Vitoon-Pitak (Thailand) win the Thailand Grand Pigeon Race 2013

On Wednesday 18 December 2013, the final race of the Thailand Grand Pigeon Race took place. The top 3 was entirely Thai with Vitoon-Pitak (1st), Hartog International (2nd) and Booncahuy-Hugo (3rd). The first foreign fancier was Veulemans-Ceulemans from Belgium.

First-prize winners Vitoon-Pitak flanked by the 2012 winner
of the Thailand Grand Pigeon Race Mike Cooney (middle)

Having gone through 29 training tosses up to 240 km and three long distance hot spot races totaling 1100 km, the 614 tough veteran flyers were released from Chiang Mai province on December 18, 2013 at 7.20am in very good weather. Visibility was about 10 km with light fog, 81% relative humidity and 15 degree celsius. The birds did not waste any time circling but instantly headed home in a southward direction. Weather forecast for all the provinces along the flight path was ideal for the race, a condition we had not seen for years. It was the kind of weather that one could expect the pigeons to arrive before 2.00pm with speed of 1400 mpm or even faster. There was a large crowd of fanciers, local and from abroad, who came to witness the race well before the expected arrival time despite their preference to see a harder race. That was going to happen. Two pm passed and no pigeon was sighted. The flying speed on the computer screen kept dropping as time went by until it was fifteen minutes past three when two pigeons arrived from the south west direction. They circled one round before dropping on the landing board and walking over the antenna looking very fit still. The faster walker was timed in at 15.15.34, five seconds before its flying mate. She was a beautiful cheq hen with a full wing, ring number R13-29079 entered by a local partnership Vitoon-Pitak who bought both parents in TGPR 2011 auction. The father was a pigeon entered in 2011 race by Alistair Hogg, a big name in UK one loft race circles whose breeding stud is second to none. This pigeon was in turn bred from a pure Kee Bosua cock, a brother to the winner of final 500 km Europa Classic race in 2005 when paired to Alistair’s proven breeder Sister Act, which bred 1st hot spot winner of 2008 Emerald Classic race.  Mother of the Kings Cup winner was a hen entered in TGPR race 2011 by Mike Cooney who won this same race last year. She was a Janssen bird bred from equal first winner of South West OLR 2009 when paired to John Fellows’ Slatey Golden Girl, an excellent performing bird in Europa OLR 2009. Mike’s own pigeon which won the 4th position in Hot Spot 3 and 37th in the final was also predominantly of the Janssen strain. Everyone could understand why Mike was so happy with his own record and his contribution to the winner of the final race and the Kings Cup this year.

First prize winner

The second prize winner was also a cheq hen, entered by Hartog International team which has already established their good name in Thai racing community for the past many years winning innumerable prizes from all distances. We have no pedigree of this bird at the time of writing.

The next two birds arrived just about two minutes after the first pair. The faster walking bird which secured the third prize trophy was entered by the Boonchuay-Hugo partnership. Mr Boonchuay is a real gentleman and successful pigeon fancier who every year imports a new batch of breeders from Europe for his collection! His third prize winner is really very strong and beautiful.

The third group of four birds arrived shortly after, including three from international entries. After that, the race became difficult when the ninth pigeon came back taking 19 more minutes and the next 21 birds arrived within the next one hour. There were only 52 day birds or 8.47 % of the total number basketed. The next day saw another 138 birds make it home. All of these birds have flown cumulative mileage of over 4,700 km within a period of three months. The most frequently asked question now, is why it was so difficult for the birds to fly the final race despite the very good weather and no rain. The most reasonable answer was because of the strong northeasterly wind that blew the birds to the west. All the birds that came back turned up from southwest direction of the loft and there were reports that a few birds were caught in Huahin. It may be necessary to shift the race point eastward on the same latitude next season to reduce the effect of the NE wind. Chiang Mai, the present location is in fact 20 degree northwest of the loft and very close to the Burmese border.

It was noteworthy that almost all the nominated and top birds that performed well in the previous three hot spot races did not show up in the final race. The first eight birds had not won a prize in any hot spot race and many of them were from middle distance and speed pigeons. International entries have proven again that they were not handicapped by the local conditions. Their numbers accounted for about 30% of the total birds from original registration right through the final race. Furthermore, 35% of the first 60 birds from Chiang Mai were expatriates. Leading this group and winning the Queens Cup and special bonus prize was the 5th place winner entered by Jos Veulemans whose other pigeon also scored the 13th position. Jassim Al Kulaib stirred the Arab racing community by winning the 6th position. He expects some 300 plus entries from for the Gulf States next year. Pigeons from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia performed outstandingly in all races this year. Anton Van Oort saved the Netherlands team taking the 7th position. Premier Stud spoke for the UK team winning the 10th position with their nominated bird followed by the 14th position of Ken Lewis whose WHU13-T-05163 was also declared second ACE pigeon. Mike Ganus proved his salt leading the US contingent by securing the 32nd position with the greatest number of returns. Worth mentioning was Andre Verhaegen who had three pigeons in the first ten percent.

Jos Veulemans (Veulemans-Ceulemans) was the 1st foreign fancier
in the final race from Chiang Mai

On the podium of the ACE pigeon competition, the first honor and the Princess' Cup went to Dr Wallop Chiaravanon whose R13-23990 attained the lowest coefficient of 0.230138 winning the 16th HS2, 12th HS3, and 46th final race. Ken Lewis of UK took the second prize as explained earlier while Sornthep Gomutputra of Thailand took the third prize in addition to having five birds in the first ten percent of prizes.

In conclusion, the TGPR 2013 was a great success and maintained its status as one of the fairest and most difficult OLR worldwide. We had a full house at the farewell party at the Ramada Maenam hotel where 20 top pigeons were auctioned at good prices without any price fixing. Our Chinese supporters promise to enter a few hundreds pigeons next year as well as some 300 pigeons from the Gulf States planned by our Kuwaiti connection. We are certain to get more pigeons from the UK, USA, the Netherlands and Belgium plus a new comer from France. We welcome representations from Germany and other countries too. Kindly visit our website for more information and development.