Instant success in combination. Amesbury, Humphries & Akers of Tonyrefail (UK)

The above partnership of John Amesbury, Dai Humphries and Clive Akers was formed just two seasons ago when Clive Akers moved home from Tonyrefail to nearby Coed- Ely.

 Before this time all three partners were club mates and friends competing in the ultra competitive Tonyrefail H.S. During his time competing from his lovely set up at Parklands, Clive Akers amassed many top class performances including 1st National Lillers and more than 100 x 1st prizes in the last eight seasons in which he competed. However a house move in 2007 saw the formation of the present partnership and it has taken them just two seasons to get back to the top of the tree racing a combination of the partner’s previous bloodlines.

The 2009 old bird campaign saw the partnership’s birds in blistering form winning 7 x 1sts plus numerous other top three prizes with up to 250 birds competing at club level. Added to this club success were 34 prizes in the first 30 of the Open result with the Rhondda Valley Fed , starting with 27th Fed at 71 miles and finishing with 11th Fed in a very difficult race from the longest race point, Bonn at 466 miles. Amongst the 34 prizes was an outstanding result in the Maidstone old bird race where the partners’ birds finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 22nd, 23rd& 24th Open in the Fed against a field of 3,175 birds. This race also saw them take 1st, 2nd & 4th section and 51st, 53rd & 54th Open National. The following week from Folkestone, the partners’ first in the clock was good enough for 4th section 71st Open National and this was followed in successive channel races with 3rd section 4th Open National Lillers;11th, 12th& 17th section 25th, 26th & 31st Open National Brussels; 8th & 20th section 9th & 34th Open National Huy and finally 8th & 25th section 27th & 73rd Open National Bonn. An excellent series of performances I’m sure you will agree. Not surprisingly therefore the partners finished the old bird season not only as top points winners in the Tonyrefail H.S. but also with the Rhondda Valley Federation. Incidentally, the Tonyrefail H.S. was also top points winning club within the Federation with old birds.

    The young bird season saw a similar rate of success with 3 x 1sts at club level, although a particularly virulent bout of young bird sickness amongst the young bird team did curtail the race programme to some extent. The upshot was that the partnership finished the season at club level as old bird and young bird highest points winners and overall top prize winners in only their second full season in partnership.  Not bad eh?
The 2010 season has so far become what can only be termed a “dream season”. Why – well read on and see if you don’t agree with me. The first four races of the old bird campaign has seen the following phenomenal series of results at club, Federation [ Provincial] and National level.
In the first old bird race of the programme from Swindon [70miles] the partners clocked five birds almost together to win 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th club winning with a yearling Vanden Bosch x Brasspenning cock. In the next race from Basingstoke  the pattern was repeated with 1st, 2nd & 3rd club plus 6th Open Federation with more than 3,700 birds competing, the winner here being a yearling Vanden Bosch x Brasspenning hen. The Guildford race saw the team maintain their form with 1st,2nd & 4th club and 18th Open Fed against 3,398 entrants, the winner again being a yearling but this time a pure bred Brasspenning cock.

Not content with winning at local club and Federation level the partners joined the ultra competitive Gwent Greater Distance Club to compete with the British International Championship Club in cross channel Classic competition. The Falaise race flown on May 1st saw the birds away into a fairly stiff westerly wind in this 220 miles dash across the English Channel. Clive and John entered 14 and clocked their first to win 1st West section BICC when GGDC members took the first seven positions in the West section competing against fanciers 50- 60 miles to the east of them in a westerly wind.
 Next we come to the most recent success that from Folkestone on Monday 10th May 2010 when the partners had four birds drop together in this 197 mile race to finish at 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th club plus 1st3rd & 4th section ;1st, 3rd & 4th Open National, plus a further 20 birds in the top 100 of the Open result with 2,693 birds competing In the Rhondda Valley Federation the partners achieved a remarkable result with birds to win 1st,3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 10th, 15th, 17th, 21st, 22nd, & 23rd Open Federation with 2,612 birds competing The Welsh Combine had approximately 4,000 + birds competing and here the partners birds look to be 1st Open with numerous others in the top twenty of the result. In the second Folkestone race flown on the 15th May 2010 they came up trumps once again with 1st club plus 9th, 24th & 27th Federation from a field of 2,238 birds, also gaining some top prizes in the National. I’m sure all will agree that this is pigeon flying of the highest order.

    The partners’ lofts are set on a piece of land high on the hillside with a panoramic view to the south west over the Ely valley and the forestry at Coed – Ely. There are two main lofts plus a combined basket and corn store. The stock loft measures 12 ft x 10 ft and is divided into two sections and houses the team of 15 – 20 pairs of stock birds. The racing loft measures 36 ft x 12 ft and is divided into 7 sections to house the 28 pairs of old bird racers and the 80 or so young birds reared annually. The old birds are raced on the round about system with the hens confined to boxes during the week when they are not at exercise. The cocks are allowed to remain in the large widowhood style nest boxes.

     All birds are mated after the Blackpool show weekend. The racers rear a round of young birds and are allowed to sit their second round of eggs for a week or so before being separated. They are trained a few times whilst sitting the second nest of eggs and are usually separated and put on the round about system the week before the first old bird race, however in 2009, some of the hens were a little slow in laying and so the old bird team was entered in the first race whilst still sitting their second round eggs. Once on round about both the cocks and hens are exercised twice per day for a full hour on each occasion. This exercise takes place in all but the very worst of weather conditions and the old birds are rarely trained during the season once their initial pre season training has been completed.
    Young birds receive plenty of short training tosses out to 20 miles and then they might get a few extra communal tosses on the Parry Brothers’ transporter before the first young bird race. The young birds, like the old birds, are expected to put in two one hour stints of home exercise each day during the season and this, along with the occasional short training spin keeps them up to the mark for racing. Most of the young birds are expected to race the full programme if fit and well.

     The stock birds are fed Versele Laga breeding extra whilst rearing and the racers, both young and old, receive the same mix diluted slightly by the use of depurative when racing. This light, high carbohydrate mixture is fed to the old birds for the inland programme and it is then beefed up a little with fats once the channel races come around. All birds whether they be old bird racers, young bird racers or stock birds , receive garlic and cider vinegar in the water a number of times during the week. Great use is also made of natural yoghurt and Provit plus probiotics, the combination of all the aforementioned helps keep the birds in tip top condition throughout the season.

     The birds housed are a combination of Clive’s old Brasspenning family allied to John Amesbury’s old team with introductions of sprint middle distance bloodlines from Jutla Brothers and Wall, Lunt and Green. They are mostly blues and light chequers just on medium sized with excellent feather quality and strongly coloured eyes. When I handled them in early November they were enjoying an excellent moult and all were in superb condition. I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more in the future from this newly formed, but already highly successful partnership.