Ron Hillcoat of Sowerby Bridge has a never-ending pursuit for quality

Through his regular reports in the UK pigeon racing magazine, the British Homing World, fanciers are kept aware of the exceptional pigeons and performances of Ron Hillcoat. The calibre of pigeons kept and raced by Ron are of impeccable quality!

Ron Hillcoat

Early years

Ron’s initial interest in pigeons came at his birth place in Paisley, Scotland. Like many children of his generation, Ron obtained his initial stock by identifying nests under local bridges and carefully watching the development of the squeakers and at the right moment scaling any walls, fall-pipes or old buildings to obtain the beautiful fledglings. The natural progression was to racing the birds and Ron found an excellent mentor in the local ace-flyer Jock McFadyen. In his early teens, it was a great privilege for Ron to be allowed to scrape out and do the general chores for this great man and fancier of his generation.

Pigeon racing was a national obsession during this time with many good fanciers being affiliated to Paisley & District Pigeon Club including Matt White (S.N.F.C. winner and ever consistent at national level) and the great Davie Forsyth (Barcelona record holder at over 1,000 miles and an enthusiast for the Dr Anderson reds).

At a mere 14 years of age, the Hillcoat loft had its first winner in the 510 mile event from Avaranches, There were only two birds on the day with the aforementioned Matt White in second. This was the beginning of a lifetime in the winner’s enclosure for Ron Hillcoat!

Re-starting at Sowerby Bridge

Ron was relocated by his employers, Mars International, to Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire in the early 1980s. After the settling-in period, pigeons were very much back on the agenda with the Hillcoat loft being assisted by fancier-friend Andy Todd.  Constant business trips overseas meant that Ron’s involvement in racing pigeons was, to say the least, spasmodic. His love and passion for pigeons was evident but a good system of management was difficult to achieve.

In 2003, Ron retired from work and so began a full-time career in pigeon racing. Only the very best quality of bird was considered as Ron is only interested in top results. Thus the present-day race team is a combination of Janssen van Loon, Heremans-Ceusters and De Rauw-Sablon pigeons. The stock birds are mainly imported from Hans & Evert-Jan Eijerkamp of Holland and Leo Heremans and Marcel Aelbrecht in Belgium.  This quality has kept the name of Ron Hillcoat at the top in club and federation racing (in the Luddenden Foot and Stainland and District Flying Clubs in the Pennine Valleys Federation), one loft races and his birds have also won out of turn for other fanciers in the UK.

Sourcing the very best!

Like all good stock-men, the preference has always been for Ron to personally select pigeons for his breeding loft. Many visits were made to Belgium and Holland in his search. Only the best performance pigeons were considered and to this end, the first introductions were the Janssens and the van Loons from Eijerkamp. Amongst these were direct children of the ace breeders: Che, Britt, Hertog, Miss Saigon and Tips.

During a visit circa 2007, Ron was shown the Heremans-Ceusters and noted both their excellent performances and also, more importantly, their potency to breed further top-quality racers. A small selection was introduced from Eijerkamp in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 with one of these introductions breeding an RPRA Award winner. In time, Ron was able to get some super specimens direct from Leo Heremans. After witnessing how the Heremans were dominating races across Europe, Ron decided to build as strong a team of Leo Heremans pigeons as possible, believing that they would be the future. The lines of Euro, Goochelaar, Peter, Den Olympiade, De Jan, Safier Pair and Dream Pair are all firmly embedded in the Hillcoat stock loft.

Ron with Leo Heremans

Ron’s search for quality also led him to the loft of Gerard Koopman. In the pedigrees of his introductions he noticed the name of Den Dromer, a pigeon of De Rauw-Sablon origin. On investigating further, he heard some very good reports about the De Rauw-Sablon strain and decided to go to Marcel Aelbrecht direct. In Ron’s own words “it is my opinion that these are pigeons that will continue to leave their mark in pigeon racing forever. Marcel has a knack of reproducing winning bloodlines and of course Marseille and Fijn Blauw are special as well as the famous Bak 17, Den Freddy and his son Den Dromer.”

Racing system

The racing team at Sowerby Bridge numbers around 20 widowhood cocks and hens. They are paired mid-January and allowed to rear and lay a second round of eggs. Both sexes are then separated after 8 days of sitting. The cock birds remain in their compartment with the hens being removed to the end compartment and kept in box perches with dowel gates to stop them pairing. In the early season preparation, the cocks are exercised in the mornings and the hens in the late afternoon but once racing commences they are both flown out twice daily. The cocks and hens are then raced weekly on the double widowhood system.

The young bird team consists of around 70 young birds; bred from the aforementioned team of stock pigeons. When weaned they are fed breeding mix until they are flying out. They are exercised daily and are fed a light mix in the morning and a more substantial young bird mix in the evening. Once they have completed their darkening period and are flying freely around home, training begins. They are trained as much as possible from 25 to 30 miles, 4 times a week if possible, during the racing season.


The Hillcoat team of racers performed exceptionally well from the off as the following exceptional results show:


3rd club 280b, 26th federation 2,045b

1st & 2nd club 250b, 4th & 5th federation 1,879b

2nd club 264b, 10th federation 1,879b

3rd & 5th club 253b, 17th & 23rd federation 1,942b

3rd & 4th club 226b, 9th & 12th federation 1,5098b, 23rd & 35th combine 3,843b

3rd & 5th club 267b, 21st & 28th federation 1,808b

3rd club 197b, 30th federation 1,334b

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th club 226b, 19th, 24th, 26th, 29th & 30th federation 1,369b

1st, 2nd, 3rd & 7th club 153b, 14th, 16th, 17th & 26th federation 927b

2nd club 123b, 13th federation 823b

3 x 1sts, 5 x 2nds, 7 x 3rds, 1 x 4th, 3 x 5ths, 1 x 6th.


1st club 210b, 9th federation 1,552b

2nd club 220b, 4th federation 1,857b

2nd club 188b, 28th federation 1,884b

1st, 2nd & 4th club 214b, 22nd, 23rd & 30th federation 1,721b

1st club 107b, 29th federation 875b

1st & 2nd club 146b, 1st & 13th federation 1,197b

3rd club 82b, 23rd federation 635b

1st, 2nd, 3rd & 6th club 100b, 9th, 10th, 12th & 21st federation 1,050b

2nd, 4th & 5th club 53b, 3rd, 11th & 20th federation 424b, 15th combine 984b

1st & 2nd club 116b, 20th & 23rd federation 934b

3rd club 74b, 18th federation 571b

7 x 1sts, 8 x 2nds, 5 x 3rds, 6 x 4ths, 6 x 5ths, 3 x 6ths, 8 x 1st hen.  Channel Average Federation (340 to 462 miles) - Pennine Valley Federation Channel Average Trophy. Old Bird Inland Average - Combined Inland/Channel Average - Channel Average (340 to 462 miles) - Best Performance Old Bird.                                                                           


1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th club 203b, 13th, 15th, 16th & 17th federation 1,487b

1st club 187b, 3rd federation 1,596b

1st, 2nd & 3rd club 202b, 9th, 10th & 12th federation 1,607b

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th club 188b, 9th, 11th, 14th, 15th & 16th federation 1,461b

4th & 6th club 174b, 12th & 26th federation 1,003b

2nd club 180b, 27th federation 1,327b

2nd club 137b, 12th federation 1,214b

4th & 5th club 141b, 25th & 30th federation 1,269b

2nd, 3rd & 4th club 99b, 14th, 16th & 21st federation 1,040b

1st club 149b, 32nd federation 1,244b

1st club 129b, 30th federation 992b

6 x 1sts, 7 x 2nds, 8 x 3rds, 8 x 4ths, 10 x 5ths, 9 x 6ths, 10 x 1st hen. 3rd Pennine Valley Federation Old Bird Average. Old Bird Inland Average – All Race Average (14 races) – Best Average Championship Races – Best Performance Old Bird.


3rd club 122b, 27th federation 1,286b

1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th club 92b, 17th, 21st, 25th & 27th federation 647b

2nd, 3rd & 4th club 131b, 22nd, 23rd & 25th federation 1,299b

1st club 186b, 17th federation 1,194b

2nd club 74b, 27th federation 783b

3 x 1sts, 8 x 2nds, 12 x 3rds, 12 x 4ths, 10 x 5ths, 8 x 6ths. 12 x 1st hen. Old Bird Inland Average.

2008 (3 bird clocking limit)

1st, 2nd & 3rd club 198b

1st & 2nd club, 22nd & 23rd federation 1651b

1st, 2nd & 3rd club 187b

1st, 2nd & 3rd club, 5th, 6th & 8th federation 1567b

3rd, 4th & 6th club

2nd, 3rd & 4th club

1st, 2nd & 5th club, 11th federation 468b

2nd, 3rd & 4th club 113b, 24th, 25th & 28th federation 800b

1st & 6th club

6 x 1sts, 8 x 2nds, 7 x 3rds, 7 x 4ths, 4 x 5ths, 4 x 6ths. 10 x 1st hen. Old Bird Inland Average.

2009 (3 bird clocking limit)

4th, 5th & 6th club 179b

1st, 2nd & 4th club 171b, 31st federation 1151b

4th, 5th & 6th club 162b

1st & 3rd club 152b, 11th & 23rd federation 1121b

1st club 152b, 6th federation 1,334b

2nd, 5th & 8th club 100b, 5th, 18th & 30th federation 579b

1st, 2nd & 3rd club 82b, 1st, 6th & 7th federation 939b

1st club 82b, 8th federation 421b

1st, 2nd & 3rd club 114b, 4th, 19th & 28th federation

3rd club 47b, 12th federation 282b

3rd & 4th club 86b, 12th & 13th federation 801b

1st & 3rd club 69b, 3rd & 15th federation

7 x 1sts, 4 x 2nds, 6 x 3rds, 5 x 4ths, 5 x 5ths, 6 x 3rds. 11 x 1st hen. many trophies. Runner up in Pennine Valley Federation Channel Average. - Old Bird Inland Average - Channel Average (340 to 406 miles) - Combined Average (60 to 406 miles) - Best Performance Old Bird.

2010 (3 bird clocking limit)

1st, 2nd, 3rd club, 31st federation, 1,407 birds

2nd, 3rd, 4th club

1st, 2nd, 3rd club, 5th, 8th, 9th federation, 1,493 birds.

1st, 2nd, 3rd club, 10th, 27th federation, 1358 birds.

1st, 2nd, 6th club, 7th, 8th federation, 1,257 birds.

2nd, 3rd, 5th club, 19th, 24th federation, 969 birds.

1st, 2nd, 3rd club, 11th, 20th, 21st federation, 1,260 birds.

1st, 2nd, 3rd club, 9th, 10th, 15th federation, 898 birds.

1st, 2nd, 3rd club, 3rd, 4th, 10th federation, 806 birds.

7 x 1sts, 9 x 2nds and 9 x 3rds. 8 x 1st hen. Old Bird Inland Average.

2011 (3 bird clocking limit)

2nd, 4th & 6th club 247b, 8th, 12th & 14th federation 1,618b

2nd, 3rd & 4th club 192b, 13th, 19th & 26th federation 1,579b

1st & 3rd club 165b, 3rd & 14th federation 1,640b

2nd, 3rd & 4th club 213b, 16th, 18th & 25th federation 1,623b

23rd & 29th federation 1,197b

2nd club 89b, 20th federation 729b

3rd, 4th & 5th club 151b, 6th, 7th & 8th federation 1,010b

1st, 4th & 7th club 114b, 1st, 7th & 16th federation 778b

1st, 2nd & 3rd club, 4th, 5th & 6th federation 774b

1st club 114b, 31st federation 1,311b

1st club 111b, 31st federation 1,345b

1st club 104b, 18th federation 1,134b

1st & 2nd club 81b, 8th & 9th federation 987b

7 x 1sts, 9 x 2nds, 12 x 3rds, 13 x 4ths. 5 x 1st hen. Best Performance Young Bird. Young bird Average.

2012 (3 bird clocking limit)

1st, 2nd & 3rd club 190b, 20th, 22nd & 23rd federation 1,687b

1st, 2nd & 6th club 155b, 5th, 7th & 25th federation 1,554b

3rd, 4th & 6th club 142b, 15th, 16th & 31st federation 1,082b

2nd & 4th club 136b, 11th & 29th federation

1st, 4th & 5th club 98b, 2nd 12th & 22nd federation 854b

1st & 2nd club 46b, 2nd & 4th federation 471b

2nd, 3rd & 5th club 152b, 13th, 14th & 23rd federation 999b

4th & 5th club 57b, 25th & 27th federation 636b

1st & 2nd club 127b, 22nd & 23rd federation 955b

5 x 1sts, 6 x 2nds, 3 x 3rds, 4 x 4ths. 6 x 1st hen. Old Bird Inland Average.


Results for others

The Hillcoat pigeons have also begun to make their mark by winning out-of-turn in other racing lofts. Ron bred GB13S56466 which won 1st Section B, 6th Open 9,400 birds from the National Flying Club race from Carentan on 25th May for Wearn Bros & Neilson of Ramsdean. Ron has also bred several exceptional birds for George Harrison of Leeds. The star performers have achieved:


2013                3 x 1st, 1 x 3rd, 1 x 4th club

                        2 x 1st, 1 x 8th, 1 x 9th federation

2014                2 x 1st, 1 x 4th club   

                        1 x 7th, 1 x 8th, 1 x 13th federation


2013                2 x 1st, 1 x 3rd club

                        1 x 3rd, 1 x 7th federation

2014                1 x 1st, 1 x 2nd club, 2 x 3rd club

                        1 x 4th, 1 x 6th, 1 x 12th federation


2012                1 x 1st club

                        1 x 3rd federation

2013                1 x 2nd, 2 x 3rd club

                        1 x 6th, 1 x 15th federation

2014                1 x 1st club, 2 x 2nd club, 1 x 3rd, 1 x 4th club

                        1 x 3rd, 1 x 20th federation


2014                1 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd club

                        3rd federation


2014                2 x 4th club


2014                1 x 4th club

                        1 x 29th federation

Under constant attack

The area to which the Hillcoat team race to in West Yorkshire has long been known as a breeding haven for hawks and falcons. The problem has become so bad that Ron simply cannot let his team out for exercise. Thus the fruits of his labour, in scouring the best lofts in Europe in search of top quality racing pigeons, will be realised by those fanciers who acquire his team of fantastic pigeons. Prospective purchasers can be assured that they are purchasing pigeons of the very highest calibre.