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With the ever growing interests worldwide over the past years the doors opened for this year’s entries back in may and with the organisers having once again receiving  a constant flow of pigeons from throughout the world, the doors and entry to this year’s one loft race finally came to a close on October 31st with  49 countries and regions having entered a record breaking 3,200 pigeons for competition and this year potential prize fund of an estimate 300,000 euro and estimate 120,000 euro 1st prize in the final race  including three new cars, with entry number raising annually a lot of work has been taking place over the early months since last year’s final, around the loft with the completion of  a new loft extension being erected to increase the capacity of entries permitted , this now  allows for a further  (estimated) 1,200 pigeons  which can now be accepted and as such  raise the entry level to well over 4,000 to 4,300 pigeons  comfortably if required.

 

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With all the pigeons settled and exercising daily around the lofts in the build up to the start of training it’s good to hear that during this orientation period and considering that many of the later arrivals in Sept and early October,  had already been raced or trained by their entrants, the loft reported  that this year  they have had very few losses listing 3,059 pigeons preparing for the start of training  when a loft  registry took place  on Nov 18th .

 

Training race 1

On Thursday 1st December the pigeons were basketed for the first time and dispatched to a liberation approx 5 km away from the loft, as we all know even thou the distance wasn’t very far, this is a very stressful time for the pigeons as it’s the first time that they had been taken away and liberated from a strange location in numbers with myself and the family present on the island of Tenerife for the week, we once again had the opportunity of arranging with the Arona team a few days before to make the short journey  to the Guaza lofts to witness the arrivals.

It was 10 am on the day of liberation that we arrived at the lofts to be met by Jose and Gladys Ledesma in familiar friendly fashion that each and every fancier has experienced when visiting over the past years and months, and following  the formalities we sat for a while and discussed potential ideas the Arona team have been working on for the benefit of both the pigeons and fanciers in future weeks who have supported the race again this year, as we awaited news of the  pigeons being liberate.

With Abel Ledesma once again in charge of the convoy it was shortly after 10:30 am and with 120+ fanciers from around the world logged into the live-stream we heard, that the pigeons were released at 10:30 into perfect visibility, yet cloudy warm canarian sky.

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With the liberation only being a few km, down the road, Megan who had a sharper eye sight than the rest of us spotted  a big black mass on the horizon which we could vaguely see, as the pigeons circled and orientate above the liberation site, as we waited and monitored their progress towards us a few pigeons made an early break from the batch and within no time and after a few circles above us they  duly dropped onto the loft and landing board, it took a while for these pigeons to realise the procedure as they stood for a while contemplating on what was required of them until finally they made their way into the trapping system and registered their return, by such time the main batch had moved closer to us and as we looked above the skies was  full of pigeons slowly making their way down from various heights, as you could only imagine with such numbers the trapping wasn’t going to be the best on this occasion, but within no time the loft roof was a mass of pigeons, and following on from the leading pigeons which took their time to enter within a few minutes over 1,600 pigeons were registered on the system.

 

Leading the field was the entry by TEAM RSR representing Italy with pigeon “Mirka” taking the leading honours timing in at 10:45:28:35, Team Karl-Heinz & Ralph Schleifer from Germany takes the runner up position in 2nd with pigeon “Mighty Asterix” recording an arrival  time of 10:45:29:20, there was a short wait of a few minutes until the remaining leading positions was announced as the computer struggled to keep control of the situation, however finally it was announced in 3rd place and 1st UK/Ireland was Burntoft Trainspotters Syndicate with pigeon “Burntoft Sharon” timing in at 10:50:38:05, 4th was pigeon named “Turbine” a South African entry for Team Spoorweg Sindikaat on 10:50:48:10, in 5th place was the Slovenia entry “Enej 67” for Vladimir Srebotnjak 10:51:33:15, one of the 2016 car winners from belgium Filip de Smedt timed in his entry “Biba” for 6th place on 10:52:08:60 just a few seconds ahead of team Tarragona in 7th place with pigeon “Silent Czar” was Andrés Cintas Guzmán on 10:52:12:05, for 8th position its Team Austria and “Wasabi 1500” for Team Garcia & Nagelhofer, at 10:52:33:85 we go to the Czech Republic Team Svoboda & Lekes with “Ilonka” 10:52:41:40 and rounding off today’s top ten its Romania with “Emir” for Team Dinica & Adrian 10:52:47:00 with over 2,500 pigeons passing through the traps within a few minutes and the landing board still full of pigeons waiting to enter, it gave us the opportunity of viewing the pigeons as they made their way through the compartments to the feeding trays, and it was clear and pleasing to see and compliment the Arona team on the condition of the pigeons under their management as we no doubt realise, that to keep so many pigeon healthy must of been a nightmare at times however there was nothing that we could see to report to you the fanciers to indicate any problems within the lofts.

After a while and with one large batch still flying around for over an hour of returning due to the presence of our old faithful sparrow hawk making an appearance we wished everyone  good luck for the future and said our goodbyes and headed back to our resort.

On checking the website (www.derbyatlantic.com) at nightfall there seemed to be a small number of birds adrift, however most turned up the following morning giving the Arona team a returns average of 99,18 %, but what was more  pleasing to see was that each of the top ten pigeons represented ten different countries which just goes to show how competitive and wide open this race is to any fancier around the world, from the biggest of organisations and breeding studs  to the more regular back garden fancier … in this race all pigeons are treated and raced the same regardless of their origin…

 

Training race 2

Two days later and the 3.034 which returned from race one  were again back in the basket for training race 2 a little further away from the loft this time, around 7+klm, on the morning of the race the weather on the island had taken a turn for the worse as heavy rain was present and at such time that we had departed for the airport we thought that at the time it was highly unlikely that an early liberation was possible, however just to show how quickly the weather changes in the Atlantic by 10am broken blue skies and a temperature of 23 degrees were present as we awaited news of any possible liberation.

 

With the live-stream active once again and close on 100 fanciers logged in to chat and await both a confirmation of the liberation and view the arrivals the liberation time was finally announced that the pigeons were released at 11am into blue skies and increasing temperatures of 24 degrees.

It was around fifteen minutes as everyone kept a visual on the trap a large number could soon be seen approaching from the rear of the loft and unlike training race one, once they came to land the birds keenly rushed for the trap to record their arrival, resulting in a bit of a wait as the computer recognised the winning result and announced the winning pigeon as a Czech Republic entry  by the name of “Sona”, Team Konopik & Motre recording a winning time of 11:15:01:25 taking the top honour, in 2nd place it was one of the races regular entrant and past hotspot car winner representing Germany, Alexander Gebel with pigeon “Atlantic 418” with a time of 11:15:03:10, Team Konopik & Motre recorded their second arrival for 3rd with their entry named “Heli” on 11:15:05:05 for 4th spot it was Norway and pigeon named “Rubi” for Team Gebert & Iura at 11:15:06:55.

Alexander Gebel germany 2nd training race 2
Alexander Gebel germany 2nd training race 2

Alexander Gebel Germany 2nd training race 2, 5th position goes for the second arrival for Germany with pigeon named “Zollverein 86” for Team Ruhr Thielen at 11:15:07:80, in 6th it was Poland and “Bella Chiarra” for Leszek Potoczny 11:15:08:05 just ahead for two arrivals taking 7th and 8th international and 2nd UK/Ireland for Team David Hinkel with “England Gypsyfilea” in 7th at 11:15:08:55, pigeon named “Canica” on 11:15:08:56 in 9th position its Syndicate Team Garcia & Nagelhofer from Austria who were  in amongst the leading arrivals in race one with “Wasabi 1500” on this occasion timing in at 11:15:08:75 just holding off into 10th place Italy and pigeon “Dac” for Hanus Vasile 11:15:09:25.

 

Whilst we understand its very early in the programme to look at averages after two races the top three positions currently stand as …

Austria name “Wsasabi 1500” Team Garcia & Nagelhofer

6078 pts.

Belgium name “Arona Laureaat 304” Team Batenburg – v. d. Merwe / PEC  6053 pts.

Portugal name “Second” Team Asas do Sul 6047 pts.

Team Garcia & Nagelhofer
Team Garcia & Nagelhofer

So were up and running and a point of great interest is that … once the first five training races have been completed we must  remind fanciers that owners activation will soon be upon us, this will be the only time that entrants will have the unique chance of  guaranteeing  that their pigeons remain within their teams and compete for the cash prizes and new cars on offer up to and including the final at the end of march, the dates for this are from December 12th to 22nd at a cost of 220 euro per pigeon .. after that period anyone interested in competing in the race have the opportunity until  the 8th January to activate any remaining unpaid pigeons available, so both owners and outside interested parties remember, some of the pigeons that are present have been at the loft for over eight months now and  have completed months of orientation around the  loft and  also completed stage one of the racing calendar containing five local training races, … so owners are encouraged to inform the Arona Team of their intentions in regards to activating their pigeons as soon as possible to avoid any confusion and to guarantee that there entries remain in their names for the rest of the training and racing and compete for the hot spot and , ace pigeon prize  and final race awards

One thing I have notice is that on looking at the results there seems to be a large number of entrants and syndicates haven’t as yet sent in their chosen team photo, whilst this is a minor issue by having such pictures, it however give the reports that will follow over the next four months a much highlighted profile and reward to each pigeon and fancier through till the end.

Tom Harris