It was an afternoon of agony and ecstasy for Brian and Christine Guilford before it was confirmed that their dream of winning an open race with the North Road Championship Club had become a reality.
.First they were in the lead from Racing Pigeon-sponsored Perth race, and then it seemed they had been relegated to second place before it was revealed that the “overtaking” fancier had verified the wrong time.
Again, however, the leaderboard changed, and the Guilfords were back in second place by .6 of a yard. But once more it was a false alarm; another fancier had also verified the wrong time – and Brian and Christine were back in front – this time to stay.
“We must be the only fanciers to win the NRCC three times in one day,” joked a jubilant Brian. “We are very, very pleased. I have longed for this day for many years. My wife said ‘I knew you would do it even though it has taken you 60 years.”
Winner to the Sandiacre lofts was an experienced four-year-old chequer cock bird, one of a long line of brothers that have brought almost non-stop success to the Guilfords.
This champion racer has now nine firsts to his credit, plus three firsts Federation. He was 6th section NRCC Dunbar this year.
Remember I wrote a couple of years ago of their remarkable success from NRCC Fraserburgh in successive years.
Here is a reminder:
“In 2012 they were winners of Section Three and second open, and this year, (2013) again, they were winners of Section Three and second open!! But the amazing thing is that the pigeons were full brothers bred in the same year – one in the first nest, and the other in the second nest.
So, has that been done before? Unlikely, I bet.”
Well, the latest winner from Perth is another brother to this outstanding pair.
The week before yet another brother topped the Federation.
The parents are still in the loft, being a Janssen hen obtained in a swap from David Oakes of Eastwood, and one of their own Janssen cock birds.
The Guilfords, steadfast supporters of north road racing, have been a name to look out for in NRCC racing in recent years and, for a long time, have been outstanding competitors at club, federation and amalgamation level, but, ironically, had not enjoyed their usual success in the early stages of this season.
Last season they had eight firsts under their belts by now, but this season they have been slightly off the pace – not by much, but enough to keep them out of top spot, until three weeks ago when the tide turned and normal winning service was resumed. Just in time to register their best-ever win.
After timing their first bird from Perth, they had to wait another 18 minutes for the second arrival before eventually recording eight home on the day out of an entry of 12.
This, on a day when returns were patchy, and many perches were empty at the end of race day.
The wind at their end, said Brian, was all over the place, veering from the east, to north east and even south west during the course of the day.
It has already been decided not to race Saturday’s winner again, and it is awaiting being named by Mrs Guilford. She lays claim to the bird because it occupies one of her nestboxes which are identified by letters of the alphabet. The boxes containing Brian’s birds are numbered.
The Guilfords have maintained their high standards over the years by breeding off Federation winners, but changed their policy to breeding only off birds that have done well in the NRCC.
“You need different birds to do well in the NRCC compared to club racing,” said Brian. “In the NRCC they are breaking in different directions and not all coming on the same line.”
There is a long history to Brian’s link with pigeon racing because both his father and grandfather were fanciers.
Always looking to maintain high standards, Brian quips “There is an inquest if we are not in the first four. Once the NRCC season starts the birds go every fortnight. I think you need a cleverer pigeon for NRCC racing where there are some good fanciers and the birds are spread over a wide area. We have been members of the NRCC for a long time.
“We only fly widowhood cocks because that is the easiest for us. They always come back to the hens, even for every training toss. We feed a mixture of widowhood mixes. We also feed some seeds,” said 72-year-old Brian.
He thinks that their slow start to the season may be due to a change in the make-up of the food mixture they usually use, but that has now been remedied.
Brian has held various offices over the years, particularly as a clocksetter in the old days, but he has now welcomed ETS which he feels is a Godsend.
This latest win will be a boost to Mr and Mrs Guilford, both of whom have had health problems over the years, Christine having to endure courses of chemotherapy in her battle against cancer, and Brian needing daily doses of morphine to help him through the pain barrier which followed complications after a double hernia operation when he was 50. He has been unable to work since, having previously run a green grocery business.
As usual in NRCC racing there were disappointments for some fanciers, and outstanding performances by others. Brian was quick to point out the timing in London by Fred Dawkins and Son to take provisional third open. “What a pigeon,” he exclaimed.
Is this another sign that a London open win is not far away?
With the Guilfords winning Section A, other provisional section winners are: B – K Lawson; C – Mr and Mrs B Garnham; E – S Conkey; F – S and A Newnham; H – F Dawkins and Son; I – T Gunn.
Now it is on to the next race from Fraserburgh, sponsored by Bamfords Top Flight, on June 11th (last entries June 7th and marking on Thursday June 9th).