Agen is a town situated approximately 30kms south east of the famous French wine producing region of Bordeaux and equidistant to the north west of  Montauban. In 2011 Geoff and Catherine Cooper enjoyed great success from this International race point when their entry beat more than 22,000 other pigeons from all over Europe to win 1st Open. The 2013 BICC entry of  659 birds were liberated with 23,539 other pigeons to race the 500 or so miles home to their lofts in the UK. This shows an increase of 2,195 pigeons on the 2012 entry.

The breakdown of the race entry shows that the UK participants was made up as follows:-.

 The International entry was constituted by the following entries from the four competing countries:-

 België - Belgique - Belgien - Belgium:            11112

Nederland - Pays-Bas - Niederlande - Netherlands: 10501

Duitsland - Allemagne - Deutschland - Germany:     1267

Engeland - Angleterre - England - England:          659

Internationa(a)l:                                 23539

 The weather for the weekend was forecast to be fine with a high pressure system sitting to the west of the Bay of Biscay bringing in light winds from the north/ north west and good weather with plenty of sunshine on the route home to the UK and north west Europe.

However, these predictions proved to be wrong as the convoy was held until 7.40 am on Sunday 30th June due to bad weather in north east France blocking the route home for pigeons racing into Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

As a point for members to remember I include here an email from John Tyerman, our President, who received an abusive phone call from one of our members:-

  "I had a 'so called' member on the phone this morning saying we were 'an absolute disgrace' and  we did not have a clue about pigeons - they should have been up from Agen yesterday!    I had to listen to his 'ranting' and he was so irate I was unable to tell him the BICC had absolutely no say or control over an International liberation.  Needless to say he refused to give his name and withheld his number. i should point out that BICC officials are not consulted over any International liberations, as clearly we have people like him who think it is all down to us".

On to the race itself then and hopes were high of day birds into the UK and after 121/4 hours on the wing a round about hen came out of the south at the Southfield lofts of Mark Gilbert of Winkfield near Windsor to be quickly clocked to win 1st Open BICC Agen velocity 1217 ypm.

 Superlatives cannot do justice  to this man's performances as he has taken pigeon racing to a new level with three outright International wins plus numerous wins at National level with the BICC, NFC and BBC. Mark's timer here is a mealy hen containing the bloodlines of Marcel Sangers' SuperBreeder on the sire's side with the old reliable and ultra successful Dax International winning bloodlines of Southfield Supreme and Marcel Sangers' Lazer Gun on the dam's side as her dam is bred from Southfield Supreme when mated to a direct daughter of Lazer Gun. Mated in mid February she was allowed to rear a pair of youngsters in the first nest before being placed on round about. This latest BICC winner for Mark will finish in the top 200 of the International result against a field of more than 23,000 birds and given the weather conditions over the course of the race she like all the other British pigeons had to battle against a west north west wind and certainly didn't have any help. It seems certain that the 10 British pigeons clocked on the day broke away from the main convoy fairly early on and thus were not dragged up into north East France and the low countries with the rest of the convoy.

Mark's other timers look to be 13th,22nd and 29th,34th,47th &58th Open at the time of writing.

A comprehensive loft report on this terrific fancier can be found on the BICC web site. Late news in as I finish off this report is that Mark is also leading the way on the provisional result of the NFC Tarbes King's Cup race!!!

Calum Edmiston of Horley in Surrey also enjoyed a fantastic race here as he clocked three yearlings on the day to take 2nd ,4th & 7th Open the first in the clock recording 1215 ypm to be narrowly beaten for top spot. This is superb flying given the conditions and the distance and this is what Calum has to say regarding this terrific team performance:-

"I am not one for publicity(don't win enough!) but here is a snapshot of my three day birds. 

I am 49 years of age and have had birds since 1973.I fly to a small 28 foot loft which is too big to clean every day as a shift worker. I rear about 30 babies each year. I am a previous winner of 1st,4th,5th,8th in separate classic/NFC 500 mile races and have timed the first yearlings back in these races on several occasions. The three timers are all yearlings bred in May last season and unraced as babies but trained six times. They had no training this year and were sent to two/three inland races and then given 3/4 channel races to Tours BICC. They were on natural and sitting up to time. They were fed Gerry plus with protein and fat added to suit. They are exercised twice a day and are darkened down outside these times. The birds have never been medicated bar Paramyxo vaccination. Their origin is Dutch long distance from good fanciers in and around Steenbergen and is predominately Van der Wegen.

I should like to dedicate this team performance to my very good friend John Nicholson of Rochester who has been inspirational to me. His advice over the years and stamina seedcake recipe have contributed in no small way to my success. Thanks also to all the hardworking officials that make these races possible."

Congratulations Calum on an excellent team performance that should see all three feature well up on the International result.

Roger Lowe of Reading maintains his excellent loft form with one to finish at 3rd section 3rd Open vel 1203. Roger writes:-

"My first and only bird home on the day from six sent is a 3year old widowhood cock now named appropriately "THE ONLY ONE". He is 3/4 Marcel Aelbrecht  and 1/4 Janssen Bros Sire is CRACK 42 bred by Sheldon Leonard from Ireland from his Showman 2 bred by Janssen Bros and sire of 2nd Open National from the 019 lines of Janssen. the dam of Crack 42 is a real beauty and is a  direct daughter of De Marseille x Het Fijn Blauwe - direct Aelbrecht and now the property of Eric limbourg. The.dam of "The Only One" is blue 45 direct Aelbrecht from a son of Smallen 970 sold on pipa for E15,200 in 2010". 

The Ashford partnership of D.G. Watson & son come in next at 5th Centre section 5th Open with a three year old blue cock flown on widowhood. He contains Krauth and Johnny Dixon bloodlines and has had every one of the BICC channel races this season in the build up to Agen. Shown his hen for 30 minutes on the night of basketting he certainly responded well to the stimulus. David and son Daniel's team of widowers are exercised twice daily for one hour on each occasion and the flag is used to encourage them if needed.

The first bird in the west section was clocked by none other than the Wiltshire Wizard and previous International winner Brian Sheppard of Trowbridge vel 1108 ypm. Brian is up there with the "All time Greats" of the pigeon sport as he has been winning at Classic, National and International level for more than 40 years. Brian's Agen timer is a  three year old grizzle cock flown on widowhood and which has been accross the channel four times this season, starting at Guernsey followed by Carentan, Alencon and Tours. He was then given a two week break from racing before being sent to Agen. The grizzle is bred from some of the loft's top performers as his sire has an 8th and 40th Open NFC Tarbes to his credit and his dam is a daughter of Griff which won 2nd Open NFC Saintes I believe. Yet another section win to add to Brian's already impressive list of performances.

No result of the BICC  would be complete without the name of Cooper near the top and in this Agen race Geoff and Catherine clocked on the day yet again to take 2nd West section 8th Open vel1087 ypm. Geoff and Catherine clocked a three year old grandson of Farm Boy, who was a top National and International racer and stock cock for them.  He is called Sol, after Geoff and Catherine's grandson, who was for the first time watching the pigeons come home. Sol arrived home just as it was getting dark, flying exactly 14 hours.  Geoff had to put the lights on in the loft to read the clock and wing stamps!
 He is raced widowhood and his last race was Tours with the BICC when he was the second bird home.  His next race will be Perpignan International, a distance of abut 638 miles.  Sol has previously won 3rd Lyndhurst, 44th National Alencon, 7th section 29th National Agen and 3rd section 43rd National Bordeaux.
After being in the basket for six nights Geoff says that the birds looked very well on their return, a credit to those looking after them.

 First in the East section was one to the Dover partnership of Geoff and son Clayton Preece. this one takes 9th Open vel1025 ypm, and is a German rung three year old. After several attempts to contact the partners by phone and e mail I'm afraid to say i failed so there is no further info' on the Preece timer.

 Completing the top ten and also clocking what was to prove to be the last of the ten day birds on a velocity of 1007 ypm was one to the Waterlooville partnership of A & T Deacon, better known to all as Albi Deacon the Chairman of the BICC. Albi has an incredible record of success at National and International level in races out to 700 miles with his predominantly Southwell based family of pigeons. This is what Jan Deacon has to say about their timer:-

 "We clocked our little dark 2 yr. old, Southwell cock at 21.27 on the night.

After almost giving up hope of an arrival that night we had to put the loft lights on to coax it in.  He has flown Alencon B .I.C.C. and Tours B.I.C.C.  this season prior to the race.

He is very well bred as his sire is a blue cock named “Panzaro” who has won 2nd Sect. 3rd Open Pau, 7th Sec. 22nd Open Tarbes, 9th Sect. 28th Open Pau and his G.Sire was 1st Open  Brive B.I.C.C. for us.

His dam, is G. Daughter of 1st Open Pau N.F.C.

After clocking two of our four entries on the day from the recent Pau International race we are looking forward to the coming races.

Congratulations to all who clocked on the day in what is a difficult race"

 Going round the sections now and the Centre section top three take the top three positions in the open. In fact the Centre section take the first five open positions.

Brian Sheppard wins top spot in the west section ahead of Geoff & Catherine Cooper's timer, with Welshman and double Welsh National winner Mark Sparey of Abertillery coming in for 3rd West section vel930 ypm. Mark clocked a blue widowhood cock that won a sheaf of National prizes as a yearling and this season has had Carentan, Alencon and Messac in the run up to Agen. He is a grandson of Mark Gilbert's International winner Southfield Supreme and I can tell the reader that he is a racing machine appearing on every Welsh SRNFC result as a yearling before returning from Bergerac badly hawked and with half his wattle ripped away.

Over in the East section Geoff and Clayton Preece's timer wins top spot vel 1025 ypm.

 Basildon Ace and multiple National winner Charlie Simmons comes in for 2nd East section vel 975 ypm,with his single entry. This six year old Soontjen widowhood cock was clocked on the day from Agen in 2012 taking 21st Open behind his full brother and double national winner. In the build up to the 2013 Agen race he was entered in three Channel races with the BICC and BBC as Charlie does not compete at club level. Charlie asked me to pass on his best wishes and congratulations to Mark Gilbert on yet another excellent performance.

BICC stalwart and former Barcelona winner John Lane of Whitstable takes third east section vel 947 ypm, with a two year old dark pied cock which had been flown celibate prior to basketting for Agen where he was sent sitting his first ever nest of eggs. Agen was only the second ever race for the cock as his first race was from Tours with the BICC two weeks earlier. Although unraced until 2013 he had however been trained three times from accross the English Channel. He is bred from gift birds obtained from John's good friend, and previous Barcelona winner Terry Johnson, and contains  Terry's Barcelona winner Spartan in his breeding as well as Frank Perry's Palamos winner, Llanover Lady bloodlines. The same bloodlines won well for Terry in the Pau and Barcelona races with the BICC in 2012.

The North section winner was clocked at the Chipping Camden loft of Gavin Duggan. Gavin clocked a two year old widowhood cock[vel 990 ypm] containing Red Barcelona bloodlines on the sire's side of his pedigree and Barcelona Challenge bloodline through his dam which was purchased direct from the Barcelona Challenge lofts in France. Gavin's section winner has had three channel races leading up to Agen followed by a two week break from racing in preparation for Agen. This is only Gavin's third season back in the sport having previous flown with the EDC and NIPA in his native Ulster.

In second spot in the north section is a two year old Desmet Matthys hen racing to the Cleethorpes loft of Marco and Cathy Wilson vel869 ypm. The hen was sent feeding  two day old squabs and had raced just once this year from the MNFC Carentan event prior to going to Agen. She had however been trained extensively from 50 miles in the build up to Agen. Hopper fed on Versele Laga mixtures she, like the others in the Wilson team, is exercised twice daily at home.

Robert Rome comes in next at 3rd North section vel 779 ypm. once again I was unable to contact Robert for more details on his pigeon.

 So, Mark Gilbert wins yet another BICC National and the House of Aarden sponsored youngster into the bargain.

 It only remains for me to congratulate all the successful fanciers on yet another outstanding set of performances on the International stage. Achieved on a day when the conditions certainly didn't favour the small British contingent and yet they obviously broke away from the main convoy and fought the wind to keep to their direct line for home. Roll on Barcelona!!

 Gareth Watkins

43_MarkGilbertwith1stOpenBICC Barcelona 2012SouthfieldTiger mark was 1st Open BICC Agen 2013

Geoff Cooper with grandson Sol

Roger Lowe 3rd sect 3rd Open BICC Agen International

Sol 2nd sect 8th Open Agen International for G & C Cooper

2nd North section BICC Agen International for Mr & Mrs Wilson Cleethorpes

Brian Sheppard & Champion Jingles. Brian looks to be 7th section 7th Open BICC Tours and 1st West section 6th Open BICC Agen 2013

Calum Edmiston 2nd Open BICC Agen International

Charlie Simmons 1st Open BICC Agen International 2012 and 2nd East section BICC Agen 2013

Geoff and Clayton Preece with two of their long distance pathfinders.The Preece's were 1st East section 9th Open BICC Agen

Jan deacon holding the Deacon's Agen timer 10th winning Open BICC

John Lane & good friendTerry Johnson both winners of BICC Barcelona. John was 3rd East section BICC Agen

Marco Wilson holding 2nd North sect BICC Agen, flanked by the two builders who alerted him to her return

Mark Sparey Double Welsh National winner and 3rd West section BICC Agen International 2013

RhiwParcTomos 3rd west section Agen for Mark Sparey of Abertillery

Dave & Daniel Watson 5th sect 5th Open