Loading completed, the convoy left at 08:45 for the journey to the Bloemhof district. At 12:00 the convoy stopped in Klerksdorp to enable the pigeons to have a drink and the drivers to do likewise and stretch their legs.
After an hour break it was back on the road for the final stretch to the destination which they reached late afternoon leaving sufficient time for feeding and watering of the pigeons.
At 03:30 Dave van der Merwe got everyone into gear and half an hour later the pigeons where at the liberation site, again being presented with water. Dave is a firm believer that the pigeons need at least an hour at the liberation point to enable them to settle down and get their bearings. This theory could very well have substance in that on their release at 05:20 the pigeons departed in perfect conditions in a straight stripe neither looking left or right on a bee line back to Sun City.
On the way back Dave reported clear weather, rising temperature and a fairly stiff head wind in the Klerksdorp area. Not a single pigeon was sighted on the way back.
A nice crowd of people had taken the opportunity to visit the lofts and enjoy the perfect weather after the fairly grotty weather of last week.
Expectations were that, taking Dave’s information into account, the pigeons would do well to maintain a speed of 70kph. This this then proved to be so as the first tiny pack of 11 pigeons doing an average speed of 71.4kph (44.6 miles per hour) arrived at 09:35 and in a flash where in the loft over the timing system.
The looks of anguish on the trainers face remained as the next batch was just as small and barely enough pigeons home to claim the prizes up for grabs. Was the first really tough test going to be too much for their charges and dash their high hopes for the class of 2012?
No so. While full marks were given to the first few anguish turned to joy as the pigeons piled in to the enjoyment of all and complimentary comments from the spectators with regards to the pigeons appearance on completing their, thus far, stiffest test. In just an hour more than 60% had safely negotiated the journey. Even more impressive was that the pigeons kept arriving throughout the heat of the day testimony to the class and character of the pigeons we are privileged to care for.
Three Hot Spot Car Races and three cars to the United Kingdom!
A consolation for the German fanciers was to see their contingent with 8 pigeons in the top 20. Commiserations for Australia who were within a hair’s breadth of scooping their first car of the series as J+J Lofts Jade’s Joy failed by just half a second in the sprint to the finish.
A wry smile from a South African who concluded that his pigeon must be in the pack including 8 of the top 20 grand average champion pigeons that were yet to return or he would have won the car.
This tough test literately threw the cat amongst the pigeons in the grand average competition throwing it wide open and heralding new contenders. No doubt the USA’s Ganus family loft must be delighted to have four contenders up front.
The pace is now heating up and providing the weather gods are benign an exciting run into the final should provide a feast of fun.
We wish all the very best over the holidays to our entrants and all those that are interested in the race.