Its not often in Irish pigeon racing circles that
the term Champion is used particularly in the
Irish South Road Federation but I think I will
be forgiven for its use in this loft report. How
else could you describe a fancier who wins 4 out
of our six points trophies and takes three or
four positions in the first fifty on four occasions.
Alan has also topped the Open from Barleycove
twice and has also scored a 2nd and 3rd Open from
the same race point. Added to that is a second
and third fed from Mallow .If you consider he
has also taken seven positions in the first fifty
on more than one occasion then I think the term
Champion really does apply.
Best started racing pigeons in 1996 as A.Best
& Dtr in the Tallaght Premier Club. He had
some birds as a young lad but never raced them.
Having decided to keep the birds again he spoke
to a friend named Paul Bradley who was giving
up the sport and as Alan was a keen angler he
swapped his fishing gear for the birds and the
rest is history. The birds he received were
originally from Ernie Goodyear and one in particular
was an unrung mealy cock. This cock was not
bred off for the first two years but in the
third year he was allowed to breed and has since
bred numerous winners although paired to a different
hen each year. Not only does he breed them but
his sons and grandsons are breeding winners.
He also has birds from Derek Cummins, Terence
O’Brien and Frank Sheader. Alan holds
these fanciers in high regard as he has bred
fed toppers from all of them. In the early years
he had some success and in 1998 he won 1st Open
from Barleycove. He continued to achieve greater
success in both club and federation and in 1999
he formed a partnership with Niall Murphy racing
as Best & Murphy. The year 2000 saw them
winning 2nd Open Barleycove. This bird was also
a Gold Ring for the Sarsfield Club competition
and won in excess of 5000.00 in 6 races. In
2001 the decision was made to fly in a different
club and they moved to the Tallaght & District
RPC were Alan races today. This club started
in 1977 and Alan has nothing but praise for
its members and committee. The fed successes
continued to improve through 2002 and in 2003
they again took 1st Open Barleycove and won
Old Bird, Young Bird, and Combined averages
in their club. They also won Best Old Bird.
In 2004 the partnership ended but Alan continued
to fly as Best & Murphy until the end of
2005 which saw him winning the Top 50 Young
Bird Points, Top 50 Overall Points, I.S.R.F
Young Bird Points, and I.S.R.F Overall Points
also topping the fed from Mallow.
Alan raced in the Tallaght Premier from 1996
to 2001 when he then joined the Tallaght &
District RPC in 2002 and still races there.
This club has approximately 35 members and sends
an average of 300 to 600 birds per week. It
was also the fifth best club in the fed in 2005.
He is also a member of the Irish South Road
likes to keep things as simple as possible and
races a double widowhood system. The hens are
normally kept training until the latter part
of the season with the cocks racing each week
through the season.
stock loft measures 24 foot by 6 ft divided
into three sections in which he keeps 25 pairs
of stock birds and apart from some he has bought
in the rest are down of his mealy cock and all
would have had to prove themselves before he
would consider them for the stock loft. He breeds
about 70 young birds each year. Some would be
line bred to the mealy cock although he likes
to cross them with his other lines on occasion.
The Old Bird loft measures 16 foot by 6 foot
with two sections equipped with standard widowhood
boxes and Alan races a double widowhood system.
They are paired up around the 15th of January
and rear the first round. The hens are removed
when the chicks are between 14 and 16 days old
with the cock left to finish the rearing. Once
the chicks are away the birds are on the widowhood
and are not repaired before racing.
Training and Racing
The cocks are privately trained each evening
from 12 miles and always on the line of flight.
They are also allowed 45 minutes exercise around
the loft in the morning and then brought in.
The hens are treated like the cocks but are
sent with Andy Kelly in the trainer each morning
to 30 miles. All the cocks race each week with
the hens raced later on. The hens are only shown
to the cocks 3 days before the first race and
are not shown before a race again for the rest
of the season. On return from a race the pairs
are left together for about three hours before
The cocks are fed twice a day in their boxes
and have as much as they want. On race day they
are fed a diet mix until the next day. The hens
are fed in a hopper but otherwise the same as
the cocks. Alan feeds a good widowhood mix and
on occasion will mix two different brands together.
He never feeds a break down mix except on return
from the race. He finds that although he feeds
as much as they want twice a day they never
overeat and in fact most of the feed is removed
after each feed.
Powered garlic is used in the water each day
and multi vitamins in the water on Wednesday
unless they are being treated for something
when he will remove the garlic. He treats for
the normal Canker, Cocci etc during the season
but only when required.
young bird loft is again 16ft by 6ft and has
two sections. The young birds are put on the
darkness system as soon as they are weaned and
are kept on this until the 23rd of May. The
only reason they come off the darkness on this
date is that its Alan’s birthday. They
are on darkness from 6pm until 10am each day.
they are ranging well they begin their training.
Alan starts them at 8 miles and they stay at
this distance until they are heading straight
home on release. They are always released at
the same spot. Once they are coming well they
then go with the daily trainer to 30 miles in
the morning and are privately trained from 12
miles in the evening right through the season.
Once they have started training they are never
allowed out to fly around the loft, they are
either training or they are in the loft. All
young birds are expected to fly the whole young
bird program. They are allowed to pair but very
rarely allowed to rear young.
young birds are fed on widowhood mix and Barley
in a 70% 30% split. They are hand fed all they
want until they leave the barley. Peanuts are
used as a trapping feed and to keep the birds
tame, which Alan feels is very important.
list every result would take up another few
pages but to give you some idea of how successful
Alan is from 1996 to the present he has won
at least two averages in his club each year
and most years has won most if not all the club
averages. In 1998, he had seven 1st clubs and
was 1st Open Barleycove also taking 6th, 23rd,and
32nd open in the same race. In 1999 he won eight
1st clubs and scored 3rd Open Barleycove amongst
many other fed positions. 2000 seen Alan scoring
again from the Barleycove Open taking 2nd, 23rd,
26th and 35th, this time with squealers that
had never been in a race pannier before this
race. The records for 2001 are not complete
but Alan again took four positions in the fed
on two separate occasions. Things could only
get better and in 2002 he again won the averages
in his club winning nine 1st positions. In the
fed he was again consistent and his best memory
of that year was scoring 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th,
33rd and 45th fed from Thurles. Every year Alan
tries to improve his results and 2003 was no
exception with ten 1st clubs and 1st, 38th,
61st, 64th and 74th Open Barleycove Old Birds
and 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 18th, 23rd, 38th,
47th, 48th,and 61st federation Mallow young
birds. This is as far as I know a federation
record but Alan seems intent on beating it.
In 2004 he had a bit of a lean year by his standards
score six 1st clubs, winning most of the club
averages and only twice taking three fed positions
in the same race but 2005 saw a return of his
previous form and Alan showed his intent by
taking 3rd, 5th, 9th, 13th and 47th fed from
Mallow on the 4th of June. He followed this
with 1st fed from Mallow again on the 18th of
June and topped his section twice. In the federation
young bird program he started with a bang taking
four positions in the each of the first two
races. He followed this on the 8th of August
scoring 12th, 15th, 18th, 22nd, 24th, and 26th
fed from Roscarbury. The following week seen
him take another four positions in the Barleycove
Open. As previously mentioned Alan ended the
year taking four out of six points trophies
in the fed. In his club he had Fourteen 1st
prizes and won all club averages including best
old bird and best young bird for the third time.
One could be forgiven for believing that Alan
specialises in the inland racing but he races
the entire program and scores just as well across
the channel. regularly scoring in the fed from
both Wales and France and all with the same
birds and often clocking from a stiff channel
race and a fast inland race on the same day.
It would be extremely difficult to lists all
his results but I hope I have done his justice
in the results I have listed.
When asked about the sport in general Alan feels
that clubs should do more to help the younger
members. His advice to new starters is to buy
the best they can from the top local fanciers
and recommends buying late bred birds. He also
advises them to ask plenty of questions and
listen carefully to the answers.
would like to thank Brien Irvine for all his
help through out the year, Derek Cummins for
his advise which is always welcomed and for
his top stock which have already bred a fed
topper for Alan. He would also like to thank
Terence O’Brien and Frank Sheader but
most of all he would like to thank his wife
Jacinta and son Alan.
It only remains for me to thank Alan for his
time and his family for their hospitality and
to wish them all the best in the future.