The North Road Championship Club’s old hens race from Berwick, sponsored by Unikon, could have been a dead heat – but neither Alan Wright nor Paul Newbold would have cared.
They had the first two birds, and they are partners.
The pigeon which got its beak in front was a grizzle which Alan has named PJ Lofts Pretty Girl. Runner-up, just beaten on the trap, was a two-year-old blue.
Fittingly for the partnership of Wright and Mr and Mrs Newbold, the breeding of the successful birds contained a blend of both partners’ bloodlines.
The grizzle is a cross between Alan’s Mike Ganus pigeons and Paul’s Hugo Morris strain which has been an important long-term ingredient in the PJ Stud, and which Paul describes as being among the best all-round pigeons he has ever owned.
Pretty Girl is just that in Alan’s eyes. “She is stunning,” he said. “She is small but really sparkles. She is three years old but I have never reared anything off her because she has never laid until I gave her a pot egg for this race – and then she laid and would never leave the nest. I usually race on the roundabout system, but this time she was sent sitting.” Three years old, she is from a family of good pigeons. Her sister was this year 19th open NRCC Dunbar and 13th open Perth, and has also been 3rd open Berwick old hens race.
Her father has bred 3rd open Lerwick, 3rd open Perth, 11th NRCC Perth yearling race, 5th open Perth, 20th open Thurso and 6th open Perth. Her mother has been 4th and 11th open NRCC old hens race, and 1st club Sedgefield. The runner-up is a two-year-old Schlepphorst Janssen, and was sitting ten-day-old eggs and had a big youngster in the nestbox.
The Schlepphorsts have been imported from Germany by Paul who says that he is hearing of a lot of successes from around the country by these birds.
The partners are among just a handful of fanciers keeping north road racing alive in Louth, a Lincolnshire hotbed of pigeon racing over the years, and they timed six of their seven-strong entry, also finishing 8th and 13th.vAlan, aged 51, has been a fancier since the age of 12 and, back in 2002, had the thrill of winning the NRCC young bird race from Berwick.
This year the youngsters, who had been performing so well in club races, unexpectedly disappointed in the young bird classic from Berwick, leading to the suspicion that all was not well with them.
Alan looks after the birds at Louth and likes to clean out twice a day, perhaps adding an extra scrape as the hens leave their nests. Paul helps out with the training and advice, something that is always welcomed by Alan.
Indeed, it was Paul who probably saved his pigeon racing career by offering a partnership at a time when Alan was a little despondent and considering quitting the sport. It is fitting, therefore, that they should enjoy this moment of success as friends together.
Paul, and wife Jayne, who run PJ Lofts, a pigeon products business and stud, in rural Lincolnshire – Fen Bank, Friskney – do not always receive the acknowledgement they deserve. Not only is Paul an experienced, dedicated and successful fancier, but their business supports pigeons racing with generous sponsorship, often unheralded. They are present at almost every major event, wherever it is held in the country.
And that has been the case for 30 years.
Paul, whose football ambitions were shattered by a bad injury at the time he was attracting interest from top clubs, turned his passion for pigeon racing first into a stud, and then, with the help of Jayne when they married, expanded into supplying corn and accessories.
All this was in Leicester, but the big expansion came with the bold move to Friskney, where the stud has expanded and the stock of everything needed by fanciers has soared.
Paul still finds time to compete successfully with his birds, at national and local level, and his knowledge as a fancier is a big asset to customers seeking advice.
Paul and Jayne take their goods around the country to the various major shows, and support the sport endlessly through sponsorship. It is difficult to imagine anyone else putting more back into the sport.
Paul contributes to the administrative side of pigeon racing, and keeps his stud up to date by securing birds from popular modern families, as well as staying loyal to some of the older breeds that have served him and his customers so well.
Winners from PJ Lofts are reported from all over the country, and it has always been a policy to keep prices within the reach of the ordinary working fancier.
They have operated a mail order service for a long time, and now have a website to take their vast stock into your home and help fanciers research needs at their leisure.
But still the benefit of Paul and Jayne’s vast experience is only a call away.
Despite this hectic work-sport workload, Paul still finds time to support his home city football team, Leicester City, although it is probably a safe bet that he will be enjoying a lot more pigeon racing success before City repeat their unexpected Premier League championship win of a couple of years ago.
Paul felt that the old hens classic win was a good one, and was pleased at the way the partnership was working out. It was, he said, also a good opportunity to test birds from his stud under the management of Alan, as well as in his own racing partnership with Jayne.
Mr and Mrs Newbold were also 7th and 9th in the old hens race which was dominated by Section C fanciers.
The top 20 were: 1 and 2 Alan Wright and Mr and Mrs Paul Newbold 1606.173 and 1606.040; 3 D Perry 1585; 4 Upsall and Grandson 1550; 5 D Perry 1545; 6 Dayton and Sayers 1535; 7 Mr and Mrs P Newbold 1528; 8 Wright and Newbold 1522; 9 Mr and Mrs Newbold 1503; 10 Mr and Mrs D Evans 1502; 11 Upsall and Grandson 1483; 12 Mr and Mrs D Evans 1476; 13 Wright and Newbold 1469; 14 Upsall and Grandson 11453; 15 R Hughes and Son (Section F) 1452; 16 Dayton and Sayers 1449; 17 and 18 Mr and Mrs D Evans 1430 and 1416; 19 WG Mellett (F) 1415; 20 I and S Rich (F) 1414.