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The Wonderful Spectacle Of Long Distance Pigeon Racing (Within The New Millenium)...
Author: Liam O ComainTitle: The Wonderful Spectacle Of Long Distance Pigeon Racing (Within The New Millenium)
Date: 2005-01-05 16:53:16Uploaded by: webmaster
Invincible SpiritWithin the pigeon racing media almost every month we hear of another race or a series of races leading up to an ultimate race whereby some one is declared the winner. What I have in mind are the numerous one-loft races which have caught on or are catching the imaginations of fanciers world wide. Of course the appearance of such racing was only a matter of time for the pigeon fancy has progressive thinkers. A big attraction of such racing is that for a sum a fancier could enter a bird and, in doing so, beat a master of the sport at the same time. Thus the chances of an equal footing are better so it is argued by supporters of the one-loft races. In addition, other people will save you labour by taking and preparing your entrant/entrants and at the end of the exercise ones bank balance could be enhanced. Of course, I have nothing against the development for the sport must be a democracy but, like the apparent increase in sprint and middle distance competition (which I acknowledge is a quite legitimate exercise), I am apprehensive about the possible threat to the wonderful spectacle of long distance pigeon racing.

Such a threat does not exist, could be the reaction of some to my apprehension or fear. But like many other aspects of human culture, a new development can weaken or lead to the demise of other aspects so much so that what is left is a mere skeleton of the original. Many this is put down to human taste and development but I think it's sad that many good parts of one's culture can just disappear all in the name of the god of progress.

Long- distance racing has progressed since the origins of the sport in Europe and although there are many who are quite content to fly the sprints and middle - distances, nevertheless there is something wonderful, something special about welcoming home one's entrant or entrants in races which sap their strength and will power. We know that there may be no day arrivals and we may have to wait long hours in all sorts of weather conditions, but we cannot deny that there is something mystical about the whole experience. And when we do time in - what joy! In fact position or prize is secondary and, to many, irrelevant compared to the excitement of seeing a return after hundreds of soul-destroying miles littered with many obstacles both alive and inanimate. What other sport can compare with this? None! Now inspite of this richness which adds to our lives as human beings, statistics shows that there are many areas throughout the world where the sport is on the wane. This partly arises from our failure to attract the young, to our ranks. However, if the trend continues and the interest in the shorter races up to 300 miles grows we have confirmation of my initial apprehension about the future of distance racing.

Interestingly enough, I have heard and read comments from the famous and the less well known that are critical of distance racing, both within and without the fancy. Perhaps this negativity arises from the development of short distance strains and as you have to use more than one form of management to compete, although there are exceptions, an extra burden exists which can be lightened if one discards the distant races. In truth there are opinions which imply that the distant races are a form of mass cruelty. Such thinking sooner or later will be of interest to the lobby against cruelty to animals. Therefore we of the fancy must not leave ourselves open to such possible allegations by ensuring that our birds are convoyed and treated like royalty prior to their release from Barcelona or wherever. In truth I would be dismayed if I thought that reality did not prevail at the present.

With increasing emphasis being placed upon the shorter races, naturally the flying system being applied is more suitable to that type of racing, which would suggest that there exists the danger that the long- distance type of pigeon could be lost or demoralized prior to having a chance to show its worth in the races of its ancestors. Now I don't want to appear alarmist here, nor to write for the sake of writing, for even we scribes are prone to falling to that type of addiction, but it is better to have a think- in now rather than wait for the skeleton to transform into dust. Therefore it is neither adversarial nor controversial if you try to motivate the National Flying Clubs and other regional and national bodies not to fall into complacency. For, believe it or not, there are danger signs out there and our sport is not immune.

As for the individual or general fancier, each dog must have its day, therefore if the shorter races or one-loft races are your fancy then so be it. But to the person who fancies the distances (and that may become a minority compared to what it was decades ago) all National bodies must ensure that the right to fly the distances is sacrosanct. As a precaution, the existence of distance bodies are to be welcomed, for their existence goes somewhat towards alleviating my apprehension re the future of long distance pigeon racing. In fact I would like to see evolving in due course a world or European body for the preservation and promotion of distance racing.

That, however, is not the complete cure for the possible eventuality which is implied. The cure lies with the pigeon fancier. To the membership as a whole I would say do not abandon the art of distance racing. To those who do not want to race the distance then encourage those who do. For there is a place for both. And finally to those who seek to race the distance or to continue to do so apply within patience the best long distance system to pigeons who have the genes and the bloodlines required to face the grinding miles, hour after hour. The latter implies not burning out your youngsters or your yearlings before they have the chance to show their worth or even your two year olds! It also implies not sending distance bloodlines week after week to distances not suitable for their breeding and becoming disappointed if they do not place in the first four or thereabouts. Sadly many fanciers have burnt out potential distance winners through improper training and intense early racing prior to the big race where it would have succeeded if reason had ruled the roost. Yes there are always exceptions but they are few and far between.

As implied there are potential dangers to the practice of long distance and marathon pigeon races which perhaps lies within pigeondom itself. It would be a terrible tragedy if in the future there were no equivalents to 'Lancashire Rose' the English national winner at 734 miles, 'Bann King' the Irish national winner at 633 miles, or 'The Barcelona Miracle'- the twice winner of the Barcelona International, or many others who graced our sport by their presence and achievements. I thank God and their owners for having made life something to behold!

Liam O Comain

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