The winner of the National Flying Club race from Fougères

The first race of the 2019 season for the National Flying Club took place on the 19th May after a one day holdover and as it unfolded it became one of the most challenging for a long time so early in the season. The overall winner was Phil Priddle from Southampton.

Phil Priddle (photo courtesy of Chris Sutton)

Phil Priddle from Southampton, is a 78 year old fancier who began in the sport at 17 years old and racing a long established strain of his own bred down from his original Lefevre-Dhaenens. Phil is good friends with Tony Cowan who gave him the nod in the early years of his strain building whenever he knew of a decent bird being put up for sale. He managed to acquire a son of “Magic Blue” and birds down from “Eisenhower”  “Ben Jonson” as well as the “Miracle” Lines and it is these pigeons that still run through his loft to this day. He is a meticulous record keeper and will make notes of every pigeon and it is with this in depth knowledge of the individual birds abilities he has managed to blend these bloodlines to sprint for him up to 250 miles.

Blue Jas (photo courtesy of Chris Sutton)

Being right on the south coast he is racing the channel most weekends and he has a pragmatic approach to his system. Based loosely on the roundabout system he will keep a partner at home all the time if it is paired to a promising cock bird as he knows they will soon become disheartened if there is no reward waiting every time they race. The rest are raced through to Messac with his hens being exercised first every morning for an hour followed by the cocks, which is repeated again in the evening.

Phil inside the loft (photo courtesy of Chris Sutton)

In his own words, he said that over the years his lofts have evolved into a “Shanty Town” of sheds and aviaries with the comfort and happiness of the birds being paramount. The young birds can sit in the aviary all day to get accustomed to their surroundings safely and the old pigeons nest in their boxes or wherever they choose. It has often been said that we do not race the loft and it is nice to see a happy “pigeon” environment and if this can be achieved everyone has the opportunity to win the National, however humble the loft structure.

The trapping system (photo courtesy of Chris Sutton)

Early season they will rear one round with them being paired to ensure the bloodlines continue as Phil wants before being seperated for the racing season. It has been a hard start for his birds this year with the weather not helping to prepare for the National racing ahead and he is grateful for the officials of the Sholing Pigeon Club. Phil asked if he could mention his good friend Clive Ret, the club President who freely gives his time and efforts as well as allowing the members to use his yard as their headquarters. Amazingly he also informed me their Club Secretary, Len Painter is still going strong at 87 years old.

Wing of Blue Jas (photo courtesy of Chris Sutton)

Phil would also like to thank the workers and officials at the National Flying Club Marking station in helping to keep the sport going and of course the friends who called to congratulate him on his National win.

Trapping (photo courtesy of Chris Sutton)