BICC Le MANS Race Report.

The 2,255 birds entered by 261 members were liberated at Le Mans at 9 am on Saturday 28th July and faced a light north westerly breeze over the length of the course to their home lofts. The following is race controller John Tyerman's race advisor's report:-

"The entry of 2,255 pigeons for the Club's Le Mans race was above expectations for the time of the year and with the northwest wind influence it was predicted to be a steady fly back to the UK. Chief Convoyer Trevor Cracknell telephoned to report safe arrival at Le Mans on Friday and stated it was raining heavily there. Our weather advisor Steve Appleby rang Friday evening to confirm that the weather for Saturday looked favourable and confirmed he would give a full update early on Saturday morning. Steve telephoned around 6-30am on Saturday saying it was very dull and overcast at Le Mans and advised waiting until the sun broke through. Trevor was able to confirm the unfavourable conditions on site, so it was agreed to wait. Steve rang again around 8am to confirm that it was an improving weather picture with the adverse weather front moving away to the east. He also said that the channel was clear with light north west winds and excellent visibility, This information was relayed to Trevor and the birds were liberated at 9am in sunshine and light north west winds - they cleared very well."

Steve Appleby's weather report:-
After waiting for the overcast skies over Le Mans to move away eastwards as forecast, conditions improved vastly. Informed John Tyreman of the change with the weather as the general picture was now one of blue skies and broken cloud over the complete race route creating a perfect flying day. Added to that good quality air off the Atlantic produced excellent visibility especially over the channel. Winds over France were light mainly from the west north west but veered to a fresh north westerly air flow over the channel reaching maximum speeds of 14 mph. So with ideal weather conditions a good race was in prospect

Dudley Holmes of Spalding with his BICC Le Mans winner

Tracy Andrew Provisionally 2nd Open BICC Le Mans

P Jackson & son Provisionally 3rd Open BICC Le MansBicc

Alex MacKenzie prov 4th Open BICC Le Mans

Mark Gilbert prov 5th Open Le Mans

D Coward Talbott prov 7th Open BICC Le Mans

Vic Shaw & gson Andrew prov 8th Open BICC Le Mans

Mick & Lyn Chaplin with gdtr Isabella prov 9th Open Le Mans

Lee & Keiron Norris prov 10th Open BICC Le Mans

Terry Robinson Prov 11th Open BICC Le Mans

Mark Sparey Prov 3rd west section BICC Le Mans

I must point out at the start of this report that the following positions are purely provisional and are based on fanciers' first bird verifications. The final result may vary considerably.
Leading the way home and provisionally 1st North section 1st Open is a yearling widowhood cock to the Spalding, Lincolnshire loft of Dudley Holmes. He has had every MNFC race this year and was at Vire the week before Le Mans. On return from Vire he was left with his hen and so was basketted for Le Mans chasing his hen to nest. Sire of the National winner is a Demeester Janssen and the dam, of Soontjens bloodlines, is a race winner on the road before being put to stock. Dudley actually had two birds come together and the winner was the second bird to hit the trap but crossed the ETS pad first such was his haste to get back to his hen! The race team are fed individually in their boxes and also have access to a hopper of food. Exercised twice daily they are simply locked out for 1 - 1 ½ hours on each occasion and left to do as they please. Congratulations Dudley on what appears to be an excellent 1-2.
Tracy Andrew of Brighton looks to be 1st Centre section and 2nd Open with a Jos Thone cock raced on the natural system. Now named "Jumbo'Brother" due to his size he was bred by Mark Cowell of Ramsgate. The cock has been badly hawked twice, the second time at the start of the 2012 season and yet still retains his enthusiasm for racing. This season he has won 1st section in a Guernsey Open race and was at Saintes with the NFC the week before Le Mans. As with all the racers at the Andrew loft he has access throughout the day to hoppers filled with beans and one with chicken pellets. Tracy also hand feeds a mixture twice daily.

In 1st East section 3rd Open provisionally is the Bromley partnership of Lee and Joe Jackson. Lee writes :-
"The hen we timed first was raced as a baby on the darkness system racing consistent to 185 miles. This year due to other commitments and the sad loss of my father Peter the Hen has only been trained as I didn't have time or wanted to take the chance sending my hens against my widowhood cocks sprinting at Federation level as it spells a recipe for disaster at the home end.
Our decision was to use this race for a training toss and jump our yearlings into their first race of the season with the old hens National races in August and September in mind. She was paired to her cock in March and sat eggs for ten days then widowed she has been trained right up to the day of basketing she had a 40 mile sharpener where she was rewarded with her cock and box which she hadn't seen for 6 weeks.
Our hens are separated in aviaries and exercised every day and trained 2 to 3 times a week usually from 55 miles. The hens are not broken down and are always fed a full mix of Vanrobaeys ''super special'' .We keep a sharp eye on health problems paying particular attention to respiratory infections which we believe are the cause for heavy losses. Our section winning hen came on a good line and trapped through the ETS perfectly she is a Grand Daughter of my ''Goldmine Cock'' which in turn is a Grand son of Jos Thone's Ace producer ''Sars'' . Her Sire is full brother to my Ace racer ''Black Jack'' 5 X 1st Club 3 x 2nd Surrey Fed beaten twice by loft mates. We waited 11 minutes for a second pigeon where we had 2 together with a 4th arrival 2 minutes later by night fall we had 32 out of 49 entries. The pink stencils which are visible in the photo on each wing we've used since last year and find them a great Hawk deterrent well recommended!
I'd like to dedicate the section win to my late father Peter Jackson the picture is of me Lee on the left holding 3rd Open and my son Joe with our 2nd arrival".

At 2nd East section 4th Open is the Chelmsford partnership of Alex and Tony MacKenzie Alex and Tony would like to congratulate Mr Holmes on winning the race and go on to say…. "The breeding of our pigeon is:
- Sire is Van Loon Busschaert from our late great friend Stuart Elvin. The Van Loon is from B.Parrott and the Busschaert from Ronnie Williamson Ireland, both bought by Stuart.
- The Dam is from another good friend Brian Denham of Southminster and we call him The "Maestro of the outback" because of the winning he has done living out in the country. She is also Van Loon.
Our first in the clock that looks to be 1st East Section and possibly 4th Open is a 2 year old Blue Cock raced on widowhood. He has only been across the channel 4 times and has scored in all of them. His positions are 85th E section, 434th Open, NFC Messac 5,796 birds as a yearling at 288 miles. This year, 8th E Section, 8th Open, BICC Tours 2,538 birds 300 miles, 29th E section, 183rd Open, NFC Messac 5,764 birds 288 miles. And now 1st East section, 3rd Open, BICC Le Mans apprx 2,200 birds 256 miles.
We feed VL Gerry plus and Super Widowhood and we no longer use depurative as a break down mixture."

Mark Gilbert is there again at provisionally 2nd centre section 5th Open . Mark gives the following information:-The Le Mans race I had three birds drop together, all went to the NFC Saintes race last week.
The first bird is a roundabout hen of Van Elsacker line, she was 2nd in the old hens National race last year and was my first bird from the Southern Region open race this year.
The Second bird, is a Vandenabeele x Van Elsaker and this year she has been 3rd LSEC, 16th open BBC Niort, 6th Open BICC Agen when there was only 20 on the day out of 600birds; 7th Open NFC Saintes, and now probably a top ten open finish from Le Mans. She was also 9th Open Saintes NFC last year.
The third bird was a widowhood cock, out of a son of Drum when paired to a DeRauw Sablon hen from my friend Sheldon in Ireland.

Peter Gretton of Brighton is provisionally 3rd Centre section 6th Open but unfortunately I was unable to contact Peter as the number I have for him proved to be unobtainable.

David Coward Talbott of Chelmsford comes in next at 3rd East section 7th Open. David clocked a yearling hen flown on round about and the following are the details of her breeding.
Her sire, "Blue Brian", was bred by Brian Long from a daughter from the famous Emperor, when paired to his sister Britannia, both being bred down from Sumo and Eva. Emperor, of course is sire of The Legend winner of 1st International Dax 19,400, and also sire of 2nd International Dax 17,000 & 6th National Saintes NFC for Brian Sheppard plus many other performances.
Dam of the hen is "02 De Narbonne", a direct daughter of De Narbonne, 1st Belgian National Narbonne in 2000 when paired to a direct daughter of De Cahors. David rates his hen as one of his most consistent and best yearling hens.

Next we have one of the most successful fanciers to compete on the North road into London, none other than Vic Shaw of Harlow ably assisted by grand son Andrew. Vic has now decided to give the south road a go and in the Le Mans race the partners clocked a yearling widowhood cock to win provisionally 4th East section 8th Open. The cock's breeding shows the bloodlines of one of the top partnerships in Wales, Preece Brothers & sons on the sire's side and Soontjen bloodlines on the dam's side. As with all the Shaw widowers he was mated in mid January allowed to rear a round of young birds and then placed on widowhood. The racers are exercised once per day and hopper fed a good widowhood mixture as Vic has found that they eat more and hold their condition better when eating in competition with one another.

Mick and Lyn Chaplin of Woking timed a 2 year old widowhood cock of Burger, Wildemeersch and Van Loon bloodlines to finish at 4th Centre section 9th Open. This one was at Saintes with the NFC the week before Le Mans and on return was left with his hen up until basketting. The widowers are mated in mid February allowed to rear and then widowed. They are expected to race weekly throughout the programme and are fed a good widowhood mixture in their nest boxes after their twice daily exercise periods.

Lee and Keiron Norris come in next at 5th centre section 10th Open timing a Gay Pied Van Reet hen sent sitting 14days after having raced on the round about system earlier in the season. She has had every channel race thus far this year and it certainly hasn't done her any harm.

Yet another London north road legend comes in at 6th Centre section 11th Open- none other than Terry Robinson of Goff's Oak. Terry clocked a 3 year old widowhood cock which has already won 2 x 1sts at club level this season. He is bred from Terry's old Busschaert based family which, when racing on the north road, won 2 x 1sts Open LNRC. In fact Terry was the first London fancier to win two consecutive Combine races and these were from Stonehaven and Thurso which helped Terry win the Tommy Long Trophy for best average all Combine races that year. Since turning to the south road the Robinson team have continued their winning ways and amongst recent wins are 2nd & 5th BICC Perpignan.

Vic Emberson of Banstead takes 7th centre section 12th Open with a 2 year old dark chequer pied hen which was used as a widowhood hen for the widowhood cock team earlier in the season. She was then put into training and Le Mans was her first outing of the season. Bred by the very successful Leighton Buzzard partnership if Mr & Mrs Corkett & sons she has been housed with the young bird team for the past couple of weeks and has been teased by showing her to her mate at various times and was further motivated by allowing her in with her mate for two hours just prior to basketting. Geoff and Catherine Cooper have enjoyed an excellent old bird season with the BICC and at Le Mans "the dynamic duo" clocked a two year old widowhood cock called "Scar" to win 1st west section. He is called Scar because earlier this year he returned home with a large gash across his side and most of his tail missing through an encounter with a hawk. He has previously won 51st BICC National from Falaise.
His Sire is a nest brother to "Stroller" who won 2nd West Section from St Vincent International a couple of weeks ago, being a son of "Ridge" a top National and Classic prize winner.
The Dam is a daughter of "Multi Man" winner of multiple top National and Classic prizes when he was paired to a hen down from "350" and a daughter of "Emiel" 1st International Bordeaux. Next in the west section was one to the Rushwick loft of R. Rodway. Unfortunately I was unable to contact Mr Rodway to get details of his pigeon in time for this report to meet the publishing deadline. The winner of 3rd west section Mark Sparey of Abertillery who also falls into this category.

The winner in the North section is Dudley Holmes of Spalding already featured earlier in this report. Dudley may well take 2nd section and Open as well but a top class racing hen deserves mention here, raced by R Wilson of Norwich. This 3 year old grizzle hen of mainly Kirkpatrick bloodlines has had just about every race this season and has scored at club level in most of them. She was sent to Le Mans sitting and looks to be 3rd section.
Well that's another successful race completed - just the Perpignan International race remaining to complete a successful old bird season.

Gareth Watkins.