Martin Xuereb 1st. Nat. Manfredonia, Malta - by Tony Harte

On the 18th May, the Malta Racing Pigeon Federation held its last and most prestigious race of the season from Manfredonia, some 440 miles/660 Km, from Malta, the last 60 miles, of which, is over the sea from Sicily.

There were 3.202 pigeons released at 06.15am, into a southerly wind and at 17.48 pm, after some 10 hours 33 minutes on the wing, a blue hen came racing home to the loft of Martin Xuereb, situated in San Gwann, Malta.

Martin was keenly waiting for any returns, on his roof top loft, when he spotted his blue hen and Martin nearly jumped off the roof with excitement.

This is the first time ever that he has won a 1st Federation and what a way to do it. The winning pigeon was bred off a pair of Dutch rung birds bought at a club sale for 100 Euros and Martin does not have any pedigrees for the sire or the dam.

The pigeon is ring number Malta 2011201577 and prior to this race had a training toss from Mellieha (1 mile), Cirkewwa (10 miles) about 8 tosses from Gozo (14 miles) and then three races from Belvedere (90 miles/155 km) (this also included a 1st club), one race from ST Euphemia (260 miles/390 km) (placed 14th club) and then sent to Manfredonia (440 miles/660 Km) - placed 1st club of course and 1st National!

This hen was sent on a full wing and was unpaired, but was looking to pair up for the first time this season. This was quite a feat for this pigeon, as there were only 14 pigeons recorded on the day and only 126 pigeons in race time. This hen being 7 minutes in front of the second placed pigeon.

Martin started racing some 6 years ago, after finding a stray pigeon belonging to Joe Saliba, living nearby in San Gwann, who kindly let Martin keep it and the rest is, as they say, history. Martin joined the ST Julians club, which has about 25 members and in his first season won the Best Fancier Short Distance award. 

Martin keeps 12 pair of stock and starts the season with about 80 racers and usually ends up with about 20 pigeons left at the end of the season. Martin races on the natural system, giving the pigeons some ten tosses prior to the start of the racing season, as outlined earlier, 1 x 1 mile, 1 x 10 mile, 8 x 14 miles and then the pigeons have to face the jump of 60 90 miles, of which every race has the last 60 miles across the sea. The season in Malta is from November until May, so the training is undertaken during August /September. The feed used is Paloma Racing mix, with depurative given on Saturday & Sunday. 25% maize is given for the distance races, plus the pigeons are given Belgasol, vitamin B12, glucose and a multi vitamin mix during other days of the week.

The loft is facing North East and does not face the sun and Martin finds that the pigeons tend to be in better form at the beginning and at the end of the season. The family of pigeons kept are based around the Buschaerts & Janssens for the short distance and the Dutch pigeons for the long distance. This blue hen will be his first ever racer retired for stock. Martin has been 5 times runner up, Best Fancier Short Distance at the ST Julians club, but this season he won 9 x first prizes and a total of 29 trophies (trophies awarded for the first seven pigeons in each race).

In Malta there are 27 races in a season, 20 short distance races comprising of 2 x Pozzallo (60 miles/90 Km), 12 Belvedere (90 miles/155 km) and 6 x Messina (190 miles/255 km). There are 7 long distance races, comprising of 3 x Saint Euphemia (260 miles/390 km), 2 x Metaponto (385 miles/578 km), 1x Bari (410 miles/620 km) and finally Manfredonia (440 miles/660 km).

So it has been a fairytale end to the season for Martin, as he has won 2nd Best Fancier Short Distance, 4th Best Fancier Long Distance and Best Fancier Award Overall Distance, in the ST Julians club and now 1st National Manfredonia. Not bad at all and with a bright racing career ahead of him, 25 year old Martin has plenty more National wins, in his sights!

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