NFC Tarbes Winner’s Article

Category: NFC, Pigeon Racing 01.08.19

The first place in National Flying Club Tarbes Grand National is the most coveted title in the UK pigeon sport without exception. It presents the biggest haul of silverware that can be won in any race in the country, accumulated in more than 100 years of the National Flying Club history. These trophies have been donated over the last century by Royalty and the working class alike with the names of Champions engraved upon them that dedicated themselves to the challenge of the Grand National. In these modern days of choice and fragmented birdages, many true long distance fanciers still regard the winning of this race as a life time’s ambition, to be relentlessly pursued regardless of the trials and tribulations along the way. It is the pinnacle of achievement, competing in the premier long distance racing club in the country and one such fancier, who has had to resign himself to one last race before ceasing in the sport due to health issues, dared to dream when he entered his pigeons for the last time, after years of building a team to achieve his one true ambition, to win the Tarbes Grand National.
In 2012, Darran McFadden timed a good pigeon from Tarbes Grand National and for a while he was top of the leader board. Calls began coming in from friends to congratulate him, but he remained pragmatic as he knew there were other great pigeons racing further north and sure enough three pigeons recorded a faster velocity, with him being 4th Open. This year, when he timed his first arrival, he was surprised by the silence in the background when he called Sid Barkel to verify. He thought lots of birds would be being verified at the same time and although he went top of the leader board, he was fully expecting to be beaten by northern flyers again. His kept his calm all through the day and it was not until the next morning, when he called to verify his sixth pigeon that Sid confirmed he had achieved his dream of winning the Grand National. “You could not ask for a better ending” he said, as due to health problems he had decided this season would be his last, and arrangements had been made for all his pigeons to be sold by auction on Elimar in August.
His winning hen “Queen Mary” is from a long line of distance birds he has developed over the years which originated from two main sources, Kirkpatrick and Eric Cannon. Eric had left behind a legacy of long distance pigeons when he passed away and Darran was lucky enough to be given a young bird by Les Swan which did very well, so when Les went to live in Spain, he gave him the parents. Malcolm Parker also bred him “Megans Lad” and Ray Hammond won the L&SECC with “Simply the Best” out of which he gave Darran a young bird with the promise that it wouldl also win the Classic from Tarbes and two years later she did, so called her “Razor’s Girl” and put her to stock. He went to Louella in 2001 and purchased three Kirkpartick grizzle hens down from “Stan the Man”. One of them bred a very good white hen “Camron Snow Queen” which flew Pau, Tarbes and won a Merit Award in the Classic. She was paired to an Eric Cannon cock that also raced well from the distance and after their final Tarbes race, they were put to stock and bred “Snow Prince” “Dark Prince” 14th Open Tarbes, 11th International Pau and many other proven pigeons have come through this pair.
Over the years, Darran has developed a system he uses to race his hens at the long distance. They begin the season being raced on widowhood, with the cocks always at home waiting for them. They are given very little training before the first race and go on to have five channel races back to back, which builds their fitness before being left with their cocks to go to nest, after the Messac race with the National Flying Club. Then they have three peaceful weeks off to go to nest and be prepared for the Tarbes Grand National. Each evening they are turned out for two hours with the widowhood cocks from another section and as expected, they chase them around the sky. Being already paired they show no interest and the widowhood cocks keep them flying for the full two hours. This system obviously works well as the last two years have been very tough and difficult races with his first three timers in 2018 also being his first three birds home this year, and of course with plenty of pools on them. His second pigeon in the clock is now called “Triple Crown” because with this performance added to her previous Grand National results, wins her the NFC Merit Award.
“Queen Mary” was paired early season with a selected partner and her eggs were given to feeders before being returned to the race loft and the love of her life, a seventeen year old cock that has bred “all the Dukes” as Darran calls them. He is a quiet, unassuming cock which does not chase her around the loft and “she’s all over him” he said so she was sent to the race sitting 14 day old eggs. Her feeding for the race began months ago said Darran, with Van Robaeys number 39 being used as a base mixture with fats added in the form of Peanuts and Sunflower Hearts. He uses all Dr Brockamp products and says that they are used the whole year round to keep his birds in the best of condition. “you can not expect to win the Premier race in the country if you neglect the birds during the off season” he said, “and the most important time for the preparation is the moult”.
Darran got quite emotional when he tried to explain how proud his parents would have been with him winning the Tarbes Grand National. It is a hugely emotional race to win Darran and a fantastic achievement, you should be proud of yourself as I am sure they are too!

Darren McFadden 1st Open NFC Tarbes
Darren McFadden 1st Open Tarbes 2019
GB16N72927 Queen Mary
GB16N72927 Wing
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