The race point of St Vincent is in the south west corner of France close to the Atlantic coast and situated between the cities of Dax and Bayonne. At just under 600 miles it is a good test of both pigeon and the fancier's ability to condition 16 ounces of flesh, feather and bone to race home for what could, in ideal conditions, prove to be a one day race.
The 2012 St Vincent International attracted a field of 13,085 pigeons from lofts situated throughout Europe. Amongst these were 285 British pigeons entered by 65 battle hardened and enthusiastic UK fanciers. The convoy was eventually liberated at 6 am UK time and the map below shows the weather pattern over the course of the race.

Conditions in the English Channel on the first day were "difficult" to say the least, with strong winds and heavy rain showers throughout the day. Here in South Wales the weather was so bad I wouldn't have put next doors cat out in it!
Nevertheless, these British International pigeons are made of stern stuff as a number of hardy individuals crossed the channel and returned to their home lofts on day of toss with a steady stream of arrivals following on the second morning.

Dennis Abbott 1st Open BICC St Vincent International

Simon Knowles[L]3rd Open BICC St Vincent and Jeff Lyden of Lyden Brothers 5th Open StVincent

Nigel truelove 4th Open BICC St Vincent

John Chipperfield & son Joe with 1st Open BICC Pau International 6th Open BICC St Vincent International

Terry Johnson 7th Open BICC St Vincent 9th Open Pau and 12th Open BICC Barcelona 2012

Ron Dove with his 7th Open BICC Barcelona 8th Open BICC st Vincent International

Mike & Cynthia Mitchell 9th Open BICC St Vincent

Geoff and Catherine Cooper 1st & 2nd section 10th Open BICC St Vincent

John Wills 1st centre sect BICC St Vincent

Mick Bundy 1st North sect BICC St Vincent

Jan Deacon with dark cock 3rd centre section BICC St Vincent

Terry Preddy 3rd west section BICC St Vincent

Leading the way was a 2 year old blue cock to the Basildon, Essex loft of Dennis Abbott. He is of Eric Cannon bloodlines via Keith Mott on his sire's side with Dennis's own family on the dam's side of his pedigree. Mated in late April he has not reared any youngsters this year and was sent to St Vincent driving his hen to nest. As with all the Abbott racers the Open winner is exercised once per day and allowed to do as they please being fed in to their one meal of the day after exercise. The racers are always fed to appetite on a good widowhood mixture. Congratulations Dennis on a fine win in trying conditions and also wins the "House of Aarden" sponsored young bird.
In the runner up spot is a bird to the Wickford loft of R. Pearmain & Son. The partners enjoyed an exceptional race here as they clocked a further six birds to take 18th, 28th, 37th, 54th, 56th & 64th Open. The Pearmain team are raced on the natural system and hopper fed on a home made mixture and enjoy an open loft on most days, to come and go as they please. First in the clock is a two year old hen bred from a Nico Volkens cock when mated to the partners' Palamos hen bred down from birds obtained from Alan Parker of Clitheroe in Lancashire. All seven of the birds clocked at St Vincent were at Pau International in late June. Richard and son Steve raced birds on the North road into the Dagenham area for many years and in fact won 1st Open London North Road Combine with yearlings. Congratulations on a terrific team performance.
The name of F Knowles & Son of Wingham in Kent is synonymous with success in long distance International races having won the Europa Cup awarded for best average all International races three times in the past few seasons. In the St Vincent race Simon clocked six pigeons to finish at 3rd, 30th,32nd & 52nd ,73rd, & 74th Open and the first of these was a dark chequer Southwell hen gifted by good friends Derek and Margaret Adams of Canterbury. The six were conditioned for International racing by having two short channel races with the EECC topped up with four inland trainers from 100 miles with the local Wingham club. All racers are mated in late April and are raced on the natural system being allowed an open loft to come and go as they please for most of the daylight hours. They are hopper fed on Bucktons Irish Mix supplemented with peanuts and sunflower hearts as the longer races approach. A full account of the Knowles loft can be found on the BICC web site in an article I wrote earlier in the year.
Nigel Truelove along with his family of helpers has enjoyed a good International programme this year as he clocked one of his 3 entries to finish at 11th Open BICC in the recent Pau International race. The St Vincent race saw Nigel clock three birds to feature on the result at 4th,47th & 50th Open with the first in the clock on the day being a 2 year old widower that had previously won 8th Fed 21st Kent Combine Le Mans in 2011 as a yearling. He is also a half brother to Nigel's 2nd & 5th Open BICC Tarbes 2010 all three being a combination of Jan Aarden x Gyselbrecht bloodlines. The second in the clock from St Vincent is closely related to 2nd Open NFC Fougeres for Nigel's brother and is of Van Elsacker bloodlines. This one has already been placed at 63rd Open BICC Agen International earlier this season. Third bird in the clock is another widower of Jan Aarden x VandeWegen bloodlines.

Lyden Brothers of Sandwich in Kent come in at 5th Open and this is another partnership who have been stalwarts of the BICC for many years and in those years have enjoyed a great deal of success in long distance international races. Here they clock a three year old hen flown on round about and containing the genes of one of the loft's top pigeons "The Barcelona Hen" of predominantly Krauth bloodlines. These have stood the test of time, regularly producing top class long distance performers on the International stage. The three year old hen had one short channel race from Pithiviers with the EECC and a couple of 100 milers from Bedhampton with the Wingham club before going to St Vincent. Exercised once per day for 40 minutes or so with the other round about hens she was hopper fed on Bucktons Irish mix. The partners clocked two further pigeons on the second day to finish at 75th & 77th Open.

Next in at 6th East section 6th Open is a double BICC International race winner - none other than John Chipperfield of Herne Bay in Kent. John won the Perpignan race in 2011 and this year's Pau International race. Here he clocks a two year old blue cock flown on widowhood and containing all the very best of Alan Darragh's multi National winning family. In preparation for his tilt at the St Vincent International the cock had the following conditioning races:- Lyndhurst 124 miles; EECC Cannapeville and Pithiviers at 152 and 226 miles followed by the BICC Tours race at 295 miles and then Agen/ Bordeaux International [496 miles] on 30th June where he finished at 111th Open BICC.

In 7th section 7th Open spot is the ever present Terry Johnson of Whitstable in Kent. Terry has enjoyed an exceptional season's International racing in 2012 with 9th Open BICC Pau International; 12th Open Barcelona International and now 7th Open St Vincent International. Here he clocked a three year old celibate cock which is a full brother to the two sisters that were 9th Open BICC Pau and 12th Open BICC Barcelona earlier this year, all three being bred from a son of Frank Perry's Llanover Lady [ 1st & 4th Open Palamos] when mated to a daughter of Terry's Spartan 1st Open BICC Barcelona.

Seventy five year old Cornishman Ron Dove fresh from his success of 7th & 19th Open BICC in the recent Barcelona race comes in yet again with a timer for 8th sect 8th Open. Ron's timer is a three year old hen sent sitting due to hatch. Her sire was bred by the late Norman Major of Hull from his 700 mile family whilst her dam is a full sister to Ron's Barcelona hens that appeared on the Barcelona result a couple of weeks back. In preparation for St Vincent the hen had four races with the EECC and in two of these she took more than 12 hours to return, obviously putting her in fine fettle for this race. Ron's racers are fed a home made mixture made up from various GEM mixes and are allowed an open loft whenever Ron is around.

Mike and Cynthia Mitchell of Dover have an enviable record in recent years competing with the BICC, having won something like four long distance races on the International stage. In the St Vincent International their first of seven in the clock takes 9th section 9th Open. The other timers finish at 26th,30th,33rd, 35th & 41st section 34th, 38th, 41st, 44th,& 52nd & 55th Open. Mike was telling me that all seven were at Pau International earlier in the season and the first in the clock at St Vincent, incidentally found on the loft, was the last bird from Pau taking 111th Open. All seven birds are raced on Mike's celibacy system and all had been across the channel five times with the EECC in preparation for the BICC International race programme. An in depth loft report on the Mitchell loft can be found on the BICC web site.

Given the weather conditions in the UK on the day consisting of strong west south westerly wind and heavy rain, the next pigeon on the result at 1st west section 10th Open, clocked way out west at the Peasedown St John loft of Geoff and Catherine Cooper, deserves a medal the size of a dustbin lid! It would be fair to assume that this one broke for home fairly early in the race and in all probability raced single up for the greater part of the journey. The Coopers have enjoyed a terrific season in BICC races with 3 x 1sts and a second in the west section and here Geoff and Catherine clocked their blue widowhood cock at 18.09 to win 1st West Section. Appropriately, they have called the pigeon "Misty" to reflect the conditions on the day. "Misty" is an excellent racer for the Coopers. This year he has won 1st Minstead CHS, 5th Combine Minstead 44 miles, 1st CHS Saintes, 5th Combine Saintes 394 miles and is raced on the widowhood system.
"Misty"'s sire is "Keogan" who has won many top National prizes including 20th NFC Tarbes. "Keogan" is a son of "Jayneson" another top National racer and he was out of "Court Out" 1st Classic Pau for Guy Reed when paired to "Jayne" a top racer for Geoff and Catherine. "Jayne" in turn is the grand dam of Paul Kendal's champion racer "Morning Glory" 2 x 2nd Open NFC Pau.
"Misty"'s Dam is a daughter of "Blue Legend" a son of "Legend" 1st International Dax for Brian Sheppard when paired to a daughter of "Farm Boy" a top International and National prize winner for the Coopers and sire of "Farmer George" 1st International Bordeaux. The Coopers clocked a second bird on the second morning to take 2nd section as well and this three year old widowhood cock is now named "Stroller". His sire is "Ridge" a top prize winner and a son of Magnus 02 when he was paired to a daughter of Daybreak a Merit Award winner.
His Dam is a daughter of a brother to "JW" 1st National Falaise and the sire of "George" 1st Grand National Tarbes. He had the same preparation as their section winner going to Saintes three weeks before the St Vincent International.

The name of Preddy has been seen at or near the top of race results in the West Country for as long as I can remember and in the St Vincent race it is there yet again as Terry Preddy clocked to take 3rd West section with a two year old chequer cock called Becaito Boy, an amalgamation of his grand childrens' names. His sire was a chequer cock bred from the best of Terry's uncle Vic Preddy's birds and his dam was bred by Mark Gilbert and is a full sister to Southfield Darkie a top racer for Mark.
In preparation for this race the pigeon was sent to Bedhampton with the West of England South Road Combine in the early part of the season, returning home with his secondary flights missing. He was left alone until the BICC race from Falaise and was first bird back to the loft. He then went to Alencon, then Cholet where he was again first home to the loft. His next race was to Messac with the NFC making a mistake and taking 8 hours to return. In the four weeks leading up to the St Vincent race he had no training, only exercise around the loft. All the birds were paired up on the 14th February and when sitting 10 -14 days the eggs were removed and the pigeons went on to widowhood. The racing team of widowers never rear young birds before the start of the season and when racing are allowed an hour's free exercise twice daily being fed in after each exercise period with an ounce [28 grams] of widowhood mix. This was the cock's fifth trip across the channel this season. Terry was up at the crack of dawn on basketting day in order to put the hens in with his race cocks and these were left with the cocks until ready to go to the marking station late morning.
Terry would like to thank his wife Lyn for all her support, as pigeon racing would not be possible without her help.

Another partnership that needs no introduction is that of Lee and Dad Kevin Buddle of Dover. The 2012 season has been yet another successful one for these two extremely likeable characters and in the St Vincent race they follow up their 2nd Open BICC Pau International with 10th sect 11th Open. The first in the clock is a two year old chequer hen bred from two of the loft's great hens namely "Buddy" the mother of the loft and "Game" a terrific long distance racer for Lee and Kevin. Mated in February and raced on round about she had a few short cross channel races with the EECC before going to the Pau International where she was Lee and Kevin's second in the clock taking 45th Open BICC. Lee and Kevin clocked a further three birds on the second day to finish at 71st,76th & 78th Open.

John Wills of Frimley in Surrey has been a cornerstone of the BICC for more than 30 years and in that time has held many offices including the post of secretary. As most will also be aware John has also been an exceptionally successful fancier over many years and has to his credit six BICC Open wins in races over 500 miles plus numerous top ten finishes including 2nd Open Barcelona. The St Vincent International saw John clock a really big hearted pigeon for 1st Centre section 12th Open and what is even more remarkable is the fact that this was John's sole entry. He is a three year old cock that was raced on round about earlier in the season and then re mated for the Pau International where he took 41st Open sitting 16 day eggs. On returning from Pau he immediately took to his eggs and sat these eggs for the following three weeks before John slipped him a baby just before basketting for St Vincent. The cock is no stranger to success as he was 1st club 12th Combine in the longest club race in 2011. His breeding shows all the very best of the Leadbeater's ultra successful long distance family as his grandfather won 1st Bergerac only bird on the day at 560 miles.

I don't think I can recall a National result that has not included the name of Mark Gilbert at or near the top and the BICC St Vincent International race is no exception as Mark yet again clocked a good 'un to win 2nd Centre section 20th Open. Mark's first in the clock is a two year old hen raced on round about bred from a Deweerdt sire containing Ted and Magnus bloodlines . Her dam is a direct daughter of Southfield Supreme Mark's Dax International winner from more than 17,000 pigeons. Further timers at Southfield take 5th & 6th section 31st & 33rd Open. A comprehensive loft report on Mark can be found on the BICC web site.

Yet another top class long distance partnership comes in next at 3rd Centre section 25th Open - none other than A & T Deacon of Waterlooville. In fact Albi clocked three of his old reliable Southwells for 3rd, 7th & 8th, section. This is what Albi Deacon , BICC Chairman has to say:- "We clocked our arrival late on the night, one of our old Southwell Family a little dark 3 year old cock. He arrived looking very tired and dishevelled probably came in at Dover and worked his way along the coast., He was not raced last year after suffering a hawk attack in early season training .This year he went to Pau and arrived late next morning. We clocked another two little dark cocks early next morning and we have got another two since out of our seven entries. We have had a very disappointing season suffering a very bad race early on where we lost several of our best pigeons. We will glad to see the back of old bird racing this year. Hope the y.b.s. enjoy better weather. Congratulations to the winners".

The winner in the North section was clocked at 7.26 am on the second morning at the Norwich loft of Mick Bundy and this battler takes 24th Open. Mick clocked a 4 year old red cock of Nachtergaele bloodlines which is a previous winner of 4 x 1sts in sprint racing. The section winner has had a total of 11 races this year with Cannapeville at 245 miles being his last race two weeks earlier in preparation for St Vincent. The Bundy team are raced on widowhood and were mated in late January, reared a pair of young birds before going on to widowhood. Each cock is fed individually in their box and the food is usually measured out for sprint racing.
However with the St Vincent race at 636 miles the candidates were fed a stronger mix with more protein and fats added in the final days before basketting.
Barber & Wilkinson of Great Yarmouth clocked a four year old for 2nd North section and unfortunately, despite numerous attempts, I was unable to contact either partner.
My thanks once again for all the help given in compiling this report by those who have supplied photographs for publication at very short notice. I have also added a photograph of Mrs S Mayes pictured with loft manager Richard, who clocked the first bird recorded in the North section from the recent Barcelona International at 746 miles, but unfortunately just out of race time.
Finally, on behalf of the members of the BICC, our thanks once again go to Steve and Lesley Wright at The House of Aarden for their extremely generous sponsorship.

Gareth Watkins