The second race of the BICC old bird race programme took place from Alencon on Saturday 25th May when   members entered almost 5,000 birds. It seems as if the BICC is on course to break all previous records this season with increased membership and a subsequent increase in the number of birds entered in each race thus far.

  The Alencon race, as with all the other National races, is sponsored by Meriden Health Products and the owners of the pigeons placed in 2nd & 3rd positions in each section will receive a bottle of Orego Stim.

So to the weekend of the race and the low pressure system that  brought high winds and rain to the eastern side of the British Isles on Thursday and Friday had moved south eastwards during the Friday night and its remnants were causing havoc in north east France overnight and in the early hours of Saturday morning. The resulting poor weather conditions caused all organisations racing from France to postpone any thoughts of an early liberation until the system had passed through.

This is race advisor John Tyerman’s  report on the preparations for the race:-

 " With an excellent entry of around 4,791 birds both transporters were almost  full  to capacity.  Many members have commented favourably on the new transporter and I am told that there have been no problems.    With the very large birdage our Convoyers had to work extra hard collecting from the various marking stations and extra crates have now been delivered to Ash. Our thanks to Albi, Mick and the Horndean team who loaded the lorries, prior to their departure for the overnight ferry to Caen. This time the sea was calm and by mid morning on Friday Chief Convoyer Trevor Cracknell reported safe arrival at a wet and windy Alencon.   Our weather advisor Steve Appleby had been tracking this low pressure system and was confident it would move away in time for the Saturday race.   Steve gave a full accurate weather picture which was passed to Trevor at the race point on Friday evening.   I again spoke with Steve around 6am on Saturday (25th) and he noted the inclement weather was still over Northern France but was moving south away from Alencon.   He advised waiting until this system had cleared and this information was passed to Trevor, who confirmed a rather chilly morning at Alencon with full cloud cover. I spoke with both Steve and Trevor several times that morning and with a greatly improved weather picture the birds were eventually liberated at 9-40am into sunshine and a light north easterly wind.   The Channel was clear with mainly force 4/5 northerly winds backing at times to NW force 4/5.   Weather in the UK was mainly sunny with a northerly wind influence which later resulted in a fair and steady race with 358 verifications from members all over the country.    Thanks again to our Convoyers and also Steve Appleby who as usual gave sound and accurate weather advice. "

 John Tyerman
Race Advisor

 Our weatherman Steve Appleby gives his weather report below:-

“The poor weather that that affected England on Friday moved southwards into central France over night. The remnants still affected the channel and Northern France at first light on Saturday morning. As pressure rose conditions soon improved and the forecast for fair weather with sunny periods  materialised. The flight path from northern France to southern England was one of broken cloud and sunshine. Visibility excellent just the head winds for the pigeons to negotiate. Early on the winds over the channel were moderate northerly easterly but as the morning progressed veered to a more northerly direction. These winds were forecast to decrease in speed but this appears not to be the case over the eastern side of the channel. They maintained a velocity of 15 mph from the north for most of the day as supported by data received from the channel meteorological buoy. Overall the head winds were the deciding factor resulting in a testing race.

 At this point I should point out that the following positions are purely provisional and are based on first bird verification times. The final result may well vary.

Although the wind in the channel was forecast as light north, north east it was certainly strong enough to influence the outcome of the race, as the fanciers on the western side of the club enjoyed an excellent race with the Welsh contingent in particular smiling the widest. As the late Bill McLaren would have said “there’ll be a lot of whooping and a hollering in the valleys tonight!!”

  The winner was clocked at the Tredegar lofts of Williams Brothers & son on a velocity of 1252 ypm. Lyn Williams and son Byran have enjoyed great success in Wales on the north road where they won 1st WGNFC Thurso in 1977 and also on the south and south east routes into Wales, winning National races from Eastbourne, Folkestone and Lillers.

I can still recall handling the sire of their 1977 Thurso National winner a lovely dark chequer Westcott cock bred by the late Derek Watkins of Merthyr. I rate this dark cock as one of the three finest pigeons I have handled and rank him alongside Geoff Cooper’s Bulldog and John Woodsford’s Black Velvet. The Alencon winner is a yearling widowhood hen.  The sire is 100% Boscheind fliers bloodlines being a grand son of the 499 cock and also Sweetheart he has proved to be a top class stock cock as he has bred 3rd National Bonn and 3rd National Carentan young birds to mention just two of his offspring. The winner’s dam is a red hen bred from a mealy cock which won 1st Irish Yearling National for Walker& Watson. This mealy was loaned to the Williams’ by John Wheat croft and he was mated to the Williams’ Eastbourne National winner to breed the red hen. The red hen in turn is sister to cocks that have won 10th National Metz, 8th & 12th National Bonn and 17th National Bonn plus another cock that topped the Fed from 5,500 birds from Newbury. So you could say that the Alencon winner is absolutely drenched in top class winning bloodlines within her immediate family. The Alencon success makes it a total of FIVE National wins for the partners as they had previously won 1st WGNFC Thurso in 1977, 1st National Eastbourne in 2006,1st National Folkestone 2010 and 1st National Lillers 2012 and what is even more amazing is the fact that the 2006 Eastbourne National winner is the dam of the 2012 Folkestone National winner. A full loft report on the Williams partnership and all other BICC race winners will appear in due course.

Williams Bros & son 1st BICC Alencon John Burgham, Byran and Lyn Williams

1st BICC Alencon for Williams Bros & Son, Tredegar

D & J Cook 3rd Centre section 10th Open BICC Alencon

Derek Packer & Brian Clarke 1st East section 7th Open Alencon

Dudley Holmes of Spalding with his BICC Le Mans winner of 2012. Dudley was rd North section BICC Alencon 2013

G & C Cooper's with good friend Peter Miessner holding their timers in the BICC Alencon race including 4th sect 6th Open

John & Pat Webber's blue hen 6th west section 9th Open BICC Alencon

Malik & Khan 1st centre section 3rd Open BICC Alencon

Mark and Karen Gilbert with NFC trophies won in 2011. Mark looks to be 2nd section 4th Open BICC Alencon 2013

Mark Bulled 2nd section BICC Alencon with daughter Abbie

Michael Sault of Norwich holding blue cock 5th North section 13th Open Falaise and provisionally 1st North section Alencon with the BICC

Packer & Clark 1st East section BICC Alencon

Peter Atherton 5th West section 8th Open BICC Alencon

R & N Steptoe 3rd East section BICC Alencon

Selwyn Ashton & Family 2nd Open BICC Alencon

Steve Gibson of the S & M Gibson partnership holding Red Cock Big Mervyn winner of 6th East section 7th Open Falaise

Tony Coombs 3rd section 4th Open BICC Alencon with grand daughter Keah

The Port Talbot partnership of G & S R Ashton come in next at second west section 2nd Open. I have known Selwyn and son Steven for many years and they have always been hard workers within the sport as well as top class fanciers. Their Alencon timer is a two year old dark chequer Staf Van Reet widowhood cock. This one has had all but one of the inland races with the Welsh South Road Fed only missing out on the Littlehampton race the week before Alencon. He was tossed twice from Cardiff during the week leading up to Alencon and like the other cocks in the team, is exercised twice a day for 45 – 60 minutes when the cocks are locked out to do as they please. The feeding here is a combination of Bamfords and Gem mixtures including Gem Cowood and some Versele Laga Gerry Plus. Steven mixes the corn to suit the type of racing that the birds are undergoing. The loft is in fine form at the moment as in the Littlehampton race the week before Alencon, the Ashtons topped the West section of the 30 club strong Welsh South Road Fed.

 The Tolworth partnership of Malik & Khan come in next to win 1st Centre section 3rd Open .  Imran Malik writes the following :-“Firstly we would like to thank the convoyers for looking after the birds they arrived in good condition, and we had 9 out 10 sent on the day. We have named her "ACE RIGBY" who has previously won a 1st and 2nd and was 7th Combine. We would like to dedicate the section win to this country's hero Lee Rigby, the soldier tragically killed in Woolwich. 

The sire is a direct son of “Tips” bred by Eijerkamp in Holland and the dam is a full sister to “Eagle Boy” of Frans Zwolls. She was sent on the widowhood system and we feed our own mix of widowhood corn.”  

 Yet another Welshman takes 2nd West section 4th Open none other than Pontypridd’s Tony Coombs who clocked a widowhood cock of Staf Van Reet bloodlines containing all the best of Adrian Ware’s multi National and multi award winning bloodlines. Tony’s first in the clock is a two year old late bred that had three races as a young bird the third of which was Carentan. As a yearling he crossed the channel 7 times with either the BICC or Welsh SRNFC and this season he has had four inland races plus Carentan with the NFC last weekend and now Alencon with the BICC. The cocks are allowed an open loft for I hour twice daily and are allowed out in all weathers. Feeding is a combination of Gem plus at the start of the week followed by super widowhood from Gem as race day approaches. Tony has asked me to thank his good friend and mentor Adrian Ware for all his help and advice since his restart in the sport just a few years ago.

The world renowned Winkfield wizard Mark Gilbert gets one on the clock for 2nd Centre section 5th Open. Mark writes:-“My first Bird was a yearling widowhood cock, a son of Southfield ED who was a very good racing cock for me and is now at Stock. He is a Grandson of Tips and his best racing performance was 1st Sect E NFC from 1,250 Birds in the  St Malo National along with many more high National positions. He was paired to a double grand daughter of Koopmans Kleine Dirk to breed this week’s first in the clock.

My second Bird 4 minutes later was a roundabout hen bred direct from  Southfield Champ 1st National Flying club 4,128 birds and the mother was a daughter of Lazer Gun of Marcel Sangers.

The birds have been coming well inland winning the BBO fed twice with over 3,300 birds. I was a little disappointed with my first couple of Channel races, but the birds seem in very good form this week also taking the first 4 in the London and South East Classic”.

 Geoff and Catherine Cooper timed a two year old widowhood cock flying 228 miles to win probable 4th West Section, 6th open.

Their first bird is called Wriggleson, as his sire is Wriggler who won 1st BICC Falaise National and 5th National Dax.  Wriggleson's dam is a daughter of George, 1st National Tarbes and sire/g.sire of many top National and International winning pigeons.

 Geoff and Catherine also clocked two other birds within a couple of minutes which will figure high up in the result, their velocities are 1186 and 1184.

The second pigeon clocked was Misty who has won many top National prizes and the third one clocked was out of a sister to Misty.

The photo that accompanies this article shows Geoff holding Wriggleson, Catherine holding Misty and good friend Tony Miessner holding the cock out of the sister to Misty.

 The partnership of Derek Packer and his half brother Brian Clarke top the East section with a yearling blue hen flown on the round about system. This hen was unraced as a youngster and had just three races in the run up to basketting for Alencon. She is of M & D Evans Vandenabeele bloodlines being both a grand daughter of McLaren and Saffron as well as Miss Eisen. As with the other birds on the system she was mated in the second week of February and subsequently separated and put on round about. The partners had a second pigeon just behind and this one could well finish at 2nd section and this one is also a Vandenabeele containing Lord of the Rings and Eisenhauer bloodlines once again from M & D Evans.

Peter Atherton of Portishead takes 5th west section 8th Open on the provisional result. Peter clocked  a three year old hen of basically Janssen bloodlines . Flown on the natural system she was sent sitting 10 day old eggs. She was mated in early January and allowed to rear a pair of youngsters before being separated for a short time and then re mated for racing . Hopper fed a good mixture of three different varieties of widowhood corn she enjoys an open loft on most days to come and go as she sees fit

The multi National winning partnership of John and Pat Webber of Six Bells in the Gwent Valleys come in for 6th west section and 9th Open. The partners timed  a pigeon that they purchased  off the pigeon chat web site from John and Bas Nicol, She raced the full programme as a young bird. Her sire and dam have bred multiple Fed and

Combine winners and are bred from the best of Wall,Lunt & Green bloodlines via Tame 21 x Skylark and Shadow x Lowikie of de pasch.

The hen has been quite consistent this season racing well to the loft

 The Wandsworth partnership of Dave and Jimmy Cook complete the top ten in the Open result with a three year old Vandenabeele hen of Clive Lister bloodlines. This one is raced on the natural system and is mated to a fantail cock. She was sent sitting 7 day eggs, and Alencon at 208 miles to the Cook loft, was her first race of the season having previously only been trained to 50 miles  three times plus a couple of 20 mile tosses to sharpen her up. She is a previous winner of 1st Open LSECC Carentan,6th Open LSECC, 46th Open LSECC and 201st Open NFC Saintes so is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure.

   Provisionally 1st North section is a real trooper of a pigeon raced by septuagenarian Michael Sault of Norwich. Michael clocked the same pigeon that finished at 6th section 13th Open BICC two weeks earlier at Falaise. This is a four year old widowhood cock of Page Brothers Janssen x Jim Mills De Klak bloodlines that had been to three inland races before basketting for Falaise and then two weeks rest before basketting for Alencon. He has now won 4 x 1sts in Channel races and topped the Fed on each occasion – some pigeon. Michael was telling me that the cocks are allowed out twice daily for one hour and are allowed to do as they please. Feeding is a combination of Gem Best All Round and super diet.

In second spot in the north section is yet another top class fancier, Peter Mallett of Bury St Edmunds. Peter clocked a widowhood cock to take 2nd North section and this one also tops Peter’s local Fed into the bargain. He is a previous winner of 3rd sect BICC Pau International in 2012 and his nest mate has also won 1st section BICC Agen/Bordeaux. These two brothers are a mixture of William Geerts and Robert Venus “Supercrack” bloodlines that have served Peter well over the years. Peter had 9 from 11 sent on the day with the other two strolling in on the second morning none the worse for wear.

Dudley Holmes, the 2012 BICC Le Mans winner, comes in at 3rd North section with a three year old late bred widowhood cock of Janssen x Van Reet lines which has been a consistent inland performer and was having only his second ever tilt at the Channel, having previously flown Falaise with the BICC two weeks earlier.

Packer & Clarke top the East section as mentioned above and in second spot in the section is King’s Cup winner Mark Bulled of Harlow. Mark writes:-

I timed a 2 year old blue widowhood hen, bred from a combination of the pigeons I’ve had over the years. Her sire was 7th BICC Poitiers and her Dam 5th LSECC Bergerac.

This hen thrives on work as this is her third channel race on consecutive weeks in 2013.

As a yearling she flew the channel 6 times and is always consistent.

Her next race will be either BICC Tours or BBC Niort.

I sent 31 to the race and had 24 on the day and 4 next morning. A good tough but fair race.”

 Dick and Neil Steptoe of Oxted take 3rd East section with a yearling blue widowhood cock. Mated in January he reared a nest of babies was then separated and re mated in March and allowed to sit for five days before being put on widowhood. He has had four inland races and this was his first time over the channel. Brother Wayne Steptoe bred the cock from a pair of Alfons Bauwens pigeons purchased at Telford show from Hartsway Lofts.

   So the section results look like this:-

West section.

1st Williams Brothers vel 1252….

2nd G & S R Ashton vel…1230

3rd Tony Coombs vel 1197….

 Centre Section.

1st Malik & Khan vel1200…..

2nd Mark Gilbert vel 1195

3rd  D J Cook Brothers vel 1170 …

East Section.

1st Packer & Clarke vel 1182….

2nd Mark Bulled vel 1162.8

3rd R & N Steptoe vel 1162.6

North Section.

1st Michael Sault vel 1131

2nd Peter Mallett vel 1129

3rd Dudley Holmes vel 1125

  After speaking to the fanciers in the process of compiling this report, each and every one praised the condition of the pigeons on their return and most who I contacted had enjoyed excellent returns. The convoying team lead by Trevor Cracknell, deserve credit for all their hard work in the care of the birds. The race advisory team of John Tyerman and weatherman Steve Appleby also deserve our thanks for all their hard work, professionalism and astute judgement. Well done all on producing a fair race in which all sections of the club were able to compete on an almost equal footing given the weather conditions.

And so to close another race report I have the following information regarding the Falaise race.

In my report on the Falaise race I pointed out that I was unable to contact the partnership of S & M Gibson whose pigeon took 6th East section 7th Open as they had omitted to add a contact telephone number with their membership application. However, Steve Gibson subsequently contacted me and here is the story of their winning pigeon:-

“This is my 2nd year back in pigeons after a 20year break, previously racing in Lisburn, Northern Ireland under the name of S & M Gibson, the 'M' being my Uncle Mervyn who lived for pigeons and pigeons only.  This is my 1st year racing old birds in a very strong Medway Club and also my 1st time racing across the channel and my 1st race in the BICC.Our timer in the Falaise race, winning 6th sect 7th Open, is a Red Cock whose sire is a  Jan Theelen, a gift from my Uncle Mervyn when I started up again. The dam is a pigeon that I purchased at a bereavement sale for just £5.  The red cock is currently on the roundabout system and I would like to thank Wise & Tight for the guidance in employing this system.  My uncle Mervyn sadly passed away in July last year and I’m sure he had a helping hand in guiding the pigeon home.”

Well that’s it - next race Tours on the 8th June. Good luck to all who compete.

 Gareth Watkins