Pigeon racing will be the first spectator sport to return to Britain as lockdown is eased

Pigeon races have traditionally been held in the largely working-class areas of England and Wales since 1881, but they are also popular with the royal family – a bird owned by the Queen won a race in 1990 However, the sport has been steadily declining overall, declining by about five percent per year.

It has also been threatened by previous health scares, notably in 2007, when parliament banned pigeon racing from mainland Europe to Britain due to the risk of bird flu.

“I feel like it’s a dying sport and it won’t have helped this year,” said Mr Greenshield. “There aren’t a lot of kids going in now. It was more when the pits were open. I was a miner for 41 years. A lot of them were like that. They called us cloth caps. with whippets and pigeons.

“It wasn’t easy to organize it for Monday.” There were a lot of smart people and I think we’re doing it well, but who knows if there will be another peak. No one knows yet. “

Traveling at around 1,500 meters per minute, the early riders should have run the 70 miles and be back in their Barnsley lofts in 75-80 minutes, long before the horses were in the paddock for the first races at Newcastle at 13 hours.

Explaining how he trains the pigeons to cover such distances, Mr Greenshield explains: “You start them as babies, three or four months old. I have the know-how. Monday, in the current state of time, I imagine one hour and twenty. They are doing about 55-57 miles an hour. “

Despite the decrease in the number of participants in this sport, its best athletes are still in demand. “They buy them in China for £ 100,000 – a remarkable amount of money,” adds Mr Greenshield. “You won’t see much of this around me.

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