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Alan Best - Irish South Road Fed Champion 2005
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Alan Best and Family

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.

Alan 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.

Clubs and Federations
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 Federation.

Racing Methods
Alan 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 Birds

The 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.

Old Birds.
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 separation.

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 Birds
The 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.

Training and Racing
Once 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.

The 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.

To 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.

Alan 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.

by: Noel Winston

E-Mail: dublin_view@iolfree.ie

Alan's Racing Loft

Alan's Trophies

Outside Loft

The Mealy Cock

The Mealy Cock and his Sons







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