“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.

Peter Hathaway, Steve & Brian Poole of Egham.

The Hathaway & Poole partner of Egham in Berkshire have enjoyed a wonderful 2019 old bird season, winning many premier positions, including four times 1st BB&O Federation. The membership of their club, the Windsor RPC, hosts some the best flyers in Europe and can some weeks send as many as 1,000 birds to an inland race. Fantastic competition and a really hard club to win! Peter, Steve and Brian won the first five old bird races in the club, which included the first race from France. The highlights of their old bird performance in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon SR Federation were: 1st,2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 17, 20th Federation Honiton (2,934 birds), 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 27th, 30th Federation Exeter (3,042 birds), 1st Federation Carentan (1,698 birds), 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 26th, 28th Federation Exeter (2,377 birds), 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th  Federation Portland (1,525 birds). One of the stars of the season was the Heremans Ceusters blue cock. ‘Roddy’, which had won many premier Federation positions in previous years, but in 2019 won: 1st club (570 birds), 1st BB&O Federation (2,934 bird), 2nd club (843 birds), 2nd BB&O Federation Exeter (3,042 birds) beaten by his loft mate. The pigeon to beat ‘Roddy’ from Exeter with 3,042 birds competing was the yearling Lambrecht blue pied hen, ‘KT’, and she went on to win: 8th Federation Portland (1,525 birds) and 14th Federation Exeter (2,377 birds). Another top performing hen in 2019 was the beautiful Lambrecht blue chequer hen, ‘Dolly Daydream’, and she won 1st club twice and 1st BB&O Federation Portland (1,525 birds), 7th BB&O Federation Yeovil (3,085 birds). One of the stars of the season was the Heremans Ceusters blue cock, ‘Third Bird’, although he didn’t win the Federation, he was 3rd Federation three times and 16th Federation.

 

Peter Hathaway moved house a couple of years ago and had a terrible job settling the Hathaway & Poole team of pigeons to the new garden, which is sited only a few hundred yards from the old one. The 2017 season has seen the partnership record their first three Federation winners to the new garden and everything has been re-established to its former glory. The Berks, Bucks & Oxen Federation sent 2,484 birds to Honiton (120 miles) and the partners recorded 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th Federation, all with pigeons flown on the roundabout system. Peter was telling me that there were several hens up there in the Federation result and he was amazed as the females had had very little work. The hens only fly out around the loft for ten minutes every day and only had a couple short training tosses at the beginning of the season. He only sent the hens to Honiton to stop them pairing up! The partners recently brought some Lambrecht pigeons in from Steve Foster and they have been doing well, and from the Honiton race they recorded 1st, 2nd and 5th Federation. The Federation winning pigeon from Honiton was the partner’s good yearling Mealy cock, ‘Freddie’, and he had previously won other premier positions including 10th BB&O Federation Yeovil. Three weeks after taking the first seven positions from Honiton, Hathaway & Poole hit the top spot again, by winning 1st and 2nd BB&O Federation Kingsdown (2232 birds). This time it was the turn of a hen to win the Federation and the partners were delighted as one of the loft favourites, the yearling Lambrecht grizzle hen ‘Little Flee’ was the first on the clock. This class hen was previously number six on the ETS from Honiton to win 6th BB&O Federation. The good yearling Soontjen blue chequer cock, ‘Dodgy Dave’, won 2nd Federation from Kingsdown and he was bred by the partner’s good friend, Dave Vass. The partners only keep a small team of young birds and only race them lightly to educate them, for future racing as old birds. In the 2017 season a team of 20 youngsters were sent to Exeter (150 miles) with the BB&O Federation and they recorded 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, with 1.299 birds competing. The first two birds on the ETS to win 1st and 2nd Federation and racing to the perch were the Heremans Ceusters nest pair, ‘Spoiler’ and ‘Blue Lou’. Hathaway & Poole didn’t intend to send to the last and longest young bird race flown from Wadebridge (200 miles), but were persuaded to send to the race and sent a small selected team of three birds. First pigeon clocked was the Soontjens blue chequer hen, ‘Lucky Dip’, and she recorded 1st club, 4th BB&O Federation, with 1,231 birds competing.

I recently visited the Hemel Hempstead loft of Mick and Lorna Dickinson for a YouTube filming session after their wonderful 2016 racing season, which saw them win a long list of premier positions including 1st UBI Combine twice. The two Combine winners were both yearling widowhood cocks. The first Combine winner of the season was the dark chequer cock, ‘933’ and he was purchased at the 2015 Spelthorne Breeder / Buyer Auction, being bred by the very successful Hathaway & Poole partnership of Egham. This game widowhood cock achieved club and Federation positions as a young bird and went on to win: 1st club, 1st Inter Counties Federation (2,322 birds), 1st UBI Combine (3,330 birds) Yelverton, velocity 1290ypm and 2nd club Honiton (234 birds). A fantastic yearling cocks!

Prior to the house move, the Hathaway & Poole partnership of Egham in Berkshire got the 2014 racing season off to a brilliant start, racing in the very strong Windsor club, which has several premier racers in it’s membership, including Mark Gilbert and John Haynes. The club often sends 750 birds to inland races and the Windsor club members regularly win the Berks, Bucks & Oxen Federation. Mark Gilbert won the Federation from Portland, with 3,065 birds competing and Hathaway & Poole’s two Soontjen blue widowhood cocks, ‘Ho! So’ and ‘Near Miss’ hit the ETS together to record the same velocity, and joint 2nd Federation. The following weekend the roles were reversed in the Honiton race, when Hathaway & Poole won 1st club (708 birds), 1st BB & O Federation (3,530 birds), with their brilliant Soontjen blue chequer cock, ‘Short Head’. This outstanding widowhood cock has previously won several premier positions, including 4th club, 4th BB & O Federation (2,558 birds) Wincanton in the 2012 racing season. In the Honiton race the partners beat Mark Gilbert by a yard and he had two pigeons hit the ETS together to win joint 2nd Federation. Funning ol’ game, this pigeon racing!  The Egham partnership continued and had a wonderful 2014 old bird season, finishing up winning: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 15th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 23rd, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 33rd, 38th, 39th, 41st, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 58th, 59th BB&O Federation East Prawle (1,999 birds). The Federation winner on this occasion was the yearling blue round about cock, ‘Defrow’, and he had also won 1st club Exeter (385 birds) earlier in the season.

Peter Hathaway and Steve Poole visited my home in Claygate to have their latest Federation winners photographed and they told me they had had many good days racing their birds through the years, but like every other fancier, had had only a few really brilliant days. Peter said the 2012 season had turned up one those rare brilliant racing days, when the partners sent a team of young birds to Wincanton (85 miles) with the Berks, Bucks & Oxen SR Federation and recorded 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 22nd, 23rd, 25th (2,558 birds). They were racing in three different clubs and a batch of birds came together, and the first three birds on the ETS won the three clubs. The fantastic thing about this performance was the fact that the first three birds dropped on the ETS together and recorded the exactly same time and velocity, 1678.413. Three different club winners and joint 1st Federation winners.

I remember visiting the late, great Fred Elliott’s loft in Egham many years ago and being a keen angler, I was very impressed with a big fishing lake that was sited behind his garden. The Hathaway & Poole’s loft set up is sited in Peter’s garden, which is just up the road from the same lake. Peter and Steve are self-employed builders, so the lofts are very smart, with the main racing loft being a 30ft pan tiled structure which houses the widowhood racers and the young birds have their own 14ft loft, and all are kitted out with Unikon ETS. The old birds are cleaned out every day during the racing season, but during the winter months are kept on ‘Easy Bed’ deep litter and the young birds are on deep litter all the year round. The partners race cocks and hens on the widowhood and roundabout systems, with sprint and middle distance racing in mind. They say that the biggest mistake that a pigeon racer can make is over feeding and to be successful this has to be worked out correctly too the type of racing the fancier want to compete in. On the partner’s widowhood system the birds are not broken down, with the corn being increased at the end of the week and the hens are released in to the cocks section on marking night, and both cocks and hens are sent to the race. The yearling’s race through to Tours (284 miles) and all the other birds through to Bergerac (456 miles), and never any further. The partners say their train system is not for the faint hearted and kicks off at Dummer. In the 2009 season they had five Dummer tosses before the first race and finished up winning 1st Federation Portland (2,814 birds) and 1st Federation Wincanton (1,965 birds).

The stock birds are housed in six single flights and are paired up in early December. The main families kept are Soontjens, Lambrecht, Staf Van Reet and Ron Williams of Ireland. The main stock pair is a Soontjens / Staf Van Reet cross and they have bred numerous club and Federation winners for the partners and their friends. This champion pair of breeders have also bred 3rd open L&SECC Bergerac, 12th open L&SECC Bergerac, 20th open L&SECC Tours in the same season and were purchased at the BHW Blackpool Show for the princely sum of £65. They also purchased a Staf Van Reet mealy cock from the same vendor for £30 and he bred Hathaway & Poole five different winners. Not a bad return on less than a 100 quid! Steve told me, the partners have no interest in the eyesign method or showing their birds, but have supported club shows several times and have never won a card, so maintains their birds must be racing pigeons! The stock birds never breed after the end of May as the partners have no time for late breds and all the race birds are separated from September until February, and do not fly out in the winter months.

Peter tells me, they breed about 100 youngsters each year and give 20 of them to friends, clubs and charity sales. The babies go on the ‘darkness’ system and are raced on the open door celibate system, being kept separate all week and run together on marking night. The young birds start their training at Dummer (30 mile), which is a favourite training point on the M3 Motorway and after six tosses they are ready for the first Federation race. They maintain the ‘darkness’ is essential for success with the young birds, as it keep them in good feather right through the season and they like to race, and compete every week with the babies. Steve says that their best yearlings have been young birds that have flown the English Channel.

 

In the 2005 season the partners had another of those brilliant racing days, when they sent too two channel races on the same day and recorded: 1st open UBI Combine Fougeres (2,445 birds) and 3rd open L&SECC Alencon (2,633 birds). Peter and Steve told me it was a very special day and gave them their biggest thrill in their time in the sport! The two widowhood pigeons were clocked 15 minutes apart and produced the lofts best performance. Some of the best performances put up by the Hathaway & Poole partnership in recent years have been: 1st club Newark (604 birds) on the north road, 3rd, 12th open L&SECC Bergerac (1,112 birds), 3rd open L&SECC Alencon (2,633 birds), 5th open L&SECC Bergerac (835 birds), 14th, 15th open L&SECC Tours (1,718 birds), 16th, 33rd, 35th open L&SECC Vire (625 birds), 18th open L&SECC Vire (1,319 birds), 20th open L&SECC Tours (1,921 birds), 20th, 45th open L&SECC Bergerac (738 birds), 21st, 28th open L&SECC Bergerac, 26th open L&SECC Alencon (1,783 birds), 26th open L&SECC Tours (2,253 birds), 27th open L&SECC Guernsey (1,693 birds), 1st, 4th, 20th UBI Combine Fougeres (2,445 birds), 1st, 2nd Federation Wincanton (1,291 birds), 1st, 3rd Federation Portland (2,814 birds), 1st, 3rd, 4th Federation Portland (3,371 birds), 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th Federation Wincanton (2,558 birds), 2nd Federation Kingsdown (1,533 birds), 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 10th, 14th Federation Blandford, 3rd, 4th Federation Wincanton, 4th Federation Lulworth (1,245 birds), 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 19th, 20th Federation Wincanton (2,485 birds), 61st open BICC Saran (3,919 birds), 51st open BBC Lamballe (2,318 birds). A wonderful record!

Peter has no family history in pigeon racing, but Steve and Brian’s dad was an outstanding fancier for many years. All three partners kept pigeons as children and started to race when they became teenagers. Peter was drawn to pigeon after watching the birds belonging to the good local fancier, Sid (Pip) Alcock and his first birds were caught from under Staines Railway Bridge, and the really good ones had rubber rings on their leg. The great performances of Pip Alcock in the late 1960’s really grabbed Peter’s interest and later it was the performances of the late, great Fred Elliott. Peter’s first racing birds were Dordins and the Poole Brothers had Kirkpatrick, and they all gave the lads a lot of pleasure. Their first club was the Egham Invitation Flying Cub that, in those days flew North Road up to Thurso in Scotland with the Thames Valley Federation. The lads have been pigeon racers for well over 40 years and have kept pigeons for most of their lives. They now race in the strong Windsor RPC, which has several premier fanciers in its membership, including Mark and Geoff Gilbert and Peter tells me, they still consider themselves as novices. They must be joking! Congratulations to the Hathaway & Poole partnership on their wonderful success in recent seasons!

That’s it for this week! Hathaway & Poole, what a great pigeon racing partnership! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on: keithmott1@virginmedia.com

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)