It’s Million Dollar Pigeon time again!

Thomas Smit previews the 19th South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race.

Race training for the 19th South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race (SAMDPR) will commence in October, with the pigeons progressing to a distance of approximately 350km prior to the main race, scheduled for 24 January, 2015. Air Sport Internationale of Geneva will once more host the event, which is based at Linbro Park, north-east of Johannesburg. More than 30 countries are expected to enter.

The entry fee is US$1 100 (currently about R12 000) for one pigeon as a main entry with two reserves, in case the main entry strays. Reserve pigeons may be entered at any stage at the fancier’s discretion, at a cost of US$1 100 each. Should the entire team of three pigeons not make it to the final, the entrant will be given a free entry to the next event.  Pigeons must have official SANPO-recognised 2014 identity rings. Pigeons entered will be subject to a quarantine period, during which the loft will be closed.

It will be opened again on August 5. Pigeons not requiring quarantine will be accepted until 31 August.

Should an entrant
choose to vaccinate his pigeons, which is advisable, he must do so 10 days prior to shipping. All pigeons are vaccinated on arrival at the quarantine lofts. If this serves as a booster, so much the better for the pigeon.

International database
The pigeons will be electronically tagged on the leg not holding the standard identity ring. The details will be entered into a database. All pigeons have an absolutely equal chance of success. All pedigrees are recorded and the information made available on the website after liberation. Fanciers worldwide continually hunt for the best genes on offer to improve their racing pigeon gene pool, and many study the Million Dollar pigeons scrupulously.

Top dollar for the best birds
Astronomical amounts are paid for pigeons of extraordinary quality, and not only within the circles of the SAMDPR. A millionaire hotel owner set up a pigeon hotel only for racing pigeons in Japan at a cost of €5 million (R72 million). He also bought Euro Diamond, one of the best long- distance racers in the history of the sport, for €170 000 (more than R2 million).
South African Mark Kitchenbrand famously paid R800 000 for Million Dollar ace pigeon Birdy. To date, he has invested R24 million in pigeons and even owns a loft in Germany.

For more information, visit SA Million Dollar Pigeon Race website: www.scmdpr.com.