By Chesley Daniels
The Grahamstown Racing Pigeon Club held its Annual Prize Giving Ceremony at the Goldrush Conference Centre last Saturday, 11 November. The prestigious event was attended by members, dignitaries, partners and the media. Members were rewarded and acknowledged for their hard work, dedication and performances for the past racing year.
Hard work paid off for 57-year-old Ciske McKaizer as he walked away with the prestigious Club Champion Award whilst scooping six other awards and also winning 10 out of the 22 races in 2023, making him a deserving, worthy and dominant undisputed champ. Ciske finished the season in first place as Club Champion with 133 points, while Graham Samuel finished in second position (108 points) and Rashid Khan in third position (88 points). The defending champ of 2022 Ian Doyle & Sons finished in a disappointing fifth position (57 points).
McKaizer took sweet revenge after settling for the joint third spot in a close finish last year behind 2022 Champion Ian Doyle & Sons and second place Graham Samuels. 2023 will go down as a Golden Year for McKaizer as he dominated the racing season, working extremely hard and beating all his competitors to win the ultimate title and crown. He is a seasoned campaigner, experienced racer, a determined and profound competitor and a champ with a clear vision and goal. McKaizer was in sublime and excellent form during the season with his pigeons that never let him down and came through for him when he needed it most. This will most probably go down as the most dominant racing year for the champ in the club’s history, as McKaizer scooped the majority of the awards on offer.
It was, however, a very tight and competitive race between McKaizer and Samuels for the ultimate Club Championship Award. In the end, Mckaizer showed flames in the last couple of races to extend his lead, winning by 25 points over Samuels.
Defending champion Ian Doyle & Sons ended in a disappointing fifth place but congratulated McKaizer, a close friend, on his remarkable achievement as the undisputed champ. Samuels also performed well the past season and walked away with seven awards on the night, a personal record and achievement for him. Edwin Bridger received the Best Newcomer Award in his first season as a pigeon flyer.
Ciske was excited and emotional and couldn’t hide his tears in front of a packed Goldrush audience. “I am very happy, emotional and excited as it is quite a remarkable achievement for me. I have worked very hard, and it was not easy due to other commitments in my life. It was a tough year as I promised myself to go all out this year in order to be the club champion. It was definitely not easy and the guys didn’t make it easier for me either, but I kept on believing and working hard throughout the year. There were obviously many challenges along the way but I kept my eye on the ultimate goal and marching on,” he said.
“The race to the title was very close towards the end but I was lucky to win a few more races and accumulating points which ultimately came in handy for me to win it in the end. I also want to thank all the members for their competitiveness and commitment during a tough season. I’m eager to defend my title next year and will work extra hard to achieve just that.”
McKaizer is also the vice resident of the Grahamstown Racing Pigeon Club and has warned his fellow racers that he will come out guns blazing to defend his title next year.
The flying membership has grown from 22 members in 2022 to 29 members in 2023, with over 22 races over the past year, racing from a short distance of 240km (Middleburg) to the longest stretch of 870km (Parys).
Complete List of Awards:
1. Club Champion – Ciske McKaizer
2. Yearling Champion – Ciske McKaizer
3. Long Distance Champion – Ciske McKaizer
4. Medium/Middle Distance Champ – Ciske McKaizer
5. Short Distance Champ–Graham Samuels
6. Best Bird–Ciske McKaizer
7. Derby Champ–Tony May
8. Any Age Champ–Graham Samuels
9. Best New Comer – Edwin Bridger
10. Best Combined Result (10 wins)–Ciske McKaizer
11. Loft Champ–Ciske McKaizer
12. Red Race – Sol Fourie
13. Grizzle Race – Baliso Brothers
14. Pied Race – Ciske McKaizer
15. Ring Race – Ciske McKaizer
16. Sale Race – Daniels Hokke
1. Middelburg 1 Combined – Graham Samuels
2. Middelburg 2 Combined – Andley Jeggels
3. Colesburg 1 Combined – Ciske McKaizer
4. Colesburg 2 Combined – Graham Samuels
5. Springfontein 1 Combined – Ian Doyle & Sons
6. Springfontein 2 Combined – Lorenzo Doyle
7. Tierpoort 1 Combined – Daniels Hokke
8. Tierpoort 2 Combined – Baliso Brothers
9. Winburg Combined – Ciske McKaizer
10. Venterburg 1 Combined – Ciske McKaizer
11. Venterburg 2 Combined – Paul Webber
12. Gariepdam 1 Combined – Daniels Hokke
13. Gariepdam 2 Combined – Ciske McKaizer
14. Kroonstad 1 Combined – Ciske McKaizer
15. Kroonstad 2 Combined – Lorenzo Doyle
16. Bloemfontein 1 Combined- Paul Webber
17. Bloemfontein 2 Combined – Ciske McKaizer
18. Parys Combined – Paul Webber
19. Edenburg Combined – Ciske McKaizer
20. Venterburg Ring – Ciske McKaizer
21. Kroonstad 1 Sale – Daniels Hokke
22. Kroonstad 2 Derby – Tony May
This sport is becoming more popular by the day, and the chairperson of the GRPC Andley Jeggels promised that it would grow from strength to strength in the near future. He also mentioned that South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is a pigeon racer, a member of a Club, and a keen pigeon flyer.
Jeggels thanked all the members and competitors for a successful event as well as the award winners who received trophies, medals and money. He also added that the year started off slowly with the individual races but got tougher as the season progressed, especially towards the end.
Winners also received medals for the combined races for every race.