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‘The Mo Farah of pigeon racing’ - Norfolk bird leaves thousands trailing

PUBLISHED: 13:16 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:16 01 July 2020

Glen Estoe and Nicole Chapman with their winning pigeon who has bought glory to Norfolk Picture: supplied by Glen Estoe

Glen Estoe and Nicole Chapman with their winning pigeon who has bought glory to Norfolk Picture: supplied by Glen Estoe

Archant

A Norfolk pigeon has become the stuff of legend by winning a race thought near-impossible for a bird from this county.

Bird number GB17R11561 is enjoying the spotlight after her stunning win, beating some 8,000 other feathered athletes to be crowned the best.

For the pigeon world it’s the kind of upset that will be talked about for years.

But for the bird herself it means instant retirement at the pinnacle of her career, and a life of leisure in the lap of luxury in Caister-on-sea.

“She will never do better than that,” her owner Glen Estoe said.

The 48-year-old has been dedicated to his hobby since the age of 11 and never tires of the thrill of seeing a bird shoot home to his loft.

Mr Estoe, who races with is partner and fellow enthusiast Nicole Chapman, said winning the British International Championship Club’s St Philbert National was a “once in a lifetime” achievement.

The race on Sunday saw thousands of birds set off from the town in France and make their way home.

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For Mr Estoe’s seven entrants it meant flying much further than those heading south, with tiredness on the wing often leading to slower times.

In the end though his female flyer, dubbed ‘the Mo Farah’ of pigeons, travelled some 372 miles at 54 miles an hour - beating the odds and clinching top honours, as well as a slice of celebrity.

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When she hit the timer pad at home in Drift Road her journey time was clocked at six hours, 46 minutes, and one second.

The next nearest was just 20 yards behind and from Essex.

“The ones that live on the south coast, they have 150 miles less to fly,” he said.

“The most tiring part is the last bit so to win it up here is a once in lifetime achievement.”

After she landed the Cantley sugar factory worker had a sleepless night waiting for the provisional results.

“It’s like winning the Premier League,” he said. “I felt numb. You never think it is going to happen. You hope one day you might get lucky and win it.”

A presentation is due to take place in Torquay in February.

Although there is some prize money Mr Estoe said it was more about the prestige.

The couple have some 70 birds that are cleaned out twice a day, corn-fed and watered. Like all athletes at the top of their game they follow strict diet and exercise plans and are kept in tip top condition.


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