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German wins South Africa pigeon race

SUN CITY, South Africa, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The world's most prestigious pigeon race was won in South Africa this weekend by a German bird.

Rubellos, owned by the German syndicate Team Ruhu, won the Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race Saturday, covering the approximately 360-mile trek in a record time of 8 hours, 56 minutes, Soweto Online reported.

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The 16th annual field also included entries from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and former U.S. boxer Mike Tyson, the British tabloid The Sun reported.

The race from Petrusville to Sun City attracted 3,479 racing birds, including "Royal Desire," one of six birds sent to the contest by the queen, a noted pigeon racing enthusiast. The Sun said the other five were lost or victimized by birds of prey while training.

The Sun said Tyson entered a team anonymously through a syndicate, the newspaper said.

Soweto Online said the race attracted entries from 37 nations and about 4,000 packed an arena to watch the race on jumbo TV screens.

The first South African bird to finish was Queen of Hearts, who finished fifth.

"I've been racing birds since 1953 and this is without doubt the pinnacle of my career," trainer Saville Penkin said. "This is the premium race in the world and I'm just proud to be a part of it."

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