The richest pigeon race in the WORLD, THE Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race, awards US million (R9,88 million) in combined cash prize payouts and five cars to the winners. It’s presented by Air Sport Internationale based in Geneva, Switzerland, but the venue is Sun City, where it’s been held annually since 1997. Fanciers from all over the world send their young racing pigeons to be homed and trained in the loft
complex in the Pilanesberg from May to August every year. These lofts hold quarantine status as approved by the South African state veterinarian and the health of the pigeons is overseen by a professional vet.
The pigeons are in the full-time care of a team of 13 experienced trainers and loft helpers. They’re homed and road exercised between September to January, including five longer training flights called hot spots. The owner of the winning pigeon of each hot spot receives a brand new car. There are over 400 other cash prize categories.
The initial entry fee is US 000 (R10 000) for a team of three pigeons. One is “activated” to win prize money, while the other two are reserves to act as replacements should the main pigeon be lost in training, though an entrant may choose to send only one pigeon. If a paid reserve pigeon is lost during training, the entrant will be refunded, provided the pigeon didn’t win any prize money in the prefinals. If none of the birds are lost before the final race, the entrant may “activate” the reserve pigeons by paying the entry fee. Anyone else may activate them about two weeks before the final race. If all three birds are lost before the final, the entrant may get free entry the
following year. No other race in the world offers such risk protection.
The pigeons are trained anonymously, their identity rings are obscured and they’re timed in by a electronic clocking system. Results are verified by independent professionals. They’re tested for doping and given a clean bill of health. All entrants are treated exactly the same. – Thomas Smit
E-mail Thomas Smit at [email protected] or call (011) 680 4778. |fw