Thailand Grand Pigeon Race 2011: report

Thailand Grand Pigeon Race is a King Cup race organized by the Thai Racing Pigeon Federation as part of the annual Grand Pet Show in December every year. Only after four years of existence, this race is recognized as Thailand toughest OLR. It has become increasingly popular and known worldwide due to its fair and transparent practice.

On December 15 2011, exactly 692 strong pigeons were liberated from the southern part of Chiangmai bordering Lampoon province, 560 km north of Bangkok, for the final race. The weather at the liberation site was nice and clear with the morning temperature of 17 Celsius and visibility 8 km. The birds made only two circles spin and headed directly south. There were 223 pigeons from international teams in the race v.s. 469 from local sources. This represented the survival rate of 51.62% and 42.14% from their initial registered entries respectively. This statistics showed that foreign pigeons fared better up to the final race. Looking at the big picture, we also had a fairly good survival rate of 44.8% going to the final race from 1545 starting entries compared to 557 pigeons basketed for last year race. These pigeons had gone through 27 training flights up to 240 km and three hotspot races with combined distance of 1100 km. For the first 150 km of the flight path, the pigeons had to navigate through the mountain range until they reached the central plan. Unlike racing with tail wind from the northeast the birds had to fight the 15-35 km per hour side wind all the way home while most of them would be blown to the southwest. A club race from 520 km from the north organized just last Sunday had no more than 50 % of day-birds on the average. They were pigeons that had flown ten races with gradually increasing distance (no jumping), and 30-50 training flights. Records have shown that inland racing 560 km from northern Thailand is more difficult, if not the most, one-loft racing.

In comparison to last year race, this year weather condition was cooler by about 2 degree Celsius although a bit hazy and windy. Participants and visitors were told to arrive at the loft before 3 p.m. if they were not to miss the first pigeon. There were about 150 people attending the race including our 30 supporters from Europe and China. Our race chairman, Mr. Dhanin Chearavanont who was ranked in the latest issue of Forbes Magazine as Asia wealthiest and China’s number one foreign investor, could not attend as originally planned due to his duty call to China. However, his brother Dr. Wallop Chearavanont presided over the race together with Dr.Sorakit Thawinprawat, former Director General of the Life Stock Development Department. Mr. Gommaire Verbruggen, our European icon, flew in especially for the occasion together with his friend Rolf Bender from Germany and his cousin Libert Naulaerts. Jan van Wanrooij led a big group of Dutch fanciers and their wives to see our race and vacation in Pataya.

As expected, the first pigeon arrived and clocked in at 15.00.28 p.m. followed in  less than one minute later by a group of three pigeons and all were timed in within eight seconds. The fifth pigeon took another one minute to arrive and then after a long pause of nine and twelve minutes the sixth and seventh came back respectively. A pack of eight pigeons returned home at 15.15, fifteen minute after the first bird, and then there was a long pause again. It took one hour and forty minutes to fill all the first 70 positions or 10% of total birds in the race. The last of 113 day- birds was clocked in at 20.25.24 in complete darkness. Last year we had 44 day-birds and only 17 the year before. The clock systemwas kept running for four days, a special practice, and in all 332 made it back – a few with broken legs and wing damage.

The winning speed of 1165.525 indicated that it was a good hard race while only 21 pigeons could achieve speed of over 1100 mpm. The first prize with the real King Cup and Euro 24,000 went to Mr. Viboon Kulwuthivilas who also won the second prize final race two years ago. The champion pigeon, R11-130931, is a blue bar cock, medium size with full wings and in excellent condition. The father is a cross Marc Roosen/ Gommaire Verbruggen and the mother is again Marc Roosen x Albert Monin, a blend of one day long distance bird. The second prize winner, CHN11-01-943077, is a small cheque hen belonging to Mr. Fuxuejun from Beijing. Her father is a Janssen/Verbruggen while the mother is pure Janssen bird. This pigeon won the Queen Cup, 8,000 Euro for 2nd prize money, 3000 Euro + trophy for first prize among all foreign pigeons plus a special trophy for first among all Chinese entries. This year, we awarded trophies to first three positions of a country that sent in 150 pigeons or more. This will be standard practice for next year also. Third prize winner, R11-125118, is also a small cheque hen entered by combination Krisda-Jaktorn-Tawee MGM who also won the ACE pigeon competition by their R11-127502NA, 26th pigeon in the final. Both pigeon have a tint of Bak 17 from Marcel Albrecht in their pedigrees combined with their own local winning pigeons. China dominated entries from abroad winning also second prize among all of them and 7th in final by CHN11-19-155996 of MR. CAI YONG ZHOAG.  Third fastest among foreign pigeons and 10th open final is B11-2182152 sent by DBRD Veulemans-Ceulemans. Parents of this pigeon are 75 percent Leo Kouters and 25 percent Vertelman. Chris Hebberecht scored 11th overall and 4th among international teams by a grandson of his “Champion”. Mike Cooney from U.K. had five pigeons in the top ten percent and altogether 13 pigeons returned from the race with his teams of predominantly middle distance pigeons i.e., Janssen, Van Loon, Reynaerts, etc. Mike Ganus from the US, a top contender for ACE pigeon title, had two early prizes as well as Jos Vercammen whose pigeons had never disappointed him during the past four years winning more than a fair share of prizes and top honor. Sornthep Gomutputra had the second Ace pigeon after his R11-127030 sat on the roof for more than ten minutes before dropping in to take the 70th prize and won the pool of pigeon closest to the last position. He also had the second Ace pigeon last year. Metha Thanatham of Bangkok won the team championship by his two nominated bird’s scoring 4 early prizes in the first two hotspot races.

Judging from above, we could see pigeons of all bloodlines from fast Janssen, middle distance birds and Barcelona type winning the race. It is noteworthy that the first 13 pigeons were not nominated meaning the pedigrees could sometime fool the owners too. All but only two (#5 and #11) of this group never won a prize in three hotspots meaning one should never lose hope if his pigeons did not shine in shorter races. Among the 332 pigeons that have returned after three days, 107 or 47.98% were from 223 basketed foreign entries compared to 225 or 47.07 % of basketed local birds. Again, statistics suggested that the two sides actually had equal footings.

As all the prizes had been taken in the first race day, there was no need to watch for more return the next day and visitors and their family members could enjoyed visiting fellow local fanciers or go shopping or sightseeing. It was lucky that the race finished in day one because the weather turned out not so good the following day. Farewell Party was hosted Saturday evening by the Thai Racing Pigeon Federation at the five stars Ramada Plaza Maenam Riverside Hotel where our visitors were booked in. We had to thank the hotel for their classy arrangement, good food and excellent services. Mr. Sornthep Gomutputra, vice chairman of the race, gave the farewell speech and thanked all participants for their kind supports. After dinner, it was a session for auctioning top prize pigeons plus some pigeons of good origins or some that did well in former races. Mr. Viboon bought his first prize winner back for Baht 1,000,000 (approx. 23,000 Euros at current exchange rate), the same price paid by owner of the King Cup winner last year. This was the genuine fair price with money actually changing hands. There was no price fixing to inflate the price for publicity purpose which could have easily been done since Mr. Viboon is also member of the committee. He actually had to pay only Baht 400,000 after taking back his 60% share of the auction proceeds. Owner of the second prize winner also bought back his bird for Baht 400,000. One of our Chinese friends won the bid for the third prize winner at a bargain price of Baht 70,000. The Ace pigeon was bought back by its owner at Baht 520,000 while the winner of the third hotspot changed hands at Baht 200.000. Chris Hebberect’s beautiful 11th prize winner fetched Baht 110,000. The 8th, 9th, 19th and 25th, prize winners were each sold for price above 100,000. Despite her mediocre performance in the final race a hen from Andre Verbesselt was auctioned at Baht 120,000 simply because she did well in other races and was a granddaughter of Andre’s top breeder, Miss Joice. This pigeon is worth a fortune in China because she is a sister of the 8th prize winner in the One Million Euros race there. In all, 25 pigeons were auctioned out that night at relatively good prices. The next auction will be held at the club house this coming Thursday, December 22nd.  The prize money won by foreign participants in all four races plus their share of auction proceeds from pigeons in the first 150 positions in the final race will be transferred to bank accounts of our coordinators no later than a week after the second auction. Kindly take note that our rules clearly states that owners are not entitled to the 60% sharing of auction proceeds from pigeons beyond the 150th position. Arrival detail can be viewed on line at www.one-loft-race.net.

Thanks to the great effort of our present loft management team which took over the job since last April, we received so much words of praise on the condition of the birds before and after the final race. At the auction, the pigeons were excellent in hand as if they had never gone through a tough 560 km race just a couple days ago. Loft improvement also contributed to the well-being of our birds. We felt sorry for some participants who did not see any of their birds basketed for the final race or even the race before. Good pigeons could be lost in any one loft race as evidenced by the losses of so many first and second nominated birds. Give us another try while selecting proper pigeons for the race and vaccinating the birds at your end well before sending them out.

We take this occasion to thank for your past supports and to invite your participation again in our next year race. The race format, entry fee, prize money, and time frame remain the same as those of present year. Rolf Bender at info@bender-tauben.de has accepted the invitation to become our coordinator for Germany. We expect significant increase of entries from abroad this year and thus urge you to act quickly due to our limited total entry.