It’s here at last –that is the first race of the International race programme. The 368 entries from the UK were liberated along with the 8,000 plus continental pigeons at 5.45 am on Friday 22nd June. The wind at Pau was negligible but turned west south west en route with blue skies and broken cloud making for perfect flying conditions. The breakdown of the individual countries entries for this prestigious race are given here.
style="font-family: Arial;"> PAU 2012   
BelgiŽ - La Belgique - Belgien – Belgium - 2.007
Nederland - Pays-Bas - the Netherlands - die Niederlande - 2.651
Engeland - Angleterre - Royaume Uni – UK - 368
Duitsland - Allemagne - Germany – Deutschland - 1.202
Frankrijk - La France – France – Frankreich - 2.133
Luxemburg – Luxembourg - 38
Total: - 8.399

The 8,399 pigeons being liberated at Pau for the International race

John Chipperfield & son Joe with 1st Open BICC Pau International

Lee & Kevin Buddle's Lucky 2nd Open BICC Pau

Brian Sheppard 2nd west section BICC Pau International

Dave & Matt Lyden 2nd North section BICC Pau International

Geoff & Catherine Cooper 1st & 3rd section BICC Pau International

Geoff & Clayton Preece 3rd& 10th Open BICC Pau

Geoff & Mark Gilbert of Windsor
Geoff was 1st Centre section BICC Pau International with Mark 2nd & 3rd section

Rene &Michel Houpe 1st North section BICC Pau International

Robert Harris & youngest son Alfie with the winner of 7th section 8th Open BICC Pau

Terry Johnson 8th sect 9th Open BICC Pau International

Given the conditions and the main drag of the convoy, it was expected that the leading pigeons would be clocked in Belgium and Eastern Holland. With the prevailing westerly airflow over the British Isles allied to the main continental drag of the vast majority of the entry it was also predictable that the east section pigeons would thrive under the conditions and so it turned out. Leading the way was a pigeon to the Herne Bay loft of John Chipperfield. John is certainly no stranger to the winners podium as amongst his many previous successes is 1st Open BICC Perpignan in 2011 with his dark chequer hen “Daisy”. On this occasion John clocked not just one but two good pigeons to win 1st & 4th Open. First on the clock is a chequer pied Raymond Moleveld Jan Aarden cock now named Joe after John’s son. The Pau winner was basketted sitting 12 day eggs and had previously flown two inland races, at 100miles,and 124 miles plus two channel races with the EECC at 152 miles and 226 miles plus the BICC Tours race at 275 miles two weeks before Pau International. John’s second pigeon taking 4th Open is a Dark Chequer Pied Hen of long distance bloodlines which John obtained during his many continental visits. Her racing this season is as follows:- 2 inland races at 100 and 124 miles followed by one channel race with the EECC at 226 miles and then straight into Pau sent sitting 14 day eggs.
Both these pigeons were very lightly raced as yearlings having just one inland and three short channel races then rested until this year. Congratulations John on another excellent performance and we’ll have a pint together in Bournemouth next February!
In the runner up spot at 2nd Open is yet another truly outstanding partnership, who it seems, never fail to get one in Long Distance International races – Lee and Kevin Buddle of Dover. Readers may recall that the Buddles clocked the only two pigeons on the day from the Pau International in 2009 winning 1st & 2nd Open BICC. This year’s runner up in 2nd Open is a full brother to “BC” the runner up in the 2009 Pau International race. I’ll let Lee tell the story:-
“Our  2nd Open BICC Pau 2012 is a 4 yr old cock that we call "Lucky". He
is a full brother to "BC" who also won 2nd Open BICC Pau in 2009 on
the day of liberation being beaten by a loft mate “Amoy”. "Lucky" is a
grandson of "Buddy" the mother of our loft.
"Lucky" was being prepared for BICC Barcelona in 2 weeks time but due
to the fact that we dropped a BICC Pau candidate from BICC Tours a
couple of weeks previous we decided to put him to BICC Pau instead as he
was starting to show us all the right signs.
In preparation for Pau he has had  two races with the  EECC from Canappeville 136
miles and one EECC Pithviers 209 miles in which he won 7th Open.
He has previously flown BICC Narbonne in 2010, BICC Pau 2011 and BICC
Tarbes/Agen 2011. At the time of writing we have 4 out of 5 entries,
all have returned in super condition except our good hen Portia who returned badly injured. Also Well Done to John Chipperfield on winning 1st Open”. Lee and Kevin’s later timers come in for 20th & 37th section 44th & 63rd Open to round off a good team performance.
In 3rd & 9th section 3rd & 10th Open is another Kent partnership that of Geoff Preece and son Clayton. This partnership is also a previous winner of 1st Open BICC in an International race clocking the only pigeon into the UK on the day from Perpignan in 2010. Geoff and Clayton clocked  their truly GREAT chequer white flight widowhood cock ‘Jack Jones’ DV.02772 .08.414 bred by Stoffel-Gr.Ophoff of Dorsten/Germany. I’ll let Geoff Preece relate the story of Jack Jones:-
“We purchased a small group of young birds in 2008 and this cock was one of them. His breeding is from the loft’s ‘270’ lines (Jan Aarden) and ‘Marseille Star’ lines. On the sire’s side he is bred down from Raymond Hermes ‘Die Rote’ 88.3163. Well informed readers are aware that Hermes is the most successful International long distance loft in Germany.
‘Jack Jones’ is a pigeon that most fanciers would love to own and race. He has flown from France 18 times, winning many positions and £2000 plus.
 A few of his performances are:
    2nd Open BICC National Tarbes (Villeneuve-Agen)
    8th Open BICC National Pau 546 mls
    30th Open BICC National Pau
    3rd Open BICC National Pau
All of these results racing from the Atlantic Ocean side of France.
In 2010 he won 1st Open BICC National Perpignan 581 mls winning an RPRA award. He is the only pigeon to home on the day to the UK from this race point. Although Perpignan is located on the Mediterranean side of France, just North of Barcelona, the best long distance pigeons in Europe fly both the East and West sides of France each year with outstanding results. Our second bird in the clock taking 10th Open BICC is a two year old chequer widowhood cock, a grandson of Bill Woodall’s Barcelona winner – ‘Dragon’s Boy’ and a direct Stoffel- Ophof hen (270/Marseille Star lines) This cock scored well at Perpignan International 2011as a Yearling and this Pau International 2012 race is an excellent start to his International racing career.

It should be noted that all the UK pigeons making the Channel crossing (22.06.12) were faced with – S/W Gale 8 to Severe Gale 9 – Very Rough to High Sea - great pigeons.

We would like to thank Bill Woodall, Dr Jeff Horn and our friends and fellow fanciers for all their advice and guidance in our short time in Pigeon racing.”

Barrie Myhill clocked to take 4th section 5th Open. Unfortunately the number I have for Barrie proved to be unobtainable so I have no further info’ on the Myhill pigeon.
David Hales of Hockley comes in next at 6th Open. David is yet another previous winner of 1st Open BICC as the half brother to this year’s 6th Open Pau International pigeon won 1st Open BICC Perpignan a few years back. David clocked a 4 year old widowhood cock of Alan Parker bloodlines that had been entered in one EECC race plus the BICC Tours race this season before going to Pau. The Hales team of widowers is exercised once daily and are fed communally in a hopper. David does not show the hens on basketting and likes to keep everything as simple and time saving as possible with no frills. He understands that this may result in the cocks taking longer to “cotton on” to the widowhood system but it seems to pay dividends in the long term.
In the centre section the winner also taking 7th Open proved to be a real “old warhorse” - a 7 year old red cock of Deweerdt bloodlines to the Windsor loft of G & M Gilbert. Geoff Gilbert is the father of Mark and is a top class fancier in his own right as well as being a true gentleman. When he’s not helping around the loft at Southfield for son Mark, Geoff somehow manages to squeeze in the time to see to his own race birds. The team of 15 widowhood cocks that are housed for the channel programme have free, unforced exercise at 6 am and 4 pm daily and very little, if any training once racing begins. The section winner is a great grand son of Deweerdt’s International winner “Emiel” and has been entered in three channel races this season in preparation for Pau International. When I asked Geoff what he feeds he told me” Whatever I can scrounge from Mark!” Geoff also clocked a second pigeon to take 7th section 23rd Open and when I spoke to him on the second day of the race he had three from three.
 In 2nd & 3rd section 14th & 15th Open is none other than Geoff’s son and triple International winner Mark Gilbert. You will also note that apart from winning 2nd &3rd section Mark also clocked a further three pigeons to appear on the Open result so Pau proved to be a good day all round for the Gilberts. Mark writes the following about his timers:-“ Firstly, I would like to say well done to the winner and to my dad and Geoff and Catherine Cooper for winning their sections.
I was very pleased with my birds, clocking five on the night including two in two minutes. These international races really give me a buzz and I really rate the birds that come from them.
My first bird was from a son of Euro Diamond and a daughter of Southfield Supreme, the third bird was a full sister to my first bird. The second bird was a grand daughter of Tuff Nut and Red Barcelona, this pair have already bred 9th International Agen and 1st BBO fed Bergerac as yearlings. These two cocks are going to Tarbes NFC. My fourth bird was a daughter of Southfield Pau, when paired to Dave Posey,s Dax Hens International winner. The fifth bird was a Deweerdt hen which was 12th Open Tarbes NFC as a yearling and my good friend Mark Sparey picked up for me injured in Wales from last years NFC Tarbes.
All the above are roundabout hens and have had two inland races and two Channel races, their last race was 4 weeks ago from Messac and have just been let out twice a day around the loft”.
Robert Harris of Ramsgate timed to take 7th section 8th Open. Robert tells me he was 1st section 2nd Open BICC in 2011 and his timer this year is a Guido van den Bulcke x A.P.Overwater x Bruggeman. He was a late bred in 2010, and his first taste of training and racing wasn’t until 2011 when he had 5 inland races up to 166 miles with the Kent Cosmopolitan Fed and was showing encouraging signs as a racer. Unfortunately he was lost at Le Mans returning after  10 days completely flown out. He was then rested until this season and has had 4 inland races up to 136 miles plus one channel race at 235 miles. He was first on the clock from Tours with the BICC at 275 miles taking 75th Open 54th east section two weeks before Pau.Robert is delighted to have clocked on the day from Pau again as he also clocked on the day last year taking 2nd open 1st east section BICC and 79th international and 9th International hens  Robert would like to congratulate his mate John Chipperfield on taking 1st open 1st section yet again and also to everyone else that clocked. 

Terry Johnston is a previous winner of 1st Open BICC in the 2002 Barcelona race and in this year’s Pau International he clocked to take 8th section 9th Open. Terry’s timer is a 3 year old chequer cock now named “Vinca” that’s raced on the celibacy system having not seen his hen since last November! For most of the season he has been fed on farm beans and barley but in the lead up to Pau International he has been spoiled rotten with unlimited supplies of Garvo Marathon. Vinca’s sire is a direct son of Frank Perry’s[ of Pontypridd] Champion Llanover Lady 1st &4th Open BBC Palamos. Vinca’s dam is a daughter of “Spartan”,Terry’s 2002 Barcelona winner, when  mated to “The Lerwick Hen” twice Lerwick at 614 miles with the NRCC. The Lerwick Hen in turn was bred from a pair of Bargain Basement Louella Jan Aardens. Incidentally, Terry tells me that the pigeon on the NFC logo is none other than his Champion Spartan 1st Open BICC Barcelona.
The Truelove Family from Canterbury take 10th section 11th Open and this is what Nigel Truelove has to say about the breeding and preparation of their Pau pigeon.
“Our 5 year old pigeon is a Gyselbrecht x Aarden, from a G.Son of the Laureaat Barcelona, 1st International Barcelona paired with a G.Dtr of Thei Hermans famous Barcelona Cock. His last race before Pau was with the East of England Continental Club on the 2nd June where he was 8th Pithiviers. All our pigeons are raced on widowhood with preparation races for the long distance events with the Wingham FC and the East of England Continental Club. We use the Garvo range of pigeon corn through out the season, using the Marathon mix for the long distance races. Other products that our Widowhood Cocks receive are Backs Glut-amin, Versele-Laga All in One and Blitz from Rohnfried. We sent 3 Cocks to Pau and all have returned in excellent condition.”
Over in the west section we have “the usual suspects” doing the damage yet again. In 1st &3rd section 27th & 35th Open we see the International winning partnership of Geoff and Catherine Cooper clocking two of their team of widowhood hens the first on the clock at 19.04 pm to win 1st west section, is  a two year old blue hen  raced  on widowhood. 
Her breeding could not be better for the tough International racing, as she is a grand daughter of Geoff and Catherine's “George” 1st National FC Tarbes and sire to many top breeders and racers, including grandsire to 1st International “Farmer George”,  2nd International Yearlings for Mark Gilbert plus many others.
She is also a grand daughter of Brian Sheppard's “Legend” 1st International Dax ande has now been named Georgia Jean, in memory of Brian's wife Jean, who sadly died last year and was a good friend to Geoff and Catherine.
Georgia Jean was raced as a young bird, including two channel races winning 21st G sect. NFC St Malo and 51st Open in the High Littleton Open young bird Tours race.  As a yearling she was not raced and this year she had one inland race and four National races overseas prior to going to Pau.
The Coopers’ second timer at 19.46 pm is a chequer white flight hen called Wollongong and she takes 3rd W Section, out of only four birds clocked on the day. She is also flown widowhood.
Her sire was bred by Clive Lister, being a grandson of “Euro Diamond” and “Marseille King” and her dam is “Gina” a half sister to “George” 1st National FC Tarbes etc.
“Wollongong” was raced as a young bird and was 1st club Exeter, 1st club 4th High Littleton Open Tours, 10th G sect. NFC St Malo, not raced as a yearling and had the same race preparation as “Georgia Jean” in the lead up to Pau.
Both birds looked to be in excellent condition on return from their long fly.

Another International winner, none other than Brian Sheppard of Trowbridge comes in next with two sharp ones for 2nd & 4th section 33rd & 45th Open. Brian’s first in the clock is a 3year old dark chequer cock coming down from his CSCFC Tarbes winner and he also has the blood of two 1st Open NFC Pau winners coursing through his veins. This widowhood cock flew both Saintes and Tarbes Nationals with the NFC in 2011 and this year has not missed a race across the channel with either the BICC or the NFC. Brian’s second in the clock, a two year old mealy cock has also had each and every one of the BICC channel races this season before going to Pau. With such a heavy preparatory race programme it’s not surprising to learn that Brian does not use depurative in his feed regime but feeds Versele Laga 5 star widowhood mix at each of the racers’ twice daily feeds.
The winner in the North section was the partnership of Michel and Rene Houpe. Michel, Rene and their son Michael Houpe arrived in the UK just over five years ago having raced pigeons back in South Africa. Rene and Michel found that they just couldn’t go without racing pigeons again so after two years of arriving in the UK they built a small loft in the back garden of their house in Whaddon near Milton Keynes and started racing in 2010.
The Delbar Hen that they clocked to win 1st North section was bred for them by one of their good friends Bill McMillan, who competes in the South Road Milton Keynes Club. Bill has bred them several birds which have flown very well for the Houpes. The section winner had previously won 16th Open MNFC from Bordeaux  against 1,521 birds as a yearling.. She shares a small and modest loft with a handful of other racing pigeons and fancy pigeons, which can come and go as they please. The Houpes have a very unorthodox way of racing pigeons and combine a little of the South African methods with the UK systems, and it certainly seems to work for them.
In 2nd North section is the Yardley partnership of Dave and son Matt Lyden. The partners clocked a 2 year old blue cock that had been raced on the widowhood system in the early part of the season but was re mated and sitting 3 day old eggs when basketted for Pau. Van Hee bloodlines are predominant in his background breeding and he had raced the club inland programme before going to Carentan with the BICC and Fougeres with the NFC where he appeared well up in the first 50 Open positions. Fed on farm beans and peas he was also given a treat of peanuts with every meal in the build up to Pau basketting. Dave and Matt would like to congratulate John Chipperfield on a terrific winning performance.
Peter Mallett of Bury St Edmunds clocked a 2 year old widower for 3rd North section.
Well that’s the first of the Internationals done and dusted for another year. It appears to have been a great success as most fanciers that I have spoken to when compiling this report had recorded 100% or close on 100% returns. A number of excellent team performances were achieved none more so than the team of Mike and Cynthia Mitchell of Dover who clocked seven pigeons to appear on the result at 26th,85th,86th,88th,96th,103rd & 110th Open. What also comes across when speaking to these fanciers is their great pride in the BICC and their truly genuine pride in not only their own pigeons’ performances but also those of the other successful fanciers. True sportsmanship is alive and well and long may it be so.
Next race Agen/Bordeaux International – good luck to all who compete.

Gareth Watkins