Eamon Kelly holding 1st NFC Tarbes 2015 (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)
The Lloyd and Kelly story dates back to when Eamon was nine years old and, like many other children of his generation, he chose pigeon racing as his chosen past time. He was taken under the wing of local fancier Frank Lloyd and so the partnership began. The partners raced in the same Didcot club that Eamon is a member of today and together they enjoyed considerable success; especially in the middle to long distance races of Bordeaux, Bergerac and Pau that Eamon still targets today. Sadly Frank passed away in 2008 however his spirit and name lives on in the partnership today.
Lloyd and Kelly’s 3 National Flying Club winners (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)
The partnership shot to fame after their 2004 Pau win with the National Flying Club. Their winning 4 year old hen was one of just 28 birds timed on the day of liberation from this 500 plus mile event. However what made this performance truly amazing was that a son of their winning hen named Little Margaret was clocked 2 minutes after his mother to the loft of neighbouring fanciers Gilbert and Le Carr to be 2nd open. Thus mother and son were timed to separate lofts to be 1st and 2nd in the Grand National race; an amazing tale!
The old bird racing team, both cock and hens, are raced on widowhood with a small team of roundabout racers supplementing the team. This system is employed until the birds have had their third national race which was the Ancenis race in 2015. After this, the entire team is repaired and raced on the nest for the remainder of the campaign. Eamon recalls that this was Frank’s method for motivating pigeons to win from the long distance races and when you study the partners’ consistency through the years then it is easy to understand why Eamon still uses this approach.
The partners have a long history of excellent results in the national and classic races that they aim their birds at each season. These include:
22.08.09 Lamballe (223 miles) 1,549 birds 5, 20, 22, 56 21.08.10 Carentan (159 miles) 1,832 birds 3 04.09.10 Fougeres (227 miles) 1,427 birds 6 14.05.11 Messac (263 miles) 3 27.08.11 Carentan (159 miles) 2,258 birds 16, 17, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 26.08.12 Carentan (159 miles) 1,946 birds 14, 15, 18, 35, 36, 40, 41 25.08.13 Guernsey (157 miles) 1,737 birds 25, 27
Sire of Margaret’s Angel (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)
The Lloyd and Kelly team performed from ‘the off’ in 2015. The first National Flying Club race was Fougeres on 23rd May, a distance of 227 miles to Abingdon. After just over five hours of racing, Eamon timed his first arrival to win 1st section (provincial), 4th open against an entry of 8,579 birds. Further arrivals were recorded to achieve 9th, 17th, 23rd and 27th section, 125th, 353rd, 428th and 466th open respectively. A fortnight later on the 6th June, the NFC liberated over 7,000 pigeons from Messac. Eamon recorded another early arrival to be 2nd section (provincial), 80th open. The Ancenis race was next on the 20th June. With the team showing good signs of form, a strong entry of 21 birds were selected by the partners. An excellent team performance followed with their first timer recording 1st section (provincial), 1st open NFC. The hen, named Frankies Girl, was 1st section (provincial) from the Fougeres race a month earlier. She was bred by Eamon’s good friend, Denny Phillips of Nantymoel in the Welsh Valleys. She is bred from Denny’s own family of Logan, Baker and Vandenabeele birds. The penultimate old bird race was flown from Saintes on the 4th July, a distance of 407 miles. Eamon was again amongst the leaders by timing four early arrivals to be 7th, 12th, 20th and 21st section (provincial), 126th, 213rd, 276th and 277th open. This left only the Tarbes Grand National race to be flown to complete the old bird programme. A 2:20pm afternoon liberation meant that there were no day birds recorded. At 12:54pm the following afternoon, Eamon Kelly made history by winning the Grand National race on two separate occasions. The winning hen is a pure Daniel Aerens pigeon with the sire being bred by Roger Lowe and the mother bred from one of the direct pairs that Eamon has in the stock loft. Both the sire and dam are previous winners of the section from Tarbes and so the offspring were almost guaranteed to be super racers. Eamon’s winning yearling hen was prepared in a similar way to his Ancenis winner; being raced on the jealousy system prior to her big win.
(photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)
History is repeating itself at the Abingdon loft of Lloyd and Kelly as Eamon, once an apprentice pigeon racer to Frank, has taken on his own apprentice in the form of Mark Jarvis. Mark’s involvement with the team is central to the partners’ success and his youthful enthusiasm is greatly appreciated and admired by Eamon. Whilst the 2015 season is far from over, Eamon and Mark can look back at their accomplishments so far with great pride when the lofts are closed for another season. Congratulations both; your success is richly deserved.
Eamon Kelly, Mark Jarvis and Paul Kenny (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)