, in July 2009, also a dark hen, previously 4th WDA Bourges, 569 miles, in 2008. The targets for the 2012 season were the three NEHU Classic races: Folkestone, 285 miles; Clermont Queen’s Cup, 411 miles; and Bourges, 569 miles. All the birds were raced on the celibacy system, being trained together pre-season, kept separate, but with the nest boxes opened up at 2.00pm on the day of basketing and allowed to run together. A strong team was sent to the Folkestone Classic and the first four pigeons were only 30 seconds apart, incredibly the first two pigeons were both for the Stobbs Bros & Mosey partnership, achieving 1st and 2nd WDA Amalgamation, 6,677b and 1st and 2nd NEHU Open, 34,494b. A smaller team was sent to the NEHU Clermont Queens Cup, achieving 4th and 25th WDA 1,290b and 43rd Open NEHU Queens Cup, 8,143b.
The two hens earmarked for Bourges were sent, having a one day hold over, with a south-west wind and heavy showers forecast on route and also at the home end. In fact, Durham was hit by torrential rain, but the fancied blue hen arrived looking as if she had swum the last few miles home. This resulted in the partnership having their ninth WDA win since 2006 and the performance was only beaten for 1st NEHU Open, 569 miles, 2,479b by Jackie Shafto of Easington Colliery the two were separated by only eleven seconds -unbelievable! The dark hen also returned in race time.
(Left to right) Dave Smith (loft helper), Mark Stobbs (eyeysign expert) and pigeon scribe Joe Atkinson.
The performances continued in 2013, with 1st WDA Maidestone, UNIKON Classic, 5,541 pigeons with Classic Boy and 1st WDA Bourges, 446 pigeons and 3rd NEHU Open 2,355 pigeons, 561 miles, on the day of liberation with The Judge.
In 2014 the partnership raced only young birds, bringing a sigh of relief from the competition. Again, their results were outstanding:
Wakefield, 83miles: 9th-15th, 17th-22nd, 33rd, 36th-40th from 827 pigeons.
Wakefield, 83miles: 1st-20th, 30th, 38th, 39th from 1286 pigeons.
Thoresby Hall, 115miles: 1st-4th, 8th-11th, 13th-19th, 33rd-35th from 1154 pigeons.
Newark, 128miles: 2nd, 10th, 11th, 17th-22nd, 29th-31st, 33rd from 1097 birds.
Peterborough, 170miles: 5th, 23rd, 35th, 40th from 786 pigeons.
Peterborough, 170miles: 1st, 14th, 17th, 21st, 22nd, 37th, 38th from 562 pigeons.
Huntingdon, 185miles: 2nd, 8th, 12th, 17th, 36th, 38th-40th from 505 birds.
Maidstone, 270miles: 1st, 17th, 19th, 26th, 32nd-35th, 39th, 43rd, 44th, 48th-51st, 54th from 3826 pigeons.
Newark, 128miles: 1st, 4th-9th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 18th-23rd, 27th, 29th, 31st, 35th, 36th, 39th, 40th from 283 pigeons.
The icing on the cake was in West Durham Amalgamation, 2014 Young Bird National race from Maidstone, 270miles in which they won 1st, 28th, 59th, 95th from 3451 pigeons.
Feeding is the key to achieving top performances and the partners use hopper-fed maple peas for protein; the racers are topped up with a light breakfast consisting of 50/50 Dufky No 48 and Vanrobaeys Turbohydrate, followed by an evening meal of Marimans Variamax. Fats are given in the form of sunflower hearts soaked in coconut oil towards the end of the week. Medication is administered by Paul’s good friend, Kevin Winter, from Medpet of Sunderland, with regular testing of the droppings, crop swabs, vent swabs etc.
After the first race Sundays and Mondays are given as rest days for the pigeons and they are confined to the loft. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays they are exercised around the loft and trained from 30 miles on the same afternoons. However, once they reach the 200-mile race point the Thursday training toss is brought back to 20 miles. Medication is in compliance with Federation rules regarding vaccinating against paramixo virus, plus vaccinating against paratyphoid. Then there is a regular programme of treating every month for canker, coccidiosis and respiratory during the racing season using different medication each time, to avoid the build up of immunity against any particular product.
In summary, since 2006, racing young birds only in 2006, no racing at all in 2010, no old bird racing in 2011 or 2014, the partnership have won a total of 68 individual first prizes in the Consett & District Federation, 13 x 1st Open in the West Durham Amalgamation and two firsts and one second in NEHU Open Classic races.
Looking into the future and at their aims and aspirations, it seems like a Mission Impossible for these Three Musketeers. How can these performances be bettered? I have made the trip from Malta to visit the lofts and handle the array of champions housed here. The quality of these pigeons is outstanding, I was reluctant to let the pigeons leave my hand - their feather quality and balance are superb and they were like peas in a pod. Every pigeon in the stock loft is either a Federation winner, WDA Amalgamation winner, Up North Combine winner or NEHU winner. They say that ‘the apple falls closest to the tree’, meaning that you are more likely to breed a champion from a champion, rather than a grandchild. This brings me to, where I started, crème de la crème, cream of the cream, best of the best, something superlative, need I say more?
Elimar - January 2015