Gary Smyth Wins More Federations
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Since the Ulster Federation Annual Dinner and Prize Presentation in February I had been meaning for some time to visit the home of Gary Smyth. Eight months later I finally find the time to call and on arrival I came across Gary working at his car in the front driveway. Not that he needed any encouragement the overalls were off in a flash when I accepted his offer of a cuppa.
My visit was originally planned to see a Blue Cheq Cock that topped the Ulster Federation two weeks on the trot in the O/B programme from Kildare both times flying over 1900 yards a minute, which as many fanciers know from N.Ireland is no easy fait especially with the same pigeon. When Gary entered the room with the much appreciated coffee my first question was to enquire what the Blue Cheq Cock was ? He went on to explain :- there was once an old saying “take a trip to the market and you’ll never know what you’ll find”.
This was certainly the case for Gary of the Lagan Valley RPC who on a Club trip to Belgium 3 years ago stumbled upon what can only now be described as a stroke of luck, selecting a pair of Y/B’s out of the ever increasing rows of fanciers selling young birds at lier market.
One Blue Cheq Cock last digits 24 and a Blue Cock last digits 25, the 24 cock was the pigeon that topped the Fed 2 weeks in a row. It has now been retired after arriving back badly damaged from a cross channel event. In the stock loft it was mated to a Busschaert hen of Ali Bros breeding obtained from needless to say his masterful brother Colin (C & D Smyth East Down Combine Supremos) it produced a string of Club prize winners including a 3rd Open Federation this year.Its Brother 25 has raced consistently but not on the same par as 24, although it has more than made up for it in the stock loft again mated to a Ali Bros Hen he has produced numerous successful pigeons including a Cheq Hen to win 5th Open Talbenny Derby last year Vel 937, this hen was then mated to a cock of the 24 pigeon
and they produced this years Skibbereen Y/B Derby Winner Vel 1133 needless to say their will be a lot more success with this Golden pair of Belgium cocks.
Skibbereen is a race point that Gary is no stranger to he won his 1st Y/B National flying with the Irish National Flying Club from Skibbereen in 1996 Vel 1099.
A fancier who often visit’s the prize table year in year out one who’s name is never far away on a weekly basis when the results are issued, in fact this year he won the Ulster Federation Sennen Cove Championship from Cornwall 1366 birds competing with a Blue Cock (69) between Club and Federation prize money this cock lifted over £1200. Asking Gary about the breeding of the cock he explained that the 1996 National winners last two digits of its ring were 69 so every first pigeon now in the nest coming down from it, if he has it, will be rung with a 69 ring. The Hen herself is now dead but having a few children and grandchildren of her he has added Ali Bros & Vandebeele blood into this wee family and as the results show is proving very successful.
Gary is very much a family man married to Marion and three wonderful kids Christopher, Stephanie & Karen he has for a number of years now worked in the refrigeration business. His only regret is not having more time to spend with the birds as he knows this is a requirement to successfully race in this day and age.
The pigeon bug got into Gary’s blood some 12 years ago where he started racing with Lisnagarvey HPS before it unfortunately folded as so many clubs are continuing to do. He then joined one of the most sought after memberships in the Lagan Valley RPC in Lisburn were he took on the Treasurers job which is no easy task considering they have a very successful Bar that through its profits has spilled numerous benefits to the membership which includes annual paid trips to Blackpool and Belgium.
Due to his ever increasing work load and family life his system is made as simple as possible obviously not through choice, as we viewed his birds together he spilled a few interesting systems that he would love to try, but at the minute he refuses to concede that he is doing anything other than feeding Versa Laga PLX during the racing system and Henry Beattie Moulting during the closed season and as so many other fanciers he has a lot faith in Homoform and when nessacery introduces a little Diet 2000 over the corn if and when required. No supplements are added to the water allow not that I didn’t smell is a big fan of Garlic and Gary confirmed that Garlic bulbs are in the water 5 out of every 7 days.
Tossing before the O/Bird programme would if possible consist of 6 to 8 tosses starting from 20 mile + and once started would be once a week from about 30 miles, Gary is very fortunate that his Old & Young birds fly very well around the house morning and night. A system of semi widowhood and roundabout is practised most seasons to allow the loft to compete right through the whole programme.
Young Birds are raced on the Darkness system a must as far as Gary is concerned if you wish to compete seriously. The birds are confined to this system from around 28 days old and it is stopped around the 2nd week in June again he would like 6 - 8 tosses before they commence the racing programme. You must work the Y/Birds hard is his advice although unlike a lot of other fanciers he concedes to feeding well but keeps a good eye with his young Birds if they develop the slightest problem they are culled equally should they break from the training batch when flying around the loft on more than three occasions to him this is a bad sign for there future at his racing lofts. To some this my sound extreme but with rearing only 40 Y/Birds each season and normally being left with ¾ of them he has the opportunity to pick out the weak and vulnerable allowing as much room over the winter for the ones that have earned their break from the transporters.
I will pen of with wishing Gary every success next season and I am very sure this loft will be a threat for many years to come.
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