Toft Hill-Sigogne National
Firstly, a brief word about the Tarbes 2019 race when only 2 Sportsman members Jim Nicholson and Tom Cuthbertson were brave enough to send 4 birds to this extreme distance event of over 800 miles. Unfortunately, there were no birds home in race time although Tom, had his solo entry arrive shortly after the race had closed. His hope is that this 2year old hen will have gained much from the experience and she will now have a long rest and be prepared for another go in 2020. We all wish you the best of luck with this plan Tom.
Next up was the Sigogne National scheduled for the 20th July. At race marking on Wednesday the 17th there was a decent turnout with 10 members sending 37 birds for a race of between 600 and 640 miles. However, when it came to Saturday the liberation was put back 24 hours due to inclement weather. Sunday morning arrived to a much improving weather picture and the news that birds were up at 6 am into a light North wind changing to a South on route was welcomed. Speculation was that we may see birds into the North East on the 14 hours flying mark depending the strength of South in the wind and where it kicked in. Unfortunately, this did not work out as hoped for the Sportsman members with no birds recorded on the first day. So, with everything to play for it was another early Monday morning at the lofts for our members. I was there just after 4.30am making ready and at 5am I turned my young bird team out as normal. They were soon working up and down the Derwent Valley returning some 40 minutes later when I noticed a pigeon coming from the East join the batch. Eventually Dark21 a 2year old of John Halstead bloodlines pulled out the batch and dropped onto the loft, quickly entering the traps timed at 5.51am to win the Sportsman and 4TH Section N. As a yearling and again this year he flew Messac (456 miles) as a warmup for Sigogne where he was sent sitting 5 days on eggs. A couple of hours later I glimpsed another bird racing hard from the East and it wasted no time in entering the traps to be timed at 8.20am. This was Dark63 a 3year old Brugemann from the best of Dave Impett blood and ended up 2nd Sportsman and 6th Section. In 2018 Dark 63 was 3rd Sportsman 7th Section N Coutances in his only race then put to one side for 2019. Trained to 250 miles this year he went to Sigogne feeding a large baby which was his pride and joy. Flying 640 miles (longest flying birds timed in the National) they recorded velocities of 1142 & 992 ypm respectively.
The race team are fed on Vanrobaey No’s 39 & 35 which keeps them in tip top condition for the longer races.
Taking 3rd Sportsman was the consistent partnership of McSween & Sexton from Sunderland with a 2year old Cheq. Cock recording a velocity of 799ypm. And in 4th place came Mr & Mrs Walker from Stockton with a 2year old Blue Cock recording a velocity of 781ypm.
I timed a Red hen early 3rd morning to grab the 5th place. This hen flew Sigogne last season ending 6th Sportsman and has now gone one better. Bred by my friend Alan Astin of Carnforth she had been trained to 200 miles and was lifted into the race sitting 5day eggs.
Birds continued to return on the 3rd day with Barry Blackett and Brian Wiemer & Son both recording arrivals. Brian Weimer, from Hartlepool, was a tad unlucky his 6year old hen was reported by a fancier in Whitby the second day. After a rest, light feed and water it was released the same day and eventually made it home around midday on day 3 taking 6th Sportsman.
For the 2nd race running Bob McKie claimed the Vanrobaey sponsorship prizes of corn and a great range of grit and supplements.
2019 NFC Racing
Reflecting on the old bird season we cannot under-estimate the damage caused by the poor outcome at the Fougeres event. It really destroyed the National season hopes of many and there was no bounce back. Entry numbers in subsequent races suffered however our members rallied and some notable performances were achieved. We now move on to the Old Hens/Young Bird Coutances National in early September and are hoping for a good event with good returns to finish off a rather mixed and disappointing National racing season.
On behalf of all our club members I wish you much success in the final NFC race of the season.