The weather in the week leading up to the Tours race, the third race in the BICC old bird programme was perfect with a big high pressure system sitting comfortably over the British Isles, bathing all regions in glorious sunshine. No doubt the keener fanciers amongst the membership were also trawling the internet weather sites to check if this uncommon weather would last until the weekend of the race.

Forecasts for the weekend predicted that the high pressure system would give way to a second high pressure system with accompanying easterly winds, so it was anticipated that the members in the more westerly regions of the club would go for broke and enter fair sized teams in the hope that they would capitalise on the prevailing favourable winds. The table included below shows the demographics of the race entry where 329 members entered 2,439 birds to compete in this 350 mile race. Once again the race was sponsored by Meriden Health and the winners of 2nd & 3rd in each section will receive a bottle of Orego Stim.

 This is race advisor John Tyerman's report on preparations for the liberation.

    "  During the week leading up to the Tours National I spoke several times with  our weather advisor Steve Appleby,  expressing concerns  about the strong north east winds forecast for  the channel on the race day.   Storms had also been indicated  and coupled with the strong winds there were  initial thoughts to move  the race back to Alencon.   I was able to discuss these concerns with Chairman   Albie Deacon and  with  Chief Convoyer Trevor Cracknell  when we loaded the  race birds  onto the transporter at Horndean on the Thursday evening.  However, by Friday morning  Steve was able to say that a race was possible but it was essential to get the birds into the air early on Saturday due to a weather front moving towards Tours from the west of France.   I relayed the weather prospects to Trevor at Tours  and after several update calls  our Convoyers liberated the birds at 6am on Saturday, into a cloudy but partial blue sky.  They cleared well into a light north east wind that was forecast to strengthen to  be force 5/7 in the Channel.   A stiff race was on the cards due to the prevailing strong north east winds both in the channel and on land.       Again thanks to Steve Appleby and our two Convoyers who always take good care of the birds"

 John Tyerman  Race Advisor.

Steve Appleby gives his synopsis of the prevailing weather conditions for the course of the race here:-

The main concern of the advisory team when examining  the weather conditions for this BICC race from Tours was the strength of the north easterly winds over the Channel.  Careful consideration was given to the overall situation before deciding to liberate. The six o'clock release of the BICC convoy was essential due the imminent arrival of heavy cloud which was forecast to move up quickly from the southern France. This early liberation also benefitted the BICC pigeons which were able to take advantage of the early lighter winds over northern France to as far as the coastline. As is always the case wind strength over the open sea is always greater than over the land mass. On this occasion they were recorded force 5 to 6 (19 to 31 mph) and at times gusting up to 40 mph over the Channel. (The wind flow chart indicates where the stronger winds were located.) Overall weather conditions were excellent the only adverse factor being the wind strength. Despite this a testing race followed with some excellent performances achieved. Well done to all the gallant pigeons reaching their lofts on the day of liberation.

Steve Appleby

The race turned out to be a stiff one with the strength of the north easterly wind determining the location of the winning pigeons, which were for the most part, to be found on the western side of the club's boundary. The following list of prize winners is purely provisional and is based on first bird verifications only. The final result may well differ.

The father and son partnership of John and David Staddon, previous winners of the BICC in 2012 from Carentan clocked first to win the race beating a "cavalry charge" of pigeons racing into Wales. Dave Staddon informs me that:-

" Our first BICC race of the season and We've won it again !!! What a feeling. Below are a few words about our winner and how he was prepared It certainly seems to be a lucky club for us. You may remember that we won 1st West Section 1st & 4th Open Carentan, 2nd Open Falaise & 4th Open Guernsey Young Bird race in 2012 with the BICC. 

We are absolutely over the moon to again win 1st West Section 1st Open BICC from Tours. We sent 3 cocks to this race all raced on our Chaos System as detailed in our article in the BHW Stud Book this year. This system was pioneered by the Verreckt Arien partnership in Belgium and we have slightly adapted it to suit our set up. The principals though are the same as Pascal's system. We were alerted to this method by Stuart Fawcett ( thanks Stu).

Our three entries had 3 short inland races with the West Of England South Road Combine from "Down The Leg". They have each then been to two channel races prior to the BICC Tours race, namely Carentan & Cholet NFC. All three cocks returned in immaculate condition in good time with our second bird likely to be in the first 25 in the open as well. Once again we'd like to congratulate Trevor Cracknell on the first class job he does in looking after the birds in both the BICC & NFC. The race controllers should also be thanked for taking the decision to liberate along with Trevor. It was always going to be a tough race with the strength of the wind in the channel and at the home end but the leading birds made light of these conditions. We are really proud of our winner in putting 43ypm between himself and the 2nd Open pigeon.

Our winning bird has now been named Shapway Matador in honour of our good friend Rob Brooks (he knows the reason why !!!). This does have something to do with the fact we feed Matador corn. We rate this food highly. He is bred for long distance racing and it's easy to see why he raced so well from Tours when you see his parentage. His sire Shapway Untouchable was bred by John Halstead from his Champion Barcelona Winner Untouchable ( thanks John !! ), the dam is our own Shapway Lady Caroline 1st West Section 2nd Open BICC Pau, 21st Open CSCFC Bergerac amongst others leading performances. So as you can see Matador is bred for the job. He was 9th Section 85th Open NFC Saintes 2012 as a yearling but this is the first time he has showed up this year. His next race maybe from Tarbes, we will see how is. "

A full  report on the Staddon's loft can also be found on the BICC web site. This was written following John and David's win from Carentan in 2012.

In the runners up spot is a three year old black hen flown on the roundabout system and racing to the Garndiffaith[Pontypool] loft of the multi National winning partnership of Ron Scammell and Paul Peploe. This one is bred in the purple as her sire is a full brother to a cock that Ron and Paul bred and gifted to Derek Flowers of Pontypool for whom he won 2 x 1sts National!!! These are the old Karel Hermans that Ron's father purchased from Basil Beebe of Horncastle and which have won literally scores of races through to 600 miles here in Wales. The black hen also contains the very best of Phil Edwards and Bernard Clarke bloodlines which have produced National winners and Gold Cup winners  for Ron and Paul as well as others. Preparation  for Tours was three races prior to basketting including the Carentan National two weeks previous.

In third Open position is one to the Padfields, brothers Vince and Dai, of Cwmtillery. The brothers have an enviable record in National and classic races out to 750 miles. In the Tours race they clocked a two year old cock flown on the round about system but will no doubt be re mated for the longer races to come. His reparation prior to basketting for Tours entailed no pre season training whatsoever but lifted off the loft into Bedhampton 110 miles for his first taste of the basket in 2013.
Sent to Carentan179 miles with the Welsh South Road Fed for his second outing of the season and then into Tours BICC for his 3rd race.

The breeding is the  old Wim Muller Jan Aarden family the sire being a son of the foundation of the loft "Old 89" a fantastic racer and G\sire to 2 x1st WSRNFC Tarbes winners. The dam of the sire is the original Wim Muller hen , mother of Padfields Perfection who was 1st, 3rd, 23rd &39th WSRNFC Pau - full of distance winning bloodlines.
The brothers timed 7 birds and had 8 out of 11 on the day.

Les Nicholls of Bristol comes in next at 4th section 4th Open with a  three year old clock bred down from his Nantes National winning family. Les has been extremely successful over the years winning 1st Open NFC Nantes, 1st Open BICC plus many other top ten finishes in National and Classic races. At Tours he clocked a cock flown on the "unnatural" system as he was sent sitting a duck egg which hatched out on the morning of basketting! It certainly seems to have done the trick. Les works nights so gets home in the early hours of the morning and his birds are already out and about as he employs the open loft system with the birds allowed their liberty 24/7. Hopper fed on a good strong mixture of beans, peas and maize the birds receive one 20 mile training toss prior to racing and then are raced every week inland and accross the channel to keep them fit and keen for the job.

Tony Coombs of Pontypridd, deep in the Welsh Valleys, fresh from his success in the recent Alencon race when his timer finished at 3rd section 4th Open, clocks another good one to finish at 5th section 5th Open. This is three year old widowhood cock and once again the bloodlines show a strong influence of the superb Staf Van Reet family cultivated by Tony's good friend Adrian Ware. This family won no less than 4 x 1st National for Adrian, including a 1st & 2nd Open in BICC races, plus many of the most coveted trophies open to competition here in Wales. The Coombs timer is no stranger to success as in 2012 alone he won the following prizes :- 113th Open BICC Alencon;110th Open BICC Falaise; 119th Open WSRNFC Le Mans and 1st section 3rd Open WSRNFC Tours.

Tony would like to thank the race control team and also the convoyers on a job well done as his pigeons returned home in excellent condition.

Double Queen's Cup and multiple National winners Preece Bros & sons partnership of Cwmtillery come in next at 6th section 6th Open. John Preece writes:-






The legend that is Brian Sheppard comes in next at 7th sect 7th Open with a six year old widower containing all the best of his old Venner x Trueman Dicken and "The Legend" Dax International winning bloodlines. This one has a host of previous National and Classic winning positions to his credit. Mated in late November, he raised three babies before being separated and re mated in February to sit eggs for a short time prior to being put on widowhood. His race preparation before Tours was races from Exeter, Newton Abbot, Guernsey and BICC Alencon. Brian likes the Versele Laga mixes and constantly experiments with various feeding regimes and this experimentation certainly doesn't prevent him from clocking top pigeons with monotonous regularity in National races.

John and Ann Rake of Caerwent come in at 8th section 8th Open with a four year old cock recently placed on widowhood but "courting2 two hens. He is of predominantly Delbar bloodlines with just a touch of the very best Andy Gregson Deweerdt blood thrown in for good measure. John and Ann exercise the birds twice daily and use two different Versele Laga widowhood mixes to condition the birds for National racing.

Next in at 9th section 9th Open is a fancier whose loft is in "red hot" form again this season - previous BICC National winner, Spencer Jones of Pontypool. Spencer's small but "perfectly formed" team of racers has appeared on just about every result of the 30 club strong Welsh South Road Fed this season topping the result on at least two occasions with more than 4,000 birds competing. At Tours he clocked a four year old widowhood cock of Cannon x Denney bloodlines which had previously flown Bergerac and Bordeaux. Spencer races both cocks and hens on his unique modification of the Widowhood system and feeds widowhhood mixes to appetite after the birds twice daily exercise periods which are forced if necessary. His first in the clock had received just one inland race and the WSRNFC Carentan race prior  to basketting for Tours.

The partnership of Backer & Selway from Highbridge complete the top ten in the provisional Open result . Unfortunately after several attempts to contact the partners for information about their pigeon I was unsuccessful.

Moving to the sections now and as can be seen from reading the above the first ten in the west section take the first ten in the Open result.

The Centre Section winner was clocked at the Wantage loft of Nigel Finch. This one is a two year old Mealy cock of Albert Marcellis bloodlines which was raced on the widowhood system earlier in the season and was then re - mated and sent to Tours sitting 12 day old eggs. He has had minor club positions previously but both his brothers are top class racers with a number of red cards to their credit. As with all the race team the mealy was mated in early February, fed a good widowhood mix and exercised twice daily with the occasional training spin thrown in for good measure as and when its needed.

Roger Lowe clocks one to take second centre section. Here's what Roger has to say about his timer:-

" Clocking at 13.41 for the 292 miles in a n/e wind I was not expecting to do so well. The first bird being a yearling widowhood hen first time of showing this season being late home from last seasons young bird National .She is a grand daughter of my best hen ever MY LITTLE DIAMOND winner of 1st NFC National in her only ever race breeding last years National race also grand daughter to Mark Gilbert's Southfield Supreme winner of 1st International Dax and grand daughter of Peter Fox's DRUM, so  she is bred from some of the best blood in the country .Having 12 out of the16 sent on the day it turned out to be a very hard but good race well done to the BICC race committee."  .

The well known and highly successful partnership of Bartlett & Jones come in next at 3rd Centre section with a three year old hen sent sitting and having her first channel race of the season. Her preparation for Tours was 5 or 6 inland races and two or three training tosses a week plus voluntary home exercise. She has won numerous prizes in National channel racing and is bred down from the partner's old established and highly successful Van Loon x Van Den Bosch bloodlines. Rob was telling me that they had another timer within a minute so should finish at 3rd & 4th section.

Over in the East section, where the birds had it all to do in the prevailing wind, a truly remarkable performance was put up by a yearling hen raced by 2012 Tarbes King's Cup winner and multiple Combine winner Mark Bulled of Harlow to win 1st East section. Mark writes:-

"My Section winning Tours pigeon is a yearling widowhood hen bred from my old distance family. She was on her third channel crossing this season after flying BICC Falaise and Alencon.
Her Dam was 8th LSECC Tarbes and she in turn is out of "Die Hard."

Die Hard, was a LNRC Hall of Fame winner himself as a racer and has been an outstanding stock pigeon. He is the sire of 1st NFC Tarbes, 1st LNRC Berwick and Gsire of 1st LSECC Tarbes and 1st SNFC Niort. "

Packer & Clarke of Grays in Essex, the section toppers in the previous BICC race from Alencon, again feature well up on the result clocking a yearling round about hen for 2nd section. This one is once again bred from their M & D Evans Shadow lines Vandenabeeles, which are really starting to motor for the brothers, producing top class performances in channel races at each time of asking. This week's timer is a very late bred hen that was too late to race as a baby in 2012. As with all the other birds in the team she was well trained down to the coast at around 60 miles and was then literally thrown in at the deep end with a first race from accross the English Channel to begin her racing career.

R & N Steptoe come in next at third East section clocking the same pigeon that was their first in the clock from Alencon two weeks earlier taking 3rd section on that occasion also. This one is a yearling widowhood cock bred by Neil's brother Wayne and is of Alfons Bauwens bloodlines.

The North section was won in Lutterworth , Leicestershire where Peter Oliver continued his section winning ways with one of his old tried and tested Logan family. Peter's timer is 4 year old red chequer cock that has a cross of Van Hee Motta lines in his breeding. Tours was only the third race of his life for this cock as he had spent most of the last two seasons in the stock loft and was brought into the race team only this spring. He was then mated  in mid February and allowed to rear a pair of babies. Exercised as often as the local raptor population will allow he ,like all the other birds in the Oliver loft, is fed on Peter's own mixture of farm based grains.

Mr & Mrs Stafford of Higham Ferrers clocked a 5 year old round about hen to take second North section. This is a Busschaert bred from stock obtained from Tim Rodwell of Gravesend which was 40th section in the recent Alencon race. Not raced for two seasons as she was used as a widowhood hen she seems to be making up for lost time.

 The section prize lists looks like this:-

West Section.

1st J & D Staddon vel 1233 ypm.

2nd Scammell & Peploe vel 1191 ypm.

3rd Padfield Family vel 1190 ypm.


Centre Section.

1st N. Finch vel 1144 ypm.

2nd Roger Lowe vel 1118 ypm.

3rd Bartlett & Jones vel 1101 ypm.


North Section.

 1st Peter Oliver vel 1003 ypm.

2nd Mr & Mrs Stafford vel 974 ypm.

3rd Peter Oliver vel 969 ypm.


East Section.

1st Mark Bulled vel 992 ypm.

2nd Packer & Clarke vel 973 ypm.

3rd R & N Steptoe vel 970 ypm.


The above list of section prize winners and their corresponding velocities demonstrates the effect that the north easterly wind had on the outcome of the race. No doubt things will even up during the season when the predominantly westerly air stream re establishes itself over the British Isles.

 The Internationals are now upon us and here's wishing good luck to all those BICC members who compete. The winner of each International race will receive a youngster to the value of £450 bred from the principal stud cocks generously donated by Steve and Lesley Wright of the House of Aarden.

 Gareth Watkins

John & DaveStaddon 1st OpenBiccCarentan 2012 and 1st Open BICC Tours 2013

BICC Les Nicholls 2ndOpen BICC Carentan & prov 7th Open BICC Alencon 2012 .Les is 4th Open BICC Tours 2013

Brian Sheppard & Champion Jingles. Brian looks to be 7th section 7th Open BICC Tours

John & Ann RAKE 8th Open BICC Tours

Mark Bulled's two daughters Abbie and Charlotte

Nigel Finch 1st centre section BICC Tours

Packer & Clark 1st East section BICC Alencon two weeks ago and now 2nd section Tours

Preece Bros & sons of Cwmtillery prov 6th Open BICC Tours

Rob Jones of Bartlett & Jones Southampton 3rd Centre sect BICC Tours

Roger Lowe fresh from his audition of the reforming of The Village People. Roger takes 2nd sect BICC TOURS

Ron Scammell of the Scammell & Peploe partnership with son Dellan. The partnership were 2nd sect 2nd Open BICC Tours

Tony Coombs of Pontypridd 5th sect 5th Open BICC Tours with grand daughter Keah. Tony was also 4th Open BICC Alencon two weeks earlier

VINCE&DAVEPADFIELD 3rd section 3rd Open BICC Tours pictured with John & David Staddon 1st BICC Tours