SAPIR 2014 roundup

Conditions were difficult. The birds had to endure heat and a strong headwind in the final, reports Thomas Smit.

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The annual South African Prestige Invitational Race (SAPIR) sees a maximum of 200 champion South African racing pigeon fanciers invited to enter their young racing pigeons into the SAPIR loft to compete for prize money. The pigeons are homed at the SAPIR lofts in Randhart, Alberton, east of Johannesburg. They are then trained according to a pre-planned programme to get them fit for a grand finale that carries the bulk of the cash prize payout.

The idea of the SAPIR is to allow champion fanciers to compete against each other with a limited number of selected pigeons. Each entrant is allowed only three birds per team and no fancier may enter more than two teams. The entry fee is R10 000/team. If every fancier enters two teams, a maximum of 400 pigeons will take part in the competition. Before the first Hot Spot, each participant is allowed to nominate one pigeon per team to compete for all the prize money in the Hot Spots and the main race. The remaining two pigeons are the reserves.

Should an entrant wish to switch to a reserve pigeon – one that has done better during the Hot Spots – he must pay an additional R2 500. The four Hot Spots are ‘money races’ held on the longer training flights prior to the final. The winners of these can recoup their entry fee, and more.

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Flying against the odds
This year, 85 pigeon fanciers accepted the special invitation to enter the race and 120 pigeons took part. The final was held on 24 September from Colesburg (600km). The birds faced hot weather and a strong headwind. The overall winner in the breeder’s stakes was At Stander from Kempton Park with At (ZA2013 58598). Second was Gysies Oil (ZA2013 58318), bred by Klerksdorp Racers. Third was Gerhard (ZA2013 58778) of GJT Lofts.

Auction challenge
The SAPIR Auction Challenge is an optional prize category held concurrently with the final race. Winning bidders of a team may opt to enter the reserve pigeons into the challenge at R5 000 per pigeon. The SAPIR 2014 Auction Challenge was won by Tornado (ZA2013 58303), bred by Tony Santana but bought by Mark Phillips at the auction which took place a week before the final race. Mark subsequently paid the R5 000 entry fee and won the Auction Challenge.

If a breeder has enough faith in his pigeons to buy the team back at the auction, he stands to win both categories. If a punter fancier is the highest bidder and hence the new owner of the team, the breeder will still qualify for the breeder’s stakes on the final race. He will also receive 30% of the price. This year, Hannes Marais from Kempton Park won the auction stakes after buying At Stander’s team.

The Hot Spot Ace Champion was Johan 1, owned by Johan Hamilton.

Kitchenbrand Loft is the presenter and owner of the SAPIR Loft.