The final of the 17th annual South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race (SAMDPR) will be remembered as a race involving superior quality racing pigeons from 36 countries that delivered good results in admirable competition. On 2 February, the 2 793 pigeons were released at 6am from Douglas in the Northern Cape to travel 553km to the loft complex at Linbro Park, north-east of Johannesburg.
The skies were clear, temperatures were around 19°C and the weather conditions throughout the race were good, except for a slight headwind. This saw results based on the quality and fitness of the top pigeons on the day. In fact, the first three pigeons that arrived together after seven hours, 45 minutes on the wing showed excellent form as they were in no hurry to rush into the loft for feed and water.
Untamed Desert, entered by Ton De Kovel and Henk Jurriens van Brummen from The Netherlands clocked in first at 1.46pm to clinch the US$200 000 (R1,76 million) first prize. Said In Spun Silver, entered by Helmut Mann from Germany, came in 12 seconds later. Third was Purdey, entered by the German partnership Team Esser-Klaas. It came in 27 seconds after the first pigeon. Fourth was Dacapo, entered by Hans Schougaard from Denmark.
No less than seven countries featured within the top 10 positions and 10 countries scored within the top 20. This shows that the pigeons selected for the SAMDPR are bred from the very best global gene pool and are among the very best money can buy.
Once entered into the SAMDPR, the pigeons become the property of the presenters, Air Sport Internationale. All the birds are auctioned after the race and the breeder receives 50% of the selling price, minus auction fees. Selecting from the gene pool offered on the SAMDPR auction is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. These are the selling prices of the race’s top four pigeons with the prize money they earned:
- Untamed Desert: won US$200 000, auctioned for R150 000.
- Said In Spun Silver: won US$120 000 (R1,06 million), auctioned for R75 000.
- Purdey: won US$75 000 (R663 00), auctioned for R280 000.
- Dacapo: won US$50 000 (R442 000), auctioned for R30 000.
The first SA pigeon home in the SAMDPR final was Paloma. It came 27th and was entered by Russell van der Merwe and bred by TJ Barnard. It was followed by Andre H, entered by the Hattingh Family and bred by Danie Hattingh. Next, in the 74th position, came Scarey Midknight. It was entered by Midnight Syndicate and bred by the partners Carey and Roets. Chrizaan, entered by the Syndicate Chris WouJa Sep and bred by Seppie Becker, came 85th.
CR came 97th. It was bred by Glen Spolander and entered under his loft name, Glendas Loft. In all, SA scored 25 money positions within the top 300. However, many fanciers felt that the SAMDPR’s timing is not ideal because it takes place during SA’s pigeon off-season. At this time, the pigeons’ internal body clocks are in ‘shutdown mode’ as the birds are shedding their baby feathers and preparing a new coat before winter.
In response, it is argued that the breeding and selection criteria of SA fanciers who repeatedly score within the top positions should be monitored and followed.
Contact Thomas Smit on 011 680 4778 or at [email protected] with ‘Pigeons’ in the subject line.