As it sometimes does, the NIPA Old Bird National race from St Malo in France turned out the most difficult of the season to date.
Birds were race marked in Cullybackey on Tuesday and released as planned in St Malo at 6.15am on Friday 24th June.
Favourable conditions were forecast for most of the route but there were lots of severe weather around.
At the home end we had late evening sunshine and a handful of birds made it into Mid Antrim.
Borough of Ballymena – Cullybackey had most birds away among the local clubs and they recorded the best bird from St Malo with just four day arrivals in the Cullybackey Centre.
Alan Darragh is no stranger to top success and has been at the top in Cullybackey for several years, his winning 2 year old Blue cock was timed at 8.07pm in late evening sunshine to be best in Cullybackey and 1st in the NIPA Sect B. He recorded a second arrival after returning from the Cullybackey Centre at 11.00pm, just before the hours of darkness.
Willie Livingstone from Ahoghill will be well placed having timed at 9.03pm and will be runner-up in MAC behind J & M Milliken of Rasharkin who have had a Golden Season of top success, their best ever.
Ballymena club results
Cullybackey HPS 10/44 – A Darragh 1003. Timed at 8.07pm on the day to win 1st Section B & 11th Open NIPA, and a second bird at 11.00pm. Alan timed four birds all told in the first 2 days.
His winning bird was sent driving his hen and previously had flown Talbenny and then timed from Bude. He was a late bred from two St Malo birds, his nest-mate won Penzance last season.
He would be a grandson of the lofts Yearling Nat winner on one side and the Hall of Fame winning bird on the other.
Ahoghill Flying Club 10/34 – W Livingstone 9.03pm on the day and another on second day.
Willie has a good record out of France racing a small team, he will be pleased with the result and will be looking forward to the big France races with the INFC which he has joined this year for the first time.
Ballymena & District HPS 8/24 – W & J Smyth 8.14am second day. J Eagleson & Sons before 3.00pm second day are twice winners of the OB National.
Hard race in Ballymena with birds recorded by two lofts that have been prominent all season.
W & J Smyth are always around in the longer harder races and J Eagleson & Sons are having the best season since their return to the sport, they have been the lofts to beat each week.
Kells & District HPS 4/11 – T Shanks & Son former winners timed at 14.29hrs on the second day for velocity 512. The winner was a 2 year old Blue cock containing all the old Kenyon long distance bloodlines. Alan looks forward to these races each year and will be more than pleased with this result.,