Update from Mid Antrim Combine

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The end of this month is the deadline for the return of clocks, vaccination forms and race sheets to local clubs. Those not using race sheets must have allocation lists done a fortnight before racing.

For the start of the Old Bird racing, first race is planned for Saturday 14th April when the NIPA birds will be in Mullingar, members and clubs need to make application to MAC prior to the first race to be included in the competitions.

Over the years James Harris, from Ballymena, has given a good hand in the running of the MAC, always looking at ways to introduce new competition for all lofts in the local area.

One of the most successful was the Champions League where each member club nominate four lofts to represent them in the competition operating like the football competition of the same name. League tables in the early group matches and then going to knock-out stages, with the final usually flown from Penzance.

Previous winners were - 2008 Harryville (R H Clements), 2009 Rasharkin and Dist (D Dixon), 2010 Ballymena and Dist (M Graham), 2011 Randalstown ( S Millar), 2012 Cullybackey (Reid Brothers and McCloy), 2013 Cullybackey (A Darragh), 2014 Rasharkin and Dist (Steele and McNeill), 2015 Rasharkin and Dist (D Dixon), 2016 Rasharkin and Dist (J and M Milliken), 2017 Rasharkin and District (D Dixon).

Last season’s Champions League was won by Rasharkin and District with Danny Dixon taking the honours. In fact the TWO finalists D Dixon v J and M Milliken ended up first and second Combine. Both of the lofts are former winner’s. J and M Milliken won the award the previous season and Rasharkin have now won four in a row. Three wins for Danny Dixon is the record, and Rasharkin and District have five wins in total.

Lofts already confirmed for the Champions League are as follows: Ballymena and District - J Eagleson and Sons, Billy and Joe Smyth, McFall and McManus, Blair and Rankin. Rasharkin and District - Steele and McNeill, J and M Milliken, W and J McLean, D Dixon. Randalstown HPS – F and G and J Dickey, Stewart Brothers, N Percy and Son, Hugh Boyd.

We are still a bit short on total membership but it should rise up again this season. Already confirmed from Harryville we have Allen McBride and J Millar and Son adding to the associate members from last season G Gibson, D Houston and Son, and T and M Morrow.

All members should enjoy the competition in a local promotion of the sport. Member clubs will need to supply the list of lofts racing old birds so they can all be included in the knock-out competition.

The draw for this and the Champions League will be made in Ballymena over the weekend of the first race.

A knock-out competition was added in 2017 for every single loft that were paid up members. The first ever Old Bird knock out competition was won by an associate member Gibson and O’Neill. On route to winning they knocked out George Bell, Houston Brothers, J Eagleson and Sons and W and J Smyth then defeated Young McManus and Son in final at Penzance. Young Bird knock-out won by D Dixon.

Fees have been kept to a minimum, member clubs are £3 for the year which covers all members, from other clubs associate or individual members are £5. Only the clubs can compete in the Champions League, all racing lofts compete in the knock-out competition.

Sale Season

Aughafatten Lofts (A Purvis) will hold a sale of race birds on Friday 30th March from7.00pm-9.00pm in Broughshane HPS club rooms, top quality from a winning loft.

The Ballymena and District HPS will hold a very select draft of 2018 YBs to be sold by public auction on Saturday 14th April in Ballymena Clubrooms, the sale will take place on the same night as the Mid Antrim Combine Champions League and knock-out draws are made. More details will follow in the coming weeks. Most of the YBs to be sold will be off combine winners at club and national level from our very own members. The very best bloodlines will be on offer, any commission bids can be made to Martin Graham on telephone: 07835 099155.

Windsor Social clubs (Coleraine) Breeder Buyer will be held on 29th March 2018, 7pm to 7.45pm to pen the birds auction to start 8pm. Breeders can be any one in the Nipa. Buyer can only be members of the three triangle clubs Windsor Social, Coleraine Prem, and Co Londonderry. Bidding starts at £20.

Prize money – 1st 50%, 2nd 30% and 3rd 20%, race will be the 4th young bird race for the NIPA, the breeder can be anyone in the NIPA and win 50% the buyer has to be a member of a Triangle Club in Coleraine. Hot food will be served after the auction in the Coronation Club, 19 Creamery Road, Ballyrashane. More information, telephone: 07719 231976 or e-mail stevegage7@aol.com.

The annual breeder/buyer young bird sale on behalf of St John of God Hospice Newry will be held on Thursday 29th March 2018. Venue: Royal British Legion Banbridge with penning 6.30pm -7.30pm. Sale starts 8pm. Race Sennen Cove young bird national. Money raised 50% prize money 50% Hospice – three prizes 1st 50%, 2nd 30%, 3rd 20% divided equally between breeder and buyer. Everyone welcome to enter young birds (birds must be in pens). For further information contact Eddie McAlinden, telephone: 07771 813198 or Diamond Carson, telephone: 07813 265311.

Obituaries

We have been saddened to learn that Leonard Davidson, from Cullybackey HPS, has passed away.

A dedicated worker for the sport, he was previously secretary in Rasharkin and District and for many years trained the local birds.

I was speaking with him at the Cullybackey prize night and he was looking forward to getting the birds raced this year.

The funeral service was held on Monday in Cullybackey Methodist Church, with interment afterwards in Craig’s Parish Churchyard. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to James Henry Funeral Services, 100 Broughshane Street, Ballymena BT43 6EE for the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association.

Sincere condolences to the family circle, daughter Annette, and brothers Edrick (secretary Cullybackey HPS) and Willum.

Andy McDowell, of A McDowell and Son, has passed away. The older generation remember the Newtownards team winning the Kings Cup on two separate occasions. In 1953 1st Open INFC from Redon held over for seven days liberated 18th July the winning velocity was 790.

Some 20 years later in 1973 1st Open INFC from Nantes with Mountain View Queen winning velocity 835.

Ulster Federation 2018 race programme

Old birds: 14th April – Kildare, 21st April – Kildare, 28th April – Thurles, 5th May – Thurles, 12th May – Fermoy, 19th May – Skibbereen, 26th May – Talbenny, 2nd June – Talbenny, 9th June – Bude, 16th June – Fermoy, 23rd June – Penzance, 29th June - St Malo. Young birds: 14th July – Navan, 21st July – Kildare, 28th July – Kildare, 4th Aug – Thurles, 11th Aug – Thurles, 18th August - Fermoy (5 bird), 25th August – Fermoy, 1st September - Talbenny/Kildare, 8th September – Mallow, 15th September – Skibbereen.

Huge thanks to Neil Frazer and all the Frazer family with the news Frazer Feeds will sponsor the Ulster Federation races for 2018.

All the 1st Fed winners shall receive a bag of corn and Frazers Supplement to the value of £25 for each race. More good news the Ulster Fed committee have decided the following procedures regarding 2018.

To have the water tank on the Lorry fully cleaned each week. On hot days, electrolytes will be added to the water system. A recording will take place of the liberation each week. Fraser’s are going to supply Frazer guard to clean out the tanks and electrolytes.

The lorry will be emptied on Saturday for cleaning. Clubs are asked to meet at P Cullen’s yard on Saturday morning between 10am and 11am to collect crates.

Committee – J Scates, M Hamilton, A Ferran, E Crothers, P Braniff, O Monaghan, H Potts. Chairman, D McKee, race controller, A Ferran, treasurer A Freeburn, PO J Ward, secretary Peter Martin 1 Suffolk Close, Belfast, BT11 9RQ. Email: flyordielofts@hotmail.co.uk.

East Down Combine 2018 – Old Bird racing commencing on April 14th

Mullingar, Tullamore, Thurles, Fermoy (1), Mallow and Mallow (Derek Wishart Classic same day), Skibbereen Classic, Fermoy (2), Talbenny, Bude (1), Bude (2), Penzance and Penzance Classic, St Malo OB Classic. Young Birds – Navan (1), Navan (2), Tullamore (1), Tullamore (2), Thurles (1), Fermoy, Thurles (2) and Talbenny Derby same day), Skibbereen (1) YB Derby, Skibbereen (2) YB Derby.

The deadline for membership of the INFC is Thursday 12th April, fee is £15 for existing members including any member transferring to your club that were members of the INFC in 2017 season. For new members the fee is £25 and the deadline it’s 12th April. Application forms for individual members can be downloaded from the website www.infc.co.uk.

INFC race programme 2017: Skibbereen Old Bird Inland National Tuesday 23rd May; Sennen Cove Yearling National Wednesday 7th June; Grand National Kings Cup St Allouestre Friday 30th June; Friendship National Quimper Friday 7th July; Penzance Young Bird National Wednesday 6th September; Skibbereen Young Bird National Saturday 16th September. All the local clubs should apply for distances regarding the new race points for the NIPA – Brest is code 5126 and Dunmanway code 6032.

That for Ballymena lofts will mean 452 miles for Brest and 248 miles for Dunmanway which is directly above Skibbereen.