Written by Fountainhead Racing Stud, and submitted to American Racing Pigeon News, March 1990.
Flying The British Flag
It will come as a pleasant surprise to many fanciers in the UK to learn that the fastest pigeon in the world, over 788 miles, was bred and raced by a British fancier. Many in this country will likewise be surprised, but naturally pleased (at least we would think so) to note that the same pigeon's pedigree is 100% British.
Our subject is a dark check cock with one white flight, bred in 1984 and most fittingly named "National Hero". He was bred and raced by Joe Bates of Hartlepool. This great long distance champion won many superb long distance prizes prior to his record making flight, for instance in 1986 he was sent to Bourges 555 miles with the Up North Combine, the race that year was very difficult, "National Hero" distinguished himself with 3rd Open Fed, velocity 718 ypm, when only 9 birds were timed in race time. In the Up North Combine he was 64th Open against 3,595 birds, and 46th Open Up North Combine Lillers, from 330 miles, 17,000 plus birds.
In 1987 "National Hero" won 8th Section "K" 175th Open Pau NFC National 5,333 birds, distance 788 miles, recording a velocity of 941 ypm. He was actually timed on the second day. This performance was acknowledged to be the world record for the time and distance and is recorded in the RP Pictorial dairy. Ironically, the next bird clocked in the race to fly further than "National Hero", was timed on the Tuesday evening winning NFC trophy for longest flying bird in race time, this pigeon was flying 18 miles further than "National Hero", taking an extra three days to do it! The vast majority of the pigeons timed in before this great champion were flying in the region of 200 miles less, even in the section most of his competitors are approximately 100 miles shorter. Incredibly, this champion actually beat 5,518 pigeons, practically all of which were flying in the region of 200 miles less! He also flew Pau in 1988. Like "Virgo", another British born, bred and raced record holder, he overcame a handicap which would have been considered insurmountable before the event. A daughter of the latter will be mated to him in due time, for the moment however, he is paired to a pigeon which scored well for Norman Barrett of Fountainhead Racing Stud from Pau also, namely the "Pau Hen". "Pau Hen" won 28th Section "K" Pau NFC flying 727 miles, as a young bird she was the only bird on the day in the clock station from Guernsey flying 321 miles, winning 18th Section "K" NFC, velocity 901 ypm. "Pau Hen" is inbred to John Kirkpatrick's winner of 1st Open National Rennes (SNFC).
"National Hero"'s ancestry does have an affinity with the Kirkpatrick's. "National Hero" is a superb physical specimen, being slightly less than average size and possessing superb pectoral muscles with feathers like silk, possessing a brilliant eye, full of colour and character. He is an extremely calm and quiet pigeon. His prepotency is already proven, having sired winners in 1987 and 1988. "National Hero", as you will note from the following details, descends from champion long distance racers and producers, pigeons which have evolved in the North East of England, their channel races constituting possibly the most difficult route in the world. Their origination is predominantly the world famous Sion strain, and this is where the affinity with the Kirkpatrick's lies. Paul Sion was a great friend of Dr. Arthur Bricoux, they exchanged pigeons on a regular basis, and consequently their strains were very closely related. It is well known that John Kirkpatrick based his strain on the Bricouxs. In their day, Kirkpatrick, Sion, and Bricoux were acclaimed to have produced the finest long distance strains in their respective countries, to the present day none have surpassed them! The Sion bloodlines in the pedigree of "National Hero" in the main originate from Sir William Proctor Smith.
Sire of "National Hero" is Bl Griz NEHU78P-6029. This great champion won many good prizes, including 1st Fed Cleremont, 405 miles 2,000 birds competing, a very hard race (only two birds home in the Fed on the day). In the Wed Club Combine '6029' should have been 2nd Open Combine but this was not allowed due to a misunderstanding with the nominations. As a young bird he won 2nd club Retford, 254 birds and 3rd Club Huntingdon. However, after the Cleremont Fed win he was retained for stock, a wise decision because, in addition to "National Hero", 6029 has bred several ace long distance birds. Full brother to "National Hero", 1984 bred "Dene Boy" is another great long distance racer for Joe Bates, having won many inland prizes before winning 19th Fed Melun and 7th Fed Bourges, 450 and 560 miles respectively. Sire of 6029 is Bl Ch P NEHU75P-4694, bred and raced by Carr and Fenwick of Wheatley Hill. 4694 was a brilliant long distance racer, as a yearling he won 1st Club, 2nd FCC, 2nd Fed, 170th Up North Combine 10,844 birds Beauvais, 400 miles, vel 981 ypm. In 1978 1st Club, 1st FCC, 1st Fed, 42nd Up North Combine 12,129 birds, Melum 460 miles, vel 1,005 ypm. (In that race he also won 63rd Open International). In his career, 4694 also won many other good races, such as 1st Open Retford, 1st Fed Retford, 1st Club 1st Fed Melum, 460 miles. 4694, like his offspring and their offspring won at all race distances. 4694 was a great long distance champion, witness his Combine prizes, however, it is his prepotency which merits him a true champion, having sired, in several generations, many long distance champions. Dam of NEHU78P-6029 is NEHU77E-8699, a great stock hen for Carr and Fenwick, having bred several long distance winners. 8699 is described as Proctor Smith/Sion which, like the Kirkpatrick strain, is renowned not just for its great beauty, but the fact that it has maintained its prepotency for many decades.
Dam of "National Hero" is Bl Ch W/F NEHU78S-1215, this famous stock hen is described by Joe Bates as "pure Sion, worth her weight in gold as a producer". She was bred by J Maw of South Hylton and kindly loaned to Joe to pair to 6029. The pedigree of 1215 is outstanding, sire Red Ch W/F NEHU70R-2583 "Red Ensign", a famous champion in the North East, both racing and breeding. Racing he won over 800.00 pounds, in today's money that will equal about 3,000 pounds. "Red Ensign" won in 1972 1st Club, 2nd Fed FCC, 42nd Up North Combine Beauvais, 7,862 birds 400 miles; 1st Club, 1st Fed Retford 1973; 1st Club Beauvais, 400 miles; 5th Club Lillers, 342 miles; 5th Club Beauvais 400 miles plus many more good positions. A vast number of long distance champions descent closely from this ace. For example, see J Maw's sale list, RP 15/1/82. "Red Ensign" is closely related to the famous Sion cock "William of Orange" the great Arnhem hero who was awarded a Dickin medal. In fact most of the lines in this pedigree can be traced to this national war hero. Dam of 87S-1215 is Dr Ch P NEHU70H-7759, a famous Sion stock hen and a champion long distance bird in her own right. 7759 won 1st prize Bourges, 567 miles, 2nd Fed and 30th Up North Combine Bourges, vel 889 ypm against 6,218 birds (2/7/72). This great hen produced many pigeons to win either top Fed or Combine positions. For example, "7011" won 1st Club 81st UNC Bourges, "5436" 6th Fed Lilles, "7007" 1st Fed Hatfield, "5809" 1st Selby 82 miles plus many other winners. In 1988 two grand-daughters of this hen won 2nd NEGDC Nevers. The other won 8th Section "K" Nates NFC National, a brilliant performance flying almost 100 miles further than most of her competitors in the section. 7759 is sister to champion racer/producer "Wearside Princess", winner of 1st North of England championship club 2nd Up North Combine Beauvais, 400 miles, 5th Lillers, 4th Beauvais, 2nd Beauvais, 1st Wednesday Club Peterborough, 4th Club Lillers (2) and 1st TWCC. Sire is Bl P NEHU65E-74740 bred by Les Kilshaw of Liverpool from Mealy P C NURP54L-283, son of the famous Kilshaw Sion pair 610 x 1759, both bred by Sir William Proctor Smith, both related to Dickin medal winner "William of Orange". In fact 1759 was the own daughter of the courageous Arnhem hero. Dam of 74740 is a Bl P daughter of Kilshaw's "Reference 1". The famous "Mackeral Cock" is closely related to the Kilshaw Sions. One of the best ever long distance champions flying into Scotland was "Champion Happy", a Red Ch, Sion x Bricoux cock belonging to Elliott Borthwick. At national level "Happy" won 7th Section, 18th Open Rennes 6,377 birds, vel 1,065 ypm. 1st Sec, 45th Open Rennes, 5,609 birds vel 1,491 ypm. 15th Sec, 110th Open Rennes, 6,750 birds, vel 937 ypm. In national competition "Happy" won 1,800.00 pounds. Sion bloodlines, both "pure" and crossed with other families such as Kirkpatrick and Bricoux, have stood the test in long races over many decades.
The Laws and Maws partnership (now dissolved) is well known throughout Britain, winners of 1st and 2nd Up North Combine and many other prominant positions down the years with Sions. Another very famous loft in the North East with the Sir William Proctor Smith Sions was that of Simpson and Son of Shotten Colliery; reference to this partnership can be found in the BHW Stud Book of 1967, pages 294 and 295. At that time they were the highest prize winners in their club, average 47 lofts, 9 years in succession, their famous Dk Ch Sion cock "Jet" won 49th UNC Lillers 12,000 birds, 88th UNC Angouleme, 632 miles. He was a great producer of long distance champions, including the winner of 2nd Up North Combine Bourges 5,505 birds, the record cock in the TRPA was a grandson of "Jet".
WORLD'S MOST DIFFICULT ROUTE
Carr and Fenwick of Wheatley Hill have had brilliant successes over the years with these bloodlines. They are responsible for breeding 6029 the sire of "National Hero". One can, without fear of over boldness, state that the Up North Combine is the strongest organisation in the whole of the Bristish Isles with entries up to 30,000 birds. One must possess birds of exceptional quality to score consistently in the fierce competition offered by the grand fanciers situated in the North East of England. "National Hero" is such a bird and, as you can see from his pedigree, he was bred for the job. As mentioned above, he will be paired to own daughter of 1st national winner "Virgo", when paired to "Lee's Faith", the 1st Combine winner, only bird on the day, 560 miles. "Virgo" interestingly descends from a previous British 700 miles record holder, namely "The Devil", winner of 2nd and 22nd National Barcelona.
New owners of "National Hero", Fountainhead Racing Stud share the viewpoint of many experienced fanciers when they state that British fanciers and British long distance pigeons are the best in the world, they have to be, the climate and terrain is the most difficult for racing pigeons anywhere to be found. Fountainhead's policy is to obtain the best British champions, the purchase of "National Hero" follows on from the acquisition of "Britannia", the 700 mile Dax winner. More recently they have acquired the winner of 2nd Up North Combine Bourges 560 miles when only two birds were timed on the day. Full details will be published soon.
TCC Loft - Mike Taylor