On 2 february at 6am, 2 866 pigeons from 26 countries were released in Trompsburg to make the 552km race back to the lofts at Sun City in the Pilanesberg, in the 12th annual City Million Dollar Pigeon Race (SCMDPR). The annual international event was founded as the dream of veteran SA pigeon fancier Zandy Meyer, who was inspired by the Dollar Golf Tournament. Now, 12 years later, the SCMDPR has paid out US million dollars (R465 million) in combined prize money. Zandy is the South African Director in the service of Air Sport Internationale, the company based in Geneva that hosts the race.
A record entry
Of the 4 900 pigeons entered for this year’s race, fewer than 30 birds were lost in training. Critics have said that 4 900 birds are too many for the Sun City lofts, but there were three trainers and eight loft helpers. Once training starts in September and October, it depends on the birds if they make it home to the lofts. The loft complex opens in May and fanciers from all over the world ship valuable, young birds to South Africa to be entered into the race at an entry fee of 000 (R7 600). That amount covers the main entry and two reserves. Should all three birds survive to the final, the entrant can activate the reserves by paying an entry fee, or forfeit his option to a punter. If all three birds stray prior to the final without achieving any prize money in the prefinal flights, the entrant is allowed a free main entry the following year. Fanciers may also form syndicates that make it cheaper to participate. The more pigeons entered, the better an entrant’s chance of winning. Winnings can be left in the kitty and with the fluctuating currency, one could save a few hundred rand should the rand weaken at the time of entry. This year at least 28 entrants still had all their birds in the loft, prior to the final race.
Birdy, the history maker
The German entry, Birdy, placed in 10th position, was the Grand Champion pigeon of the series and the best pigeon to ever fly in the SCMDPR. A full report will be published in a following article about this extraordinary champion.
A few lessons from the 2008 race
Despite the final’s cool start at 16ºC, the race was completed in heat and humidity that reached more than 30ºC. Fanciers should not enter pigeons into this event if the birds aren’t bred to withstand the heat. The winning time was eight hours and 36 minutes. An hour later the bird in the 54th position timed in – indicative of the toughness of the race – an indication that sprinters would not be the ideal choice of birds to score well in the final of this race. Unless the birds have the “guts factor” they would be better used in other competitions. should not only study the pedigree of their birds, but also examine them for physical shortcomings. Only the best birds should be entered. It also helps to breed from birds known to have scored as young birds and that developed to maturity quickly. Congratulations to the winners. – Thomas Smit ([email protected] or call (011) 680 4778). To purchase birds at the remaining auctions contact Marion on (011) 680 1118. |fw
The 10 final winners:
1st, Abraham, owned by Filip Norman (Belgium) – 0 000 (R1,5 million); 2nd, JD Action, owned by G Koopman (The Netherlands) – 0 000 (R917 000); 3rd, World Champion, owned by Thorsten-Daum/D Lam (Germany) – 000 (R573 000);
4th, Tino, owned by Kohler-Weitstreckenclub (Germany) – 000 (R381 712); 5th, Westfalia, owned by H Sander/F Sander (Germany) – 000 (R190 833); 6th, Benzings Fire, punted by the SA Syndicate, Nexor and bred by P Valk (Netherlands) – 000 (R152 658); 7th, Akky, the SA Syndicate, L Windle/D Gilbert/C Jones and bred by K Keck (Germany) – 000 (R114 488); 8th, Sylt Wings, – entered by a German syndicate, Team Sylt 2000 and bred by WA Waldow (Germany) – 000 (R76 334); 9th, Nette, owned by M Hansen/C Hansen (Germany) – 000 (R68 723); 10th, Birdy, entered by the syndicate, Sudhoff/ Van Beers and bred by W Van Beers (Germany) – 000 (R61 086).
Top South African scores in the final:
19th, Beautiful in Beaufort West, owned by A Marais – 500 (R34 356), plus an additional 000 (R145 064) for being the first SA bird home (1st in SA National Championship); 40th, Sophia, owned by S Matthee and D Matthee – 500 (R19 101), plus 400 (R87 104) (2nd in SA National Championship); 42nd, Hoop, entered by the S and K syndicate – 500, plus 600 (R58 049) (3rd in SA National Championships); 51st, English Charmer, owned by Paul Du Randt junior – 000 (R15 276); 57th, Chieng, owned by AJ Meintjes 000; 63rd, Chance, owned by J Joubert/D Jooste – 000.
The auction on Sunday 3 February:
The first 100 birds were auctioned in the Sun City Superbowl, the day after the race. The top 10 birds sold for: 1st – R130 000; 2nd – R13 000; 3rd – R140 000; 4th – R100 000; 5th – R50 000; 6th – R40 000; 7th – R22 000; 8th – R40 000; 9th – R32 000; 10th – R800 000. The amount of R800 000 is an international price record for one-day loft races.
PIC Mark and Naomi Kitchenbrand with Birdy