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Book Reviews

BRIAN BRENNAN

United Districts Racing Pigeon Club, PRF, Western Australia.

Brian is a highly respected pigeon fancier in Western Australia. He is a retired Police Prosecutor and recently used his skills in the local government arena for the benefit of the local fraternity. He is also the immediate past President of The Independent Racing Pigeon Federation of WA.

“I have read numerous books on pigeon racing and based on my own reading, combined with over thirty years’ experience in the game, “Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach” just put it all into perspective; it crystallized my own experience and various other aspects of pigeon husbandry and stockmanship. Having read the book, I feel more confident going into a new season than at any time before. The book covers everything a flyer needs to know. It does not suggest pigeon flying is easy, in fact it suggests it is a lot of hard work, very much a discipline.

“Pigeon Racing - A Scientific Approach” is one of those rare books one picks up and cannot put down. It is a collection of Leo’s work written over a lifetime; it also touches on and explores a lot of topics critical to successful pigeon selection, including how to read a pedigree to your best advantage, breeding, loft management and construction, racing, feeding, training and tossing. It is also an historical document in its own right, cobbled together with Leo’s special commentary. Leo has been to the mountain and I find Leo’s commentary throughout the book to be very honest, enlightening and tremendously reinforcing; the document has credibility. Pigeon flyers both experienced and those not so experienced need to read this stuff. For example, to add weight to his arguments, Leo compares and contrasts aspects of racehorse selection, breeding and racing with that of pigeon racing; the similarities are quite striking. I would be so bold as to suggest that any flyer who followed Leo Turley’s “Pigeon Racing 101 through to 104 would be very competitive”. Now there’s a challenge. This book turns on the lights!

We as a fraternity need to take on board and act on some of Leo’s very clear forward thinking in terms of how can we make pigeon racing fairer, reduce losses and make our hobby survive into the future. The book not only identifies topics critical to the survival of pigeon racing, but provides rational viable alternatives for consideration. It is another example of Leo’s clear thinking, backed by his incredible global network within the pigeon racing fraternity and his capacity to thoroughly research a topic and draw proper conclusions based on the evidence. The book distils some positive and negative elements of pigeon racing and suggests the way forward. If we are to survive and grow we, as a class of people, need to give serious consideration to adopting the approaches suggested and take this stuff on-board. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.”

JOHN HOFMAN

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN HOMING ASSOCIATION, ADELAIDE

John is an icon of South Australian pigeon racing and previous proprietor of The Ponderosa Australia Stud.

"I believe this book is probably the most comprehensive ever on the subject of pigeon racing, not only in Australia, but the world. It covers practically every aspect on pigeon racing and also administration of the sport. It covers the past, going right back to the very beginnings, the present and where we have gone wrong and what will happen in the future if we don't change our ways and thinking. Very wisely, Leo touches only lightly on the veterinary side of the sport, I imagine because there are already many books written by qualified veterinarians on this aspect of our sport. There are a number of publications which are considered as “Bibles” of the sport. “Janssen Brothers Arendonk” by Ad Schaerlaeckens is no doubt the bible of the Janssen enthusiast and it is a well-known fact that “Rotondo on Racing Pigeons” was the bible of the late John Prior of Adelaide.

Your book Leo, “Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach”, should be the bible for the majority of pigeon fanciers in Australia and particularly for our present and future administrators. I imagine if it was promoted also in England, Europe, America, South Africa and New Zealand it would do well as it has not only something for someone, but everything for everyone. There are many things where the fundamentals apply, no matter where in the world that pigeon racing takes place”.

MAURICIO (Maurice) JEMAL

Biographical Data: Champion, Mexico City 1966 through 2010 – Saviñon Ranking System*. Mauricio developed a highly sought after family (thirty inbred generations) of Janssen pigeons (Jemal Janssen or otherwise known as Mexico Janssen) and originator of the white Mexico Janssen. From 1997 to 2010 he raced in Uruapan, Michoacán, Mexico with substantial success before retiring from the hands-on side of the sport in 2010. Mauricio, the respected, admired and internationally recognised fancier from Mexico, often referred to as a Master and owner of nine (9) rooftop lofts, is eighty-two years young and holds the distinction of possessing (sighted by the Author) four unique testimonials – the only testimonials (1971, 1978, 1988 and 1998) ever provided by the late and great fancier Piet de Weerd of Breda, Holland and clearly relates the degree of excellence and pleasure he experienced on visiting the Jemal Lofts.

*The Saviñon Ranking System created in Mexico City over 50 years ago is a formula which takes into account the number of members, the number of birds, the distances, the race positions won, and the years in completion. According to the Saviñon Ranking System Mauricio Jemal, in only three years of racing, still holds the record that is double the points of any competitor in all of Mexico City.

“Leo, your magnificent book, ‘Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach,’ is a masterpiece and will, in short time, be recognized as a watershed. The in-depth investigative research could only emanate from the mind of a person such as you. Never satisfied, always searching for the why and for correct answers. The resultant work is nothing short of priceless – a treasure trove.

I knew before reading the manuscript that this would be a “must have” book of international first class quality. My gratitude for giving me the pleasure and honor of reviewing it - I have no words to properly do it justice.

I salute you! “

Mauricio (Maurice) Jemal
Uruapan, Michoacán, Mexico

ALAN LONG

Alan works as a Designer for an electrical utility company in Rockhampton, Queensland and has been with pigeons since 1963, principally fancy pigeons, such as Dragoon’s and where he gained a wealth of experience in the field of breeding and showing. Of more recent years, using his showman/breeder background, Alan successfully transferred across to pigeon racing. He is also the Australasian agent for the electronic timing system, Unikon.

“This is the most comprehensive book written about pigeons since Wendell Levi wrote his treatise, ‘The Pigeon’, more than 70 years ago. However, Leo’s main focus in this book is primarily about the racing pigeon and all that is necessary to build a successful loft.

I first approached Leo in regards to race forecasting, which Leo has been doing for a number of years for the Western Australian Pigeon Federations. His predictions for the success or failure of races have been vindicated time and time again. So much so, that the weight of empirical data gathered during this period can no longer be ignored as just another theory. The substance for his hypothesis has come from many years analyzing the performance of his own racing pigeons and as an historian of the Australian Racing Pigeon industry. His meticulous treatment and analysis of the records has seen many of the old theories, such as magnetic pigeon orientation, relegated to just another old wives tale.

This book, Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach, will no doubt become the bible for racing pigeon enthusiasts everywhere and for many years to come. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to both old and new hands in the pigeon racing fraternity, as there is something here to be gleaned and learned by anyone who is interested”.

PETER LONGVILLE

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Peter Longville and I race in the South Auckland Racing Pigeon Club. I started racing in 1974 and held the position of Club President for several years. I have held every position in the Auckland Federation, except Treasurer - the one position I have never desired to hold. I was Federation President for five years and am currently Transport Manager and have held the position for more years than I care to remember.

I first started to communicate with Leo many years ago obtaining his address through Jeff Howell, our ARPJ Editor. From there we have had much correspondence about pigeons and racing and I passed this on, as appropriate, to Auckland fliers and many have learned from Leo. When discussing his feeding methods, some remark “Gee, that’s pretty close to what I am doing!”

I have been fortunate to travel to Perth on two occasions and met up with Leo and cannot speak highly enough of his efforts and hospitality looking after my wife and me.

The time, effort and research that have gone into this book, so that a layman can understand, would be far and above what the average flier could comprehend.

Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach is a book that must be read; one that I doubt anyone would or could learn everything in one reading. I have read it twice and still know I will be back every time I need more information relating to our hobby / sport. My thoughts go to his long-suffering wife, Krystyna and I know Leo appreciates the leeway she has given him to write this book and indeed with his hobby over the years. As with most of us, pigeon racing can be a selfish sport. I remember the first time I entered his loft and saw the microwave and television on the wall and asked him what they were for. His answer is in the book and I thought ‘WOW!’ Could I get away with that!

Leo makes quite a few references to the difference between northern and southern hemisphere flying conditions, but there is also a huge difference between Australia and New Zealand. For a long time we were envious of Australia’s ability to fly more than one way on the compass. We even tried a few times from Auckland to the north of us. Even though we never achieved a huge mileage the results were quite illuminating. One section of Auckland always maintain they are at a disadvantage due to the Manukau harbour and the thinking was from the reverse direction they would have the advantage, but on race day it was the lofts to the east that won so we reverted back to flying from the south. Our advantage over Australia is we have plenty of water enroute, although the thought of birds going down for a drink is not welcomed.

In conclusion, anyone who is lucky enough to obtain this book should read it several times and keep it handy and refer to it often. Thank you Leo for letting me preview it before publication.

Peter Longville.

JEFF HOWELL, EDITOR, THE AUSTRALIAN RACING PIGEON JOURNAL

I first came in contact with Leo Turley upon my becoming Editor of the Australian Racing Pigeon Journal. Since then I have read and edited many articles written by this learned man and have found that he had three important differences from most of those who submit articles for publication.

Firstly, Leo was not trying to sell anything. Secondly, he was willing to consider the point of view of others and amend his point of view if necessary. And thirdly, his interest was purely the betterment of pigeon racing and the betterment of racing pigeons themselves. It is very seldom that one finds all three of these qualities in a pigeon fancier, especially one who has had the successes which Leo has had.

I was quite honoured when Leo asked my opinion on his manuscript, Pigeon Racing – A scientific Approach and awaited its arrival with anticipation and I can only say that I was not left disappointed. For anyone who is analytically minded, or in the least scientific in their approach to pigeon racing, you will find this a must have addition to your pigeon library. I would like to think of this as a book for the thinking pigeon fancier, or at least for the fancier who is willing to learn.

In the 1940’s Levi wrote his respected volume on the topic of the keeping of pigeons. Leo Turley has now done similarly on the topic of the racing of pigeons. Rarely do we see such a comprehensive volume and no doubt it will be very popular.

NIGEL LUSBY – ABERDEENSHIRE, SCOTLAND, UK.

Nigel Lusby is a long distance enthusiast, who has recently returned to the sport after 35 years. He raced pigeons originally in Bournemouth on the English south coast, but this came to an end when he started his career as a North Sea diver at the age of 19. He now works for a multinational oil company as the Global Technical Lead for diving, a role that includes much travelling and as part of this he chaired the Oil and Gas Producers Diving Committee for 10 years. He is based in Aberdeen Scotland.

“After reading this book, Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach, I was surprised and delighted to be asked by Leo to write a review from a UK perspective. Racing pigeons on the other side of the world? Australia; a terrain so hostile and vast is difficult for ourselves to comprehend in our small densely populated northern Europe. I imagine that many from the UK would have the same reservations as I had before reading it.

The contents are full of conditions so different from our own, including line of flight, motivation, breeding out of kilter with racing and experiences so unique that they are unlikely to be repeated, such as the closing of the genetic pool over many years and then the reintroduction of new lines, its risks and associated diseases. There is much here to absorb and to learn, and much which helps reinforce that which we understand. It is articulated with a wonderful skill, incisive, passionate and yet dispassionate.

It is a fascinating read and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have. It is however something much more than a book on pigeon racing. It is an invaluable step by step record of a people, their struggle to understand and achieve this sport while overcoming huge barriers and building their nation brick by brick. As such it will surely become even more valuable for future generations. How I wish that a similar work was produced on modern UK racing”.

Nigel Lusby, Scotland, UK

TONY HARTE - GOZO, MALTA

Tony Harte has been associated with pigeons – the racing scene, from a young age in the UK and a regular visitor to some of the best lofts in Belgium. His skill as a scribe over the years has been widely recognised through his many articles appearing in the British Homing World, The Racing Pigeon, the internet magazine “Winning” and the Australian Racing Pigeon Journal; all recording his visits to top lofts throughout the UK, Belgium, the Philippines and Malta. Within the last decade, Tony has made Malta his home and is now, for the first time, able to seriously race his birds. His club of fifty members is one of two on the island of Gozo and part of the twenty-four member clubs within a single federation of some twelve-hundred members across the beautiful archipelago of Malta. (p.269). Tony has already made his presence felt winning his club’s prestigious Short Distance Championship and their Overall Championship, both twice, as well as several other top six positions and it certainly augurs well for the future. Tony writes –

“Having obtained and read the book, “Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach”, I must say that any doubts about value for money have been completely dispelled. The book is not your average bedtime read, but is full of facts, as opposed to theories and explains why many of the fancier’s ideas are justified or not and backed up with scientific fact. The author, Leo Turley, a successful fancier in his own right, relates to different systems required in the Northern hemisphere, as compared to the Southern hemisphere and to different countries, including little Malta! As a result of reading the book, I will be changing how I train, select pairs for breeding and for the race. It is a book both for the newcomer and the most experienced fancier. It is for those who want to learn, reflect and hopefully improve their breeding and racing results. It is a book that you will want to refer back to again and again.”

Tony Harte
Gozo
Malta

ANDREW DEMIDOWSKI

VICTORIAN HOMING ASSOCIATION

Andrew is an active racing pigeon fancier competing within the VHA and is a regular writer for the Victorian-based Australian Racing Pigeon Journal. In real life, Andrew is an Environmental Health Officer for the City of Yarra in greater Melbourne, Victoria. In the February 2015 edition of the Journal Andrew wrote an article entitled “The Racing Pigeon Fancier’s Bible” and with his kind permission and that of the Journal Editor is repeated in part below:

“……. I was going to get the book gift wrapped and read it after Christmas, but I could not resist opening it for a sneak peek and subsequently got hooked on its contents and have not stopped reading it since….. It covered all aspects of pigeon racing, which included feed and vitamins, theories on homing – racing and training, advice to novices, helpful information for race committees, famous pigeon fanciers, old wives tales and even genetics…. I could not believe such a book could ever be written.

The last time I read a book of similar quality was when I was a teenager about 40 years ago. I remember going to the local library and finding the biggest pigeon book ever….. I probably borrowed the book about a dozen times and it never left the side of my bed. Yes, for those of you who are avid readers, the book was written by Wendell M Levi and was aptly titled “The Pigeon” and was written in the 1940’s. I was surprised despite all the books written it has taken around 70 years for another book of comparable stature to surface…… Whilst reading the book I found myself needing to reread certain paragraphs again so I could understand what was being written. It is a book you would not lend to your friends as you would not get it back. It is a book that would sit next to your bedside table and be read nightly for many years. I could not believe that such a book could ever be written, or that anyone would have the capacity or fortitude to write a book of such quality.

I have never met the author, but I reckon he must be either a genius or “mad”. Probably a little bit of both. ……. If you want to know about pigeon racing, like to read good books or even want to buy yourself a late Christmas present I would seriously think about buying this book, Pigeon Racing – A scientific Approach. The Australian pigeon fraternity should be ecstatic that ‘one of our own’ has written a book of this quality that will hopefully one day be read worldwide in multiple languages.”

Pigeon Racing – A Scientific Approach