Gaining success at more than 850 miles.

 An interview with Trevor ROBINSON of Hull

1st & 2nd North section BICC Barcelona International 2013.

  Winning the Jim Emerton Trophy for Longest Flying Bird in Race time from Barcelona with the BICC.

Trevor Robinson holding 1st & 2nd North section BICC Barcelona

 The subject of this interview has, over the years, racked up an impressive list of wins in long distance races right through to Barcelona at more than 850 miles racing pigeons to his loft on the east coast of Yorkshire. Amongst these long distance wins is 1st Open BICC Marseille at  750+ miles a few years back. Coming right up to date and the 2013 season saw Trevor clock two pigeons- a mated pair in the Barcelona International race to win 1st & 2nd section BICC and the newly presented Jim Emerton  £1000 Trophy for the longest flying pigeon in race time with the BICC.

This is what Trevor wrote regarding his latest marathon success:-

"Please find brief details of my 1st and 2nd North section Barcelona birds. Both birds were mated together for this race - making it simpler to prepare them. 1st section is a three year old blue chequer cock bred from an Emiel Denys cock bird purchased at Blackpool. The dam was a gift bird given to me by L.Ph. Hoogervorst of Holland. As a young bird it had three races of 100 miles, as a yearling one race at 100 then one over the channel at 320 miles, as a two year old eight races to 200 mile and four over the channel at 320 to 470 miles.

This year three inland to 200 mile but came back with its chest ripped open, it was then stitched up, rested, then given two 100 mile races, then into Barcelona, sat 14 days.

My second section bird, a blue chequer hen, bred from a cock bird gifted from Jim Emerton of York, and a hen with the De Barcelona and Jan Aarden lines. This hen had flown the channel 14 times including Barcelona in 2011 and 2012, I felt it had one more effort to get in the results from Barcelona, so it had three 100 mile club races, then a 35 mile toss each week for the last four weeks, then into Barcelona, 854 miles.

Distance racing is to me not about glory, but a personal satisfaction of seeing the end result. My partner, Margaret, and myself, will always remember this week".

The following is a brief interview with Trevor in which he gives a little more information on his background in the sport and how he set about developing his impressive team of marathon racers.


 I live in Patrington, a village north of the river Humber and twenty miles east of Hull. I started like most people did over fifty years ago with one or two strays in an orange box that was next for firewood. I would be about twelve or thirteen, and with my twin brother over the next few years the "loft" progressed to a tin water tank to a small chicken hut on four-foot poles. There was no club in the area but about a dozen people had pigeons, mainly fantails and crosses. Four or five people in the area started to purchase birds from names such as JOHNSTONE, MUNDELL, both of Larne Northern Ireland, MAJOR OSMAN, TOMMY BUCK, HUGHES OF LIVERPOOL, JOHN McALPINE OF ARMADALE, SCOTLAND and FRANK GEORGE OF NORTHANTS. In the 1960's I joined the forces and while in the forces I used to visit Jack Holmes of Abergavenny South Wales. I remember going with Jack to the National north road marking and seeing those Lerwick 600mile pigeons, the blue bars were outstanding. This I believe is when I became interested in distance racing although it would be many years before I tried it. It was also while on leave in 1964 that I met Enid who became my wife and enabled me to continue my hobby that gave me much pleasure. In 1970 I came out of the forces and raced birds with my elder brother, as my twin brother had married and moved away from the area. We enjoyed some good times in the seventies.

 An 18ft loft was purchased and this is the same loft that I have today. Due to my work from 1982 I was based in Manchester, I saw my birds on a Sunday night and never saw them until they came home from the races on a Saturday. I assessed form, made out the race sheets, left any feed info, and put coloured rings on cocks and hens for Enid to basket. I still found time to look after my own and my parent’s gardens and Sunday was our family day out up to Scarborough or Bridlington. Into the 1990s and with the family grown up life was more genteel. Although racing with the NFC due to being away in the week, only the odd races were participated in. Club racing north and south was still enjoyed.

By the year 2002 I was aware of the time being away from Enid and I decided to retire, I gave due notice at work and retired in 2003. [Unfortunately Trevor and Enid's retirement together was short lived as Enid developed leukaemia and passed away in 2005.]


What are your lofts made of and how big are they.

My racing loft is 18' by 6' and I have the "coal bunker” 6’ by 3 1/2' with a 3' by 3' aviary over the coalbunker.  This was intended for retired birds. but soon became a permanent home.

How do you control the ventilation in your loft.

The front of the loft faces west, and I have wire mesh at the front under the landing board about 2 1/2 ft in height.  At the rear a six-inch gap at the top covered in wire mesh and fixed lower.  I do not change it summer or winter.

What families of pigeons do you keep?

A mixed family but with distance in mind containing the stock and lines of  Jim Biss, Van der Wegan, Jan Aarden and a touch of Van Hee and Kirkpatrick plus a blend of Jim Emertons.                                                               


When it comes to breeding do you line-breed or use a first cross or just pair winners to winners.

I put my stock together on what I think, it maybe line or a first cross, depends how I feel at the time. The race team is "help yourself ". This was to make it easy for Enid when I was away. With an experienced race team, some pairs are together for three or four years and go to the same race points. This takes a lot of problems out of the racing and breeding.

When do you mate  your pigeons.

 Stock are paired in the first week of February and the race team around the last week in March. I don’t breed to win young bird races, and the old bird race team will be ready for the long races.

How many stock birds do you keep and do you breed off your race team.

What you would like to do and what you can do due to your loft space are two different things. I keep between seven and ten pairs of stock birds. I also breed of selected race pairs. You should be able to breed eight youngsters to race from a stock pair. As mentioned earlier at the end of the third year you should have seen something to please you. if not its your decision.

What system do you employ from mating until the first race.

Due to pairing up in March the birds are still on eggs or feeding young for the first three races.

What is the farthest distance that you would train your old birds or young birds?

Due to my location I have to drive 100 miles to get a 30mile on line training toss, so I do not train very much. Old birds and young would be about 50 miles depending on what I thought they needed.

Do you breed off the top widowhood cocks at the end of the season.

I do not plan and breed off the birds when racing has finished. However I always have about eight or so late breds from certain birds. Late breds must be handled correctly or you will lose them the following year.


How do you race your pigeons and how many.

I race widowhood, twenty cocks and twenty hens with maybe a dozen spare racing to the young bird section.

Do you use any floor dressing .

I have been using easy bed and in winter clean out once a week or sometimes two weeks, the perches each day and during racing it will be each one or two days, again with perches each day.

How do you feed the cocks and what do you feed them on.

I feed cocks and hens twice a day when racing. I buy a branded mix and also separate corns and then mix my own accordingly.

Do the pigeons need any special treatment on their return from the race.

 Normal races on return the birds always have clean water, nothing added, light feed Sunday bath time for a couple of hours. If it has been a hard race, they maybe kept in on the Sunday, so Monday becomes their lazy day.

 Some channel races 260 to 373 are used as part of the build up. However my yearling team would be going to these shorter races up to 550 mile and I would be looking to do well in them. If the races are not too hard , then the birds can go each fortnight to the channel. One year the NFC races were 373, 460, 363, and 722 miles for the first three races I sent an average of ten birds to each race and dropped three in total. Four went on to the 722 mile and came on the first race day.

If you lose some of a certain sex its not the end of the world. You can use the "first come first served" system. I do not see this as a big problem, just something to think about. You have lost them so its no good moaning about it.

Do you treat pigeons differently with their preparation for National, Classic races.

The birds are treated differently as the races progress to the distance you have in mind. the feed, exercise and rest is changed to suit the team you are preparing.

Do you think a pigeon is able to compete at both short and long distance races?

Some pigeons do win at both short and long races. However if I came up against a dedicated sprint fancier(under 250miles) he would beat me each time. If the same birds went to the 550-750 mile I would back myself. It is not always the birds; it is the management of preparing a distance bird over the three years for its ultimate goal that is the difference. On a good race day with little helping wind 650 miles could be achieved, the norm would be around the 550 mark. IT all depends on the release time and weather on route.

As I am interested in the distance races, I am looking at them all to improve as the distance increases. Any winners under the 500mile still go to the distance races, which are the 600-850 mile races.

How far do you race your yearlings.

All yearlings will have at least two 320-370 miles races. Most will have three or four between 320-470 miles. Two or three, depending on the season I am having, will go to 550 and 608mile race point.

What races do you send your long distance candidates in preparation for their target race.

This depends on the season and the severity of the races. They will have about three inland races to the 180-mile point, then two or three selected races around the 350-450ml mark. You have to be flexible to meet situations on the condition of the birds.

For the long races 650-850 you already have an experienced team or you should, of two, three, four-year-old birds. You must have them what I call "fit at home" then you select the race points inland and channel. My birds do not go onto widowhood until after the first two or three inland races. Selected races are sent to, this is to give "time on wing". I like a seven to eight hour race for all distance candidates, maybe two if it suits them. For feeding I am not a small feed man and I may feed beans more than some. Each fancier will have his own ideas. If not, look, listen & learn.


I race my young birds but this is more for education. They fly to the perch, and if they win it's nice but I do not put any future potential on a young bird to win. I like them all to have three or four races to the 150mile point. Then I will stop half of them, the rest will be stopped when I feel it is right.

I treat for Canker and worms.  If a bird goes off (and you can tell if it going to recover) I would dispose of it. In the past I have treated a few just to see how far they would perform to. They will do the easy races, but the first 350 plus nose enders they will go down.

I don’t use the darkness system, if I wanted to have a go at the young bird races, then I would have to have them on it.

My young birds are fed for the development for the future. I do not break them down, race to the corn tin or give small seed. They are under control but never starved.


All the birds that I winter I am happy with plus the few late breds that I always have and any that take a check will be disposed of, this though is very rare. For the following races my thoughts are very simple, the birds are a year older and go onto the next stage. At two years it’s just what distance race they will be prepared for 650-850miles. As I am going for the distance, I do not have to worry about the shorter races.

I cannot recommend what other fanciers should do. I can only inform them what I do. Once the moult is over the birds go on 40% barley and the loft is dry. The birds are let out three or four times a week, but not in strong winds or misty weather. I do not like them too fit in winter, other people do, that’s the enigma of the sport, what suits one person does not suit another.

I also use Cider vinegar because I have a cup as well!

There you have it then. The methods of a man who has single mindedly set his stall out to win at the extreme distance and who has certainly achieved his aims. Congratulations Trevor on your continued success in marathon pigeon racing. My thanks to Cameron and Les at Elimar for help in producing this article.

 Gareth Watkins