1st September 2014 - West of England South Road Combine

Young bird racing began for the Combine on Sunday 19th July from Lyndhurst having been put back 24 hours
due to a very bad general forecast for Saturday. The decision to do so was well-received by the vast majority of
fanciers but you always get one or two who disagree. Those of us who are involved in such decisions make no
apologies - we have the welfare of the birds uppermost in our minds, especially young birds entering their first
ever race which is difficult enough at the best of times without the added stress of holdovers.
155 members from 23 clubs entered 3396 birds – not a large convoy by Combine standards but perhaps
understandable. Many fanciers do not like sending in the first YB races and this year we appear to have had the
worst ever outbreaks of young bird sickness. My own club in Gloucester were losing around 250 birds from our
entry due to the disease and I know other large clubs were the same. On top of this we have the perennial
problem of hawks and falcons which is getting worse, particularly on training flights – this alone has decimated
fanciers’ lofts.
Our race controller and convoyer exercised patience and held the birds until 10.30am to avoid clashing and the
birds were liberated into a light NW wind – a steady raced ensued with Broad Plain Houses’ (Bristol) Brian
Ferris coming out on top with a velocity of 1361 ypm for the 56 mile trip. Brian’s winner was a mealy hen
feeding a 10 day old youngster. She was one of a batch of young birds obtained by Brian from a Midlands
fancier and he has yet to see her pedigree so cannot give any further details. She had been trained for 4 weeks
prior to the first race and was Brian’s selection for the pools in the Club. He had a good day taking 1st, 2nd, 4th,
5th & 6th Club together with 1st, 3rd, 24th, 25th & 28th Combine. He sent 28 birds and had 25 in 20 minutes. Brian
has commented on the race controller and committee’s decision to put back racing if there is a bad forecast – he
says “Great job – as these young birds are the future for us and we must do all we can to give them a good start
in their racing career”.
1st Combine Lyndhurst (3396b) for Brian Ferris of Broad Plain Houses Club
The Combine’s second young bird race was from Bedhampton on 26th August and saw a further drop in birdage
– the inevitable loss of some birds in the first race was one reason but the continued young bird sickness
coupled with the fact that many prefer to wait for the comeback races was the main factor. 174 members from
26 clubs entered 3073 birds and they were liberated at 8.30am into a light NW wind and perfect conditions.
This time the main honours went to the strong Glastonbury club where the successful partnership of Gary &
Prilly Hodges took 1st & 2nd Combine on 1390 and 1386 ypm for the 63 mile journey. The winner is a light
cheq cock bred by good friends Mr & Mrs Frost of the Crewkerne club; the runner-up is a blue w/f cock bred
by Mark Dorrington of Litton – he was first through the trap but was clocked second and is the third Combine
winner for Gary & Prilly bred by Mark. The partners were followed into 3rd & 4th Combine places by club-mate
Phil Duckett and the Glastonbury club took 15 places in the top twenty.
Garry & Prilly Hodges with 1st & 2nd Combine Bedhampton (3073b)
On Sunday 3rd August the Combine were at Littlehampton – again the race being put back 24 hours because of
a bad Saturday forecast. A further drop in birdage resulted in only 142 members from 23 clubs sending 2173
birds. I was not too dis-heartened by this figure as the forecast for the Sunday had its problems but I had every
faith in Mike Staddon the race advisor getting it right. With the cooperation of other organisations liberating on
or near the south coast, the strings were cut at 6.30am to avoid clashing and the birds were liberated into
sunshine with a light SW wind blowing. The race turned out to be a field day for Bristol fanciers who took 41
of the first 50 places. The Bristol West club took the first three Combine positions for the 99 mile trip on
1422.903, 1422.743 and 1421.166 ypm. 1st & 3rd Combine went to Phil Barry with two Janssen based birds two
of whose grand-parents were previous Combine winners also from Littlehampton. 2nd Combine went to Derek
Phil Barry of Bristol West holding 1st Combine Littlehampton (2173b)
Saturday 9th August saw the Combine getting back to expected birdages when 250 members from all 27 clubs
entered 5190 birds for the come-back Lyndhurst race. Even so there were still a number of fanciers who did not
send having had their training delayed because of young bird sickness. This was certainly evident in my own
club at Gloucester where we broke the 400 barrier but still had the potential for a further 150 birds from
fanciers who were not quite ready. After consultations with other organisations it was decided that 7am would
be the ideal time for liberation and the birds were liberated into a WSW wind with clear blue skies and
excellent visibility. An independent fancier was on site to witness the liberations and it was nice that this
gentleman took time to put his comments on the internet. He praised the convoyer/drivers for the hard work
they were putting in, making sure that everything was in order and that birds had every opportunity to drink. He
also commented on the excellent liberation itself with all birds clearing quickly towards home.
Steve Bennett proved a popular winner at the Sodbury Vale club – some 10 miles NE of Bristol – taking the
first three positions in the Combine on 1409, 1408 & 1408 ypm. The winner’s sire is from Mark Sparey of
Wales, and the dam is a daughter from Steve's best stock hen, 'The Fortinna Hen' of Freddie Vandeheede. The
sire of 2nd Combine is a Freialdenhofen & Son pigeon bought in last year and the dam is from Mark Sparey. 3rd
Combine is a Gaby Vandenabeele with both the sire and dam being from M & D Evans ‘Shadow’ lines. They
are breeding some brilliant pigeons for Steve. Young birds in this loft are flown on the darkness system with
motivation as required. Steve would like to thank local members for their best wishes following his Combine
win and also to Mark Sparey for letting him have some quality pigeons and advice.
Steve Bennett (and friend) of Sodbury Vale with 1 st Combine Lyndhurst (5190b)
The Combine visited Bedhampton for the second time with young birds on 16th August when 250 members
from 26 clubs entered 4731 birds. Once again, when racing from locations along the south coast we have to be
very mindful of clashing with other organisations – our birds are flying towards the west and north-west when
many others are flying in the opposite direction or directly to the north. It is essential that we also know the
intentions of the many thousands of Welsh pigeons flying across our path from places such as Salisbury,
Guildford, Newbury or Swindon. Luckily we have the services of Mike Staddon as our race advisor who spends
a great deal of time liaising with these others to arrange suitable times for all. His efforts are certainly paying
off – however, with the best will in the world it is nigh on impossible to guarantee that some clashing will not
happen but we are doing our best to ensure good racing for all.
Following a rather comical incident with the rocket we use to deter birds of prey, the birds were liberated at
7am into a WNW wind and, judging by the result, a good steady race followed. The Carlingcott partnership of
White, Goddard & Tarmas timed a blue w/f cock to top the Combine on 1349 ypm for the 70 mile trip. The
ever-consistent Brian Ferris of Broad Plain in Bristol was 2nd on 1347 ypm flying 10 miles further than the
winner and he was followed closely by Roy Herbert of Bristol West on 1345 ypm. The Bristol boys were out in
force again with Steve Eamer of Broad Plain 4th on 1344. There then followed a brilliant team performance by
Stuart Wilcox of the Towers club with the next nine positions from 5th – 13th Combine making 1343 ypm down
to 1338 ypm.
John White of Carlingcott HS
1st Combine Bedhampton (4731b) & 16th Combine
Littlehampton (2173b) for White, Goddard &
John White, who races the birds of the White, Goddard and Tarmas partnership (John, Mike and Andy),
clocked a blue white flight cock to win 1st Carlingcott HS and 1st Combine. The sire and dam of the winning
pigeon were a gift from John's good friend Malcolm Taylor of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. The sire is a Van Dorp
and the dam is an I.D. Maddison crossed Porche Bond. A couple of weeks ago the winner was second in the
club from Littlehampton, beaten by a loft mate and 16th in the Combine.
Well that’s it for the first five YB races. With three to go the Combine has increased its birdage from last year
by 2,500 birds so thank you to all for your continued loyalty. Also, thank you to all the Club secretaries for
sending me their results promptly each week making it possible to publish a full Combine result by the end of
Sunday. Finally, could I ask all Combine winners to let me know in writing by the end of September if they
require replicas for the trophies they have won during the season.
Alen Gibb
[email protected]
07977 458806