Probably the most competitive race of the North Road Championship Club’s programme is the last one of the season the young bird national from Berwick.
And now, from next season, the competition is all set to become even more fierce thanks to the man who has established new standards in the last two races. Ray Knight, who flies in a family partnership from the Lincolnshire village of Old Leake, took the first eight open positions in 2013, and only just missed a repeat win this year, finishing as runner-up and taking 16 of the first 20 open positions. Phenomenal flying.
Ray is well-known for three things: successful pigeon racing, making top-quality films on the sport, and . . . talking.
The racing experience has been gathered over many years in the fancy, in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire; the film making has involved many top lofts in this country and on the Continent; and the talking? Well, that has been practised pretty well anywhere there has been an audience!!
Now he has embraced all three of these skills to produce a DVD which tells fellow fanciers, rivals included, just how he has set the NRCC young bird national alight in the past couple of years.
He comes into your sitting room to tell you, in the finest detail, the system that has brought results that are a talking point in the fancy.
It is a system that is drawn from his own long experience in the fancy, from long conversations with his great friend, the late, great Frank Tasker, and from noting the secrets of many outstanding fanciers he has filmed. If he has been puzzled by anything in his search for success, he has not hesitated to consult the many knowledgeable friends he has in pigeon racing.
The result is a 130-minute film detailing how he set out to dominate the last two NRCC young bird races, telling the story from weaning and schooling the youngsters right through to basketing for the big race, overcoming, and tackling head-on, the pitfalls that are part and parcel of young bird racing, including the dreaded young bird sickness.
Moreover, accompanying the DVD, is a handy booklet as a reminder of what you have seen, and heard, on the film. This includes a very useful feeding chart.
The film, broken down into chapters so that you can assimilate sections at a time, deals with everything from loft design, weaning and schooling the youngsters, diet and vaccination, training and widowhood, and the build-up to the races.
It reveals a thoroughly comprehensive system, perhaps uniquely because it is giving other fanciers the opportunity to compete on equal terms.
It is an accepted fact there are many ages of the pigeon fancier and some have more time and energy for the sport than others. For those who have the time and inclination, this is a system they might like to follow.
For others, whose time, commitment and energy is more restricted, the film still has a lot to offer, and parts of it can be adapted as and when thought best.
It also takes some of the fear out of young bird sickness, proving that if the problem is tackled promptly and decisively, the youngsters can recover and compete at the highest level.
Ray’s birds suffered from the sickness twice in the build-up to this year’s national, and look how well they recovered.
Another interesting fact is that the Knight loft won the NRCC old hens race in 2013 after sending only one bird. She had been prepared in the same regime as the young birds. More food for thought.
In what other sport would you find a competitor revealing to his rivals just what he does to achieve success? That’s pigeon racing. But knowledge is one thing, and determination to use it to full advantage is another.
This film gives you the knowledge; how you use it is up to you.