Smyth Bros, Ballymena
When the site changed ownership one of the first top writers I contacted to provide copy was Irish Rover of the Racing Pigeon, one of the few scribes working longer that myself on the news subject. A part of the site was set up to take this correspondence in October 2007, its only recently we have had the opportunity to run the Ronnie Johnston Column weekly. Had I not have had the approval of the writer to publish his copy it would not have been listed under any other circumstances. Same with all others who are currently listed and it will be the same again for those who will be invited in the future. The latest column for Irish Rover is listed under his own banner. Homer.
Smyth Bros, Ballymena
The Irish Nat Flying Club presented a single Gold Medal to Jackie Waring of Lisburn at the Annual Dinner in 2011. This medal is awarded to any pigeon four times an Open Prize-winner from the Kings Cup.
Over a 30 year period only 9 Gold Medals have been won and they have become a very coveted award. I often wonder how many pigeons would have won a Gold Medal before the award was introduced to the INFC. I know of at least one bred and raced by the great Smyth Bros, Ballymena. The pigeon in question is a Blue Cheq w/f hen known as Leading Lady
The Kings Cup from Redon was a very hard race with only about 30 birds in race time. Smyth Bros won 20th, 21st & 24th Open. Leading Lady was 21st Open INFC and she was the only yearling clocked in race time. In 1955 it was back to Redon and Leading Lady won 4th Open INFC. In 1956 the race point had changed to Rennes but it made no difference to this great hen as she went on to win 6th Open INFC, this would have win her the Hall of Fame Diploma. I 1957 Smyth Bros had a top entry and a great result 6th & 9th Open with Leading Lady 9th Open INFC and this result have seen her win the coveted Gold Medal.
Look at her INFC Nat record 4th, 6th, 9th and 21st Open, no pigeon in the history of the INFC would have a better record from four consecutive Kings Cup races. The pigeon that was 6th Open in 1957 was a top racing cock known as National Effort a cousin to Leading Lady. Bobby paired these two great pigeons together and they produced some outstanding pigeons. A daughter bred Billy Erwins 1962 NIPA Old Bird Derby winner and a son bred Smyth Bros YB National winner in 1964.
This YB Nat winner was to have a considerable influence on the Smyth Bros winning family. A daughter of the Nat winner known as The Bad Wing Hen has produced Blue Pied cock 2nd Open INFC Beauvais, Blue cock 6th Open Beauvais was a grandson, Blue Cheq hen 2nd Open INFC Kings Cup Nantes was a daughter. Two more sons scored in the NIPA Dinard OB Derby and finally the two Hall of Fame winners for Smyth Bros in 1981 contsained the bloodline of the The Bad Wing Hen. In 1970 Smyth Bros won 1st Sect & 2nd Open NIPA Dinard with a daughter of Silver Wings and was one of the first pigeons to win over £1,000.
In 1971 the loft won 24th and 45th Kings Cup Nantes with a mother and daughter both clocked on the day and two years later in 1973 were 2nd Open INFC Kings Cup Nantes. In 1980 Smyth Bros won 26th, 125th and 127th Open INFC Kings Cup from Les Sables, 611 miles to Ballymena. In 1981 4th Open INFC Yearling Nat from Penzance after losing four minutes on the trap. Following that 40th and 58th Open INFC Kings Cup Les Sables winning two Hall of Fame Diplomas in the same year and the only other loft to achieve this feat was the famous McCartney Bros of Moira.
N Black & Sons from Dromara joined McCartney Bros and Smyth Bros by winning two Hall of Fame Diplomas in 1995, the year that Jack Patience won 1st & 2nd Open in the Kings Cup.
Bobby is now over 90 years of age but when racing as Smyth Bros of Ballymena the loft was one of the very best in the UK and Ireland.