Patrington Haven Leisure Park is just as the word Haven means a ‘safe harbour or resting place’ situated near to the lovely, back in time village of Patrington in close proximatey to the well known bird spotting paradise of ‘Spurn Head’. It offers a wide variety of recreational ammenities including: Horse riding, Keep fit, swimming, fishing and a host of other ways to enjoy a nice break from the hurlyburly of everyday life. So when a pigeon fancier suggested why not have a pigeon loft on the 40 acre site, little did the man realise that his comments would rekindle the pigeon racing passion that the owner of the park has had since his younger formative years.
Graham Sparkes mulled over the idea and thought ‘why not’ so the wheels were soon in motion. Anyone who knows Graham is well aware that anything he does he ‘does it right’. This is why he is such a successful businessman. So in no time at all a magnificent complex was built devoted to pigeon racing with several huge custom built Petron lofts in situ.
The search was then on for the finest bloodlines that money can buy and to quote Graham himself ‘’No consideration was given to the cost as long as we got and get the very best’’. That belief has always been the case from day one. With this in mind several worldwide sources have been targeted and direct children from the base breeders were purchased. Most of these expensive acquisitions have been successful at Premier lofts and those that weren’t are now history.
At this point it should be highlighted that the‘Premier’ pigeon racing and breeding stud is as the heading reads first and foremost a racing loft. The fact that they sell some of their excellently bred young produce is of secondary importance as the loft’s main aim is to win at Patrington and at their ‘satelite’ loft in Antwerp the very ‘cradle of the pigeon sport’ Belgium. The very fact that ‘Premier’ went to the ultra competive arena of the Antwerp Union under the name of Sittner-Premier is a guide to the fact the stud fears no one and that they wish to test their progeny against the very best. The immediate successes prove that ‘Premier’ stock can not only compete but also often beat their sporting rivals. In the very first race of 2010 with the Antwerp Union, the loft, under the guidance of the UK famed fancier Brian Bolton , the Premier stud won 1st,2nd,3rd and 4th places from Melun a distance of 240 miles against 4,302 pigeons. This wasn’t the only success as 2010 turned out to be a fine year for them in their maiden season in Belgium.
This follows on from the successes already achieved at the home. First of all when Graham Sparkes formed a partnership with Les Bennett one of his former employees who had to retire from work for health reasons. Their 100% Premier stocked loft in 2009 won no less than 15 x 1st prizes which included 1st 2nd 3rd and 6th combine against 2,961 birds. This was followed one week later with 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th combine with 3,751 entries and the hatrick was completed with 1st and 2nd combine from 2004 birds . In all honesty should it really be any great surprise that the results are so impressive with the quality of the stud’s base stock.
In 2010 the Premier stud’s home loft flying in Graham’s own name had a fabulous series of results with their Young birds. From Billericay the loft took 1,2,3.4,5 against 2,901 birds. This was followed by 1,2 4,5,8,13. 2,791 pigeons. Next came Huntingdon when once again 1,2,3,4, and 5 places were won from 2,791 entrants and in the next race from Billericay 1,2,3, and 4 positions were achieved 1,719 birds and remember these are Combine results not club performances!
A fourth racing team will be competing down in Plymouth for 2011 flying as Elliot & Sparkes and it is hoped that this loft will compete at classic and national levels.
I have no wish to make this piece appear like an advert so will refrain from writing about all the strains housed at Patrington’s Premierpigeon racing & breeding Stud. As a little taster though as to the calibre of the pigeons that Premier own, I would though like to mention that the very cream of C. & G. Koopman’s blood was purchased regardless of cost with 6 children off the Koopman’s Crown jewel ‘Kleine Dirk’ including a very special daughter named ’Racilis’ she was a superb racer for the Koopman’s and included amongst her wins was a 12th National position from Le Mans and also 3 direct children from the legendary ‘Golden Lady’ herself.
Zandhoven was also visited and the loft of Dirk Van Dyck the the man with the World famed ‘Kannibaal’ which was 1st National Ace pigeon Middle distance KBDB 1996 and as fabulous as his racing CV was this pales in significence when you consider his proven breeding potency. Countless lofts owe much if not all their successes to either descendants of Dirk Van Dyck’s ‘Kannibaal’ or his brother ‘Bourges’ and his sire the fabulous ‘Rambo’. The ‘Premier stud’ has managed to secure children off all three of these majestic supers which are now in the Premier studs breeding boxes and producing winners in the UK with no less than 8 directly from the ‘Kannibaal’ himself!. There are several other fantastic strains housed at Graham Sparkes establishment all being from the very best of their particular family and each are breeding the goods, if they weren’t they would have been removed.
At the Patrington Haven based ‘Premier Stud’ the inmates need for nothing, 5 star accomodation is the order of the day with automated cleaning and large, spacious nestboxes so that 100% parentage can be guaranteed. There are in total five members of staff attending to the birds every need and like everything else at Patrington Haven things are dealt with in a thoroughly professional manner. One thing which I applaud is the policy which is adopted of not giving a pedigree with the birds that are sent out for fanciers to race. This is so that birds which fail are not sold on. If the bird is raced successfully then a full and detailed pedigree is forwarded to the owner. This helps keep up to date with which pairings are the most successful as the Premier Lofts themselves simply cant race birds off every pair which they own.
Helping to keep the ‘home fires burning’ so to speak is the recent appointment of the well known Welsh fancier Derek Nicolls who has won fame with both his racing ability and the ‘Europa One Loft race’. Derek has taken the position of Sales and Marketing Director. Graham Sparkes the studs owner and Derek are both very excited about their prospects of racing this coming season with their 18 strong team of Widowhood cocks which are intended for the sprint races and the 27 pairs of Roundabout pigeons which will be used right through the distances especially the testing cross channel events. A smiling Derek told me ‘’My wife says what a lucky so and so I am, being able to play pigeons all day and guess what?, she is dead right and Graham and I can’t wait for the new season to start.’’ When all is said and done the future looks extremely bright for the ‘Premier’ stocked Lofts in both the UK and in Belgium. Their forthcoming results we will watch with great interest.