A Short Study of Breeding
The Philippines and the
Million Dollar Race
The Olympic Event of Pigeon Racing
Will the Philippines Win The Million Dollar Race This Year????????
by Bob Kinney
The Philippines has always been a silent world leader in every area of society from culture, to industry and business to especially racing pigeons. Unknown to much of the world, this is a center of development.
They are often over shadowed by other countries but it is a shrewd planned positioning of the people to remain in the background and simply get things done correctly.
Racing pigeons is very different in every country and over time, the methods and the techniques used adapt to that country.
Reflecting on Quality--
QUALITY, be it the people, ethics or the quality of the pigeon, never diminishes.
Champion racing pigeons are champion racing pigeons the world over.
Many are winners, but champions only come in some families. It is in the genes and discovered by racing.
In the Philippines, the birds are bred originally from the distance stock. Many countries except maybe some areas of the US where they still fly 500 to 1000 mile races as a part of the schedule (800 to 1500 km events). Long distance of at least 800 km is still the building block of the future foundation of champions, even for sprint racing. Much of the world has discovered that sprint racing is fun but you must breed those sprint champions from a foundation of distance racers or they are soon gone.
I live in Oklahoma, in the West, for the last year, but for nearly 30 years, I flew in the Rockford club in the Midwest. The home of the Gordon family of pigeons. In all my travels of the world and I have been overseas 8 times this past year to visit pigeon fanciers, I have never found a family of birds that will match this family for toughness over so many decades of racing.
Background for Breeding Practice-
I must forgo some modesty so the reader knows the merit of what I am to say. My experience is founded on five national champion loft awards, called President Cups here, and many national Hall of Fame racing pigeons that have all been related. My loft and birds are known in many parts of the world and have won in Holland, China, Taiwan, and S. Africa. They have won over water, over mountains and over the plains. I relay this so that the reader, who may not be familiar with the Silverado family, can understand the basis for my thinking. He may not agree but I hope he will read it through and see what he thinks. Breeding is the most critical aspect of our entire racing experience. The racing results are a product of our breeding and our knowledge, but if you do not have something great to start with, all the knowledge in the world will not help you win first place. That is what has been my loft logo for more than 20 years with this family of pigeons: Win Races or Breed Race Winners. No exception.
As I have studied my breeding practice, a pattern has come to light that I can see. The past 6 or 7 years, I have had many wins where conditions did not favor my loft. Where I should have been down the sheet if you are one that thinks that race condition and location determines a winner. I do not. I think and have always thought that if I had a bird come out of the race basket and head straight for home, he had a chance to win the race. It must also be strong enough. It must be very fit. It must be on the correct course or line for home (brains and homing instinct). It must be able to endure a pace that it sets the entire distance. It must be able to fly at a speed that keeps it in front of the rest of the birds the entire distance. Those are the things I look for when I analyze the birds in my loft.
In the past 6 or 7 years, my birds have won at least 20 races on days that did not favor them. Someone else or many lofts had an advantage that day based on the weather and conditions. When I start looking at this statistic, I think to myself, I must know why. What line within the family is doing this. Is it one pigeon behind it all or is it two or several. Since virtually every bird in the loft comes from one of two different origins, then I must sort out who is behind these victories.
I hope the reader will stay with this as I think it may be important. I started with a Stassart family of bird's 40 years ago. They won for me and I was an average flyer. Not a champion but not last on the sheet. Then I purchased a black Stichelbaut hen. This hen produced many winners for me. Mated to three different cocks, her young won over and over. I had this family of birds all based on this hen for about 10 years.
I learned something at this time. It did not take 75 pairs of birds of various breeding to win. It took one great bird and some mates for it that worked. Then the children of that great bird would carry on. I cleaned out the entire loft except of birds related to this hen and kept a total of 10 pair to rebuild around. Some had proven themselves. Some had not.
It was a risk but I had my great hen. I knew I was going to win more than my share just from her and her children on the race team.
In those years, Janssen's were the BIG NAME. Everybody was winning with Janssen. Everybody was selling Janssen. I tried many and as soon as the race got long or the day got hard, they were lost or if they came back they were ruined. I did not like them. Plus I was flying in "Gordon Country". Every loft and there was 70 in club and over 150 in combine had some Gordons. Not me as they were little ugly pigeons with poor eye sign and only raced well when it was difficult days. They won at 800 yards a minute and under. I thought in those days a pigeon could walk faster than that. At 700 yards a minute flying, they would fall out of the sky.
However, many of our races were very slow and difficult. Many days the birds had to come through rain and headwind. Even snow in old birds and very hot in young birds. It was a very tough course. In those days, we also did not have the weather knowledge and forecasting that we have now so birds went up under all conditions. Throughout the years, the most coveted racing wins were at the distance. 500 miles (800-900km) and up. We often flew two to four 800 to 1000 km races each 10 weeks and many years a 1500 km race. I even organized a race from Alaska to Chicago one time that was 3,500 km over the Rocky Mountains.
What I noticed in those days was I could win below 700km but I could not get the birds to win over that distance. The Gordons always beat me. Sometimes the beat me very bad. It was embarrassing. Finally, I went to my best friend who was the champion on the long races and he gave me four of his Gordon pigeons. I really did not like them at all. However, the next old bird season, I won an 800-km race with a yearling from them. That was it.
I had learned something. It takes the right pigeon to win on the course. Not all pigeons would do it no matter how good they may be. Just like dogs have special talents to themselves. Just like people have special talents. Our racing pigeons must be able to race the course and handle the task they are given.
I kept my Stichelbaut family but used Gordon on them.
The Steps Up to a close bred winning family---
In the very early 1970's, I was given a Janssen cock. He was a direct grandson of the Donkere Stier on his sire side and Klak Janssen all rest of the way. I did not want him but it was a situation where I could not refuse. I mated him to a Stichelbaut/Gordon hen that I had. Used that pair as a pumper (foster parents) for the first two rounds of eggs. Then I raised a pair off them. That pair of babies, I gave to a friend of mine to fly. One of them won first as a young bird at 550 km. The other one won the next year first at 800 km. By now, the hen was already gone. I had sold her or something.
I thought maybe this cock was something special and I started to look for a hen for him. Not from my family but from the Janssen family. Since I traveled for the sport and wrote for magazines in the sport, I knew many many fanciers. In California I found a hen. Very special but still young. I ask the fancier to send me two babies off of that hen mated to what he thought was his best cock. This was a Klak Janssen family and very good at the middle and long distance there in California. However, it was a fast course and the birds had the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. They could not get lost. So I did not know if they would fly in the Midwest, through storms, weather fronts and bad weather. I did not know if the homing ability was strong enough. If they take the wrong line just a few degrees off from the line for home, they can fly for 2000 miles off course, over land till they hit the ocean. They must come on a direct line. I did not know.
I trained the babies I got from the California fancier and like one so much that after the season, I just put her to stock to go onto this Janssen cock. One pair of Janssens could not hurt my loft. If good, I would keep them and if not, they would go like so many other Janssens did. Out of the loft to the waste can.
That very first year, I bred six from the pair and five of them won for three different lofts. I had something but they had not yet been to the distance. These were the races that I wanted to win. I had already in the years past won so many of the middle races; it was the distance that I had a hunger to have victory in.
"Slade" was one of the first young cocks I got from the pair. He won a young bird race and then was lost for four weeks. I thought, that is it. They are no better than the other Janssens around the world. I flew 12 widowhood cocks and had an empty box so when he came back, I put him into the widowhood loft and forgot him. He was just there. He must fly or die basically. That next spring as a yearling, I sent him to four different 800 km races on three different courses and he won one of them and scored in the top 10 on the others.
Now, I knew I had something. I bred him and his young were no good. However, because he had flown so well, I bred 6 late hatches off his parents. So they were all in the stock loft as well. A new family plus the old family.
I mated these six various ways. To the Stichelbauts and to the Gordons. One pair of brother and sister together.
From the Stichelbauts, I got nothing that flew well. The brother sister pair only bred one that flew well. However, the two pairs that were Gordon and Janssen cross, bred me birds that won in young birds five of the 11 races I flew. 800 yards a minute through 1700 yards a minute.
I thought wow! However, I was still not convinced. I certainly did not realize that I had stumbled by accident the foundation of a family that would in the years to come make me known around much of the world.
My breeding was planned. It was test, test, test.
However, it was not genius or smart.
It was luck.
I had the right pigeons in the loft to put together and I put them together every which way possible and I raced them.
Over the next year or so, many races for myself and other fanciers that had the birds from me for testing were to be won, including a national champion daughter came from the original pair.
Finally, the light bulb in the brain came on and became bright.
I got rid of all the Stichelbauts. Everyone of them. There was about 35 pair at that point in time. I went to 7 stock pair.
Huge risk to my future again. That was the original Janssen pair. Several of their sons and daughters that were never raced. Just bred for stock. Plus an old Gordon cock that I really did not
like. My purpose now was to build a family. I insisted in my mind that if they were good, then inbreeding the brothers and sisters would work and the genetic package would be stronger the next
generation. Some of the inbreds were good. Not great but good. All of the babies from the Gordon Cock and one of the Jannsen hens were great. One became a national champion. I was now a strong
force on the long distance races. Depending on the day. It could be a Janssen straight but most often was a Janssen Gordon.
I went to a sale of birds from a one loft race and bought all the birds that were in that race from three different lofts. No matter where they scored, as it did not matter. My thinking was if these fanciers put the birds into this race, they did so to win the money and glory so they had off their best in there. The entry fee was expensive to enter and not a race to send "try me outs" to. I bought five and they were all Gordons. I took them home and crossed them to my Janssens that next year. From one, came many more good to great racers. Now, I had enough to make 3/4 crosses. An old timer told me that when building a family, you work with a cross of two or three inbred proven lines. Then you take those crosses that fly or breed like champions and mate them back to either side of the family. You keep the gene package strong and even intensify it for winning.
I did just that.
The next year, my club that was the second biggest in the US with many many great national champion fanciers and famous birds over the years was dominated by my family of pigeons. This club was over 70 years old and my new family of birds broke every record there was in the club that season. When it came time for the awards dinner, they just put them all on my table and took away the one or two that I did not win. I enjoyed that evening like no other I can remember. However, I am not sure that my club mates and competitors enjoyed it nearly as much as I did!
In the years since, the victories have become so routine that one takes them for granted. I was racing widowhood with 12 cock birds vs. an entire combine of fanciers flying hens natural. It is difficult to beat hens on natural AT THE DISTANCE UNLESS YOU HAVE THE WIDOWERS JUST RIGHT. I became very proficient at widowhood. The greatest long distance race that I ever flew was an 800km race. Tough tough day with no day birds at all anywhere. I was middle to long end and kept expecting a call that the short end had a bird at dark or something. Never came. Next morning about 7:30 am, which was an hour and half after sunrise, I got a bird. It was 3/4 Gordon and 1/4 Janssen. Pencil blue cock. This was June 6th, 1992. The winner was 91 ER 1001. About 20 minutes later I got a second bird. 89 ER 1961 BB cock. He was 3/4 Janssen family. Five minutes later I got another. This was my national champion "1505" DC cock. (See the World Champions book, 1994 Edition published by Kenichi Yoshihara of Champion Trade Company in Japan). Eight minutes after "1505" came 90 NVC 1083 BB cock. Seven minutes after him came "Moneymaker" who was not of my family but a cock that in the years to come would be bred throughout it. Then a few minutes later I got TB 1751, a 3/4 Janssen cock.
Those were the "Awesome Six". They took first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth of both club and combine. I had shipped 10 birds of the 12 bird team to the race as I recall as we had some more long races coming up and I wanted two held back to increase their reserve if needed for a 1200 km race coming in three weeks. Two weeks later on June 20th, the same team went back to 800 km. Again, a tough race. I got "Moneymaker" just after dark and he won both the club and the combine. One other day bird that came about the same time that he did but it was 32 miles short of me. Then the next morning they rained in. When it was all done, my team took 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, 20th positions.
The trophy with these two races on it is still on my wall and will be until passed on to my son who is also racing my family.
In the years since, the victories keep coming. "Asia' who was a son of national champion "1505" when mated to the "1515 Hen" so he is about a quarter Gordon went onto become the foundation cock for the next generation or two of the family. "Asia" won first combine at 930 km. His mother, the "1515 Hen" is off of a full brother sister pairing. They are both off of the original pair. She and her sister "1316" who is still here and alive but laying only an occasional egg, are the birds behind the NEXT STEP UP in the family. The base of the Silverado family. Many call it a Janssen family but I never have. It is my family and a Janssen Gordon family. I still keep some straight Gordon's and if you remember I told you earlier I did not like the looks of them and how they handled. That is pretty much still the case. However, the are amongst the best anywhere. My son and I probably have the best breeding Gordon hen in this country, the "483". Major winner after major winner off her and off her kids when on my family. I had a lot of splash and white show up in my family based around a cock called "Prodigy" who was a cock I bred but and in the family a lot but mostly gone now. I don't want to encourage the splash or lots of white so those go to sales as a rule. They are just as good and the pieds have proven over and over to be some of the best breeders but when you mate them close as I do, you get to much of it. I had a white cock that had bred in two years 4 or 5 winners that was of this "Prodigy" line and I sent him to a friend. I brought him back this summer to use on "483" so I could preserve that genetic line within the family. I did not want the white color but got it anyway, so I will keep the first two from this pair for the future and hope to breed back away from it.
So the connection to the Million Dollar Race--
I started off telling you that quality birds bred to race the distance, like in a few other countries of the world--that is the test of racing. The test of quality. I think that anything can race 200 km and if it traps fast, it could win. When you are talking 800 to 1200 km, it is the pigeon. It must have the brains and the stamina.
In my many years of racing, the greatest test of who my good long distance birds will be in the future is young bird races over 325 miles (480 km). For whatever reason and I don't know the answer or why this is so but I find it is. Races at 450 km have different winners than races from 480 km. My very best long distance young and old bird racers come from birds that have flown or bred the winners at races over 480 or 500 km.
The very best in the world get into the Million-Dollar race in S. Africa. It is the Olympic event of pigeon racing in the world. The best from Europe, Americas, Asia, all get in. Many don't get in but they know that their birds can not win in that kind of competition at 550 km when it may get hot, have both headwind part of the way and tail wind part of the way. A storm could blow over the mountain. Only one race in the past six years has had a group of birds on the drop. All the other races have had one, two, maybe three.
Two of my birds bred the winner of this event. That bird was "pure Silverado family" Gordon/Janssen family and it was about 10 minutes out in front of the next bird. They came that day one at a time. No doubt about whom was out front and where they were that day. Only six lofts have bred the first place winner of this race ever. I fully expect that some year; my family will do it again.
My concern is that of all the countries of the world, the Phillipines may breed the winner and I would end up in second place. I would lose the glory, the honor, and most importantly the $200,000 US dollars. I would still get $120,000 but it just is not the same. The race needs coordinators for the Phillipines. One prestigous national coordinator and we would like more regional coordinators to handle different areas of the country. If interested, contact Bob Kinney. Hopefully, the Philippines will have many birds for this years-coming race in future years. Birds are shipped over in May 2003 for the race in Jan 2004. You even get two free back up birds to your primary so you know you will have birds in the race. They are trained thoroughly through 400 km before the main event of 550 km. Normally, 74% of the birds entered in the race, survive training and go to the main event so you know it is a champion team doing the handling of the race. Just please leave the one home for yourself that may beat my next champion. Best wishes to all of you that race every week and test your birds.
I hope you all enter. I want to race against the very best.
See you at Sun City resort in S. Africa.
Bob Kinney, USA firstname.lastname@example.org fax 405-260-1032