Pau International



 The first International race of the season for members of the BICC took place from Pau in the foothills of the Pyrennes on schedule on Friday 14th June. The table reproduced below shows that 92 members entered 313 pigeons to compete against each other for the first UK pigeon home in this prestigious race and 8,527 other pigeons entered by the best fanciers throughout mainland Europe. The weather forecasts throughout the week predicted good weather at the race point in south west France with a light north easterly breeze cooling the birds as they raced north along the length of the country. As it transpired, the wind in south west France at time of liberation i.e. 5.45 am[BST] was reported as light northerly changing to east north east around the Bordeaux area and south, south east at Angers with a southerly breeze helping the birds on once they reached the French coast. The BBC shipping forecast gave south westerly force 4/5 in the channel early in the day turning to southerly force 5/6 later on. The race was on and with the hope that the British contingent would have a better than evens chance of success given the easterly influence in the wind direction in the early part of the race.

British entries

NORTHAMPTON           3          5

CHESTFIELD                9         148

BATH                           10         53

S.OCKENDON              7          16

ASH                             25         80

STOWMARKET              8          11

                                   92         313

European Entries.

BELGIË - BELGIQUE - BELGIUM - BELGIEN              2075   






 TOTAAL - TOTAL - TOTAL - INSGESAMT                 8527

  The race turned out to be an absolute triumph for the small British contingent as not only was the overall International winner clocked in the UK but British pigeons took the following positions in the Open result:-
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th,16th, 24th,34th,63rd & 68th. A truly remarkable set of performances put up by the seven fanciers concerned. Congratulations to you one and all - you have made the British fancy extremely proud.
First in the clock and taking 1st,8th & 15th Open International was the West Country partnership, and now double International winners, Geoff and Catherine Cooper of Peasedown St John, a small village situated near the historic city of Bath. Geoff and Catherine had a marvellous weekend also winning 1st ,5th,6th,47th & 65th Open BICC.  as mentioned above, this is the second International win for the Coopers as they also won 1st International Bordeaux (Agen) in 2011.
The Coopers have developed a team of pigeons that will fly in all winds and weather and the 2013 Pau International was a good example of racing in all winds.  The birds were liberated in a north east headwind, turning east on route, a side wind, then southerly, a tail wind and finally in the UK south westerly. Their chequer white flight hen, called Wollongong, landed a few minutes before Geoff's expected arrival time and they knew then they had a good bird.  They  clocked two more hens, Georgia Jean and Carla Page to be provisionally 5th & 6th Open BICC and 8th and 16th Open International.  Last year Georgia Jean was 1st Section 27th National BICC Pau International.
Prior to basketing for the Pau International, Wollongong and the other hens had four consecutive channel races then two weekends off before going to Pau.

Wollongong, is a 2010 hen bred from Gina, a half sister to George, the 1st Grand National winner and sire/g.Sire to many top birds, when paired to a grandson of Euro Diamond and Marseille King from Clive Lister.  She has been an excellent racer, winning 4th High Littleton Open Tours as a young bird, not raced as a yearling then raced through to Pau International as a two year old where she won 3rd  section, 35th  BICC Pau International.
All birds at the Cooper loft are raced on widowhood.  The hens are raced exactly the same as the cocks, paired up in the early spring, some reared, some only sat eggs,  then exercised twice a day when racing starts.  They all see the cocks before basketing and they always have their cocks waiting for them when they get home.  The racing hens are paired to cocks bred from the stock loft or retired racers.  The widowhood cocks are raced the same, always seeing their hen before they go to the race and always their hen waiting for their return.They started this season with about 55 cocks and 27 hens in the race team. 
The Cooper family is based on the Deweerdts of Kortemark Belgium.  Geoff and Catherine visited in the 80's and 90's and purchased from Deweerdt's best.  These were the foundation of their present day family, with a small number of top winning pigeons introduced over the last 30 years.   This family has bred a record number of top winning pigeons for other fanciers as well as for themselves.
George the 1st Grand National winner has bred three different children which have bred 1st International Bordeaux Old Birds, 2nd International Bordeaux Yearlings for Mark Gilbert, and Scotty 3 x 1st National Section plus many other top performers.

Geoff and Catherine's  two other hens clocked on the day were ,as mentioned above, a three year old hen called Georgia Jean which wins 2nd WS 5th National and provisionally 8th International. In last year's Pau International race Georgia Jean was 1st West Section. She was raced widowhood, not roundabout, coming back to the cocks just as widowhood cocks are raced.
She is very well bred, her sire is Blue Legend, a son of Legend 1st International Dax 2003 for Brian Sheppard and her dam is a daughter of George, winner of 1st Grand National Tarbes and g/sire to Farmer George 1st International Bordeaux. She is called Georgia Jean in memory of Brian's wife Jean who was a good friend of Geoff and Catherine.
The next pigeon clocked was a two year old hen called Carla Page who won 3rd West Section, 6th National and provisionally 16th International. She is called Carla Page because she was bred by Alan and Carla Hudson, before Carla and Alan were married, hence Carla Page, and given to Geoff and Catherine to race. She was also raced widowhood.
Her Sire was a son of Mistral an exceptional racer for HP Brockamp when paired to a hen Carla and Alan bought from Geoff called Miss Magnus, who is a daughter o Magnus, a top International racer for Deweerdt.
Finally Geoff and Catherine would like to congratulate all those other British fanciers who timed well up in the race. A fuller report on the birds and methods employed at the Cooper loft can be seen on the BICC web site.

 In second Open BICC and also 2nd Open in the International result is D & D McFadden. This partnership is no stranger to success at the highest level as the name McFadden can be seen regularly on the result sheets of all the classic and National organisations. Darren's timer wins 1st Centre section. Darren writes:-
" Firstly can I congratulate Geoff and Catherine Cooper on winning yet another International, they make it look so easy. Also to Mark Gilbert for being at the very top of the result yet again as is the case in most races. I have become friends with these 3 over the past few years and they have been a great help with all our winter chats over feeding etc, so to be in the middle of these two at the top of the international result is far beyond what I ever thought I would achieve and I don't think it has really sunk in yet.
As a point of interest this year I changed all my pent roof sheds to one long Tranter tiled loft and quite a few people told me stories of how the birds are never happy racing to a new loft and that it can takes years for them to settle in and win again! Well I think the birds are now telling me they like their new home. much to my relief!
Here are the details of my timers last night!
My first arrival is a blue cheq hen of Van Berkel x Van Bruaene bloodlines and was flown on pure widowhood. She has always been a consistent hen but this year she seemed to raise her game a bit. I sent her to the BBC Carentan race and timed her first for 11th sect G, then followed that with the NFC Carentan where she was 5th Section A. She then had the BICC Alencon being my 8th arrival and 2 weekends ago was sent to the NFC Cholet race and was my 2nd arrival in 25th section A.
Her previous best form has been 2010 32nd Open LSECC Bergerac, 2011 287th Open Tarbes NFC 3290b and last year was 80th Open BBC Messac and 153rd Open BICC Agen international.
Both parents of this hen were clocked from the Tarbes NFC Races in their careers and have bred me some good birds,  this one being the best! Her brother "Millie's Blue boy" is a London and southeast classic club Merit award winner from Tarbes.
I timed a 5 year old grizzle cock an hour later and he looks like being 5th Section, 11th Open BICC and like the hen before him has been a consistent pigeon during his racing career! His mother is another London and Southeast Classic club Merit award winner and his father is a Cannon cock gifted to me in 2002 by Mick Tuck of Witley from his very successful Eric Cannon bloodlines. Both of these birds were clocked on the day from Tarbes!
This Grizzle is also a half brother to last years 4th Open NFC Tarbes cock so again a good line of pigeons.
He was flown on widowhood and previous to this race he had a Fougeres and Messac with the South coast and Solent fed and then went to the NFC Cholet race! Previous form for this pigeon from the distance  340th Tarbes 2011 and 129th BICC Agen 2012".
Well done Darren.

The triple International winner Mark Gilbert maintains his unbelievable success story clocking to take 2nd section 3rd Open BICC and 3rd Open in the International result. Mark's other timers come in at 8th,12th,36th & 69th Open BICC. The second in the clock takes 34th Open International provisionally. I handled these two round about hens a couple of days after the race and they were none the worse for wear and will in all probability get another tilt at the Continentals in an International race later in the season. The first in the clock is a small to medium sized shallow keeled blue hen who won 72nd Open NFC Tarbes 570 miles in 2012. Her sire is a son of Smaragd11the Barcelona International winner from21,176 birds when Smaragd 11 was mated to his own daughter. The dam is a top breeder at Southfield being a full sister to Emiel Deweerdt's Champion Iban .
Second bird home is a dark chequer of similar build to the 3rd Open winner and she again is a top racer for Mark having won on previous occasions.
Mark keeps the hens in a section where the floor is covered to a depth of a foot with plastic balls. These serve to keep the hens off the floor and so prevent mating. They are exercised twice a day which is forced if necessary and fed as much as they like in a hopper.

 Colin Draper of Yalding comes in next with a four year old round about cock to win 1st East Section 4th Open BICC and 4th Open International. Colin's timer is a dark chequer cock of basically Kirkpatrick bloodlines . Mated in mid February he was allowed to rear two babies in his first nest before being separated and placed on the round about system. As with the others in the race team the cock had 5 or 6 tosses before the start of the season plus a couple of club races before being sent to Alencon with the BICC in preparation for the Pau International. Colin does not show the hens to the cocks before basketting but simply allows them access to their nest pans and then its "off to the races". The race team are fed Gerry Plus at the beginning of the week changing to a stronger super widowhood mixture as race day approaches.

 Derek Doyle of  Maidenhead takes 7th Open BICC and 24th Open International with a two year old latebred which was gifted to Derek by John Prentice of Flackwell Heath when Derek came over to the UK from his native Ireland. This one has Ken Hine's long distance family on the sire's side of the pedigree with the old Dordins on the dam's side. Raced on the natural system and sent to Pau sitting 7 day old eggs. The cock had been entered in a couple of club races with the addition of two BICC channel races from Falaise and Alencon in preparation for the Pau International which was Derek's first attempt at International racing.
In 2nd East section 9th Open position plus 63rd Open International is a real trooper of a pigeon to the Hockley Essex loft of David Hales. David is yet another previous winner of 1st Open BICC as the half brother to this year’s 9th Open Pau International pigeon won 1st Open BICC Perpignan a few years back. David clocked a 4 year old widowhood cock of Alan Parker bloodlines. The same cock notched up 6th Open BICC Pau and 3rd Open BICC Marseille International in 2012. The Hales team of widowers is exercised once daily and are fed communally in a hopper. David does not show the hens on basketting and likes to keep everything as simple and time saving as possible with no frills. He understands that this may result in the cocks taking longer to “cotton on” to the widowhood system but it seems to pay dividends in the long term.

The first Welsh pigeon to appear on the result at 4th section 10th Open BICC and 68th Open International was clocked at the Portskewett loft of Terry and Carol Gardner. The partners' timer is a two year old chequer w/f cock sent sitting 4 day old eggs after being re mated following a period of separation. The  Pau cock's sire won 1st National for Terry and Carol and was bred by Jack Randall from his great hen Lady Jane 6 times Palamos and always in the prizes. The National winner also contains Jan Aarden bloodlines via Louella. The dam of the 10th Open Pau cock was purchased direct from Louella  specifically to pair to the National winner and contains Invincible Spirit, De Joop and De Barcelona bloodlines. The preparation prior to basketting for Pau International was  8 tosses at 10 miles followed by BICC Falaise where he finished at 28th west section BICC and then into Pau. The Gardner team enjoy an open loft whenever possible and only compete in National and International races as Terry and Carol have just one club the 50 member strong Gwent Greater Distance Club which is affiliated to the BICC.

 The North section was won on the second morning by a bird racing to the Stowmarket loft of Richard and Sheila Mayes. The partners clocked a four year old chequer cock of Jim Biss [ via the late Brian Long] and Vandevelde bloodlines sitting three day old eggs.

The top class Bury St Edmunds fancier Peter Mallett comes in with a four year old widowhood cock of William Geerts x Robert Venus bloodlines to add to his impressive haul of section prizes with the BICC.

Third in the North section is a bird flying up to Great Yarmouth to the loft of G.P. Debbage who clocked the furthest flying pigeon on the result.  Gavin clocked a four year old chequer white flight hen flying 647miles, and this was Gavin's first attempt at an International, the hen being his single entry. He would like to thank all of the local fanciers who phoned up to congratulate him on his hen's performance

 Bill Knox of Tyler's Hill near Canterbury takes 3rd East section completing the top three in this section timing a four year old cock that has been thoroughly tried and tested having  previously flown Agen and Marseilles. This cock, flown on the natural system, has flown the channel 17 times in total prior to  Pau. This season he has had two EECC races from 140 miles and 225miles and was sent to Pau sitting eggs 3 days overdue. He is a Kirkpatrick and his sire flew the channel 21 times including 3 times Barcelona taking first and 4th GDSBNFC. His dam also crossed the channel 21 times including twice Barcelona. so you could say he was bred for the job!!

The section results look like this:-
1st ,2nd & 3rd Geoff & Catherine Cooper.
1st Darren McFadden.
2nd Mark Gilbert.
3rd Derek Doyle.
1st Colin Draper.
2nd  David Hales.
3rd SR & WH Knox.
1st Richard & Sheila Mayes.
2nd Peter Mallett.
3rd GP Debbage.

The 2013 Pau International race will go down in history as one of the most successful in British pigeon racing. It demonstrated to the world, that British pigeons and British fanciers are up there with the very best. Given the weather conditions on the day of the race the small British contingent which made up just 4% of the entry, enjoyed the very slightest of nudges from a light east north east breeze at the start of the race and then had to break for home from the 8,500 entry and still had the final hurdle of the English Channel to contend with before reaching mainland Britain. Absolutely marvellous and one which I feel sure our Continental friends and rivals will  appreciate and heap with praise.

Finally, I should point out that Geoff and Catherine along with all the other fanciers fortunate enough to win 1st Open BICC in an International race during the season will receive a youngster from one of the principal stud cocks at the House of Aarden generously donated by our sponsors Steve and Lesley Wright.

Members, the standard has been set - lets see if we can emulate the 2011 season when three of our membership won 1st in an International race. Good luck and good racing to you all.

Gareth Watkins


GG & C Cooper's Willagong 1st International Pau

The loft of double International winners Geoff & Catherine Cooper

Mark Gilbert 2nd sect 3rd Open BICC3rd Open International Pau

CarlaPage 6th Open BICC Pau International

41_Colin Draper 1st East section 4th Open BICC & 4th Open Pau International

Colin Draper's winner of 1st section 4th Open BICC 4th Open International Pau.

Darren Mc Fadden with his 2nd Open Pau International winner

Darren Mc Fadden's 2nd Open International Pau hen

David Hales 2nd east section 9th Open BICC Pau International

Derek Doyle 7th Open BICC Pau International 24th Open International

Gavin Debbage with his 3rd North section BICC Pau International

GeorgiaJean 5th Open BICC Pau International for Geoff & Catherine Cooper

Grizzle cock 11th Open BICC Pau International for Darren McFadden

Richard & Sheila Mayes 1st North section Pau InternationalIMAG0104

S R & W H Knox Loft Bill was 3rd east sect Pau International

41_Terry Gardner 4thsect 10th Open BICC 68th Open International Pau