The Racing Pigeon - 5th April 2024



The Joe Murphy Column

I have been asked as I’m one of the longest Scottish scribes still active in the magazing and obviously I have seen and handled some wonderful pigeons during my 48 years reporting on them. They wondered if I would do an article on a pigeon, for example, ‘If I could own any pigeon that has flown into Scotland which one, would I love to have’. I replied and said ‘I would like to have two pigeons who to me are the greatest pigeons to race into Scotland. Durning my time as a scribe and Press Officer of the SNFC I have handled and seen some outstanding pigeons over the years. Plus, I have been blessed with having bred and raced a pigeon that has gone on to win 1st Open SNFC Sartilly from an entry of 3,293 birds. However, my choice is not one but two pigeons, these are ‘Fortune Lady’ and ‘Kingdom Spirit’. They agreed and I have been working on accumulating details on these two of the greatest pigeons ever to race into Scotland. I know this is a strong statement to make but I hope when you have read this article you will agree with me that these two birds are truly exceptional. The initial Scottish National Flying Club race was flown in 1894 and throughout this historical time there have been some truly outstanding pigeons that have distin- guished themselves in the success of this great club . The Scottish National Flying Club introduced a special ‘Gold Award’ to any pigeon that was a Section diploma winner in five or more SNFC Channel races, or a bird that had won a Section diploma in four or more SNFC Channel races having flown a minimum of 2,500 miles from those races . This was indeed an enormous challenge to ask of any pigeon, however, the objective was achieved for the first-time in 1975. When two pigeons won this Gold Award, these fanciers being namely George Bain & Son of Danderhall and David Rose of Aberdeen. During the period of 1984 to 1994 approx- imately 2¼ million pigeons rings were issued to the membership of the Scottish Homing Union. Since the Gold Award’s introduction in 1975 up to the present time (February 2024) only 148 tremendous pigeons have been awarded with this illus- trious accolade with the incredible amount of 393,738 pigeons partaking in SNFC Channel races during this time. When you also contemplate the above and realise that only two unique pigeons stand-out in the annuals of this great club’s historical past as being the only two pigeons to win TWO GOLD AWARDS is quite incredible. The first of these being a pigeon who won 10 times from Channel races into Scotland from the race points of Sartilly (499 miles) and Rennes (542 miles). This distinguished achievement was accomplished between the years of 1987 and 1994 by a chequer pied hen named ‘Fortune Lady’ bred and raced by Mr & Mrs Jimmy Smith of Elphinstone in East Lothian. This Champion hen, did not win her first SNFC diploma until she was three years old. Nevertheless, by the age of 10 in the year of 1994 she collected her 10th Channel certificate and became the first ever Double Gold Award winner in the history of the Scottish National Flying Club. Her winning performances are as follows: Race Point Year Section Open Distance Velocity Members Birds Sartilly (1) 1987 89th 49th 499-1614 1056.27 756 2358 Rennes 1988 19th 10th 542-1475 855.07 1162 3490 Sartilly (2) 1988 15th 14th 499-1614 926.16 569 1929 Sartilly (1) 1989 6th 4th 499-1614 1158.03 895 2989 Sartilly (2) 1989 15th 6th 499-1614 1342.71 692 2659 Sartilly (1) 1990 20th 10th 499-1614 1370.45 952 3310 Sartilly (2) 1990 186th 83rd 499-1614 954.29 720 2912 Sartilly (1) 1991 160th 50th 499-1614 921.80 1305 4476 Rennes 1992 28th 18th 542-1475 1118.93 1289 4501 Sartilly (1) 1993 Timed out of Race Time Sartilly (2) 1994 79th 45th 499-1614 595.86 Not Found 2274 ‘Fortune Lady’ flew the Channel 13 times winning in 10 races and as you will see from the above, she was six times in the first 20 Open positions in these races and her total cash winnings was £5.964.03 pence. She was also the winner of the Scottish Homing Union ‘Pigeon of the Year’ award and she also won the presti- gious ‘Dewar Trophy’ in 1988, and she was runner up for this same trophy in 1989. I have no doubt in saying she was the best 500-mile pigeon in Scotland and maybe even Europe during her racing career . ‘Fortune Lady’ performed best when sitting six days on eggs at the time of basketing but on both her Rennes wins she was sent sitting on a four day old young- ster. Sire of ‘Fortune Lady’ was an injured pied cock ‘ 11809 ’ bred by Tom McEwen of Elphinstone, he was paired to his own daughter ‘578 ’and this pairing produced

‘Fortune Lady’.

‘SU84E05776’ ‘Champion Fortune Lady’ . ‘578’ won the following SNFC prizes: 1979 – 27th East Section 136th Open Falaise – 27th East Section 29th Open Avranches

1980 – 101st East Section 106th Open Avranches 1982 – 139th East Section 231st Open Rennes In 1983 – the SNFC had no Channel racing and she won 127th East Section 159th Open Dorchester (1). In 1985 – 86th East Section 104th Open Exeter winning six times in the SNFC, winning SNFC Gold Award. ‘SN578’ best nest condition was sitting 15 days on eggs. Dam of ‘SN578’ was named ‘Flower of Scotland’ and she won the following positions in the SNFC: – 69th East Section 131st Open Rennes – 74th East Section 108th Open Avranches – 85th East Section 163rd Open Rennes – 31st East Section 87th Open Avranches, winning SNFC Gold Award So, you will see from the above that; BREEDING FROM THE BEST – REPRODUCES THE BEST I HAVE ALWAYS FOLLOWED THE ABOVE RULE IN MY OWN LOFT – EVEN TODAY 2024 – 64th East Section 141st Open Avranches – 29th East Section 52nd Open Rennes – 134th East Section 216th Open Avranches My second choice pigeon; Is the wonderful ‘Kingdom Spirt’ who 21 years later repeated ‘Fortune Lady’ achievements, and we in Scotland were blessed to again have another very special pigeon who also achieved a SNFC Double Silver and Double Gold Award . This new ‘Superstar’ was a blue bar hen named ‘Kingdom Spirt’. She was a late bred in 2008 with an old ring placed on her leg and was raced

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