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A Day Out With The Lads in Dorset






A Day Out With The Lads In Dorset


Three mates and I had a little Sunday 260 miles run out in mid-October and we visited two premier lofts in Dorset. The four lads in the car were Steve Howard (driver), Tom Williams, Terry Haley and 'Bad Boy'. We saw some brilliant pigeons at the Ponderosa UK Stud in Chickerell and at the lofts of John Gerard, which made a really great pigeon day out! I had a day off from our holiday in 'Broadchurch' in September to do some loft visits to do filming for the YouTube channel and on that occasion I visited the Ponderosa, and thought it would be my last visit to this wonderful pigeon stud. The three lads wanted to go to one of the studs open weekends in October and asked me to come along, so the September visit wasn’t my last. Again it was another sad visit as Tony and Mary are retiring and closing the Ponderosa by the end of 2017. I've known Tony and Mary for over 35 years and found them to be two of the nicest people I’ve met in the sport. We had a good couple of hours in Chickerell before moving on to the lofts of John Gerard in Poole. The Gerard loft is world famous for its race wins at the top level and breeding top class winners for other fanciers. We were amazed at the premier quality and National winners in John’s stock loft. More about John Gerard later as I will be returning to his lofts in Dorset for an article and film for the YouTube channel.


There was a lot of pigeon ‘banter’ in the car going down to Dorset and I tried to start a ‘sing song’, but the other lads didn’t want to know! Terry Haley gave us all the nonsense about having a bad 2016 racing, but his performances didn’t sound too bad to me. How’s this for a bad year: He won several firsts in the very strong Boxmoor club and won the ‘Old Bird Over Seas’ Average, (Old Birds): 1st Federation Salisbury (1,342 birds), 3rd Federation Salisbury (1,381 birds), 4th Federation, 4th UBI Combine Poitiers, 9th Federation Blandford (1,342 birds), 9th Federation Lyndhurst (1,638 birds), 17th open BICC Falaise (3,695 birds), 5th section E. NFC Messac (644 birds), 144th open NFC Tarbes, (Young Birds): 25th open BICC Guernsey (1,693 birds), 30th, 54th, 93rd open BICC Guernsey O.H. (1,073 birds), 41st, 106th open BBC Coutances (909 birds), 4th, 5th open BBC Coutances O.H. (244 birds), 55th open NFC Coutances (3,752 birds), 146th open NFC Coutances O.H. (1,135 birds), 16th open BICC Falaise (1,576 birds), 64th open BICC Falaise O.H. (477 birds). Yes that sounds like a really bad season, Terry. Well done mate!


There was a lot chat in the car about Tom Williams’ great performance in the 2016 NFC Tarbes Grand National. He  is very much a small team man, with his main aim every season being the NFC Tarbes race and 2016 saw him win 1st, 15th, 37thsection P, 3rd, 116th, 251st open (2,182 birds). Tom and I have been good friends for a number years and it was wonderful to see him have that great success. There was only six birds clocked on the day of liberation from Tarbes (562 miles) and at the close of the race on the first day, Tom was winning the National by over ten ypm. We all lost sleep that night, but next day two gallant pigeons flying to the north of England beat him and he finished up 1st section P, 3rd open. Brilliant pigeon racing! When I asked Tom about the Tarbes race he told me, ‘this race has given a great thrill and my first bird on the clock from Tarbes (562 miles), after fourteen and a half hours on the wing was my two year old chequer pied widowhood cock, ‘Son of Seagull’. He is a son of my premier stock cock, ‘Seagull’, who was presented to me by Dave McSween of Sunderland and he is a double grandson of Champion ‘ Wearside Lass’, winner of 1st, 24th, 40th and 78th Up North Combine Bourges. The dam of ‘Son of Seagull’ is my light chequer hen, ‘Don’s Choice’, presented to me by Don Pickard, who races with great success in the Barnsley Federation and she was bred down from the champion racer, ‘Finley’, the winner of 1st and 2nd open Northern Classic Saintes (544 miles). What will stay in my mind is the fact that overnight I was winning the NFC Tarbes Grand National and then was beaten in to 3rd open by two gallant, deserving pigeon flying into the north. I did congratulate Mick Locke and M. Hope in the fancy press on their wonderful Tarbes performances’.


My good friend, Steve Howard of Guildford was our driver of the day and after a recent change of address he has also enjoyed a good 2016 racing season with broken pigeons. The first time Steve came to my home about 25 years ago was when he had won the SMT Combine from Bordeaux with his good cock; ‘Scot’s Boy’ and we were sorting out an article. He moved down to Cornwall for several years and is now back living in Guildford racing pigeons with his partner, Tessa. Like me, Steve is a long distance enthusiast and was keen to look at the super 600 mile families at the Ponderosa. Steve is a really nice man and being an acquaintance of the late great Eric Cannon, has a good knowledge of long distance racing.


Casting my mind back 25 years, I remember I made the 20-mile drive to Guildford to visit Steve Howard, who had just had a golden two weeks racing his team of natural pigeons. From the London & South East Classic Club's Yearling Nantes Derby, he clocked a Bill Johnson Busschaert blue cock, which was especially paired for the race after being spare all season, to record 2nd open (1,443 birds). Two weeks later he clocked his good yearling blue chequer cock ‘Scott's Boy’, on the day from Bordeaux, 436 miles, to win 1st open SMT Combine (2,143 birds). This game cock was unpaired, flying to his nest box, and was 10 hours 4 minutes on the wing to top the Combine. All Steve's yearling cocks were unpaired because, at the start of the season, he had eleven hens and one cock killed by sparrow hawks. ‘Scott's Boy’ was bred out of an Eric & Pat Cannon of Godalming cock and a hen obtained from Mr & Mrs Newman of Petersfield. As a young bird he was very consistent, being raced to the perch and on his build up to Bordeaux, had several inland races and the L&SECC Yearling Nantes Derby.



Back in September when I visited the Ponderosa UK Stud for what I thought was the last time, Tony and Mary kindly gifted me three premier long distance stock birds and I had the pick out of about 250 top quality birds. The first was the young Van Wanroy dark pied cock, 'Ponderosa Tony' and he stood out like 'sore thumb' on the day. This wonderful pigeon is closely related to 'John Joseph' winner of 13th open NFC Tarbes (722 miles), 'Blauwe Dax' and 'Black Giant' winner of 1st National Bergerac (18,472 birds). The hen I pick out for him was the three year old Muller /Jan Aarden dark pied hen, 'Ponderosa White Tail' and she is the 'star', being bred around the best winning 'Red Rising Sun' bloodlines and is a granddaughter of the champion breeder, 'Dutch Princess'. Champion 'Red Rising Sun' won 1st National Dax (6,397 birds), 30th National Bergerac (20,643 birds) and 'Dutch Princess' bred a list of top National pigeons, including 1st open National. What a wonderful gift from Tony and Mary! 'Ponderosa Tony' and 'Ponderosa White Tail' will be Pair Number 12 in my stock loft in the 2017 season. The third gift pigeon was the four year old Muller / Jan Aarden red cock, 'Ponderosa Red Skin' and he is bred from the best winning 'Red Rising Sun' bloodlines and 'Ponderosa White Tail' is a sister to his dam. Many thanks to Tony and Mary!



That’s our article for this week and once again I would like to say happy retirement to Tony Hayne and Mary Bartlett, and thanks for all their good work over many years for the sport of pigeon racing.

Thanks you two!

I can be contacted on telephone number: 01372 463480.