1st M.N.F.C. Nat 5,103 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 7,791 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 17,366 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 10,148 birds
1st B.I.C.C. Nat 3,461 birds
1st M.N.F.C Nat 4,154 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,753 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 14,701 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 12,229 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 5,243 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 7,000 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 5,977 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 8,535 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 10,143 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 12,921 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 24,000 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 16,200 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,756 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,716 birds
1st F.C.I. Int: Nat 6,940 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,080 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 10,601 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 8,406 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 7,312 birds
1st B.I.C.C. Nat 6,590 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 5,434 birds
1st S.N.F.C. Nat 4,472 birds
1st B.I.C.C. Nat 4,315 birds
1st S.N.F.C. Nat 4,767 birds

Me & my Shadow

Keith Gaut

Me and my "Shadow"

By Keith Gaut

It was a grey misty morning when myself, Graham Hancox and Jack Walker took the road northward, our destination being Snaith in the East Riding of Yorkshire, a place I had not heard mentioned for almost fifty years when S B Cooper a resident of the place was almost as famous as the loft we were about to visit.

The Tom Tom (satnav) decided to play games with us, but our master behind the wheel did not once raise his voice at the young lady giving instructions and whats more his driving skills were faultless, ‘thank you Graham for a safe and pleasant journey, our passenger the maestro of Cannock Jack Walker gave the final directions when the Tom Tom lady messed up.

Full of excitement myself and Graham were about to visit what we regaurd as the most successful loft in England and maybe Europe. A loft who,s pigeons have won or produced a total of 68 x 1st National and Classic winners, 46 x 1st Open National winners, 22 x 1st Open Classic winners, 4 x 1st NIPA winners and 6 car winners yes ! You,ve guessed it the loft of Mark Evans from the M & D Evans partnership and owners of the famous Myrtle Lofts.

Whenever an article appears quoting such mind boggling results there are always going to be doubters! Well I am not here to mislead and I have no financial or commercial interest in these pigeons what so ever I write only proven fact which I have seen in black and white myself.

Two of the oldest members at Myrtle Lofts. 

80 years old Dick Evans holding 16 years old Champion "Shadow"

With Dickie being of the old school he has collected well over 3,000 pages from the pigeon press of winners originating from their lofts and Mark who is of a new generation has got it all on computer in fine detail.

When you see the facts it makes you realise just how fantastic and unbelievable this family of Gaby Vandenabeele,s are the originator himself (Gaby Vandenabeele) stated to them they are one of the most successful lofts in the world and I myself would have to agree until such time that someone can show me the facts which may prove otherwise.

Remember the results I have quoted are not Club or Federation performances they are Classic and National win,s and if I had the time to quote all their other positions won in this type of competition my article would lose its interest and you would be bogged down with results that you might find boring.

No doubt you will have all read the eight page article written by Mike Lycett in the BHW on March 26 last year? If you have not, please look it up and read in detail ‘the M & D Evans phenomenon, it,s powerful reading and contains all the information and facts that I am leaving out of mine.

It is my intention to write about what many fanciers world wide regard as the number one Vandenabeele producer living today and this is where the story begins, of ME and My Shadow.

It,s the story of Belg.95.3211313 a dark chequer cock who at this point in time is 16 years of age and who is up until I write this, still capable of filling an egg or two much to the delight of Mark and Dickie who treasure his bloodstock.

The story began in the early 1990,s when the partnership who were winning well with their old family of Karel Hermans, decided it was time to look and improve on what they already had.

They decided after a lot of research and thought, to visit some lofts on the continent, and the name of Gaby Vandenabeele who was said to be the wonder boy of Belgium at that time came to the fore, so they visited him and ordered 54 birds, it was agreed at the time that they could have one off or closely related to "Amocachi" and because of Gaby,s fame and ability to produce the goods worldwide there was a waiting list which extended a couple of years for his young birds, so they waited until 1995 when they finally got to call and collect their new birds at a cost of somewhere in the region of £36,000.

At the time of collection they noticed that there were no "Amocachi" youngsters among them and so the question was asked to which Gaby replied ‘no they are for me, Dickie and Mark were not happy chappies after spending so much money and I assume the expression on their faces prompted a reaction from Gaby who disappeared for a while and returned with two squeakers.

Mark asked Gaby not to tease if they could not have them, to which he replied ‘one for you and one for me, Dickie who had been looking over them said ‘I want that one, and so it was to be that the little dark squeaker came to Yorkshire and became Shadow the number one producer at Myrtle Lofts.

The Shadow Dynasty

Belg.95.3211313 "Shadow" is sire of winners with 13 different hens and sire of over six generations of National & Classic winners. He is himself responsible for 1st Open NFC Messac, 1st Open NFC Angers, 1st Open London & SE Classic Bergerac, 1st Open BBC National Carlisle, 1st Open Welsh S/E National Oudenaarde, 1st Open MNFC Yearling Alencon, 1st Open Welsh National Bergerac, 1st Open MNFC Carentan, 1st Open MNFC G/R National, 1st National AU race Stockton California USA, 1st Open MCC Lessay, 1st Open CSC Lessay, 1st Open London & S/E Classic Guernsey, 1st Open CSC Messac, 1st Open BBC Fougeres, 1st Open NFC Nantes, 1st Open BBC Bordeaux, 1st Open BICC Falaise, 1st Open MNFC National Treble Chance. That,s 19 x 1st Open winners in Classic & National races. Even the latest top performance of 1st UK 3rd Open Sun City Million Dollar Race (winning $75,000. approx. £48,000.) was also a granddaughter from Champion "Shadow"

The Sun City Million Dollar Race U.K. winner is a blue chequer hen "Myrtle Venture" entered by Mark and Dick in partnership with Jack Walker of Cannock.

Shadow is by far the greatest producer I have the pleasure to handle or probably likely to! The thing that makes this 16 year old pigeon so special is his ability to pass on his incredible potency as a breeder.

In the loft of M & D Evans can be found pigeons such as "Eisenhower" a 10 year old mosaic cock son of "Shadow" when paired to "Saffron", this cock is a champion producer too being sire of amongst others "Roman" and "Legend" two fantastic racers and producers which are also in the stock loft. "Roman" is an inbred grandson of "Shadow", he won 23 prizes racing and is responsible for 1st Open NFC National and 1st Open London & S/E Classic winners, whilst his brother Legend won 19 prizes racing for David Blenkhorn and now he,s also become a top breeders at Myrtle Lofts. ‘Eisenhower, is also the sire of ‘Myrtle Venture, the winner of 1st UK 3rd Open Sun City Million Dollar Race winner whilst her dam is ‘Joint Venture, their 2nd Open MNFC National winner Y/B Guernsey 296 miles. Another top pigeon that deserves a mention is another direct son of "Eisenhower" owned and raced by Ian Crammond & Nigel Langstaff. This cock has won 2nd Open National & 2nd Open Classic and on both occasions dropped with the first open winners and beat on the trap by loft mates.

Going back to Mark & Dick,s breeding loft let,s not forget Young Eisenhower, Jacko, Young Solitair, Icon, Robin  Hood, Lord & Lady of the Rings, Mistress, Super Girl 413, Miss Eisen, Lady Eisen, Golden Shadow, Super Girl 530, Carrie Black, & Blue Ace, the list goes on and all have one or two things in common i.e., they all breed winners and are all bred down from Shadow.

Another super son of "Shadow" when paired to "Princess" was "Solitaire", bred in 1998 and raced by M & D Evans this outstanding racer won 1st Open MNFC La Ferte Bernard 387 miles, 1st NE Section National, 1st Open Northern Classic, 1st NE Section National & 26th Open all England, in the Alliance Millennium National Please Note. First 25 birds in the all England National were flying between 191 & 261 miles. "Solitaire" was flying 387 miles into a head wind, that,s 126 miles further than the nearest pigeon that,s beat him and competing against 1,435 birds (5 bird limit) sent by 443 members. "Solitaire" also won 1st WB Championship Club Falaise 333 miles, and 1st Ace Bird of the Year WBCC which is open to members in all four counties of Yorkshire before being retired to stock.

Two nest mate grand children of this great cock were 1st & 2nd Open MNFC Nat Picauville Gold Ring from D & J. Hawkins of South Yorkshire and different daughter from "Solitaire" also bred for the same loft 1st Open Northern Classic. Another direct daughter bred 1st Open MNFC National for Clive Yates of Tamworth.  In 2005 "Solitaire" really did proved his ability as a super breeder after five of his grandchildren were placed 2nd, 4th, 8th, 18th, & 20th in the MNFC National 7,131 birds with 850 members competing.

Solitaire as from what I,ve quoted had all of those potent genes that were passed on by his sire, ‘if only I had one like him I would be overjoyed,, Mark and Dick have a loft full so you can see why success just follows their birds around and are guaranteed to please all those lucky enough to have and race them.

I could quote endless different offspring of "Shadow" because Mark has documentation from all over the world regarding winning performances bred down from this super breeder. Here is a very small example "Shadows Image" this cock is a direct son of "Shadow" when paired to Myrtle Lofts "Super Girl 310" an outstanding producing daughter of the world famous "Super Gaby" when coupled to "Gerty V". "Shadows Image" was purchased from the nest by Billy Ling and his then partner, but after a split in the partnership it was decided that he should offered for sale on to the open market.  Before going for sale they decided to take 3 rounds from him for stock to retain his blood in their own respective lofts.  The 3 rounds produced 6 dark chequer youngsters (3 for each of them) "Shadows Image" was then purchased by Brian Bolton and again bred winners for Brian.  During a reshuffle with Brian,s commitments in the sport, he in turn decided to sell off quite a few stock birds with "Shadows Image" being one of them.  G. W. & P Macaloney from Scotland was fortunate enough to secure this cock with a telephone bid made from Spain during a 2 week holiday in September 2006.  - In 2007 Willie Macaloney paired "Shadows Image"  to "Miss Eisenhower" (daughter of Eisenhower x Joint Venture) and bred 3 for racing, dark chequer hen SU07L6818 winning 1st Section 1,835 birds, 1st Open 6,815 birds, dark chequer cock SU07L7226 winning 2nd Section 2,202 birds, 2nd Open 7,994 birds (arriving with 2 other loft mates to take 1st, 2nd and 3rd Open). In 2008 Willie bred 4 for racing from the same pair, producing chequer cock SU08L3144 winning 1st Section 1,976 birds, 1st Open 6,474 birds, chequer cock SU08L3143 winning 6th Section 1,976 birds, 6th Open 6,474 birds in the same race when they had 7 birds dropped together to win 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Open. In 2009 Willie bred 4 more for racing same pairing again producing, dark chequer hen SU09L3014 winning 1st Section, 1st Open 6,387 birds, dark chequer hen SU09L3015 winning 1st Section, 1st Open 6,058 birds, dark chequer cock SU09L1942 winning 5th Section, 5th Open 6,058 birds in the same race when they had 5 birds drop together to win first five in the open by 27ypm on a slow winning velocity of only 1201.  In only 3 seasons G. W. & P Macaloney have bred 11 birds from "Shadows Image" for racing, 2 were lost in training and 7 of the remaining 9 have come to be 1st Federation or joint 1st Federation when arriving with Federation topping loft mates.  Unbelievable!

But the story does not end there. In July 2009 Willie Macaloney received a call from Mark Evans enquiring if they were the owners of "Shadows Image", as Mark had received word that Billy Ling (Ling Brothers)  had just won 1st, 2nd & 3rd Open Essex and Kent Combine from Scotch Corner against 2,220 birds in a very difficult race.  A great result, but what made it even better for George, Willie. & Paul Macaloney and Mark & Dick was that all 3 birds were bred from 2 daughters of "Shadows Image" making him grand sire to all 3 birds.  Willie has since had a letter from Billy highlighting all the winners bred down through the 3 daughters retained by Billy from "Shadows Image". He states 80% of the blood lines in his loft descend from "Shadows Image" and he has won 1st Open at Federation, Combine and Amalgamation level finishing East London Federation Champions 2007 and 2008 and has won 6 x 1st Federations in old bird racing  in County of Essex Federation in 2009.

In 2010 SU09L3014 & SU09L3015 both dropped with 4 other loft mates to win the first six places in the Section 754 birds and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th Open 2,756 birds. 2010 is also the first year G. W. & P Macaloney raced yearling grand children from "Shadows Image" and again they have topped the Federation when SU09L1986 won 1st Sect 2,340 birds, 1st Open 7,306 Birds.  She also won 6th Sect 2,366 birds, 19th Open 7,722 birds and her nest mate SU09L1985 won 4th Sect 2,366 Birds, 11th Open 7,722 birds.  "Shadows Image" is full brother to "Super Girl 413 "a hen that has had a massive influence at Myrtle Lofts, being dam to over four generations of winners all over the world.

Another outstanding pigeon I must mention is the outstanding racing hen, bred & raced by Mr & Mrs M Gower. This hen won last year in 2010 1st Section, 2nd Open NFC National Poitiers, 1st Section, 97th Open NFC National St Malo 2nd Section, 6th Open NFC National Saintes, 7th Open BBC National Vire, winning 2 x RPRA awards. (that,s 2 x 1st Sections & 2nd Section NFC in one season) In previous years she also won 1st Section, 80th Open NFC National Cholet, 15th Open NFC National Alencon, 31st Open NFC National Messac plus lots of other positions in the first one hundred open NFC. Super pigeon, granddaughter from "Shadow" when paired to Myrtle Lofts "Sissi 264"

Whilst on my visit to Myrtle Lofts I was handed another letter that was e-mailed to Myrtle Lofts from Dave Hawkins from the father and son partnership of D & J. Hawkins.  In the letter dated 19th June 2008 it went into in-depth detail regarding the different M & D. Evans lines that was producing winners for him and his father. (Mark explained that detailed information like this from other fanciers is vastly important to him as a stockman to ensure he keeps Myrtle Lofts to the highest of standards)  After reading the letter for myself, I was quite astounded at the amount of different lines that were reproducing the goods for just one of Mark & Dick,s customers. This one letter alone proved what an outstanding gene pool is already established at Myrtle Lofts and although the old foundation breeders became more distant in the pedigrees the value of the birds produced was defiantly increasing after every generation. It would be very hard to find a breeding loft anywhere in the world that houses as many proven breeders.

Mark quoted in the article he wrote called Inbreeding & Line Breeding. "Winning over night at certain levels can be achieved by racing quality youngsters bred down from top stock, but putting together a golden breeding loft takes at least several years to complete". Anyone visiting Myrtle Lofts will soon realise their outstanding breeding team has only been put together throughout a life time,s work, plus years of expense and wise judgement from the basket.

In Dave Hawkins letter it wasn,t surprising to read that their loft had also had National and Classic success with the "Shadow" bloodlines and one pigeon alone has defiantly made an impacted on D & J. Hawkins performances. She is a granddaughter from "Shadow" when paired to "Princess" called "One so Wonderful" and below are some of the performances bred down from this hen. Dave quoted in the letter "Please understand Mark, this is only a small example because we have many more from our racing loft plus other prizes achieved for other fanciers who have obtained her bloodlines" 1st North East Section MNFC 2,231 birds. Falaise, 7th Open National MNFC 7,131 birds Falaise, 1st North East Section MNFC Yearlings 468 birds Falaise, 4th Open MNFC National Yearlings 1,234 birds Falaise, 8th North East Section MNFC 1,901 birds Alencon,70th Open National MNFC 6,540 birds Alencon, 11th North East Section MNFC 2,331 birds Falaise, 20th Open National MNFC 7,131 birds Falaise, 20th North East Section approx 2,000 birds Picauville, 37th Open National MNFC approx 5,000 birds Picauville, 39th North East Section MNFC 1,705 birds Falaise, 39th Open National MNFC 5,577 birds Falaise, 9th North East Section MNFC 2,331 birds Falaise, 18th Open National MNFC 7,131 birds Falaise, 6th North East Section MNFC Yearlings 468 birds Falaise, 10th Open National MNFC 1,234 birds Yearlings Falaise, 1st North Section Northern Classic Picauville, 1st Open Northern Classic 556 birds Picauville, 2nd North Section Northern Classic (beaten by loftmate) Yelverton, 3rd Open Northern Classic 876 birds Yelverton, 2nd Open North East Provincial Club 1,093 birds (beaten by loftmate) Newbury, 4th Open North East Provincial Club (beaten by loftmates) Alencon, 1st Open North East Provincial Club 438 birds Falaise, 2nd Open North East Provincial Club 582 birds (beaten by loftmate) Buckingham, 2nd Open North East Provincial Club (beaten by loftmate) Portsmouth, 2nd Open North East Provincial Club 869 birds (beaten by loftmate) Buckingham, 3rd Open North East Provincial Marlborough, 1st Open North East Provincial Club Tours, 1st North East Section, 5th Open MNFC National Tours, 1st North East Section MNFC Yearlings Tours" I am sure this list of top performances bred down from "One so Wonderful" will have increased dramatically due to the fact this letter was written almost three years ago. Another magnificent pigeon to show the true value of the "Shadow" dynasty

The above list is but a small example of Shadow,s blood that flows through the veins of a multitude of winners, and if I were to count and report on all the Club, Federation & Combine winners or other Classic and National positions won by his offspring I would be writing this article none stop for weeks. As I have previously mentioned the blood lines of Shadow are so potent and desired, it can be found in top lofts worldwide. Countries such as the UK. USA, Canada, Hawaii, Portugal, Hungary, South Africa, Kuwait, Taiwan, etc.

Dick Evans and myself Keith Gaut holding Champion "Shadow"

We had such great pleasure when handling those famous stock birds including the old man & his son Eisenhower. Our driver Graham is a major enthuses of the M & D Evans blood and has over 30 grandchildren of Shadow in his stock loft in Telford. Most of Grahams pigeons were bred by Jack Walker or M & D Evans themselves, so he was in his element here among the cream of the family and having his photo taken holding the Number one breeder ‘SHADOW, himself.

Personally I am not a purist it doesn,t matter if a pigeon is pure or crossed to me as long as it,s good at either racing or breeding and we all know that all successful continental strains originate from a mixture of that which is good! Even the Vandenabeele strain comes from several sources, but those introductions have had to be special and the strain he created is world renowned for its versatility. I put the question to Mark on how they intend to keep their family at the forefront in future years and he said that whenever possible he re-purchased the best of his own from lofts which have successfully won with them at Classic and National level only! Those of true ability either as performers or producers will find their way back into Myrtle Lofts regardless of the cost and I know they have paid in excess of 40 x the price they were sold for, just to get them back and keep the gene pool ticking over at full strength.

I would sincerely like to thank Mark & Dick for their pleasant hospitality and also thank Joy for feeding us and wish her good luck and a speedy recovery. It was truly a memorable visit one we won,t forget.  Just to hold "Shadow" in my hands was a moment of gold. He is without doubt a superb specimen and a credit to his breeder & owners, my thoughts are telling me ‘Please! Please! Please! God let me have one like him,, so I hope he answers my prayers and he best get a move on before the end of the world in 2012 to fulfil my dream.