Winners of the Jim Emerton Trophy with the BICC for the furthest flying pigeon in race time in the Barcelona International race 2012.

Anyone who has studied the results of the long distance races of the Welsh South Road NFC; CSCFC;BBC;BICC or NFC over the past twenty or so years will have noticed the name of Padfield of Cwmtillery featuring with monotonous regularity. Until 2005 the partnership consisted of father Albert, aided by his two sons Vince and Dave.
Unfortunately, Albert passed away in August 2005 and Vince and Dave have continued the family tradition of winning long distance races in his honour. I first wrote about the family's long distance exploits in 2007, in a report on the Gwent Greater Distance Club's Barcelona race flown in conjunction with the BICC when their first in the clock was good enough for 1st GGDC 1st section 14th Open BICC. In this race the Padfield timer was to be the longest flying pigeon on the result also the furthest west in a race that saw the European convoy, and the British entries in particular, having to face a strong westerly wind for most of the 700 mile journey from north east Spain.

Vince Padfield awaiting his Barcelona pigeons

Dave Padfield

Ffion the Padfield's 2012 Barcelona winner.jpg

Padfield's Perfection
winner of 1st, 3rd, 23rd, 39th National Pau at close on 600 miles

The former mining village of Cwmtillery is situated in a narrow offshoot of the main valley near Abertillery, Monmouthshire. The mines have now all closed and the working population commute daily to Newport and Cardiff. The Padfield loft, like so many other valleys lofts, is situated on the hillside above the terraced cottages previously homes for the thriving mining community. The location enjoys a lovely view across and down the valley to the west and when the birds take to the air they are immediately hundreds of feet above the valley floor. I first visited the Padfields in the mid 1990's and nothing much has changed as far as the lofts, birds or performances are concerned - they are all still of the highest standard.

The loft is a 36ft x 12ft five sectioned structure built and maintained in immaculate condition by Vince. Four sections house the 30 pairs of old bird racers and at one end there is an 8ft x 12 ft section for the 80 or so young birds reared each year. This section also has a large aviary attached and it is here that the young birds spend most of the day light hours.
The old bird racers and 25 pairs of stock birds are usually mated on or around 20th February. The racers are allowed to rear a pair of babies and sit their second round eggs for 10 days before being separated. They then go onto the roundabout system for most of the inland programme and early channel races. Each section of racers is then re-paired for specific channel races. Once re-mated the old bird racers are allowed an open loft from day break until nightfall and are allowed to come and go as the please.
The stock birds only rear one or perhaps two rounds of youngsters and are then placed on pot eggs for the remainder of the summer before separation in early August.
Vince and Dave like the young bird team to be brought along steadily but do like them to, "have a look at the channel" in their first year. Yearlings are raced through to 300 miles and two year olds and over go to Pau if fit, and all other points south through to Barcelona 758 miles. When on the roundabout system, the cocks and hens are exercised twice daily for 60 minutes on each occasion. The birds have access to large 3ft x 4ft nest boxes and the hens are boxed up throughout the day except when at exercise. The old bird racers have access to a mixture of beans, peas and tares at all times and are also fed a titbit made up by the brothers to encourage them to trap and bring them into top condition for the longer races. A high carbohydrate mixture made up from mixing two commercial widowhood mixes is also fed to the birds as the longer races approach and this is further supplemented with a high fat mix in the final days before basketting for the extreme distance races.
The use of these tried and tested methods, applied by top class fanciers to high quality long distance racers, has brought the partners continued success over many years especially in long distance classic races. I won't go into great detail here but can give as example the partners' record from Pau / Tarbes. They are the only loft in Wales to win the National on FIVE occasions and in addition have many other top ten finishes to add to this impressive list of outright wins. Yet another outstanding performance was achieved from Palamos when they clocked their dark pied Wim Muller cock "The Don" to be 2nd Open BBC. The list goes on and on.
The main bloodlines now housed are the Jan Aarden based Wim Mullers which were initially introduced in 1992. This strong base is augmented by some of the "old family" based on Morgan & Cook and Clerebaut bloodlines. The birds are mainly dark chequers and white flights with the occasional blue and pied. In addition to the above bloodlines Vince and Dave have introduced selective pigeons of similar Jan Aarden lines via Louella including the highly successful "Invincible Spirit" lines. The present gene pool has proved extremely profitable, not only for the Padfields, but also for many other fanciers who have obtained these bloodlines from them.
The winner of the 2007 GGDC race from Barcelona mentioned in the opening paragraph, was a medium sized three year old blue cock which carries the very best of the "Invincible Spirit" and Wim Muller bloodlines. Mated in late February with the rest of the team he reared a pair of youngsters before going onto the roundabout system. He raced in some of the early season inland races before being hawked, having most of his secondaries in one wing stripped away. Rested for a short while, he was then entered in a couple of the early BICC channel races before being re-mated and sent to Barcelona sitting due to hatch. The rest, as they say, is history as he was clocked at 4.45 pm on the third afternoon having faced a strong west wind for the previous two days. A conservative estimate would be that he covered nearer 1,000 miles rather than the 758 miles he was credited with having flown. He handled similarly to the other Padfield pigeons, being just on medium sized with a little depth to the keel to the front and with superb silky feathering.
The 2009 season was to prove to be an excellent one for the brothers as they won, among other top prizes, 1st & 2nd GGDC 1st & 2nd section and 16th & 39th Open BICC in the Pau International race and quickly followed this up with yet another 1-2 GGDC and BICC section win from Barcelona at 756 miles. The first in the clock from Barcelona was a seven year old dark chequer pied cock which finished up as runner up in the BICC Open result, only being beaten for top spot by Mr & Mrs Reg Elliotts gallant timer racing to their Chadwell Heath loft, 200 miles to the east of the Padfield's Cwmtillery loft. This terrific Jan Aarden cock of the Padfield's, now named "Padfield's Invincible", has a host of top class long distance performances to his credit and has now been sold to "The House of Aarden" where it's to be hoped he will enjoy a long and happy retirement.
The second pigeon in the clock from the 2009 Barcelona race was yet another top class long distance performer and at 8 years old had been there, done it and beaten thousands of other pigeons in the process. He is of Wim Muller bloodlines crossed with the "Old Family" of Morgan & Cooke's "Iron Man", seven times Lerwick bloodlines which contain a strong influence of the old Atwell Brothers of Newport pigeons.
So we move on to the 2010 season and what a season it turned out to be! The race team was prepared in the usual manner as set out above and the marker for the season was set in the Welsh SRNFC race from Messac , a 270 mile pipe opener flown in early May. Vince and Dave entered a team of 44 pigeons in preparation for the longer races to be flown in late June/ early July. In what turned out to be a tricky race with many fanciers getting less than 50% day returns, the Padfields had 44 from 44 by nightfall on the first day. The long distance candidates were then set up for their specific target races and the following is a list of their successes.
In the Pau International race [594 miles] flown in conjunction with the BICC the brothers entered three birds and clocked two to win 5th & 6th Section 25th & 55th Open BICC. The first in the clock was a 2 year old chequer hen followed by a 2year old chequer cock.
Next race on the programme was the Welsh SRNFC / CSCFC Tarbes race[608 miles] and the partners clocked three to win 1st, 3rd & 5th Open Welsh South Road National FC plus 1st & 3rd North section 3rd, 5th & 25th Open CSCFC. The first in the clock was a 4 year old chequer cock sent sitting10 day eggs. The second in the clock was a 2 year old blue cock bred by Ray Strawbridge of Newport and is a grand son of Ray's Dax National winner. Third bird in the clock was a chequer hen bred from the brothers' Wim Mullers crossed with a sister to the winner of 1st Dax International [hens] for Dave Posey.
Amazingly, the Padfields failed to clock from the Barcelona International race in 2011 in what turned out to be a really hard race, when even the Continental birds struggled to cope with the heat and the distance.
Nevertheless, the season was back on track pretty quickly as the brothers enjoyed one of the best races ever in the NFC /WSRNFC Tarbes race.
Here the Padfields entered a team of 11 tried and tested long distance performers and in yet another difficult race they made easy of a hard task by clocking 9 pigeons to win 1st , 2nd ,3rd, 5th & 7th Open WSRNFC plus 8th, 9th, 14th, 21st,& 35th section ; 56th,61st,113th,154th & 248th Open NFC. They also won 1st Open GDSBNFC with their second in the clock.
Incidentally the first pigeon clocked was a son of 2nd sect 13th Open BICC Barcelona for the brothers.
And so we move onto the 2012 season and the main reason for this article, the Barcelona International race where Vince and Dave clocked their excellent long distance hen "Ffion" to win 1st GGDC, 1st section 9th Open BICC to become the furthest flying bird in race time to appear on the BICC result also winning the Jim Emerton Trophy . Ffion's preparation was as follows:-
She was paired last week of February and reared a single youngster. When sitting her second round of eggs for 10 days she was separated from her mate and raced on round about sent to the third race in the inland programme at about 100 miles followed by the remainder of inland racies and 2 channel races the last of these from Tours with the BICC where she had 12 hours on the wing. When she returned from Tours she was re-paired and sent to Barcelona sitting 14 days.

As with all the other Padfield pigeons being prepared for the extreme distance Ffion was hopper fed beans with Irish mix available in galley pots in the nest box at all times. In addition, she was also given Hormoform and a high fat mix with various other small seeds added in the final days build up to basketting. The race team also had access to water supplemented by multivitamins and garlic once per week. It all sounds so simple doesn't it and I suppose it is when you have the one vital ingredient - pigeons with the hearts of lions and a never say die attitude.

Congratulations Vince and Dave on yet another excellent long distance performance.

Gareth Watkins