Punters keen on Classic race fowls
South Canterbury pigeons line up for the 2014 Classic tomorrow, the region's biggest race for the year.
It is the one in which punters on the homing pigeons can win big.
The birds are racing from Marlborough back to Timaru.
Neville Boulton is a trainer and pigeon fancier - "or as some people might say, pigeon weirdo", he said.
He said there were two types of races this weekend - team racing consisting of three pigeons, and single birds, also known as flock pigeons.
"The big money is in the team racing," he said.
There will be 100 pigeons in tomorrow's race. They will be released at 8.30am in Blenheim. It will take them about six hours to fly back, he said.
Boulton said the pigeons were trained to fly back for one reason.
"They only have one thing on their mind. Food. They are so hungry they think 'geez, got to go home for food'."
The pigeons are microchipped on their legs and there is technology in the "landing pad" that clocks them to a 10th of a second as they arrive home.
Boulton said pigeon racing was like dog or horse racing, and he was extremely competitive. And did not like to lose.
He said although homing pigeons were trained to fly home, he was losing them more frequently. This year he started the season with 46 birds and now only has 19.
He was not sure why, but said it had been suggested technology such as cellphone towers might be the reason. However, most of the pigeons kept flying home, no matter what.
Timaru's pigeon-racing numbers have dwindled to just six fanciers. and more are needed. Boulton said Anyone interested in joining would be supported and even supplied with pigeons.
The Timaru Herald