Fougeres National flown 19th May
Firstly can I offer congratulations to Phil Priddle on his Open victory and all other lofts that won their Section. I would also like to say a big well done to Mr Woods of Barnsley who is standing 8th Open in the provisional result flying 364 miles. Some achievement on such a tough race day.
Generally though the race outcome will long be remembered for the wrong reasons and could have a major impact on the NFC entry levels as the season progresses. Certainly up here in the North East race entries will be affected as 5 days after the event returns are still only around the 20% mark.
When members attended the Toft Hill marking station on Wednesday the 15th for race marking expectations were high and there was much excitement and anticipation about the race among our members who were flying between 420 and 465 miles. Some of our new members were in attendance and everyone pitched in and gave a hand to ensure marking went smoothly which generally was the case with only minor mishap. (I had to refuse a couple of entries because ETS ring details were not correctly synchronised and would require corrective action-something we decline to do on marking night.) We also checked that all birds were correctly wing stamped or carrying address rings as per RPRA rule 121. In the end we marked 113 birds (127 entered) from 18 members which was most disappointing given we have over 40 paid up members. I would like to thank everyone for their support with the marking it does make my job a lot easier.
Once marking finished the crates were quickly loaded and transported on the night to Sheffield where they were safely transferred to the NFC Transporter. Marking on a Wednesday means a minimum of 3 nights in the crates for the birds. We now know that the birds were liberated on the Sunday at 7.45am with inclement weather having caused the holdover. From the weather information available it looked to me like Tuesday would be the earliest we would get a race. It was much to everyone’s surprise when the message came through that the birds had been liberated at 7.45am on the Sunday. The website indicated that the birds had a good start and all cleared within 2 minutes. During the course of the day and because of some unprecedented weather a disappointing race evolved with poor returns across the whole country. Watching the early arrival times on the NFC website it soon became obvious that North East birds were in for an exceptionally difficult time of it. So much so that we saw nothing timed in the club on the day of release.
However after an anxious wait a brave little yearling hen was timed by Barrie Blackett flying 435 miles into Butterknowle in the west of Co Durham. He wins the Sportsman doing 723 ypm and her brother, a yearling cock was 2nd club timed at 9.47 am doing 696 ypm. Barrie is no stranger to the winners table as in recent years his birds have performed consistently at local and national level. And to top it all this was his first win using his new IPigeon ETS. However at clocks on the Monday night he still only had 2/10 in the loft.
In 3rd place came Mr & Mrs Allan Walker from Stockton. They timed a 3year old Cheq. Cock flying 430 miles doing 689 ypm. This was a good start to the national season for Allan and Carol making up for the disappointment of Middlesbrough FC missing out on promotion! Then in 4th place came the partnership of Ian & Lyn Carter from Middlesbrough who timed at 9.54 am flying 429 miles doing 683ypm. A brave effort from one of their 2year old Blue cocks. They also had a second bird at 14.08pm.
Next in the frame taking 5th place were John & Stephen Best in Stockton who timed a very consistent 4 year old Blue cock doing 678 ypm over 431miles. John was extremely upset about the race outcome as this was their only bird home from 14 at clocks.
In 6th place at 11.10am came Bob Mckie at Chopwell with Dawson’s Boy a very experienced and reliable 5 years national pigeon. Flying 456 miles his velocity was 654 ypm He will now be made ready for Cholet in just under 4 weeks hence.
At clocks we had 10 birds back in the club from 114 sent. Less than 10% and only a handful making it in the days following.
New member Craig Thompson who races into Seaton Delaval, Northumberland (465 miles) was most unlucky. Called into work early morning on his day off and when the loft was checked just after 1pm 2 of his 4 birds entries had made it back safely but unfortunately the ETS battery was flat. One of the downsides of flying to an allotment garden. However Craig said it would not discourage him from sending again in the near future.
Barrie Blackett wins the Vanrobaey Feeds of Belgium sponsorship prizes of corn and a range of their excellent products. This is the 4th season in a row that they have sponsored our full race programme and it is much appreciated. Many of our members now use their feeds and supplements especially their Premiun Power range developed for extreme distance racing. In addition Barrie, also picked up the £50 sponsorship from Mr & Mrs Harry Crowther of Consett.
I have touched on the issue of Mother Nature in several previous articles and once again this national indicates the severity that changing weather patterns will have on our sport. In my view whilst BOP are problematical Climate Change is by far the biggest and current danger to our sport. We need to ensure that we have clear liberation processes in place. Comprehensive information flows and strong communications between racing organisations/convoyers to help better understand and minimise risks to racing. We need line of flight reports from key locations by fanciers on the ground and especially on the Channel. Animal welfare is of paramount importance and this includes not only the quality of our transporters and their management regimes but the suitability of our crates and capacity levels. All the risks of a changing climate are also staring us in the face including, unprecedented tropical downpours which can be increasingly localised with rapidly changing pace on the one hand and possible extreme temperature levels as experienced in 2018 on the other. All major racing organisations need to be ahead of the curve on this score and ensure our sport can stand up to scrutiny from Animal Welfare groups or we may face unwelcome Regulations being imposed by DEFRA. The time for ACTION is now and I hope the NFC has the vision and foresights to take the lead.
By the time this article is published we will have moved on the next national. Let’s hope for a better race and we wish you all successful racing.