A one loft race is one of two forms of pigeon racing, the other being club races.
Loft races are increasing in popularity because they offer competition access to pigeon fanciers who don’t keep their own loft.
It’s an ideal way to start pigeon racing.
UK One Loft Races:
- RPRA One Loft – The Royal Pigeon Racing Association runs several loft races every year all around the UK with cash prizes for the winner.
- Who Dares Wins – A family-run race program held in the North of England with a total prize pot of £100,000.
- Midlands National Flying Club – Six races per year (including two in France) and a final race with a combined sum of £50,000 prize money.
- British Masters International – Six races each with a prize of £9,000 before a final with a prize of £25,000.
- Prince of Wales International One Loft Classic – The only Welsh one loft race with a prize of £15,000 for the winner of the final event.
USA and Canada One Loft Races:
- California Classic One Loft Race – A race of 305 miles with a top prize of US$80,000.
- The Southern Belle One Loft Race – Various races over different distances in Georgia. The main race of 350 miles has a prize of US$100,000.
- Florida Pigeon Derby – A four-race series with the first-place prize for the final 350-mile race of US$200,000.
- Hoosier Classic – Staged in Indiana. It’s the richest one loft race in the USA (or one of), with total prize money of $1.2 million.
- Sooner Challenge – Six races in Oklahoma with a payout pot of + US $140,000
- Flying D Franchise Futurity – Texas-based races with a top prize of US $180,000 for a 400-mile race.
- Trappers Loop Challenge – A 250-mile race in Utah, with an estimated top prize of US $20,4000
- Black Thunder Express – Oregon-based series of four races. Prize pot US $320,000.
- Golden Prairie OLR – With a prize pot of CAN$37,500, this smaller race program happens in Saskatchewan, Canada.
- The Dutch Touch International – A series of races in Ontario, Canada with a potential top prize of CAN$50,000
Global Loft Races:
- Victoria Falls – Held in South Africa but open to all countries, the race has a prize pot of $1.5 million
- Adelaide Pigeon Club One Loft Race – South Australia hold five races annually, with prize money up to AUS$110,000
- International Baltic Sea Race – (Internationales Ostseerennen) Four prize flights in Germany with €15,000 for final’s winner which is a race of 400-500 km.
- Pattaya International One Loft Pigeon Race – More than 40 countries participate in Thailand’s biggest race. Total prize money US$1.74 million
- Derby Arona Tenerife – Considered one of the most challenging races as the flights happen over the Atlantic Ocean, the top prize is €120,000
- AS Golden Pigeon Races – A five-race series held in Greece with a winner’s prize of €12,000 for the final 420 km race.
This is just a snapshot of the loft races that are held all around the world.
What Is a One Loft Race?
Pigeon racing is the sport in which homing pigeons fly against each other in competition.
In traditional pigeon racing, it’s a competition of trainer against trainer, with the birds they own and train within their own lofts.
In one-loft racing, a trainer manages a loft in which there are birds from many different breeders/owners.
The birds are kept in the same conditions and trained by the same methods.
Some people believe this promotes a fairer competition as all the competing birds have been brought up consistently.
For the race, birds are taken to a release point and the winner is the bird that returns to its home loft in the fastest time.
Times are recorded by precision electronic timing systems and it is not unusual for the winner to be declared by as little as 100th of a second.
Each pigeon has a radio frequency identity tag to track its time and precise clocking order.
A typical one loft race is run on a “derby” basis with programs of three to six races followed by a final race, all scheduled races may change subject to the weather conditions.
Races are mostly over distances of 100, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400 and 450 miles.
There is usually a hefty prize pot that is divided up between a number of places. The grand prize for the final is a substantial portion of the prize pot.
There are prizes for minor places and also for things like average speed.
The total prize money is usually exponential with the number of birds entered in the race.
A one loft race enables you to enjoy the sport of pigeon racing without any of the responsibility of being an owner/trainer.
How To Join a One Loft Race
Although the specifics will differ slightly by country and by race, the essentials of joining a one-loft race are basically the same.
You buy a pigeon (or pigeons), then if you can find a loft that is accepting birds you will need to pay an entry/activation fee to have the birds housed and looked after by the loft manager.
The price will vary depending on the race however it is typically between $100 (£75) – $400 (£300).
Pigeons enter the loft at 6 weeks old.
The fees will vary by loft. You may have to pay boarding/perching fees, chipping fees, and other expenses.
After the race, there are two options.
You can either pay another entry fee or the bird can be sold.
To take part in another race, your bird will probably have to be moved to a different loft.
Most lofts only race once a year so by the next year, your pigeon will be a yearling and will have to participate in yearling races (sometimes billed as late hatch races).
One loft racing is a great way for sportsmen and bird fanciers to be involved in an exciting venture.