2021 Irish Grand National St Allouestre – Liam McCall wins for the second time

The Blue Riband of the sport in Ireland the Grand National Kings Cup was flown from St Allouestre in France on Thursday 8th July having been held over the day previous due to poor weather which had already delayed the race by the best part of a week.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 10:00 am
W R Capper of Bondhill, 1st North Sect & 2nd Open INFC Kings Cup winning Nelson Vase and NIPA Cup.
W R Capper of Bondhill, 1st North Sect & 2nd Open INFC Kings Cup winning Nelson Vase and NIPA Cup.

Due to Covid 19 the whole programme was cancelled in 2020 and despite the regulations for race marking etc we had a reasonable entry after missing a year, just short of the bird total in 2019.

495 members had entered a total of 2,511 pigeons to compete for the most coveted prize in pigeon racing in Ireland – the King George V Challenge Cup. They were also competing for a total of £23,650 in pools and prizemoney. When the results were announced it was Liam McCall of Wicklow who was the winner confirmed at the close of racing the first night.

Best birds on the second morning were timed by Capper Bros, Tom McClean, and John Greenaway in the Portadown area and Fintan Moran from Malahide & District with two early arrivals winning the Harkness Rose Bowl for the best two bird average. From the same club in the Dublin area Joe Doheny was to win the Gold Medal with his Champion “The Beast” the first time a Gold Medal has been won in the South Section in over 40 years of racing for this award. The race was sponsored by Frazer Animal Feeds and we are very grateful to them for their continued sponsorship of this race.

Stewart Bros (Eric left with Ian) from Randalstown with their 1st Mid Antrim Combine winner in the Kings Cup St Allouestre.

1st South Section, 1st Open Liam McCall Wicklow South Road, Vel 934, Flying 377 miles, Winning £1122, and King George V Challenge Cup

The winners of the King’s Cup this year is Liam McCall Wicklow, he had won the cup in 2017 and his Hall of Fame winner ‘Red Laddie’s bloodlines were involved in the 2016 Kings Cup winner for Mr & Mrs Magill of Randalstown who fly in the Muckamore HPS. In 2017 he had the first bird clocked in the race, and he did the same again in 2021. This year his bird was timed at 6.21pm and the only difference a long wait to find out it was the only bird on the day, now aptly named “Home Alone”

Liam sent me a little bit of info after he made contact, his 2021 Kings Cup winner is a 5-year-old Blue Cheq cock named “Home Alone” timed at 18.21hrs on the day of liberation and only bird on the day hence the name “Home Alone”.

He was sent sitting 12-day old eggs same nesting condition as was sent to St Malo Derby in 2020. He was the loft’s third bird home and finished 6th Club. He has been a steady racer over the years and has had, several positions, in the club. His sire is a Frank Sheader 100% Soontjen and the dam is bred from John Patterson stock Soontjen and Grondelaer. Before the Kings Cup he had four land races plus Talbenny (1) & (2) from South Wales. One of the land races was from Barleycove on 19th June some 190 miles to my lofts in Wicklow. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those fanciers who phoned from North and South to congratulate me, and to also say well done to everyone who timed in this very difficult race. My wife Gertie who is also the loft trainer timed our previous winner “Chloe” and the pleasure was all hers, four years later I had the pleasure to clock “Home Alone” to win our second Kings Cup. So, now, it’s one all, extra time is now in play.

Tommy McClean of Annaghmore, 2nd North Sect & 3rd Open INFC St Allouestre. Holding the hen that was 3rd Open Kings cup and shortly after that photo was taken clocked a blue white flight cock to win 1st Open in the Friendship National Lamballe.

Liam McCall now joins a unique list of double Kings Cup winners in what I call the modern era of competition and winning twice in such a short time with one complete season ruled out due to the Covid 19, this is a record that will take some beating.

The famous double winners were McDowell Bros from Newtownards 1st Open Redon in 1953 velocity 790 and 1st Open Nantes 1973 velocity 825. Joe Doheny from Dublin had 1st Open Les Sables 1982 velocity 914 and 1st Open Redon 2002 velocity 913.

1st North Section, 2nd Open Capper Bros Bondhill Social, Vel 783, flying 481 miles, winning £3730 and the Nelson Vase 1st RPRA member after winner in King’s Cup and the NIPA Cup.

From Willie Capper. Capper Bros Bondhill. 1st North Section & 2nd Open Kings Cup 2021 Blue 2-year-old hen, all pooled and nominated. Sire the late Maurice Wilkinson blood lines, he was the INFC National Champion in 2013 and was the Kings Cup winner from Messac in 2005. Dam my own Soojten blood line, my second bird out of St Malo 2021 is same blood line, another loft steeped in long distance performance and always there in a big competition area. Simmo PO.

3-year-old blue hen bred by Cyril Beattie and winner for P Smith & Son, Stillorgan.

2nd North Section, 3rd Open Tom McClean Annaghmore, Vel 739, flying 480 miles, winning £1122.

Tom McClean is another of the top lofts and most consistent in the Portadown area flying in the Annaghmore HPS with other big stars. Only 3rd Open this time we can all remember he had 2nd in 2018 behind winner O Fitzpatrick & Son from nearby Gilford and added to that in the same season Tom was crowned INFC National Champion. The 4-year-old blue ch hen was bred by his cousin Sam Craig of Edgarstown, super racer himself containing his own family of birds including FVW. sent 14 days on eggs he timed in at 7.45am on the second morning flying 480 miles to Portadown.

2nd & 5th South Section and 4th & 10th Open Fintan Moran Malahide and District Vel 713 & 588, flying 408 miles, winning £1701 plus Harkness Rose Bowl for Best 2 Bird Average vel 644.

I covered Fintan in the 2018 season when he had a Top 10 finish in the Kings Cup also winning a Holl of Fame Diploma and the Single Bird challenge, he was one of the first to come through with details of his 4th & 10th Open collecting the coveted Harkness Rose Bowl for the Best 2 Bird average.

Phil and Mark Smith from Stillorgan, 2nd East Coast Fed, 3rd South Sect & 7th Open INFC St Allouestre.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate Liam Mc Call on clocking the only bird on the day and winning his second kings Cup in such style within 4 years and Joe Doheny on winning the Gold Medal, absolutely wonderful performances by top fanciers.

The preparation for the 4th open 3yr old red cock started in late February when he was paired and let rear a pair of y/birds. He was privately trained and had 3 inland races, the furthest Castletown and last race Bude on the 19th June. He raced celibate up the land and sent to Bude sitting on eggs. For the King Cups he was given a few 50 miles tosses, thanks Cora, and sent sitting on a 12 day’s old y/bird. He was the first bird clocked the next day at 5.32am just as it was getting a little brighter. His breeding is steeped in the very best of the old, long distance English pigeons. His sire a 2009 red cock won 109Th open INFC Kings Cup Vannes 2011. The sire of the 2009 red cocks breeding are my old Billy Napper (Up North Combine) pigeons going back 30 years and responsible for many prize winners over the years up to France. The dam of the 2009 red cock was bred by Sid and Val Miles, Peasedown St John, and was a grandchild of 3 1st NFC Pau winners, Ashgrove King (Harding Bros. 1994); Little Darling (Miles and Dix 1987) and Rosemead Abigail (George Burgess 1988), the same bloodlines as in my 2018 INFC Hall of Fame winner Aoife M. The dam of the 4th open winner is bred from my Andy Parsons of Salisbury pigeons, being inbred to his No 1 stock cock ‘Dancer’ who is the sire and g/sire of multiple top national and classic prize winners up to Tarbes/Pau.

The preparation for the 10th open 2yr old check pied hen was that she was not paired up prior to racing and was privately trained and had 4 inland races, the furthest Castletown and last race Bude. She raced celibate down the land and was paired up for the first time for Bude and sent sitting on eggs. For the King Cups she was given a few 50 miles tosses and sent sitting on an 11 day’s old y/bird.

Her breeding is also steeped in the very best of the old long distance English pigeons, her sire and dam being bred by Andy Parsons and her breeding is the old Eric Cannon/George Burgess and Keith Bush bloodlines, the dam being a half-sister to Andy’s 1st Section 5th open NFC Tarbes 2012.

The full brother of this hen won East Coast Federation old bird of the year in 2016 for winning 7th open East Coast Federation Bude 2016 (1730 birds) and 5th Open INFC St Allouestre Kings Cup 2016 (2,920 birds) when there were only 77 birds in race time.

For their valiant efforts, the birds win the coveted Harkness Rose Bowl for the best two bird average. I want to acknowledge the great work of the convoyers as both birds returned in immaculate condition and the INFC committee/helpers for all the work undertaken to facilitate racing in these challenging times.

Paddy Burns of Burns Brothers holding his arrival from this year’s Kings Cup, winning 4th North Sect & 6th Open INFC.

Finally, a big thank you to Aoife for helping during the year.

3rd North Section, 5th Open John Greenaway Bondhill Social, Vel 712, flying 480 miles, winning £874.

John Greenaway from Bondhill is another loft with many fantastic results at the distance over recent seasons, ever present. He lifted the Hall of Fame Diploma in 2002 and 2012, followed that up with the Gold Medal award in 2013 very few of those and was crowned INFC National Champion in 2016.

4th North Section, 6th Open Burns Bros Comber Social, Vel 694, flying 480 miles, winning £734.

Big star of the County Down and best bird timed in the East Down Combine, Burns Bros are another loft dedicated to long distance racing. They win the Hall of Fame Diploma in 1994 and 2006 and followed up with the Gold Medal award in 1995. See photo Paddy Burns of Burns Brothers holding his arrival from this year’s Kings Cup.

She was timed at 8.58am on second morning from an entry off four pigeons. She is a granddaughter of his great hen Dolly that flew France on four occasions and was his first Hall of Fame winner.

This loft has won many prizes from France over the years only sending a small entry in all races. His most recent top positions have been 3rd Open Friendship National 2016, 8th Open Kings Cup 2017, 3rd Open East Down Combine St Malo Old Bird Derby 2020.

3rd South Section, 7th Open P Smith & Son Stillorgan, Vel 673, flying 399 miles, winning £1176.

Phil Smith from Stillorgan has been a committee member for several years and looks after the Stillorgan Clock Station with Mags Curtis, an outstanding loft at the distance he competes as well with the BBC and has had some good success including timing on the day flying 14 and a half hours when the Irish birds held over. Phil and Mark are successful racers and have won many 1sts, the Kings Cup bird was bred by Cyril Beattie of Portadown, his dad Henry of course won both the Kings Cup and Friendship Nat, the 3-year-old blue hen was sent of eggs 14 days. She was not rushed and well looked after and had only one race out of Castletown 90 miles before her first trip to France to win best in Stillorgan Station, 2nd East Coast Fed, 3rd South Sect and 7th Open INFC.

5th North Section, 8th Open S & N Lester Laurelvale, Vel 635, flying 475 miles, winning £137.

The last few seasons have been special for the father and son partnership of Stephen and Norman Lester from Laurelvale HPS in Portadown, in the NIPA Premier OB National from St Malo in France they won the Best 2 Bird Ave in 2018 with 13th & 22nd Open and in the 2019 season well placed again to hold on to the trophy with 14th & 20th Open. In the Kings Cup at 475 miles their 3-year-old bird finished 8th Open in the INFC and was race favourite to collect the Joe Doheny Cup for the Single Bird Challenge. This year in the Blue Riband they timed a two-year-old hen sent on chipping eggs Tommy Beckett, John McMullen and Jock Reid breeding, mother of pigeon is grandmother of 8th Open in 2019 race. Stevie has been one of the top French racers in County Armagh this past few years great success, top loft. Thanks to Steve McGarry for his help with this, and local PO Simmo.

4th South Section, 9th Open Pat Lambert Arklow United RPC, Vel 588, flying 373 miles, winning £400.

Pat Lambert of Arklow is another loft that has been scoring top results for many years. The bird is a 3 year old hen which has flown consistently from the channel as both a yearling and 2 year old. This was her first attempt at France. Her sire flew the channel many times and was the only bird in the club from the Kings cup in 2011, he is from my family of Norman Thompson and Jackie Waring birds.

Her dam was purchased from Ged Hinchliffe UK clearance sale to cross into my birds. She has bred many winners from 600 miles up into the Pennines.

First Gold Medal for South Section

Mid Antrim Combine – Tough Kings Cup

The Irish National Flying Club held their Kings Cup Grand National race from St. Allouestre in France on Thursday 8th July. The birds were released in a light westerly wind at 6.30am. The race turned out a real endurance test with only 42 game birds making it to their lofts over the course of three-day event. Of the 42 arrivals only three of them were recorded in the Mid Antrim Combine and the best of these was timed by Stewart Brothers of Randalstown who clocked at 13.50pm on the second day. Their 3-year-old dark chequer hen sitting on eggs due to hatch had a 501 mile fly to the lofts situated at The Grange just a few miles outside Randalstown.

Next best in the Combine was top National flyer Martin Graham of Ballymena & District clocking at 16.31pm on the second day after the 504 miles fly to his superb lofts on the Old Cullybackey Road. Martins’ hen which has been named “Wee Fiona” finished 12th North Section and 19th Open National and also wins the Duddy Extreme Distance Trophy for Saint Allouestre O.B.

Furthest flying member in the King’s Cup open prizes. Martin’s national record grows each season and only a week ago he was placed 50th, 100th & 110th Open in the NIPA St Malo OB National. He’s had countless Top 20 national positions with his top wins being 1st Open INFC Sennen Cove Yearling National with Denman in 2018, 1st Open NIPA Skibbereen OB Inland National in 2004 and 2nd Open NIPA Lamballe OB Derby in 2003.

The only other fancier to time an arrival in the Combine was Robert Alexander of Ballymena & Dist who timed his 4-year-old dark pied hen at 11.07am on the third morning flying 504 miles. The hen had just paired up 2 days before basketing and was having it’s first ever channel race.

The 10th Open Kings Cup winner for Fintan Moran, won Harkness Rose Bowl for Best 2B Ave with 4th Open bird, vel 644.
The 4th Open Kings Cup winner for Fintan Moran of Malahide & Dist.
South Leinster Fed Montage for 2020 season, the Kings Cup winner 'Home Alone' is middle left.
Fintan Moran of Malahide & District holding the 4th Open and Aoife with the 10th Open winners.
On the perch, the INFC Kings Cup winner 'Home Alone' timed by Liam McCall of Wicklow.
“The Beast” INFC Hall of Fame winner and now a Gold Medal winner for Joe Doneny, first South Sect winner in over 40 years.
S & N Lester from Laurelvale on a great run from France, 5th North Sect & 8th Open Kings Cup.
Liam and Gertie McCall holding 'Home Alone' the only bird on the day and the winner of this year’s Irish Kings Cup National with the INFC from France.
The winning bird for Pat Lambert of Arklow United RPC, 4th South Sect & 9th Open Kings Cup.
The 2017 Kings Cup winner for Liam McCall “Chloe” 1st Open INFC St Allouestre.
A look back to 2017, Liam McCall (l) collects the Kings Cup from the previous season winners Mr & Mrs Magill of Muckamore HPS.
Former Kings Cup winner Joe Doheny wins the Hall of Fame for the first time from Mrs Bessie Morrow at INFC presentation, “The Beast” has now won the Gold Medal.
John Greenaway of Bondhill Social, 3rd North Sect & 5th Open INFC St Allouestre.
'Iron Man '' won the Gold Medal & Diploma for John Greenaway of Bondhill.