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Three Borders Federation (kingsdown Race) 07-06-18

“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.

 

Three Borders Federation (Kingsdown Race).

 

I was highly delighted when I received my Three Borders Federation result for the Kingsdown race and saw my good friends, Steve & Annett Appleby, had won 1st and 2nd in the Guildford club and 1st, 7th Federation. Steve is great worker for the sport and it is always great to see one of the workers win something good at the top level! Steve and Annett sent six pigeons to Kingsdown and clocked five birds in eight minutes. The partners won the Federation with their yearling blue hen, ‘Blue Diamond’ and she was raced on the celebrate system, to be 52ymp in front of the next pigeon in the Guildford club. She was very consistent racing as a young bird and was bred from Dave Waterhouse stock birds. One minute after clocking ‘Blue Diamond’ from Kingsdown, Steve got his good yearling blue pied cock, ‘Sky Master’ and he recorded 2nd club, 7th Federation. He was bred from a Dave Waterhouse hen and a gift Gaby Vandenbeele cock from Steve’s pigeon fancier neighbour, Russell Ayres. This game cock also won 1st club, 12th Three Borders Federation Blandford as a young bird in 2017. Steve told me, ‘it is good competition between Russell and me on race days, with our lofts being sited almost next to each other and both of us racing in the Guildford club’. Steve and Annett are enjoying a very good 2018 racing season and another outstanding pigeon for them has been their two year old Dave Waterman blue cock, ‘Blue Arrow’ and he recorded: 2nd club, 12th Three Borders Federation Falaise this season.

 

The first ten in the Kingsdown Federation result were: 1) Steve & Annett Appleby 1543: 2) Terry Goodsell 1535: 3) Terry Goodsell 1535: 4) Terry Goodsell 1534: 5) Paul Arnold 1533: 6) Paul Arnold 1532: 7) Steve & Annett Appleby 1529: 8) Terry Goodsell 1527: 9) Mr. & Mrs. S. Gasson 1525: 10) Richard Kent 1524. The 855 birds were liberated at 08.00hrs in to a no wind situation.

 

I first met Steve Appleby about twenty five years ago, when I first started convoying for the London & South East Classic Club and he was my race advisor. In that time we had some great fun working together, producing some good racing for the Classic and have become very good friends. Steve has a sound knowledge how forecasts work as he has studied meteorology for over 30 years. Stevie is the best race advisor in the sport and in recent years has taken the job to new higher level of excellence. I ask you, where would race advisory be in this country with out Steve Appleby? He has the best technology available and is 100% dedicated to producing the very best racing for the fanciers every Saturday, whether it be Federation or Classic. Steve is now race adviser for the British International Championship Club and works with the ‘race controllers’ team of club president, John Tyerman and committee member, Mark Gilbert.

 

Steve only races a small team of 15 pigeons as he says the less pigeons you have the more you know about them. Steve’s recent Bergerac winner was a yearling blue cock now named ‘Sky Wonder’ and he was a nice handling pigeon, complimented with quality feathering. He was sent as a single entry to the Bergerac race winning the Guildford club and chalking up 22nd Three Borders Federation with 584 birds competing. This was typical for the Appleby loft, send one pigeon and win the race! As a young bird ‘Sky Wonder’ was consistent always back to the loft within half an hour of the early pigeons and the year he won the longest race from Bergerac he was raced on the widowhood system, and was prepared for the race by sending him to Kingsdown two weeks prior to the Bergerac race. After liberation from Kingsdown at 07:30hrs he arrived at the loft five hours later at 12:30hrs for a distance of 113 miles clapping round blowing out his crop. Those five hours on the wing were to put him just right for Bergerac a distance of 445 miles to his loft. After that race he was then let out with the young birds every day and flew with them for a full hour not pulling out as most old birds do from a young bird batch. He was sent with the S.M.T. Combine to Bergerac, being liberated at 06:10hrs and timed in at 18:09hrs, recording a velocity of 1090 ypm. He was in excellent condition on his return and appeared to have taken the race in his stride. His full brother was 73rd open in that years L&SECC race from Tours and his half brother, ‘Sky Supreme’, was 27th open in the same race. The sire of this family of winners was a blue Janssen cock bred from gift pigeons from the late Cyril Luxton of Worplesdon. The dam of the Bergerac winner, ‘Sky Wonder,’ was another Janssen bred for stock from a pair of pigeons obtained from the good fancier Mick Chaplin of Woking.

 

Steve was born near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and was the first in his family to keep pigeons, as his father was not a fancier. He has always liked pigeons since he was about 10 years of age and watching local fanciers race them fascinated him. He often sat down at the bottom of his garden which over looked a railway line and watched a local fancier who had a loft on the other side of the track exercising his team. The fancier was called Jim and gave Steve his first pigeons. Steve kept these pigeons in a disused railway carriage at the bottom of his Grandfather's garden. His grandfather was a racing man but was only interested in horse racing. Steve always remembers the oil paintings of famous race horses hanging on his grandfather's living room wall. A friend of Steve's also kept racing pigeons and they used to cycle into the country, and let their pigeons go, to race them home. They were always beaten home by the pigeons. Steve decided to join the Royal Marine Commandos at 18 years old and had to abandon the hobby he liked so much. His other hobby is playing chess and he was a serious chess player representing Plymouth Chess club on a number of occasions whilst serving in the Royal Marines. Obviously whilst in the Marines he was unable to keep pigeons as he was continually going abroad and he decided to become a silent partner when home on leave to learn about the sport with the aim of starting up when he completed his service. He served his apprenticeship with Stan Stout who taught him a great deal about the sport of racing pigeons, most of which holds true today. Stan, who won 2nd open NFC Pau, always said pigeon racing is common sense, but common sense is not so common. After 22 years service Steve left the Royal Marines as a Colour Sergeant and settled down in Guildford, and now his job is a warrant officer with a major utility company. He soon went back to his favourite sport pigeon racing helped by Annette, his wife and daughter, Jennifer. They both take an interest in the sport and when required help out with any jobs when necessary. His first stock came from pigeons that were given to him from different local fanciers and believe it or not the first race he won was from Dax, 520 miles with the Solent Federation when he was a member of the Ash Vale Club. Steve's first loft was a Kidby 12 x6 foot, which looking back was inadequate and far inferior to his present one. His biggest mistake early on was failing to work his birds hard enough, and obviously they were not as fit as they should have been when entered into a race. He also found he had little success trying to breed and race at the same time. When Ash Vale was disbanded Steve raced with the Guildford Club which is his club today. The club is grown in strength and the partnership of the late David May and his wife Christine were ones to beat, as they won the Three Borders Federation three times in the 2005 season. His other club was the London & South East Classic Club, where he was a Life Vice President and committee member. Fifteen years ago Steve and his wife Annett moved from Guildford to Ash and started to race again from his new garden, and his present four section racing loft set up is a 24ft x 8ft, which includes a 2ft corridor and all clocking is on ETS. He told me he considers the most important factors when it comes to loft design is good ventilated, dryness and facing south if possible. His stock birds are housed in a very well ventilated 8ft x 6ft loft in the corner of his very well kept garden.

 

When Steve started in the sport the natural system was employed but found he was not happy with it as he was not making full use of the hens while waiting for them to lay and start sitting again. Because he only keeps a small team his loft was at a distinct disadvantage not racing hens. He then changed to the roundabout system as both sexes are available to race all the time. This has been a very good decision for him and has given him a fair amount of success. He believes that the cock bird will race home just as hard to his nest box as he does to his hen. The hens will always race back to their cocks. Undoubtedly his best racers have been hens. In recent seasons Steve has raced some birds on the celebrate system, with outstanding success. Steve keeps about 8 pairs of racers which are very manageable, as he finds 16 good pigeons can just about meet his requirements. He says the more pigeons you have the less you know about them and the most old birds he has sent to any old bird race have been about six. The main disadvantage of racing a small team is that sometimes he can't stretch to each race, both in his club and the BICC at the same weekend. Racing a small team he can easily identify any changes in behaviour which can some times be used to his advantage when it comes to motivation. To do well entering just a small team gives him a great sense of achievement and usually he never enters a race unless he can be competitive.

 

When I asked Steve about the family of pigeons he raced, he said, ‘as you know Keith, I’m a small team man and only keep a few stock pigeons. The strain I keep and race are the Jacob Poortvliet of Holland pigeons and these were obtained from Dave Waterhouse. My good friend, Tony Adams, who is the ‘race controller of the Solent Federation and I purchased some latebreds jointly from Dave, and these are the basis of our lofts today. David Waterhouse is well known for his outstanding performances, having won both the National Flying Club and Central Southern Classic Flying Club, and in the 2018 season won 1st section, 11th open Coutances with the British Barcelona Club. A fantastic pigeon racer! Tony Adams bred 1st open CSCFC Young Birds Classic in the 2016 for Dave Waterhouse as a gesture of good will. I have only been racing the Jacob Poortvliet pigeons for a few seasons, but they are proving to be outstanding’.

 

Steve's other position within the sport is, as I've previously written, is race advising and he is always watching the skies on his satellite system at weekends. For this reason he has named his family of pigeons mostly with the word “Sky”. To name some of them, “Sky Prince” was 12th open L&SECC Nantes and won the “Booker Gold Cup”, as the first nominated yearling in the race, “Sky King” won 1st SW Section, 5th open L&SECC Vire, velocity 925, in a very hard race. At that time convoyer Doug Went on his return journey described the northerly head winds over the channel of sledge hammer force. “Sky Train” won the Three Borders Federation as a young bird from Blandford. “Sky Girl” a yearling won 3rd section E, 181st open NFC Bordeaux 443 miles, in a north east wind. At that time Tom Sherwood was the man to beat in the NFC and was a tremendous national flyer, winning section E on several occasions. On two different NFC races, one from Nantes and the other from Saintes he was just in front of Steve winning Section E. Steve's best racer was the Busscheart blue cheq. hen, “Sky Queen”, never out of the first 20 in all National and Classic races she was entered. Steve told me, she was born with that natural ability to win races. She won from the word go as a young bird and never looked back recording 17th open L&SECC Vire, velocity 885 ypm, 7th open L&SECC Angers in a north east wind, velocity 1049 ypm. This wonderful hen was sent as a single entry to the Saintes National with 5,244 birds competing. The NFC convoy was liberated in a north east wind and after 9 hours 37 minutes on the wing she was spotted racing hard over the rooftops. She folded into the loft, winning 2nd section E, 4th open NFC Saintes, velocity 1158 flying 380 miles.

 

Before it was sadly disbanded the wonderful old London Columbarian Society was one of the oldest clubs in the pigeon fraternity and reached one hundred years of age. Originally it was formed to create Wednesday racing for London area shop keepers and fanciers who had to work on a Saturday and was probably the first ever mid-week club. This old club had wonderful tradition and quality, and I’m proud to say I was Chairman and Press Officer of it for several seasons in the mid 1970’s. The London Coly had a brilliant array of top quality trophies and cups, and the ‘The Brooker Gold Cup’ was originally presented to the London Columbarium Society by Mr W. Brooker in the early 1900’s. It was a very valuable cup, being solid gold and is now insured for £5,000. When the Coly disbanded the cup was presented to the London & South East Classic Club and was competed for each season in the Yearling Derby, and was won by the first nominated yearling recording the highest velocity. Steve Appleby first won the cup racing on the south road from Nantes 279 miles in 1999 and his game pied cock also recording 12th open. In 2006 the race took place from Morpeth on the north road, a distance of 275 miles and Steve was delighted to win this cup for the second time. ‘The Brooker Gold Cup’ had only been won three times before by the same fancier, Steve, Reg & Richard Maybey and Skeet & Keen, but the Appleby loft was the only one to win this coveted award on the north road and the south road. His Morpeth yearling chequer hen, ‘Sky Crusader’, was three weeks after winning the ‘Gold Cup’ turned round and sent on the south road as a single entry to Cholet, again with the L&SECC, a distance of 289 mile. She was timed after 9 hours and 21 minutes on the wing winning recording 94th open, velocity 947 ypm in a north east wind. She was bred from a cock gifted to Steve from the late Cyril Luxton, a Guildford fancier when he retired from the sport and was paired to a hen on loan from Tony Adams of the Adams and Gilmore partnership of Fareham.

 

Well, I hope my readers have enjoyed this article on my ol' mate, Steve Appleby; he is a great lad and gives up a lot of his time working for our sport! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480.

 

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).