Geoff and Clayton Preece of Pineham
Imagine holding the record for the only bird on the day ever into the UK from Perpignan International. A record that has stood for 4 years and seeing it broken…but broken to a bird to your own loft, a bird that has won 1st Open British International Championship Club Perpignan before in 2012, and then learning it has won 1st Open British International Championship Club Perpignan for a second time!
Takes some believing but it’s true, “Wiggins” won the BICC from Perpignan in 2012, again in 2014 and was timed on the day. The release took place at 5:45am and he was timed after flying 581 miles at 8:46pm in to Pineham near Dover.
Crossing the sea at the shortest point is a distance of 22 miles, and this at the end of the day, when darkness is drawing in, after a 560 mile fly is a fantastic achievement indeed and one that deserves due recognition. The bird is truly amazing and now has two National wins to its credit, along with his other creditable achievements.
Wiggins has now won; 1st National Perpignan, 581 miles 2014, 17th National Barcelona, 675 miles in 2014, 45th National Perpignan, 581 miles 2013, 16th National St Vincent, 533 miles 2013, 31st National Pau, 547 miles 2013, 1st National Perpignan, 581 miles 2012, 39th National St Vincent, 533 miles 2012, 10th National Perpignan, 581 miles 2011
His results are from long distance International races with liberations from the Western Atlantic side of France and the Eastern Mediterranean side. Many of the outstanding pigeons in mainland Europe do this every year and Geoff thinks this really gives the top class pigeons and the fanciers the maximum opportunity to shine in the biggest of all competitions in Europe.
His breeding is a 100% long distance lines. He is a grandson of Bill Woodall’s Barcelona winner – ‘Dragon’s Boy’ and a hen from the German Stoffel- Ophof loft containing the bloodlines of ‘270’ and ‘Marseille Star’
In fact their second pigeon in the Perpignan race came to win 6th open, is nest mate to “Wiggins”. He is raced on the widowhood system and paired around mid March. Once the hen has laid her second egg she is removed a day or two later and the eggs are floated under foster parents. The cocks are given pot eggs to sit out until he leaves the nest and then he is on the widowhood system and given early club races to achieve the required fitness.
Geoff says his pigeons come into form later in the season this way and although Pau International is in June, they still hold their own. “Wiggins” was raced from Barcelona this season and after a three-week rest period, was entered into Perpignan. Geoff had carefully considered these races for him pre season and his preparation was geared towards them.
In 2010 their pigeon “Jack Jones” was timed from Perpignan on the day to win first National and the record now equaled by “Wiggins” and in 2014 won 20th open Perpignan. He has flown in races across the sea on 38 occasions from race points located on the western side of France (the Atlantic) and the eastern side (the Mediterranean) including 11 International races. This pigeon has won many positions including the 1st Open BICC National Perpignan in 2010. He was bred by Stoffel-Gr.Ophoff of Dorsten, Germany- and was purchased as a 4-week-old baby.
Geoff and Clayton went to the loft of Stoffel-Gr.Ophoff on the recommendation of his good friend the late Bill Woodall and also friend and mentor Dr.Jeff Horn, after Clayton developed sensitivity to pigeon bloom and had to finish with his sprint team. Clayton would rush home from school to his pigeons and spend most of his spare time with his pigeons, so it came as a real blow when he was told to give them up.
Geoff had resigned himself to the fact that the pigeons had to go when it was decided to race a very small team of cocks in the International races. This year they began with 16 cocks and Clayton is now able to be more involved after some alterations to the loft and the use of protective measures. Geoff says that all young fanciers should be encouraged to wear a loft coat, a hat and facemask when with the pigeons as a sensible precaution.
As a family they also run a company called The White Doves of Dover, which involves releasing the birds at weddings and christenings etc, and they are busy most weekends. Geoff says they have always been a family of stockmen, and enjoys applying the husbandry skills he has learned over the years to the pigeons. He says they must have all the pieces of the jig saw in place to perform at their best and this is a year round hobby the father and son can enjoy together.
When I visited Geoff and Clayton it was early morning on the Sunday and I was lucky enough to see their last two birds arrive to complete the seven bird team performance, all in race time.