The 21,651 Agen International pigeons being liberated

 The second race on the International race programme took place on Saturday 30th June, when the 736 British birds entered by 116 fanciers were liberated at Agen at 6 am, along with 21,651 pigeons from all over Continental Europe. Weather conditions throughout France were forecast to be excellent with a slight helping south westerly breeze and broken cloud and sunshine throughout the route home from south west France. Hopes were therefore high that there would be day birds clocked into the UK and so it turned out with 20 birds clocked by nightfall on the first day. Well actually there were 21 birds clocked on the day as the winning fancier, Charlie Simmons of Basildon in Essex, returned home from the marking station to find the second of his two entries on the loft. It was quickly clocked but as it was after close of race on the first day this pigeon counted as a second day bird.

Charlie Simmons 1st Open BICC Agen International

Mark Gilbert 2nd Open BICC Argen

John Haynes 2nd sect 3rd Open BICC Argen

Lee & Kevin Buddle 2nd section 4th Open BICC Agen

Geoff & Catherine Cooper 1st & 3rd section BICC Pau International
1st section 5th Open BICC Agen

3rd North Sect Agen for Robert Rome

Russell Bradford 2nd North sect BICC Agen

Charlie Simmons is no stranger to success at the top level as he has topped the BICC results at Gellainville in 2002, Falaise in 2009 and now 1st Open BICC Agen International 2012.

The first in the clock is a 5 year old blue pied widowhood cock of Soontjen origin containing Mr & Mrs Clayburn’s Black Ring pair and Mardon’s Geschifte bloodlines. He has been a consistent racer and has a number of previous wins to his credit. Mated in mid February he was allowed to rear a single young bird before being placed on widowhood. At the start of the season the widowers are allowed free exercise once daily but as the season progresses they go out twice a day and are allowed to do as they please with no forcing. Charlie does not use a breakdown mixture but prefers to feed the cocks Versele Laga Super widowhood mix after each exercise period. The second bird found on the loft on the day is in fact a full brother to the winning pigeon and is also a five year old. You can’t get much better than that – sent two clocked two - both on the day and both brothers!! Well done Charlie on achieving your hattrick of National wins with the BICC. You also win the House of Aarden Sponsored Young Bird . I should mention that ALL International race winners will be allowed to select a young bird from the Stud’s principle stock cocks valued at between 250 - 450. On behalf of all the members of the BICC I would once again like to thank Steve and Lesley Wright for their extremely generous sponsorship and support of the club. Many thanks.

 In the runner up position is one of the UK’s top fanciers – Mark Gilbert of Winkfield, near Windsor. Mark’s birds are in red hot form at the present time as he clocked five on the result in last week’s Pau International with the BICC including 2nd & 3rd section [ beaten by his Dad Geoff] and in this race he had another field day clocking a number of birds to win 1st , 3rd , 5th & 7th Centre section 2nd , 6th 13th & 19th Open. I spoke to Mark on the second day of the race and to say he was excited would be an understatement as he was in the process of clocking his birds on their return from the NFC Tarbes race. He was so excited that he forgot to send me details of his Agen International birds!!!! Perhaps another time?

Just behind Mark’s section winner – beaten by a whisker is a two year old  widowhood cock to former BICC Pau winner John Haynes of Fifield. This two year old late bred was beaten by a decimal for 1st section and is a previous winner of 10th Open NFC Saintes in 2011 as a yearling. This season he has had three channel races with the NFC plus Carentan with the BICC in preparation for the Pau International. He has not sat eggs or raised youngsters thus far this season but has been raced on a semi celibate system only seeing his hen on return from a race. His breeding shows the very best of John’s old reliable Deweerdt family with a cross of birds from Andre Vermote.

The partnership of Lee and Kevin Buddle of Dover are rarely far from the top of any BICC International race result and so it is this time as they follow up their near miss of 2nd Open BICC Pau International of a week earlier by clocking another good pigeon in  the Argen race to win 2nd East section 4th Open. Lee and Kevin’s timer is a 4 yr old widowhood cock named "Spitfire". He is a g-son of the mother  of the Buddle loft "Buddy".
Spitfire has always been a very consistent pigeon  having flown NFC
Tarbes in 2011 being the partners’ single bird nom. He has also previously won
3rd Open EECC Pithiviers in 2009. In preparation for Bordeaux/Agen he
has flown EECC Canappeville 136 miles, Le Mans 220 mile where he won
3rd Club, 17th Fed. Then on to BICC Tours 260 miles where he was 188th Open and
then into BICC Bordeaux/Agen. Kevin and Lee had three from four by mid afternoon on the second day.

Over in the west section the pigeons had quite a task to deal with the strong westerly wind and intermittent heavy showers. The eventual section winner taking 5th Open was clocked at the Peasedown St John loft of 2011 Argen/Bordeaux International winners Geoff and Catherine Cooper. The Coopers clocked a chequer widowhood cock named “Scotty” that was in very condition when he landed, despite all the rain and gale force west winds he had to encounter on the way home.  He has already had several good prizes to his name, including 12th National Fougeres, 1st West section National Falaise and 303rd Saintes National.  He is named “Scotty” after Scott Stevens, a young fancier from Midsomer Norton.

Previous to going to Agen “Scotty” had raced three channel races with the NFC, the last one two weeks ago at Messac.

His sire is “Georgeson” a son of “George” 1st Grand National Tarbes and sire and grandsire to many top pigeons including grandsire to “Farmer George” 1st International Bordeaux, 2nd International Yearling Bordeaux for Mark Gilbert.  “Georgeson” is a full brother to the dam of “Farmer George”

The dam of “Scotty” is a daughter of “Southfield Supreme” 1st International Dax for Mark Gilbert.

Geoff and Catherine also clocked three more pigeons to win 6th, 7th and 8th WS. 

Once again, all arrivals were in excellent condition..

Alan Dimes of Orpington in Kent clocked two day birds to take 3rd & 5th East section 7th & 11th Open. Both Alan’s timers were raced on the natural system and exercised once daily when Alan’s work commitments allow. The first on the clock is a 3 year old Jan Aarden bought as a part of a bargain basement lot from Louella Lofts. He has had three BICC races in preparation for the Agen International and these have obviously got him in trim for this 500 mile race. Sent sitting 14 day eggs he returned in excellent condition.

 Traian Farentz of Romford comes in next at 4th East section 8th Open. This one is a yearling cock who was racing to his nest box as his hen had been lost in an earlier race. He is bred from a Van De Pol sire when mated to a hen obtained from another BICC stalwart Paul Delea. The winner of the North section also taking 9th Open is a two year old widowhood cock raced by Peter Mallett of Bury St Edmunds. This is a full brother to Peter’s timer in the Pau International race of a week earlier which was placed at 3rd North section BICC.

The winner of 2nd West section 10th Open and the furthest west on the day was clocked  in Wales at the Abertillery loft of Mark Sparey. This 3 year old widowhood cock had to put in a full 15 hour shift to regain his home loft on the day - a terrific performance given the conditions of a strong westerly wind and heavy rain showers. As with all Mark’s widowers the cock was mated in early February, allowed to rear a pair of young birds before being placed on widowhood. His first race of the season was from 100 miles followed by BICC Alencon at 260 miles, NFC Messac and then into Argen/ Bordeaux. He is bred from a son of Edwards Brothers Nantes National winner whose full sister bred Mark’s 2011 Eastbourne YB National winner. The dam is a combination of JT Barnett Laeremans x Bert Hession DeBaere and this hen is responsible for many top National performers for the Sparey loft. Mark’s mentor is the triple International winner Mark Gilbert and the widowhood team are prepared on the Gilbert/Cooper system with no hens shown prior to basketting.

Next on the clock in the West section taking 3rd  is a real battler clocked after 15 hours and 44 minutes on the wing to none other than Dennis Ford of Blaenavon at the top of the Gwent Valleys. I have exhausted my supply of superlatives when describing the performances of this truly great Welsh fancier. Dennis has won at least TWELVE Nationals including 1st Open BICC Perpignan. His name is rarely out of the top ten in any National race and yet for the past few seasons he has battled with a crippling illness that leaves him immobile on many days. However, he is able to call on the help of his lovely wife Ann who now helps with the day to day management of the birds. In this race Dennis clocked a two year old hen raced on the round about system. It was so dark when the hen came that Dennis had already put the loft lights on. However, she still was unable to see the loft doors and as a result hit the front of the loft before flying off for a couple of extra circuits  before eventually entering the loft and being clocked much to Dennis’s relief!! Her last race in preparation for Agen was the BICC Tours race on 9th June. She is bred from a pair of birds obtained from Ponderosa UK at Weymouth and is of predominantly Wim Muller Jan Aarden bloodlines with some Janssen and Van Wanroy thrown in for good measure.

 As mentioned earlier Peter Mallet wins 1st North section and in the R/U spot is the Farnditch partnership of Mr & Mrs Russell Bradford. Russell is the Treasurer of the BICC and here he clocked a five year old cock which was flown widowhood for the couple of Inland races flown earlier in the year. He was re-paired around fifteen days ago, to be sitting just over a week when basketed for Agen. This was only his seventh Channel race  having never been beyond Fougeres (273) before, and clearly to be clocked at ten to six in the morning could not have been that far away from making the 563 miles on the day. Russell goes on to say – “I would like to thank some of the dedicated people who make the BICC happen, to include all the people who help run the marking stations but especially Carol Francis, who churns out the results week in week out. I had a 200 mile round trip to Ash marking station, on a day when the motorways were almost at a standstill, so that nightmare journey alone has prompted me to confirm I will run a marking station again in Northamptonshire in 2013, which will hopefully increase the membership of the BICC in the Midlands next year.”

Robert. J. Rome of Cheltenham comes in at 3rd North section. When racing into his native Scotland Robert won four SNFC races along with 13 x 1sts section prizes. In the Agen race Robert clocked a two year old blue hen which was, bred in the lofts of the father and son partnership of RSR & RJ Rome, Annan, Scotland from two direct Patrick & Dimitri Houfflijn pigeons.

Her racing record prior to Agen is as follows:-

2010 - Late youngster - trained only.

2011 - Flew the inland programme (on hens widowhood) with the Severn Valley Fed - very consistently just out of the prizes.

2012 - Again on hens widowhood - had 3 channel races (CSFC Carentan and Messac plus one with NFC up to 330 miles).  She homed on the night each time but just out of prizes.  Thought she might need a longer distance to shine so was prepared for BICC Agen, 547 miles.

Her breeding shows that her SIRE:  Bred by Patrick & Dimitri Houfflijn, Belgium direct from their famous "Geschulpten As" - 1st Ace Provincial Ace Pigeon KBDB and 5th National Ace Pigeon KBDB long distance.  He in turn is a son of “De Witteslag” – 3rd Nat Montauban 5,495 birds and 5th Provincial Ace Pigeon K.B.D.B. East Flanders and a g-son of 871/1996 “De Limoges” 1st Prov. 2,336 birds 7th Nat Limoges 7,776 birds and 7th Prov. Poitiers 3,104 birds.  “Geschulpten As” became the number one Willequet breeding cock in the Houfflijn lofts.  Children include “As 410” – 18th and 39th National; “Mika” – 39th and 162nd National; “Witpen As” – 63rd, 67th and 141st National; 049/2008 – 53rd Nat Cahors 8,622 birds 2010 and 73rd Nat Brive 16,815 birds 2010; Grandchildren include “Hubert” – 3rd Nat Brive 16,007 birds 2007, 9th Interprov 5,712 birds; “Kleine As” - 11th Nat 9,545 birds, 23rd Nat 6,475 birds, 21st Nat(Z) 2,101 birds, 14th Nat 5,438 birds, 21st Nat 3,625 birds; “Zoon Mika” - 8th Nat Cahors 7,347 birds 2009, 64th Nat 17,478 birds; “Broekpen” – 42nd Nat 7,364 birds, 59th Nat 15,507 birds, 68th Nat 6,257 birds, 71st Internat 18,354 birds, 86th Internat 15,857 birds and 147th Nat 5,051 birds.

DAM:  Bred by Patrick & Dimitri Houfflijn direct from their super racer “Kleine As” - 11th Nat 9,545 birds, 23rd Nat 6,475 birds, 21st Nat(Z) 2,101 birds, 14th Nat 5,438 birds and 21st Nat 3,625 birds all at the long distance when paired with a daughter of "Geschulpten As".

Robert has enjoyed a good season at National level in the run up to the Agen International with the following results:-

1st, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 12th, 15th Section NFC Fougeres 250 miles

3rd, 6th Section NFC Cholet 330 miles

Probable 4th Section NFC Messac 283 miles.

 So the section results look like this:-

East Section.

1st C Simmons vel 1257.

2nd L & K Buddle vel 1162.

3rd Alan Dimes vel 1097.

4th Traian Farentz vel 1084.

5th Alan Dimes vel 1068.

Centre Section.

1st M Gilbert vel 1196.5.

2nd John Haynes vel 1196.4.

3rd M Gilbert vel 1100.

4th M Gilbert vel 999.

5th M Gilbert vel 967.

 North section.

 1st Peter Mallett vel 1078.

2nd Mr & Mrs Russell Bradford vel 925.

 3rd Robert .J. Rome vel 848.

4th Mr & Mrs Anderson vel 737.

5th Philip Harrod vel 717.

West Section.

1st GG & C Cooper vel 1109.

2nd Mark Sparey vel 1075.

3rd Dennis Ford vel 1029.

4th J P Halstead vel 970.

 5th Mr & Mrs J Hooper vel 926.

 That’s the second of the International races over for another year- next up Barcelona – the supreme test. There will be another top bred pigeon up for competition presented  to the races winner by Steve and Lesley Wright of The House of Aarden. Good luck to all who send.

 Gareth Watkins