NRCC Berwick 2014 By George Wheatman
Darren Kingswood, and partners Jackie Barker and Shane Hannah were within 42 seconds of equalling a record that has stood unbroken for 32 years when they won the opening North Road Championship Club race of the season for the second successive year.The provisional result from Berwick shows only fanciers’ first timings, and that puts the Huttoft, Lincolnshire, team in the lead with a velocity of 1877 yards per minute.But what it doesn’t show is that they are likely also to take second place with their pigeon that won the race last year.
Had she been first in the clock, she would have been the first bird to win two NRCC races in succession since the husband and wife partnership of Bridget and Geoff Clare won the Perth races in 1981 and 1982 with Champion Lucky.So, strangely, despite the boost of winning the race for a second time, Darren was slightly disappointed that it was not last year’s winner that crossed the line first, especially as he had really fancied her to do well and had pooled her to £5.
Not that he was too down in the dumps! How could he be as the partners, members of the strong Alford North Road RPC, enhanced their reputation of fast becoming NRCC specialists, having added a section win from Lerwick to their open win from Berwick last year.
The original successes were under the name of Barker and Kingswood. Shane Hannah, former licensee of the Red Lion at nearby Mumby, has joined the partnership since last season, bringing new enthusiasm with him and, in the main, looking after their south road team.
The race was held on Sunday after a day’s holdover. Liberation was in a North West Wind, but it was mainly West at the home end and a dream come true for fanciers competing in the Eastern Sections Two and Four.
With the strong, gusty winds, came heavy showers and dark clouds and, while the successful fanciers were praising the liberation, the less successful ones – in typical pigeon racing fashion – were not so happy.
Fanciers reported erratic returns and, no doubt, many birds were carried over into Norfolk and Suffolk but, hopefully, will now be working their way home.
The winning pigeon was a yearling blue pied hen flying on roundabout, and was bred out of a pair of Louella Gevaerts which Darren bought a couple of years ago, investing previous prize money in four pairs.
The second pigeon, a 2011 blue hen, was last year’s winner but her breeding still remains a mystery to Darren because he lost that year’s stud book.
They will in all probability have another pigeon well placed, and this is the bird that won the section from Lerwick last year.
The winner was a steady performer as a young bird, racing the programme, and had had two races before going to Berwick. The hens, says Darren, were flying well around home and were in better condition than the cock birds. Because they had been exercising so well, they had not been training in the build-up to the race.
The partners sent 35, and had 22 home on the day.
Darren said that he did not expect them home quite so quickly, although his father had warned him that the velocities would be high.
The bulk of the team will go to the next NRCC race from Perth and, hopefully, Arbroath.
Darren has always been indebted to partner Jackie for her contribution, particularly in training, and he says that Shane has now added another dimension to the partnership.
Always in the background, too, is Darren’s father who first introduced him to the sport. NRCC Berwick sections 2014
The numbers may be smaller as the years have passed, but the quality remains as high as ever - just look at the class oozing from the section winners of the first race of the North Road Championship Club season from Berwick, won for the second successive year by the Huttoft, Lincolnshire, partnership of Jackie Barker, Darren Kingswood and their new associate Shane Hannah.
Two hundred and fifty six members sent 2, 709 birds, and this is a significant entry from which to produce the winner, let alone also time the second bird. The Lincolnshire partnership did just that on velocities of 1878 and 1870, in addition to taking seventh, 36th, 42nd and 43rd open places.
As was revealed in the original report of their success, they were within a whisker of equalling the record of Geoff and Bridget Clare who won the Perth races in 1981 and 1982 with the same pigeon (Champion Lucky) as the Barker, Kingswood, Hannah 2014 runner-up had won the race the previous year. What had escaped my notice was that the Clares, now embarking on their second season of pigeon racing in Australia and beginning to get encouraging results, had repeated the feat in 2009 and 2010 when the same hen bird was the winner for them on each occasion.
The Berwick race was difficult for some after a day’s holdover. The strong easterly winds encountered for much of the journey made it a bonanza for those sections in the east of NRCC territory, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk in particular.
That meant difficult conditions for inland fanciers, despite which many of them responded with impressive performances. So let’s have a look at the section winners some of whom changed from the provisional results once the race secretary received accurate details from clock stations:
SECTION ONE – H TAYLOR and SONS, EASTWOOD
The provisional result suggested that the winner of this section was Ernie Gregory who has enjoyed open success from Thurso (2002) and Fraserburgh (last year) but, in the final analysis the first two places went to Dennis Taylor, Ernie’s Eastwood clubmate who still competes under the title of H Taylor and Sons, as a tribute to his late father and brother.
The Taylors have been no strangers to success at the highest level, winning the King’s Cup from Lerwick in 1990 and taking 1st and 2nd open Perth in 2008. The winner of the Perth race had been named Albi, in memory of Dennis’s late brother, but it mysteriously disappeared from the loft a couple of years ago. One day Dennis noticed that it was missing, but has no idea what happened.
It was a 1-2 section this year from Berwick, a triumph that came as a welcome boost for 68-year-old bachelor and retired shopfitter Dennis as he continues to recover from major heart surgery.
The two birds came together and recorded velocities of 1564.6859 and 1564.5650, while the third-placed Gregory pigeon was on 1563.4017.
First across the line for Dennis was a four-year-old dark pied widowhood cock bird from his old family via Dean Skuse (FabryxBraspenning) which had won the Kimberley club two weeks in succession.
The second pigeon was a Ceuleman from double NRCC King’s Cup winner Frank Bristow, and this three-year-old blue widowhood cock was obviously in top form as it had won the Notts Federation from Whitley Bay the previous week.
Dean Skuse, says Dennis, also played a major role in his acquisition of this pigeon, passing on to him birds that he had ordered from the Bristow loft.
Dennis sent seven birds to Berwick, getting five on the day and the other two early next morning. He says he is the furthest west flying member of the section which makes his achievement all the more commendable.
After a slow start to the season as he recovered from his operation in February, the loft is now in good form, and Dennis says that he will be eternally grateful to friend Graham Foster who travelled six miles every day to look after the pigeons while he was unable to do so.
The fact that the birds soon got into full stride, after a slow start, was a tribute to the manner in which Graham looked after them.
On the Berwick race day, Dennis said it was “very, very windy, really bending the trees.” And the wind was in the west. He was surprised to win the section which he thought would go to a fancier in the Ollerton area.
Last year Dennis showed his consistency and ability to pick the right pigeon by pocketing the £1, 000 nomination.
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