The Incredible success story
of Mannor Lofts|
1st Open BICC Barcelona 2013.
1st Open BBC Barcelona 2013.
57th Open International against more
than 25,000 birds.
The Barcelona International race is
probably the most difficult race in the pigeon racing calendar . The
2013 race was difficult even by these exacting standards, and yet one
British pigeon, a single entry in fact, excelled. This was a grizzle
cock named Olympic Ric, racing to the Southampton lofts of Martin,
Clare and Jack Norman. This outstanding long distance racer not only
won 1st Open BICC/BBC by a more than four and a half hours he also
outpaced more than 25,000 pigeons from all over Continental
Europe to win 57th Open. This performance is regarded by many as one of
the most outstanding performances in the history of long distance
pigeon racing into these Islands.
What follows is a report on the
Norman's beginnings in the sport and the story of how they bred and
prepared their incredible long distance racer "Olympic Ric" to
attain such an incredible feat of long distance RACING over a distance
of 680 miles.
Martin Norman started racing in 1978
with his brother Bill as Norman Brothers, winning the Fed in their very
first year in the sport at 15 years of age.
Early influences in the sport
were the brother's friends Jack Beggs, who unfortunately passed
away earlier this year, and another very good friend Tony Jurd
who has also unfortunately passed away.
The main team of pigeons at that time
was made up of the Cattrysse strain obtained from Brian Harris &
Sons of Kidderminster who was to prove to be very kind and generous to
the brothers after they reported one of his birds.
As young lads, the Norman brothers
spent a weekend with Brian who took Martin and Bill to some good
local fanciers including Phil Cooper now of Cooper Brothers. The
Cattrysse were a very good family of reliable pigeons and they won well
for Martin and Bill at all distances.
So to the present, Clare and Martin
have been racing at their present address since 1998 and had Jack soon
after they settled and started racing .
The partners have always flown
widowhood in some form or another, and the first racing loft was
24ft x 6ft with a 12ft x 6ft young bird loft and a 16ft x 6ft stock
loft. In the intervening years since becoming established at their
present address, the loft dimensions haven’t altered much with
the present racing loft being 24ft x 8ft with a 10ft x 4ft cocks
section to the rear. There are four identical small sections with
8 boxes in each. All lofts are cleaned at least once a day during
the race season. It used to be twice a day but now with grilled floors
installed in the boxes it’s not really necessary. During the
Winter months the lofts are only cleaned at weekends due to work
commitments. The race team usually amounts to 40 old birds, with a
further 12 pairs at stock from which the partners breed around 60 young
Both cocks and hens
are raced on the widowhood system which is slightly different to most
systems practiced, as the racing cocks spend their week in box perches
housed in the section to the rear of the main racing loft. The hens
stay in their breeding box, which allows the Normans the opportunity to
motivate the cocks in a different manner.
For example, “Olympic
Ric” the Barcelona winner, was placed in his section on his own 2
weeks prior to Barcelona basketting. All boxes were closed up and his
box had cardboard placed over it so he couldn’t even look at his
box. The evening before basketting he was let out with his hen to work
the skies and just play around with her. On return to the loft his box
was open with a bowl filled with straw. They stayed all night together
and were let out again next morning spending most of the time just
mating up together on the loft. When they went back in he stayed
another couple of hours with her and was then basketted for Barcelona.
And - voila what resulted from this motivational trick was a truly
outstanding performance !!
As he was the partner's only entry it
gave them a little more time to manipulate the motivation.
The same motivational system worked
well for the partners the previous year. In 2012 Martin ,Clare and Jack
reasoned that there were only two long distance races where there
was a chance of timing on the day and this they duly achieved in
both races. Firstly, from Tarbes CSCFC [only 36 on the day], when they
timed one of their team for 21st Open and secondly from the Agen
International with the BICC with only 20 birds on the day when
they timed at 20.40 pm to take 20th Open.
All birds are mated on the same
day in January, normally about the 22nd. This works out just right for
the darkness young birds. The birds are put on widowhood when their
young ones are 17 days old. At this time the hens come away and are
placed in the rear section of the loft.
This is the time when you can
see the birds starting to get fit ready for the racing season to begin.
The birds then have roughly a month before the first race and they have
just three training tosses before racing, 15 miles, 20 miles and 30
miles and have no more for the rest of the season. From that
point on they fly one hour in the morning and evening around home being
flagged if necessary.
Martin believes that
training old birds after the initial preseason tosses takes away
the motivation. The race team race Classic and National races every
week during the old bird season and different motivational tricks
are tried throughout the season. Sometimes it works and other times it
Young bird racing is very limited but
the babies are placed on the darkness system so that they are always in
good feather should the partners want to try them out in the race
As the old birds usually have a
big race every week the feed tends not to change much with just a
slight tweak as the longer races approach. The racers are
fed Verse Laga Superstar Plus with the addition of peanuts and hemp. In
the last few feeds before basketting for the longer races a little more
maize is added to the daily feed.
Since 2007 the partners have
concentrated more on long distance racing and so have introduced
birds from Dax International winner and "all round good guy" Brian
Sheppard. Some Delbars have also been brought in from Graham Matthews
and a few from each of the following fanciers:- Guy Reed, Les Kidd,
John and David Staddon and most recently Andy Parsons of Salisbury. All
have produced some good birds and Martin et al are presently trying to
blend their own distance family. The intention is to breed around
the best breeders cross out and then pair back to the base family.
Martin would like to make Andy Parson's family the main starting
base as their record from Tarbes over a number of years is fantastic.
The partners have, over the years
been helped by a number of very good fanciers and have always found
them very eager to help. Fanciers of the caliber of Geoff and Catherine
Cooper, Brian Sheppard and the late Tony Jurd have all
given help and advice freely.
Although the main concentration is on
long distance racing the Normans do have a small sprint team with
pigeons bought from Mel and Sue King, Roger Lowe and Sheldon Leonard.
Martin's ideal handling pigeon has to
have a strong back, silky feathering and be nicely balanced. However,
none of this is of any importance if the bird is not a winner because
winners tend to come in all shapes and sizes.
Martin has immense respect and
admiration for Geoff Cooper because he has developed a
fantastic top International family that must be admired worldwide.
SOME TOP PIGEONS.
“Lady Vic” 1st SE
Section 1st Open CSCFC Bergerac 430miles beating the whole convoy of
2,500 birds by 20 yards, her other performances include 2nd Solent
Federation Picauville 6th Solent Federation Lessay, 50th Open BBC
“Jack the Lad”, 191st
Open NFC Tarbes timed on the day, 14 days later he was one of only 38
birds on the day from BBC Bordeaux 418 miles in a very hard race.
There are also many good positions
from Bergerac and Bordeaux and many top 50 positions in Classic and
Perhaps now would be a good time to
give a little more information on the great pigeon Olympic Ric and I'll
let Clare give the details:-
" He is our best pigeon and his past
6th Section 73rd Open BICC Carentan
481st Open NFC Cholet 2012;
27th Section 223rd Open NFC
Tarbes 2012 winning just over £1,000;
6th Section 16th Open BICC
20th Section 91st Open NFC
Cholet 2011 8,745 birds.
57th Open BICC Agen 2011 648
He was Christened Olympic Ric
last year after his performances during the Olympics and Ric is our
nephew's name who always seems to be visiting when we have a good
You have to send your best to win in
these top events and he was made our candidate for Barcelona 2013 the
day we timed him from Perpignan last year. The Perpignan race was flown
in a very strong west wind and won in Dover. We timed Ric 118 miles
west of the winner just 1 hour 53 minutes later and we knew after that
he could do it.
His breeding comes through all top
fanciers. The sire was bred by John and David Staddon from Jos
Thone X Mark Gilbert’s "Night Flight"1st Open NFC Saintes/Pau
bloodlines. The dam is bred by our good friend Brian Sheppard. "
This years highlights for the
25th Open and 39th Open NFC
Carentan 8,319 birds;
27th Open BICC Alencon;
86th Open NFC Cholet 6,462
59th Open BICC Tours;
51st Open BBC Messac;
1st Open Solent Federation
1st Open BICC/BBC Barcelona
57th International 25,382 birds.
The partners believe it is important
to treat for canker regularly but if loft conditions are good, with no
dampness or vermin etc, other treatments are only necessary if there is
The birds usually have something in
the water but it is always a natural product such as cider vinegar,
honey, vitamins and electrolytes, Mycoform T and Naturaline.
I'll let Martin give you his thoughts
on the future of the sport and where he gets his biggest thrills:-
"We love racing with the BICC in the
International races, it gives a real buzz when you time from these
events. International pigeons are special birds, UK international
winners even more so. We believe International racing in the UK is
going to get stronger and stronger with so many fanciers making their
“Olympic Ric” went to
three International races and was timed on all three occasions:-
Agen: 57th Open UK.
Perpignan: 16th Open UK.
Barcelona: 1st BICC/BBC
Barcelona 57th Open International."
There is an unfortunately tragic
ending to this fairytale win. Olympic Ric was found dead in his box on
August 6th 2013 - exactly a month to the day after his brilliant
Congratulations Martin, Clare and
Jack on breeding, conditioning and racing a truly outstanding long
distance racer. Ric may be gone, but he will never be forgotten so long
as fanciers in these Islands strive for greatness in long distance
Good luck for the future.
Martin and Jack
Olympic Ric 1st Open UK Barcelona 2013
Cocks section at Mannor Lofts
One of the identical racing sections at Mannor Lofts
Old bird corridor Mannor Lofts
39th OPen NFC Carentan, 1st Solent Fed Carenntan
51st Open BBC Messac
Olympic Ric's sire and daughter