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Rhys Lilley (15, left) and his dad Mark Lilley secured the coveted Peerless Trophy during the Timaru Poultry Pigeon and Cage Bird Club's show last weekend. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

by Alexia Johnston

The coveted Peerless Trophy is finally Mark Lilley’s after his trio of Sussex pullets wowed the judges in Timaru last week.

Mr Lilley, who is the Christchurch Poultry, Pigeon and Bantam Club president, has been eyeing up the trophy for the past five years, after it was rediscovered in someone’s attic, ending a nearly 50-year mystery as to its whereabouts.

“It’s an association cup [which] got lost in transit in about 1964 between Oamaru and Christchurch,” he said.

“It ended up being found about five years ago in a ceiling space when a lady passed away and her kids were cleaning up her house.”

Since then, Mr Lilley has had his eye on the prize.

“It’s the one thing we’ve been trying to win for the past four years and this time we’ve had everything fall our way,” he said.

To win the trophy, entrants must display three female birds.

“It’s about all three birds looking the same,” he said.

Mr Lilley’s winning trio were light Sussex pullets.

“They were considered the closest ones to the standard and the ones that looked the closest [in similarity] to each other.”

Mr Lilley’s win came during the Timaru Poultry Pigeon and Cage Bird Club’s show, held at the West End Hall last weekend. It surprised him because he was not sure his pullets had what it would take.

“I just about left them at home.”

But, as the saying goes, “You have to be in to win”, so he gathered them up and made the trip south from Rolleston.

“It’s just ever since the Peerless Trophy was found . . . it’s the one trophy I’ve wanted to win, just because it came back through the Christchurch club.”

Mr Lilley’s entries were among about 420 at last weekend’s show, an event organisers deemed a great success.

Show manager Trish Andrews said entries, which included geese, ducks, chickens, caged birds and pigeons, among others, came from as far away as the West Coast, Nelson, Christchurch and Oamaru.

“It’s been really, really busy,” she said, on Sunday afternoon.

“We had a lot of public through yesterday and we sold a lot of birds yesterday, too.

“We’ve had an absolute blast, really; and we’ve had a couple of new members as well – so it’s been a really good show.”