MILLAR GOLD CUP 2008: Won by Davy Browne of Dublin Northside
MILLAR GOLD CUP - SUCCESS FOR HOLLY
By Adie McCormick - www.pigeonnetwork.com
It is the longest established governing body for pigeon racing in Great Britain and Ireland with a membership exceeding 3,000 which are made up from approximately 120 Clubs that are spread across 19 of the 32 counties that make up the Island of Ireland incorporating both North and South. For many members of the 1895 formed Irish Homing Union winning the Millar Gold Cup is the ultimate achievement and one that many strive to achieve when sending their hopefuls to the Blue Riband O/B Cross Channel Derby/National, traditionally flown from France.
Australian intervention prompted me to call with this year s winner and a subsequent drive to the Northside Area of Dublin to visit Davy Browne brother of Alan who now resides in Sydney. Now, the Browne family have been involved for many years racing pigeons in and around the Northern parts of Dublin City. Davy and Alan s father Jim Browne raced for many years along with his own brother Tony as Browne Brothers, and what racers they were especially from the distance events, conducting some research I came across just one of an exceptional amount of class pigeons that took the Dublin fancies attention all those years ago. Lerwick Leader a 1959 bred Red Cheq Cock as a Y/Bird he was 1st Club, 2nd Open Young Bird National from Girvan including other club performances that I will list after his main performances, as a Yearling he flew the O/Bird National from Frazerborough finishing an impressive 1st Club, 3rd Open. With so many pigeons doing the business for the brothers they sent him on, just not realizing just what a class pigeon that had in the making. In 1961 as a 3 year old he was sent to Lerwick a distance of 506 miles in what turned out a hard race he finished 2nd Open. He had done enough for in 1962 it was decided to curtail his racing exploits and concentrate on keeping him for stock. Such was his form at the start off the 1963 O/Bird season that Jim and Tony decided to give him one more major test opting to return him to Girvan were he didn t fail to impress finishing 1st Club, 1st Open. In all the great Lerwick Leader who died in 1974 at the age of 15 finished: 2nd Larne, 4th Larne, 5th Dundalk in 1959, 2nd Larne, 3rd Bangor, 4th Larne in 1960, 4th Stranraer 1961 in preparation for his Lerwick National test to which he finished 2nd Open, 1963 5th Bellshill, 1st Open Girvan and 4th Open Frazerborough O/B National 342 miles.
What a class pigeon that just didn t leave his mark on the racing scene but did so as much if not more in the breeding loft, for the old bloodlines are very evident when you look through the loft of this year's Miller Gold Cup winner. Never have I seen a smaller operation a 18ft by 6ft loft with only 10 pigeons in it, Davy told me you don t require anymore than that, looked after and prepared in the right way the good single ones will always produce the class result, this year is pure proof of this if required for Davy Browne races with the Northside & District RPC which in turn is affiliated to the Irish South Road Federation, an organization formed in 1968 with a membership of 725 which can send up to 8,000 birds per week at the height of the Y/Bird season.
Davy has been around pigeons for a life time obviously becoming involved through his Father Jim and Uncle Tony, in fact an interesting note to mention now is that I didn t notice any Y/Birds at the lofts of Davy so opted to ask and he told me that he decided not rear youngsters this year but instead would assist his father with his Y/Birds. At the age of 84 Davy s dad Jim is still racing and well I might add, for he topped the Northside RPC last week from Tramore with those said youngsters.
Winning is just in the genes I guess for instance in the Northside & District RPC last year Davy won 1st Mallow, 1st Pilmore Beach, 1st Rosscarbery and 1st Thurles remembering that this Club is a very competitive one like so many in the Dublin area. Also last year he had the Ace Youngster within the Club which won 1st Rosscarbery, 14th Tramore, 6th Pilmore Beach, 15th Mallow and 1st Thurles. As mentioned the majority of stock originates from the old lines that had been so successful for his father and uncle (Browne Bros) and this is very evident when you look at a photo of another record breaker that raced for Davy High Velocity this pigeon I think still and will maybe remain a record breaker from Sennen Cove I could be wrong, but I stand to be corrected 1st Club, 1st Irish South Road Federation on the 7th of June 1997 as a two year old with 584 members sending 3,174 pigeons he flew home in record time to record a velocity of 2478 YPM. That s an incredible speed of 84 miles per hour from a cross channel event. Many would put it down to be a fluke, but when you add 1st Club, 14th Open Talbenny Y/Bird and 33rd Open in the Irish National Flying Club Yearling National in 2006 against 6,041 pigeons, he was something special, again a Red Cheq Cock.
The Miller Gold Cup winner for Davy Browne has been named Holly after his youngest daughter from a family of three and just like Holly the pigeon is a beauty. I have handled some pigeons in my time this one certainly would be the pick of recent champions I have handled on Irish soil all bar ONE, Holly is one that any fancier would have in their loft without hesitation her Grand Dam on the other hand any fancier or Stud in the world would have her, more in a minute. The Gold Cup winner is a 2 year old Chequer W/Flight hen sent to the race on the unprepared Jealousy system as you will come to read.
She has been a winner on the road even as a youngster, the signs were more evident last year to Davy after this special pigeon returned from a difficult race from Talbenny in South Wales finishing 41st Open ISRF recording a velocity of 924ypm. She had a couple of races up Ireland before getting the couple of Sennen Cove s before France, the latter of those Sennen Cove races proved a hard one and she was presented with peanuts on arrival to the loft, it was then that Davy noticed that she was in competition with another hen over the same cock that was showing an interest, to the extreme that both hens were fighting over him such was the competitiveness they had to be separated, this was the ultimate tonic in preparing both hens for St Malo. Just by chance Davy noticed that both hens were placed in the same basket towards the end of the marking process, this he reckons is what encouraged the Millar Gold Cup winner to battle home ahead of her most envies rival.
She landed somewhat stunned at 4.39pm onto the now disused Y/Bird loft after being released at 6.45am from St Malo, Davy was in the house watching the horse racing and upon noticing a flash out of the dining room window headed out and discovered the hen much to his astonishment, with all the calling in the world she wasn t for trapping so he lifted a big stick that he had at the back of the loft and guided her down onto the trap and walked her in only to discover that the clock was in the house, so had to run to the house after taking the rubber off to get the pigeon clocked and won the Millar Gold Cup just one yard in front of Pritchard Bros in the North of Ireland who fly into Annsborough and are affiliated to the East Down Combine, this in itself was a good pigeon on the day, remembering that even within the very well organized and respected Irish South Road Federation Davy is one of the further flying members which is an achievement in its own taken nothing away from the pigeon raced by the Pritchard Bros, that had some distance extra to fly.
Now just an interesting fact in that the Northside & District RPC have only ever had three races from St Malo and impressively Davy Brown has won all three at Club level finishing 35th Irish South Road Federation in 1999, 13th in 2006, and 1st Federation in 2008. At this point Davy would like to thank good friend Barney Fitzimmons for all his excellent help in getting his pigeons tossed.
Now for the pedigree of the winner lets just say never dismiss a stray that lands at your loft, for the sire of the 2008 Millar Gold Cup winner is a 2001 bred Black Cheq cock who was reported and offered to Davy to keep. This pigeon was highly thought of for its balance and quality of the eye sign, so he was mated to one of the top stock hens that the Browne name had that included Davy dibbling in the illustrious stock loft owned by his father Jim, they collectively come up with a 2003 bred Cheq W/F Hen which was a combination of Fountainhead Busschaert when mated in and around the old line that the Browne Bros had raced for years these included pigeons obtained from a number of exceptional fanciers including a former winner of the INFC Kings Cup Bertie Gowdy of Muckamore Antrim. The cock and hen pairing have now produced no less than 5 x 1st Prize Winners.
Now for the pigeon that was reported GB 01C 27703 he was a Black Cheq cock, owned by none other than former Millar Gold Cup winners Palmer & Young of Portavogie in Northern Ireland. They timed Portavogie Lass the only bird on the day from Dinard to win this much sought after award in 1997. This is the mother of the pigeon that was Sire off and reported by this year s Millar Gold Cup Winner Davy Browne. Now what a story we have the mighty NIPA based in Northern Ireland which is one of the biggest organizations in the British Isles liberate also from St Malo normally on tune with the IHU organisations as they normally transport the EDC hopefuls for the Miller Gold Cup so collectively when this happens they are all liberated together as was the case this year. Winner was Mark Maguire and son of Newry who timed a 2 year old Mealy hen named Glenhill Lass now she is a direct daughter of Portavogie Lass but this is only the start of a story that incorporates so many winners from the hen I regard as the best I have ever handled on Irish soil the one and only Portavogie Lass .
Following her success from Dinard in 1997 one of Ireland s all time pigeon greats Mr Malachy Maguire set about getting her purchased from the partnership of Palmer & Young from Portavogie to which he succeeded. This fantastic hen was then mated to Champion HOME ALONE winner of 1st Open in the NIPA Old Bird National from Fougeres the only bird on the day flying 15 ½ hours for Malachy and son Mark, he was a winning pigeon through and through with countless other top class performances to his name and more importantly in total breeding over 30 x 1st prize winners for the Maguire s. He is also the sire of Champion Moonlight Lass and Champion No Problem when mated to the hen in question Portavogie Lass who as mentioned above won the Millar Gold Cup for the Palmer & Young partnership of Portavogie, they proved a prolific partnership in the stock loft.
NO PROBLEM he has won a total of 11 individual firsts - in the Irish National Flying Club, in 2005 he was 1st Club, 1st 3 Bird Club, 1st North/South Federation, 3rd North Section, 4th Open Picauville O/B National. Next it was sent to the Portland O/B National with the NIPA 1st Club, 1st 3 Bird Club, 1st North/South Federation, 2nd Section G, 26th Open on top of that he has also has a 1st Section Diploma flying with the NIPA, Champion
NEAR MISS who is also a grand-daughter of Portavogie Lass is a winner of 1st Club, 1st Combine, 4th North Section 6th Open from the INFC Kings Cup Redon, MOONLIGHT LASS as mentioned above won 1st Open Single Bird Challenge INFC Messac Kings Cup (481 miles) 2005 finishing 17th North Sect & 19th Open, only 108 birds home.
On completion of this report I decided to phone Malachy Maguire of Newry to let him know about this years Miller Gold Cup connection and find out about the class hen "Portavogie Lass". Malachy as always is a very informative fancier to talk with who always has unrelenting detail about any pigeon you talk to him about. As mentioned above his son Mark topped the NIPA Open from the same race point with "Glenhill Lass" a 2 year old she is direct from the one and only Portavogie Lass who won the Millar Gold Cup in 1997 from Dinard in France for Palmer & Young of Portavogie when mated to a Red Cheq Cock purchased from David Goddard of Reading who has an impeccable record racing from the distance. Malachy went on to tell me that the great Portavogie Lass died last year on the 23rd of November. At the age of 12, having truly enlisted herself as one of the all time greats in Irish distance racing both on the road and in the stock loft.
I would like to finish by congratulating Davy on a tremendous performance in winning the 2008 Miller Gold Cup and I would like to thank the Browne family for all their help in compiling this report especially Mark Browne in Australia, also very warming to see the legendary Browne Bros when visiting the Northside area of Dublin, this men you could talk and listen to for days. Finally many thanks to Malachy Maguire who supplied the info regarding Portavogie Lass what a pigeon she was, and all the generations of her that are now left behind I have every confidence they may very well keep the name of this class pigeon to the fore of Irish Distance Racing for many more years to come.
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