Basketing of the pigeons done, the journey to Bloemhof started on Friday, where the truck would spend the evening before liberation on Saturday from a little further down the road. Dave reported the journey was good with hardly any traffic on the roads. Once the pigeons were fed and watered, Dave and the transporter enjoyed a hearty supper and local hospitality and settled in for the night.
Bright and early the next morning the pigeons were liberated at 05:30 in almost perfect conditions; not a cloud in the sky, cool conditions and a light head wind; ideal for the pigeons to make their way home 324km away. Dave reported the pigeons circled twice and made a bee line for home. And so the wait began.
Weather reports during the morning came in and the wind had picked up in places and changed to a tail wind in other areas. In general it was going to be a great test for the pigeons and perfect training for the main race.
Back at the lofts the fanciers gathered. With a possible US$210 000 in prize money being paid out, the fanciers watched the skies and enjoyed the braai fires. The air soon filled with the irresistible smells of meat being prepared. Together with the fanciers at the lofts and those watching the live broadcast speculation about of time of arrival of the pigeons was a hot topic as well as who could win and if the Cascade Challenge would finally be claimed by a lucky entrant.
With the Hot Spot Car Race Ace pigeon also about to be crowned, calculations about what time this pigeon had to be in before that pigeon, but only if another pigeon was not clocked before that time filled the air. Those watching did not have to wait long to see the results of these complicated calculations as at 09:24 the first small batch of pigeons arrived. Anxious moments passed as the pigeons circled the lofts, landed, shook of the dust of the road and walked into the lofts.
Congratulations to Las Vladimir and Juraj’s Jana L from Slovakia taking the first place and winning the motor vehicle in a flying time of 03:54:16.73. Unfortunately this pigeon was not nominated in the Cascade Challenge and the prize money rolls over.
The following pigeons came from all corners of the earth, with the top 10 representing 5 different countries. The first Irish and Australian pigeons were not bred in the country they are racing for, and as such, were excluded from the International Challenge.
Now speculation turned to who would win the prestigious title of Hot Spot Car Race Ace pigeon. Quick maths showed it was too close to call and that it was best for the computer to work it out. In the end congratulations go to Walter Derfel and Eldorado Lofts Canada for their pigeon Carino who won by a margin of 5 minutes 42 seconds. Carino flew positions 146, 350, 819, 472 and 35 in the five Hot Spot Car Races with a total time of 15:32:09.53.
For a complete list of all the prize winners have a look at the results and lists section of the web site under Hot Spot Car Race 5.
The rest of the day saw small packs of pigeons arriving constantly and by close of play on Saturday there were 3144 home. 756 pigeons were still out and would spend the night out. Early Sunday morning they started coming home and by Sunday evening only 394 pigeons were still out. This year has taught us that these pigeons are not lost to us and a few of them will still return to the lofts in the coming weeks.
From Monday 13 January 2014 the public will be given an opportunity to enter any of the reserve pigeons not entered by the entrants. This is has always proved fruitful for the punters as in past years these pigeons have taken almost every main race prize position including first and second a few times. One small consolidation is that the original entrant of the pigeon still gets the auction proceeds from these pigeons, if not the prize money.
On the evening of Sunday 19 January 2014 nominations for the main race will open as will the nominations for the Zandy Meyer Memorial Nomination race. This special nomination will cost US$1000 and will make the lucky entrant an owner of one of the great sports cars, a Mercedes Benz SLK-55AMG.
Finally with only a few short condition training flights left before the main race on 25 January 2014, we look forward to welcoming our pigeon friends and family from all around the globe. There still is a few rooms available in Emperors Palace should anyone decide to join us at the last minute, please contact Joane on email@example.com if you have any questions in this regard or wish to attend any of the functions.
From all the administration and loft staff, we would like to wish all our entrants and supporters a very healthy, happy and wealthy 2014.