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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Pigeon fancier wins 30,000 race
Jeff Davies (Photo courtesy of Llanelli Star)
It was not just about the money - winning a classic like this means a lot to me
Jeff Davies
A Welsh pigeon fancier has pocketed 30,000 after one of his birds won one of the richest races in the world.

The bird bred by Llanelli's Jeff Davies completed the 300 mile flight from Edinburgh to Peterstone near Newport in under seven and a half hours.

It raced against pigeons bred in South Africa, Kuwait and Las Vegas in the Europa Classic One Loft Race which had a prize fund of almost 200,000.

Labourer Mr Davies, 45, said he normally wins prizes of around 20.

He first started breeding pigeons as a boy and keeps around 60 pigeons in his loft at Felinfoel.

Every year he chooses three of his most promising birds to send to Peterstone.

Each January more than 2,000 young pigeons from across the world are sent to a giant loft at the site where they are trained in preparation for the Europa Classic in September.

Mr Davies said: "It costs you 200 to enter three pigeons. I breed the pigeons at home and then send three up there.

Facts about pigeon racing
Queen Elizabeth
Famous pigeon fanciers include Queen Elizabeth II who keeps pigeons at the Royal Lofts at Sandringham
The National Homing Union for pigeon fanciers in the UK held its first AGM in 1897
During WWII of the 53 Dickin medals - the animal version of the Victoria Cross - 31 were presented to pigeons
The Royal Pigeon Racing Association has a turnover of over 1.2m a year and employs more than 30 people

"I race birds locally in a club. Usually the prize money is just 20 or 30.

"This was a classic race - with birds from all over the world."

The birds, which were electronically tagged, were all released at the same time from a site just outside Edinburgh and the winner was the first one to return to the loft in south Wales.

Mr Davies added: "When the first pigeon dropped into the loft I was watching on the big screen and I had a feeling it was mine. It was on its own and about 10 minutes ahead of the next four which seem to drop around the same time.

"When the identification number came up I went bananas. I don't have any plans for the money yet but it was not just about the money - winning a classic like this means a lot to me."

He said he had worked out his pigeon's average speed was around 41 miles an hour.

Derek Nicholls of Europa Classic said the race had attracted pigeon fanciers from across the world.

"It's now the richest race in Europe bar none and the third richest in the world.

"We have multi-millionaires who send their birds and syndicates where guys are putting in 40 each."

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