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Darren McFadden wins the National Flying Club race from Tarbes

The first place in National Flying Club Tarbes Grand National is the most coveted title in the UK pigeon sport without exception. It presents the biggest haul of silverware that can be won in any race in the country, accumulated in more than 100 years of the National Flying Club history.

These trophies have been donated over the last century by royalty and the working class alike with the names of champions engraved upon them that dedicated themselves to the challenge of the Grand National.


Darren McFadden (all photos courtesy of Chris Sutton)

Darran McFadden timed a good pigeon from Tarbes Grand National and for a while he was top of the leader board. Calls began coming in from friends to congratulate him, but he remained pragmatic as he knew there were other great pigeons racing further north into the UK, but he did not need to worry, as he won 1st National Flying Club from Tarbes.


Queen Mary

His winning hen “Queen Mary” is from a long line of distance birds he has developed over the years which originated from two main sources, Kirkpatrick and Eric Cannon. Eric had left behind a legacy of long distance pigeons when he passed away and Darran was lucky enough to be given a young bird by Les Swan which did very well, so when Les went to live in Spain, he gave him the parents. Malcolm Parker also bred him “Megans Lad” and Ray Hammond won the L&SECC with “Simply the Best” out of which he gave Darran a young bird with the promise that it would also win the classic from Tarbes and two years later she did, so he called her “Razor’s Girl” and put her to stock. He went to Louella in 2001 and purchased three Kirkpartick grizzle hens down from “Stan the Man”. One of them bred a very good white hen “Camron Snow Queen” which flew Pau, Tarbes and won a Merit Award in the Classic. She was paired to an Eric Cannon cock that also raced well from the distance and after their final Tarbes race, they were put to stock and bred “Snow Prince” “Dark Prince” 14th Open Tarbes, 11th International Pau and many other proven pigeons have come through this pair.

Take a look at the pedigree of Queen Mary here...


The wing of Queen Mary

“Queen Mary” was paired early season with a selected partner and her eggs were given to feeders before being returned to the race loft and the love of her life, a seventeen year old cock that has bred “all the Dukes” as Darran calls them. He is a quiet, unassuming cock which does not chase her around the loft and “she’s all over him” he said so she was sent to the race sitting 14 day old eggs. Her feeding for the race began months ago said Darran, with Van Robaeys number 39 being used as a base mixture with fats added in the form of Peanuts and Sunflower Hearts. He uses all Dr Brockamp products and says that they are used the whole year round to keep his birds in the best of condition. “you can not expect to win the Premier race in the country if you neglect the birds during the off season” he said, “and the most important time for the preparation is the moult”.


Trapping back


The Tarbes winner in the hand