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It’s time for young birds to fly

Thursday, 18th August, 2011

PIGEON PAIR: Trainer Rob Graham with two of the birds he has in work at the moment from his loft in Wyman Street. PIGEON PAIR: Trainer Rob Graham with two of the birds he has in work at the moment from his loft in Wyman Street.

By John Casey

 Broken Hill’s best trainers are gearing up for the business end of the Pigeon racing season with Saturday’s prestigious young bird Derby to be followed by the $10,000 winner-take-all Silver City Classic the following weekend.

Veteran campaigner Rob Graham will be hoping for a change of luck in the two feature events as he is yet to supply the winner in his 13 years of training.

“These are tough events to win because everyone makes the Derby and the championship a focus of their training,” Rob said.

“It is a real challenge for all the local trainers as we get to compete against interstate raiders who come from as far away as Western Australia for the $10,000 race.

“We are all very competitive and strive to show that our training methods are superior and victory in the Derby or championship is an endorsement of what you do as a trainer,” Rob continued.

Saturday’s Derby is restricted to young birds born in the last 12 months, which will race almost 500-kilometres from Minlaton on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia back to Broken Hill.

In last year’s Derby more than 150 birds took part and this year that number is expected to climb to around 180 entries.

Brian Drury, who has been training for just three years, will have about 20 entries in the event and Rob Graham will have a similar number.

“The Derby is not about the prizemoney but the prestige because you would expect the winner to go on and be a chance of capturing the championship in 12 months time,” Brian said.

“Most of the club members will have their birds trained to the minute for these big two events and a lot of work goes into having them ready.

“Most birds would have competed in at least two 300-kilometre races in the lead-up to the Derby,” Brian continued.

In Pigeon racing a 100-kilometre event is considered a sprint and the Barrier and BH Homing Club has conducted races over more than 1000-kilomteres in the past.

The current season will conclude in September with an 800-kilometre race.

Rob Graham, won took out the BH Championship in 2006, said he was introduced to the sport by his father Colin who trained for more than 40 years.

“There’s a lot that goes into getting these birds in tip-top condition,” Rob explained.

“They need to be fit, healthy and motivated to race and you need to put in a minimum of at least one hour each day with your training.

“There are many parallels with horse racing - except racehorses cost you a lot more,” Rob added with a laugh.


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