The2,434 birds entered by 289 members in the BICC Tours race were liberated on schedule at 5.40 am on Saturday 10th June following some of the worst summer storms seen for many years which had battered the British Isles in the previous two days. Ferry services in the English Channel had been temporarily suspended due to the gale force 9 winds beating along the Channel for most of the Thursday and Friday. These winds were accompanied by torrential rain and it was doubtful whether the birds could be transported safely to the race point at Tours and yet the much maligned weather men got it spot on when they forecast a lull in the storm late on the Friday evening and into Saturday. The race advisor’s and weather report are printed below.

 Thursday marking seemed to go well overall but due to a serious accident on the motorway the transporters were late arriving at Horndean.  Albi Deacon was as usual on hand to supervise the transfer of crates onto one transporter and the full vehicle left in plenty of time to catch the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen.   Gale force winds were forecast overnight for the crossing and when I later spoke with Chief Convoyer  Trevor Cracknell he confirmed it had been very rough but the birds were all fine.   They arrived at Tours around midday on Friday and the birds were later fed and watered and settled for the night.  I spoke to Steve Appleby our Weather Advisor early on Friday evening and he confirmed a good flying day for Saturday, with south west winds in France,that would be stronger on the channel.   This information was relayed to Trevor and weather permitting the plan was to liberate as early as possible, as there were several Belgian Transporters on site hoping to go around 6am      Around 5 am on Saturday morning Steve again phoned to confirm weather was suitable for a liberation, with wind strength abating in the channel.   With clear skies and a light south west wind at Tours Trevor and Lawrence liberated the BICC National pigeons at 5-40 a.m. and they cleared well. Thanks again to Trevor, Lawrence and Steve for their assistance

John Tyerman  Race Advisor.

And here is weatherman Steve Appleby’s weather report for the race day.

Saturday was mainly a day of broken cloud and sunshine with any rain over northern counties of England and Wales gradually petering out. Central and northern France was also under broken cloud and sun shine allowing a clear flight path for the B.I.C.C.  pigeons to the northern French coast line from Tours. The channel was clear with only an isolated shower and visibility was very good. Winds generally from the west south west created a fresh breeze which was forecast to ease in strength over southern England as the morning progressed. There was little evidence of this as the wind strength of about 15 mph was sustained all day. The winds however were lighter over France but as usual stronger over the Channel. So all in all a good day for the B.I.C.C. racing from Tours.

Steve Appleby

Once again, let me emphasise at the start that all positions quoted in the following report are provisional and are based purely on members first bird verification times. These positions may change if some of the fanciers highlighted within this report clocked further pigeons that might appear on the result.

With the strong westerly influence in the wind it was predicted that the fanciers on the Eastern side of the country would have, for the first time this season, the advantage of the elements. The eventual winner was clocked over in the East section to the Dover partnership of Phillip and Neil Coleman. The winning pigeon is a four year old widowhood hen - a Van Reet crossed with the partners’ old family that they have cultivated for some years. The Van Reet bloodline in the breeding was gifted to Neil and Phillip by local Dover fancier “Tiny” Hood. This was only the second race of the season for the National winner- her first race was from Lyndurst, 129 miles, with the Kent Cosmopolitan Fed. As with all the partners’ widowhood hens she is exercised for1 hour in the evening when they are locked out of the loft and allowed to do as they please. The feed is Gem or Bamfords “Best All Round”, with Versele Laga depurative added to lighten it up a bit. Neil and Phillip would like to thank Mr P and C Cooper of Swanington, Leicester for his advice, along with Kevin Boakes and Linda Standeven for taking the birds to marking station plus all the Dover members for their help over the years. Congratulations Neil and Phillip on your first National win.

Neil & Phillip Coleman Provisionally 1st Open BICC Tours

TraceM claughlan with son Jack and daughter Kaitlin 2nd Open BICC Tours

Dean Childs 3rd Open BICC Tours

Wise & Tilley 4th Open BICC Tours

Dave & Gary Heywood 5th Open BICC Tours

Kevin Foster's Blue Hen 7th Open BICC Tours

J & J Brady prov 10th Open BICC Tours

Paul & Maria Kelly provisionally 1st Centre section BICC Tours

Philip Harrod 1st North sect BICC Tours

Richard Andrew Beaumont 2nd North sect Tours

Geoff and Catherine Cooper the winners of 1st west section Tours

Gary Carter with Red Hen 2nd west section BICC Tours

The runner up in this Tours race was clocked up in Essex at the Basildon loft of Trace McLaughan. After a great deal of effort I managed to contact Trace on the Sunday morning. At this point I would appeal to fanciers to ensure that they give the correct contact details as it can prove a nightmare and very time consuming when time is at a premium, having to chase around for the correct details. Anyway, I eventually contacted Trace and these are the details of his winner of 2nd East section 2nd Open. Trace clocked a yearling blue w/f widowhood hen which was bred for him by Joe House. Mated in late February she was allowed to sit a round of eggs for 7 days before being separated and placed on widowhood. She has had six inland races this season plus the BICC Falaise race in preparation for her tilt at the Tours National. The widowhood hens are exercised twice daily when they are allowed to do as they please. All racers are fed Versele Laga Super Widowhood when racing and Trace mentioned that he rarely uses depurative as a breakdown mix as the racers are raced weekly throughout the season.

 Third east section third Open is Dean Childs, also of Basildon, who clocked a summer bred yearling blue cock raced on widowhood. Last year he had just two late season short races and this year he has been across the channel on three occasions so is certainly making up for lost time. He was bred by Dennis and Barbara Price from a Grandson of Mark Gilbert’s Dax International winner Southfield Supreme when mated to a hen from John Haynes bred direct from one of John’s BICC National winners. Mated in December the cock was allowed to rear a pair of youngsters before being placed on widowhood. Dean would like to thank the Prices for breeding his pigeon as well as Mark Gilbert for all his advice and Dean’s Mum and Dad for their help with the birds.

In fourth east section fourth Open position on the provisional result is a bird to the Rochester partnership of Trevor Wise and Steve Tilley. Trevor and Steve’s timer is a mealy pied Staf Van Reet hen flown on roundabout that has been across the channel a few times taking minor cards prior to her Tours performance. The partners were 5th  East section from Falaise  this season with a sister and another full sister was 4th  East section  Tours  in the LSECC . All these hens bred  from their good mealy cock which won 6x1st and 1st Kent Invicta Combine when racing and since retired to stock has bred 7 different 1st prize winners and 2x1st Fed winners plus the above mentioned National and Classic results.

 Raced on roundabout and fed on Versele Laga Superstar Plus she is exercised morning and evening for an hour and fed to appetite. As a result the birds always tend to fly well around home so very little training is required.

 The partnership of D Heywood & Son of Laindon in Essex come in at 5th East section 5th Open with a yearling widowhood cock The Heywoods are no strangers to success as they are previous winners of the BICC on four occasions also winning 2 x 1sts Open with the NFC and 3 x 1st Open with the London & South East Classic. Their timer here is a direct son of one of the loft’s top racers “Tours Lad” winner of 1st Open BICC Tours plus 1st Yearling Derby with the LSECC. His dam is a section winner in her own right and is bred from “John Joe” the father of the loft and responsible for countless winners being bred from John Gerrard’s famous Hartogs. Mated in late January the Tours timer has had four in land races before going to Tours for his first channel race of the season.

 J. Cowlin of Leigh on Sea in Essex comes in next at 6th East section 6th Open. Unfortunately I was unable to contact Mr Cowlin as the number I had for him proved to be unobtainable. Despite extensive enquiries by myself and Carol the BICC secretary we were unable to find an alternative number, my apologies to Mr Cowlin for not giving his pigeon more publicity due to circumstances beyond my control.

Kevin Foster of Longfield Hill timed a 2 year old blue hen flown on widowhood for 7th East section 7th Open. I should qualify that statement as she was raced on the widowhood system earlier in the season and has recently been re mated and was sent to Tours sitting 7 day old eggs. Her next stop is scheduled to be the Agen / Bordeaux International when she should be feeding a small squab. She is bred from Double Grandson of Kanibal obtained from Premiere Lofts when mated to a Vandenabeele Hen a double Grand daughter of Carrie of M & D Evans.

Alex McKenzie of Chelmsford in Essex comes in at 8th East section 8th Open with a 2 year old blue widowhood cock having its first channel race of the season. The sire was obtained from the late Stuart Elvin whilst the dam came from Brian Denham and is of Van Loon bloodlines. Alex would like to thank all the fanciers at South Ockenden Marking Station for all their hard work and dedication as well as the officials of the Thames North and Eastern Counties his local source of weekly competition.

The North section winner was clocked at the Lowestoft loft of Philip Harrod and this section winner also takes 9th Open for Philip. This is a 4 year old blue hen now named “ Putty’s Pride” and she certainly has a long list of “previous” which includes the following  top class performances:-

1st sect 2nd Open NFC Fougeres; 4th sect BICC Guernsey;4th sect 21st Open NFC in the 2011 old hens National. She was sent to Tours feeding a 7 day old squab which certainly seemed to motivate her. Putty’s Pride is of Vandenabeele bloodlines.

The Benfleet, Essex partnership of J & J Brady complete the “top ten” in the Open result with a yearling widowhood cock taking 9th section 10th Open. The partnership won the High Littleton Tours Young Bird race in 2011 and this is their first attempt at the channel this campaign. Their first on the clock is bred from a Janssen cock when mated to a direst Jos Thone hen containing Sars and Sumo lines. Fed on Gerry Plus at the start of the week he was beefed up with full widowhood mix in the last days prior to basketting

 As mentioned above, the winner of the North section was Philip Harrod and provisionally in at 2nd North section is a 5 year old widowhood cock bred and raced by Richard Andrew Beaumont of Great Yarmouth. This battler had previously flown Tarbes and was being prepared for Tarbes in a few weeks time. He is of Stan Biss bloodlines  and was mated earlier in the season ,allowed to sit eggs for a short time and then widowed. Fed on Gerry Plus he also had access to a stronger mix in the few days leading up to basketting for Tours.  Richard would like to congratulate Phillip Harrod for winning the North Section and thank Bobby Hodger the Secretary of Gorleston Station FC for taking Richard’s pigeons to marking station and looking after them when he’s on holiday.

 Stephen and Debra Bullen  also of  Great Yarmouth come in next at 3rd North section with a  5 year old cock flown on the natural system. The partners only started in the sport in 2007 and their timer here was bred in that year from birds obtained from Melly Allen.The cock was raced on widowhood in the early part of the season and was then re mated and sent to Tours sitting 7 day old eggs. As with all the Bullen racers he is fed on 50% VL Best All Round supplemented with 50% farm beans.

We now move further west to the winners of the Centre section and taking top spot here was a 4 year old Blue Pied Busschaert x Janssen cock raced by Paul Kelly of South Norwood. Paul’s timer is bred down from birds obtained from the great partnership of J, Adcock & Son who raced this family for many years with great success at club, Fed, Combine and National level before leaving the sport a few years back. The cock was mated in late January allowed to rear a pair of babies before being widowed. He has had every race this year both in land and over the channel as Paul likes to keep the team “on the move”. The racers are fed to appetite on VL Super Widowhood communally in a hopper with more fed as the channel races near.  Here is a bit more detail on the background to the Kelly pigeons. The first in the clock although he has been a very consistent club pigeon he has only managed to win minor positions. He has flown virtually every club and Combine race for the past few seasons including twice Bergerac at 450 miles. Prior to this race he had flown all the Federation inland races plus the two Combine channel races which incidentally were both won by Paul. The parents were purchased from the entire clearance sale of J. Adcock & Son being mainly of Janssen breeding. The sire of this cock was a good performance pigeon for the Adcocks winning a stack of positions that included 2 x 4ths 1 x 9th, 13th, Federation, and he in turn is a son of `White Nose` when paired to a daughter of Blue Boy and the P Ring Hen - both prolific breeders.

Paul’s second arrival was a 3 y.o. chequer cock named `Kelly`s Star` again very closely bred to their first arrival being from `Blue Boy` and the P Ring Hen and once again a very consistent club pigeon with this being his best position so far.

Over the past few years this partnership have been flying a very good channel pigeon and only last week were so close to setting what may well have been an S.M.T. Combine record of 1st. Combine Bergerac 2010; 1st. Combine Tours 2011, and last week 2nd.Combine Alencon beaten by a second decimal that’s almost three Combine wins in three seasons. Great flying and well done to you both.

Ted Brown of Wallingford comes in at 2nd Centre section timing a 2 year old blue hen having her first race of the season having previously been trained to just 45 miles in preparation for her first tilt at the channel at 303 miles. She was mated in mid February and reared a pair of youngsters before being placed on the round about system. Her bloodlines show the presence of two of the North East’s great long distance fanciers – none other than Rod Adams and George Adamson, both winners of the UNC’s Bourges race at close on 600 miles.

The partnership of Peter Hathaway and Steve and Brian Poole come in for 3rd centre section timing a yearling Soontjen x Van Reet hen flown on widowhood. The hen had previously scored 3rd B,B & O Fed from Wincanton earlier in the season and this was her third time across the channel in 2012 having also flown from France on three occasions as a young bird.

And finally we move over to the west section where the birds really had to work hard to combat the 15 mph westerly wind which, if nothing else, is certainly better than facing a wind of similar strength blowing from the east!

The winners here need no introduction – none other than Geoff and Catherine Cooper of Peasedown St John. Geoff and Catherine clocked a five year old chequer widowhood cock called “Bro Farm Boy” to win 1st West Section.

He has previously won many prizes including 1st's in his five years racing at National and Club level.  Last year he was 3rd National section beaten by a loft mate “PD” which is the sire of “Shiraz” 2nd International Bordeaux.

“Bro Farm Boy” as the name suggests is a full brother to “Farm Boy” who won 12th International, 475th International, 3rd National, 3rd National plus many other top  prizes and is the sire to “Farmer George” 1st International Bordeaux.

Before racing started this year he was badly ripped by a peregrine but was left to heal by himself and recovered fully.  He had one inland race of 44 miles, then over the channel to Carentan with the BICC, Falaise BICC, Alencon BICC.  His next race will be one of the Internationals.

 Once again the birds returned in an excellent condition and Geoff and Catherine had 100% returns on the day.

Gary Carter of Childwickham comes in for 2nd west section with a 2 year old red hen bred down from a Geoff Clarke cock when mated to a daughter of “68” one of Gary’s top racers which has won 1st, 8th & 30th section in BICC races. Raced on round about the red hen had previously flown two inland races and one channel race this season before going to Tours. An amusing story arose regarding this red hen as when she was a young bird and not long after weaning and still just “flipping around the loft” Gary mistakenly basketted for a toss from Heathrow Airport.  Luckily for Gary she was made of stern stuff and made it home whilst still carrying down on her head!

In third West section is one to the Street, Somerset loft of R & R Wilton. Rob clocked a blue hen of Deweerdt x Janssen bloodlines bred from a brother and sister mating. She has always been consistent and this was only her third outing this year having previously flown Littlehampton and Messac. This is yet another pigeon flown on the ever popular round about system.

 Well that’s another good race over and done with. All the fanciers I spoke to when compiling this report were full of praise for the convoyers and race advisors on a job well done and most reported close on 100% returns. The Internationals will soon be upon us – good luck to all who compete and let’s hope that 2012 will be as successful for BICC members on the International scene as was 2011.

 Gareth Watkins