1st Open N.F.C. Ron & Nigel Dennett, Meden Vale
On Sunday 25th May, after a one day holdover, the National Flying Club released the 9317 pigeons, sent by 1045 members, from Carentan in France, at 9am.
The race adviser had spoken to Terry Scholey, the National Flying Club’s weatherman, at 06:45am where he was informed that the weather was good for a liberation with the exception of a belt of rain approximately 20 miles wide from Bristol to Lincolnshire slowly moving north.
With the prevailing wind being southerly it was decided to wait until the rain had moved further North and a further phone call at 08.00 revealed the belt of rain was steadily moving north and was in the process of dissipating. With this information and bearing in mind another rain belt coming in from the west much later on in the day, a decision was taken to liberate.
And so they were off and some fast times were expected.
When the first members began to verify their arrival online, it was clear to see on the National Flying Club website, that they were doing sixty mile per hour or more and as the pigeons went further up the country, their speed increased slightly.
Around mid day the rain belt had indeed moved further north and was breaking up slowly, and it was a real pleasure for me to see the father and son partnership of R & N Dennett topping the leaderboard. I say this because they have been consistent in the National Flying Club over recent years being very near the top on several occasions.
Only last season they were Champions of the very strong section K of the National Flying Club
I have personally known them for a few years, racing against them in the 3000 member strong Midlands National Flying Club where they have lifted the converted Overall Champions Trophy twice in recent years. Both achievements deserve real accolade and stand as a testament to the quality of their pigeons, hard work and system.
Their winning pigeon, called “The Eighty Six Cock” is of their long standing stock in the loft, being Janssen based with De Klak, also Janssen based, in the mix. They had been to an auction sale over 10 years ago in Nottingham of Peter Van Osch pigeons from Holland and bought a cock for which they wanted a good hen. So they went to Cosworth Stud and bought two squeeker De Klak hens, a blue and a chequer, of which turned out to be cocks! As it transpired this was a blessing in disguise because the chequer cock went on to breed their good hen “Sparrow” and also the mother to “The Eighty Six Cock” and the blue cock bred a 1st section K winner from Cholet and also a Gold Medal winner along with many more very good pigeons.
He was coupled with his hen at the beginning of February and allowed to rear two youngsters.
Once the hen was sitting the second round for a few days she was removed and the cock sat out the nest with the eggs being given to a friend. He was then on widowhood although the partnership do also race the hens.
The cocks go out to exercise twice per day and the partnership each have their duties in the smooth running of the loft. Whilst they are out the loft is cleaned, water bowl replenished and food pots filled and left in each box for the cocks. They have two sections for the race teams, each containing only eight nest boxes.
Whilst this is being done the cocks can have a free run of the sky and are not flagged in any way. For their hour they may land and chase about the roof tops or fly as they wish as Ron takes the dog for a walk at this time he is not worried “They can do as they want” he says.
Once inside they can have half an hour to eat as much as they want before the pots are removed.
Then they are given a little black rapeseed on the floor, which is always eaten with relish, no matter how much they have previously eaten. When asked, Ron said they give this for the high oil content within the seeds to aid better plumage and they like it, so look forward to it.
They never use peanuts anymore because they can be a problem with mold so now just use black rapeseed and sunflower hearts to give the pigeons a little more fats than the Versele Laga Super Widowhood mix contains. The hens are fed a little heavier than the cocks, which the partnership feels gives them a double-edged sword on the racing day whether the wind is helping or against. They will always have something well prepared.
The hens are removed to a separate section and kept singularly in a purpose made box with food and water attached at all times. This lack of free running in the loft keeps them from pairing together and also ensures they really work the sky twice per day after the cocks have been exercised.
Once their exercise period is over they trap back to the section with the nest boxes and are individually carried into their box until the next session. When I commented on the amount of work required to play this system they reassured me is was vital to their achievements.
Making the hens work hard and consequently very tame due to being handled twice per day, they felt it was the real benefit for them.
This season, at the beginning, the team were given free flying after being confined to the loft all winter and once they got themselves fit they went to two club races in preparation for the National. They had not been shown their hens before departure for these early training races nor did they see them on arrival, if fact they only lifted them from the loft without even showing the bowl. The partnership likes to keep all motivation until the National races, keeping their powder dry, just using the club races for education. In fact up until basketing for the National from Carentan, they had not seen their hens since March.
When they saw the weather forecast and realised it may be a fast race, they did decide to give the cocks their hens on the night before at 8 pm and just lift them at 6:30 the next morning to go to the race. The winner, a five-year-old pigeon, has previously scored very highly in the National Flying Club although he has a tendency to sit outside for a while on return, which he did on this occasion for two minutes.
When I asked if the partnership had the electronic timing system, they said they’d had it for two years but never set it up! They still race with rubbers and consequently it can make a pigeon wary of coming directly into the loft.
They are in the process of altering their trapping system so assured me they will be racing on the electronic system next season.
When asked if they used any supplements they said they had tried Aviform products and think they are excellent. In fact it was only this year they began using them by buying a “show deal” of several products and saw a real benefit in their bird’s wellbeing.
The partnership has a real passion for long distance racing and have Tarbes with the National Flying Club firmly in their sights. The pigeons that were sent to this race and will also go to Cholet with Tarbes as the main event of the year. The cocks were lightly fed accordingly, to try to pick up early results out of Carentan and it has rewarded them with their first National win of the season.
Due to the weather the following day, with rain not clearing until the early evening, it was very late when I arrived at their loft in Meden Vale, which consequently meant it was very late when I left around 11pm, so I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the partnership and thank them once again for their kind hospitality.
I really enjoyed the banter I received from Ron, who is a real character much loved in the pigeon sport.
Indeed, two years ago Ron asked me why I did not sent with the National Flying Club because he thought it could be won in the North. I reminded him of that statement and as his prediction had come true so I asked what made him think that way, he replied “because I’m big headed”….but it has to be said, he backs it up with super performances.