John Halstead of Kington Magna
John Halstead is no stranger to the top of the National results, having won Barcelona, been second Barcelona twice and first open Palamos, all of which are Blue Riband events! Indeed, I would have been visiting him earlier this season, was it not for just one pigeon, out of an entry of 6823b. That was the British International Championship Club’s race from Alencon, when John was second open to Mark Shepherd in Plymouth. But it was a happier occasion with the British International Championship Club race from Falaise, when John won the Old Bird race outright, and by a very good margin too.
It is well known that John has produced many instructional DVD’s on a range of topics to aid the progress of our sport of pigeon racing, and who can doubt his qualifications. He can certainly “walk the walk” and I for one have been very impressed with his “never say die” attitude to channel racing.
John is a realist and when racing in National organisations, he is pragmatic about the weather conditions dictating the result. But he also knows that an opportunity is not to be missed, so when the wind and weather were favorable for his part of the country, he was ready with a super hen that had been carefully prepared and had scored very highly in the section of the National Flying Club, just 4 days previous. Having flown Falaise in just 4 hours and 7 minutes, racing to a three day old youngster, she won 3rd Section 30th Open, after a 5 day holdover.
John felt it had not taken too much out of her and continued her preparation for the British International Championship Club just three days later, only this time her baby was now 10 days old. This second time from Falaise, she completed the 174 miles in 4 hours and 1 minute to take the first open position by a clear 132 yards per minute, which equates to her having a 27 mile clear lead! She was very keen to be back with her partner and youngster, which verified John’s faith in her ability.
The blue pied yearling hen is of the Albert Marcellis bloodlines. Her sire and dam were purchased from an auction sale in the Midlands, where they had proved their breeding quality, by previously producing a 400-mile Federation winner. This is actually a father to daughter mating, which John would not normally do, but both had been first prize winners and over the last fortnight 3 young birds from this same pair have won 1st Club, 4th Section 34th Open British Barcelona Club from Fougeres and 26th in the French One Loft final.
Their national winning daughter, now named “Nyland Falaise” had also shown potential during the old bird season by being third and twice fifth from the shorter Channel races, but in the hard British International Championship Club race from Poitiers, she did not return for two weeks.
On the 25th of June, John was pleased to see her waiting to enter the loft and upon inspection he realised she had been attacked as she was missing tail feathers, secondary feathers and some primary flights. Consequently she was put in a section with the widowhood hens, to rest and recuperate, until she grew some replacement feathers.
Once flying free and gaining her fitness, John decided to set her up for the final two National races in the old bird program, and re-paired her to her partner on the fourth of August. Daily exercise and regular training commenced, along with the young bird team, beginning at a steady pace, up to 35 miles and finally a fly from Chichester, which is 75 miles to the loft.
She was then entered into the National Flying Club race from Falaise and the day after her return she was given a 15 mile training spin to assess her fitness. There was no sign of fatigue at all and out of the whole team she was third over the electronic timing pad, so everything suggested she was fine to go again the following day, with similar wind and weather conditions predicted, she was sent to the same race point, only this time, to win the British International Championship Club!