IRISH NATIONAL FLYING CLUB FRIENDSHIP NATIONAL
The Irish National Flying Club Friendship National for 2012 was flown from Quimper in France. Scheduled for Friday 13th July the race was brought forward to Tuesday 10 July due the bad weather forecast for the weekend. With the King’s Cup flown the day before it was feared that the entry for the Friendship race might drop but it held firm with 227 members sending 818 pigeons to compete for £4828 in pools and prizemeoney. The Friendship National was once again sponsored by Versele Laga.
In recognition of the Olympic games this race was designated the Olympic Friendship National and Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were commissioned for the first three birds to mark the occasion. These are one off pieces and were highly sought after.
The birds were liberated at 7.30am in a light northwesterly wind, which was a good steadying influence on the birds. However by the time the pigeons reached Ireland heavy showers had developed and these were torrential in places. It was hardly surprising then that only seven birds were timed on the day but with the rain passing overnight there was a good return of birds on the second day.
1st Open A McAteer & Sons Ballyholland, vel 995, flying 436 miles, winning £537, The Friendship Cup and the Gold Medal
The winners of the Friendship National in 2012 are A McAteer & Sons, Ballyholland on the outskirts of Newry City. This loft had been in hot form approaching this race having been 2nd Open from St Malo with the NIPA ten days previously. Such has their record been from St Malo in recent years they may well have had doubts about the Friendship race moving from St Malo to Quimper this year but they had no cause for concern as their bird battled through torrential rain to time at 8.21pm, to lift the Olympic Gold.
As mentioned above the McAteer lofts have excelled from St Malo in recent years, having won section G in the NIPA three times in the last four years. In 2011 they were an incredible 1st, 2nd and 3rd section G, timing three birds in less than 5 minutes for the 431-mile fly.
The winning pigeon, now known as ‘Drumcove Olympic Gold’, is from the best lines available from Mick Conlon Banbridge and Alan Darragh, Cullybackey. The Conlon birds are down from ‘Grove Hill Gold’, Mick’s Hall of Fame and Gold medal winner, while the Darragh pigeons go back to ‘Achievement’. Aiden tells me that the mother of the loft is a daughter of ‘Northbound’ and ‘Achievement’.
The sire of this years Friendship National winner was 27th section, 97th Open, Penzance Classic, followed by 23rd section, 63rd Open Penzance Classic and then 1st section G 10th Open Lamballe in 2009. The dam was 12th Open Old Hens National in 2006, and 142nd Open Friendship National in 2007.
The Open winner is a two-year-old Blue hen that was sent sitting on a single small young bird. She had every other race on the inland programme, 1st Talbenny and Bude. After that, she was trained three or four times from Arklow and Bray thanks to good friend Blaine.
The pigeons are all raced roundabout in the early part of the season and the cocks are sent one week and the hens the next, so that they have a mate to come home to. They are paired then with the French races in mind.
The McAteers clocked two more birds in the Friendship race to take 69th and 99th Open and have had two birds home from the King’s Cup outside race time. Feeding is from Frazers with Aiden being one of their first customers.