The pigeons basketed, the pigeon transporter set off for liberation on Friday afternoon to the town of Wolmaransstad where they would overnight before continuing to the liberation point, 274km from the lofts, very early the next morning. The Loft Staff decided that an early as possible liberation was needed to give the pigeons still struggling with the distance the longest time possible to return to the lofts. Just after sunrise the pigeons were liberated at 05:20. Dave reported the pigeons left the transporter well, formed a massive pack around the transporter circled a few times and headed home, enjoying the cool conditions and assisting winds.
While watching the pigeons disappear over the horizon Dave saw the pack split into smaller groups and one pack seemed to go off in a different direction to the rest; maybe they knew a short cut home?
Back at the lofts fanciers gathered for the traditional braai and friendly gathering to discuss the pigeons pedigrees, performance, top breeders and speculate at the arrival time of the pigeons. A hot topic of discussion was also whether or not the Cascade Challenge, which was sitting at a record high of over $22500, would be won. Comment was also made that as a training flight carrying potential prize money of over $114000 this was more than most other one loft races pay out in total.
This week everyone was surprized when the first pigeons appeared over the lofts at 08:29. One pigeon eager to get inside dropped from the sky and entered the loft while the others circled a few more times and landed, dusted themselves off and walked into the lofts.
It is always amazing that time seems to slow to a snail’s pace while the timing system records the returning pigeons, the web server uploads and verifies the race file and calculates the velocity and winning pigeons. In reality this whole process takes about 45 seconds, but it feels like hours!
Belgica - De Weerd’s Groovy from The Netherlands took first place and won the motor vehicle for Hot Spot Car Race Four, a full 52 seconds ahead of the next pigeon. After a rocky start Groovy has been improving over each of the long distance Hot Spot races. Groovy has the famous Gaston Van de Wouwer- and Kaasboer- and also LBJ Geerinckx-bloodlines. Click here to see the pedigree of Carwinner Groovy. It also makes it four different countries having won the Hot Spot Car Races showing each and every entrant has an opportunity to win and testifies to the quality of the pigeons received throughout the world.
Unfortunately Groovy was not in the Cascade Challenge and the prize money rolls over to the next nomination race.
Next in was another Netherlands pigeon, Railside Jewel raced by the partnership of Jan Hooymans - Hu Zhen Yu followed by Zordan Zewi entered by Lokman Serkan Aydin. The fourth pigeon in belongs to an entrant who is a defaulter, an entrant that sent pigeons and has not paid the entry fees as yet, and as such is not shown on the race result.
The balance of the top 20 consisted of pigeons from 11 different countries and took less than one minute 30 seconds to fill.
10 minutes after the first pigeon, 982 pigeons had arrived and the loft staff battled to hide the concern that maybe the race was not as easy as it looked. An hour later 2183 pigeons were safely home enjoying feed and water. Small packs of pigeons continued arriving the whole morning, including a pack of about 150 pigeons; maybe the ones Dave saw go in the wrong direction, who knows? It is part of the mystery and frustration of pigeon racing, once liberated the pigeons make their own way back, not always in the straightest line or fastest time.
By sunset 3610 pigeons were home, safe and sound, sharing stories of their days adventures with each other and settling in for the night.
The main race on 25 January is less than a month away and the pigeons have one final hurdle to get past before then. The Fifth Hot Spot Car Race will take place on 4 January weather permitting. There after entrants will have a few days to decide which additional pigeons they would like to enter before the listing of reserve pigeons is made available to the public to enter.