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NFC Cholet 2019 Winner’s Article

Category: NFC, Pigeon Racing 01.08.19

The third race of the season for the National Flying Club was held on the 15th June from Cholet with the 3500 birds liberated at 7am into a fresh South-South West wind and although rain showers plagued many parts of the country, the expected speed for the winning pigeons was 60mph or more. As it transpired the overall winner did indeed reach 1790 yards per minute which is just over 61mph.
Steve and Denise Wiggins from Basingstoke expected a five, to five and half hour fly for the birds to cover the 290 miles to their loft, so when their widowhood cock appeared from nowhere and flew straight into the loft at four hours forty four minutes. They knew he would be a good one as he had shown previous form just three weeks ago by winning 7th Open Messac with the CSCFC, but they did not expect to win outright. It was not until four thirty, when a friend called say they were at the top off the leaderboard, that they realised just how good their time was and a tense couple of hours followed, with all the family repeatedly checking the website to watch the northern times coming up one by one, just short of their velocity. They were over the moon when they received confirmation that they head provisionally won the Premier Distance Club in Great Britain, especially because their three year old granddaughter had asked Grandad Steve to “win the big race” for her birthday, which was on that very same day.
As a boy, Steve and his brother lived in Putney and caught stray pigeons which were housed in tea chests. Their father, seeing the keen interest his boys had shown in the pigeons, decided to buy them a small garden loft with which to race their birds, but as their teenage years advanced, their father “Wiggo” gradually took over as they went on to other things. One such distraction was Denise, who met Steve at school aged 13 and they have been together ever since, being married for the last 46 years. When they were first married, they lived Carshalton, London and as they had a decent sized garden, Steve asked Denise if she would mind if he put up a pigeon loft. “Not at all” was her reply and from then on, they both became involved in the pigeon sport together, and Steve said that he could not do it with out her.
They soon put together a winning team of birds, raced on the widowhood system and one ambition his father held was for them to win the Fulham Open which was a huge race at the time. Steve entered his cocks and won first and second that day, making his Dad really happy for them to have achieved the win. Subsequently his Dad, known locally as to his friends “Wiggo”, passed away over 20 years ago, which is when Steve lost interest in the birds and consequently he and Denise moved to Spain for a few years. But the pigeon bug had bitten him hard and Steve began to help one of the locals in Spain to race his birds whilst all the time keeping a keen interest in the UK Pigeon Journals. Eventually they returned to the UK and moved to Basingstoke to be near their sons, which was just over five years ago, and once their homemaking was complete, a new twenty four foot loft was constructed which is when the search for quality bloodlines began.
Steve had decided the De Raul Sablon pigeons were putting up good performances and would also make a good cross for most other middle distance families, so he acquired a few from Mick McMurchie in Fife, who also had Peter Veenstra “Mr Blue” lines which soon began winning for them in their local club and federation. But their heart was in channel racing, holding the Classics and National racing as their main goals in Basingstoke, with the first major win being with the Central Southern Classic FC in 2018 from Bergerac and now, just one year later, adding a first open National Flying Club.
They race just fifteen widowhood cocks, although Steve had seriously considered racing on the Roundabout system, until he met his old friend Frankie Carson at the Epson Show who advised him the stick to what he knew best. At the end of January he couples pairs them together with the hens and allows them the rear one youngster before going down on eggs for their second round. They are then parted as they reach the tenth day of sitting and the cocks will sit for a couple of days before a few training tosses three weeks prior to the first club race. Like most of us, they have problems early season with hawk attacks so once the first race is completed, the cocks exercise around the loft for an hour, morning and evening. Compact Disks are hung around the loft area to deter the birds of prey which Steve feels are very effective along with a watchful eye. The cocks are fed in their nest boxes and are never broken down after a race, which Steve is convinced is most important. “Once they have gone too low in energy, it is over for the season” he said, and channel races should be once every two weeks. He plans to keep two teams of cocks next season in order to ensure this essential rest.
Denise, known by her family as “Dee” is the loft organiser of the partnership, and will complete all the required paperwork for the racing loft as well as tending to the stock, young birds and any sick or injured pigeons. She will use honey on an open laceration and has been known to make splints for broken bones. She is just as keenly interested in the pigeons as Steve and really likes the social side of the sport, especially marking days at the Classic which they say is run very efficiently and is a great day out. They have made some very good friends there and Dee said Secretary of the Classic, Claire Norman, was the very first person to call to congratulate them on their NFC win.
The old bird racers are now being prepared for the Bergerac race in three weeks with the CSCFC, having been left with their hens to go to nest. They have only had five races up to date but the partners will be happy concentrate on their young birds after just one more channel race with the widowhood cocks. The youngsters have been on the darkness system from April until June and are looking really well. Steve likes to train them well but is happy to stop the cocks after three or four races, whilst racing the hens until the end of the season.
They have bought quality stock birds with channel racing in mind, going to Geoff Kirkland and Mark Gilbert for particular lines. Indeed, they had purchased a double granddaughter of “Euro Diamond” from Mark which unfortunately escaped over Dee’s head one blustery evening at the loft. But once he recounted the loss to Mark, thinking it may get reported to him via the ring number, he replaced the pigeon free of charge with one exactly the same way bred, which Steve said illustrates the generous nature of the man.
There is no doubt going to be further National and Classic success achieved by this very affable husband and wife partnership, and considering the general rule is that it takes five years to build a team to race the channel, in five years they have won two already, so I am sure many more will follow.
The next race in the program for the National Flying Club is the “Grand National” from Tarbes and no matter how many opposing races are scheduled for the same weekend, there is nothing to compare with competing in this race. It is our heritage as a nation, with a history of over 100 years, having Royal assent and a long list of greats engraved on the coveted Kings Cup, will yours be next? If it is, I can assure you your feet will not feel the ground as you bask in the hallowed glory bestowed upon the winner by your peers, and your pigeon will join the ranks of the legendary. Wildly held opinion is that there is nothing remotely like it in the UK pigeon sport, and it would be irrational to let anyone convince you otherwise.
Any news and views to me, Chris Sutton on 01530 242548 or nfcpressofficer@gmail.com

GB17C06049 Wiggo’s Lacey
Wiggo’s Lacey in hand
Wiggo’s Lacey Wing
Steve & Dee Wiggins 1st Open NFC Cholet
Steve & Dee Wiggins
SU14F2377 Wiggo’s Mr Blue
SU14F2377 Wing
Wiggins Loft
Wiggo’s Lacey Nestbox

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