The Barcelona International race is one of, if not the most eagerly awaited race in the pigeon racing programme in Europe. It attracts many thousands of top class long distance pigeons from some of the best fanciers in the world and is a true test of a pigeon's stamina, courage and homing ability.

The 2013 Barcelona race contained a field of 25,382 pigeons and these were liberated at 8.30 am BST to race back to their home lofts many of which were more than 750 miles distant. The British contingent had 304 pigeons entered by 103 fanciers and this entry featured 9 pigeons entered by two hardy Irish fanciers, namely Mr & Mrs Willy Ingle from Dublin and Pat Nolan from Wexford.

The weather forecast for the weekend was good with fine weather and light winds along the course of the race apart from an increase in the wind strength at the southern end of the Rhone Valley near the Mediterranean coast.

Leading the way in both the BICC and also duplicating back into the BBC is one to the popular Southampton partnership Martin ,Clare and son Jack Norman flying under the banner of Mannor Lofts. This one not only wins 1st Open and first bird into the UK and Ireland but should also finish in the top 50 of the International result with more than 25,000 birds competing. Clare Norman gives the following information.

"Our partnership consists of Martin, Clare and son Jack aged 15. We fly as Mannor Lofts so our results do not get confused with my brother Bill who lives very close to us and flies as Mr & Mrs Norman. Mannor is just an anagram of our surname.

To say we were delighted to see our grizzle cock “Olympic Ric” dropping to the loft from Barcelona would be a massive understatement. He was our single entry and sent on widowhood with a couple of little twists thrown in, which obviously worked for him. He is our best pigeon and his past performances are: 6th Section 73rd Open BICC Carentan 2012, 481st Open NFC Cholet 2012, 27th Section 223rd Open NFC Tarbes 2012 winning just over £1,000, 6th Section 16th Open BICC Perpignan 2012, 20th Section 91st Open NFC Cholet 2011 8,745 birds and 57th Open BICC Agen 2011 648 birds.

He got his name last year after his performances during the Olympics and Ric is our nephews name who always seemed to be visiting when we had a good result.

You have to send your best to win in these top events and he was made our candidate for Barcelona 2013 the day we timed him from Perpignan last year. It was flown in a very strong west wind and won in Dover. We timed him 118 miles west of the winner just 1 hour 53 minutes later and we knew after that he could do it.

His breeding comes through all top fanciers. The sire was bred by John and David Staddon made up from Jos Thone X Mark Gilbert’s "Night Flight" King's Cup winner. The dam is bred by our good friend Brian Sheppard".

There you have it then a top class pigeon with a top class pedigree achieving the ultimate for one of the most highly respected and well liked partnerships in the sport. Congratulations, Martin, Clare and Jack on a truly outstanding performance. you also win the young bird valued at up to £450 kindly donated by Steve and Lesley Wright at the House of Aarden.

 Mike Mitchell of Dover is one of the most successful of long distance fanciers with at least four outright wins in International races in recent years with the BICC. In this year's Barcelona race he clocked one of his celibate hens to win 2nd Open. Mike gives the following information:-

"This mealy hen always just called Mrs Mealy was bred from a pair of Stoffel Ophof pigeons purchased via Bill Woodall.

  This year she has flown B I C C Falaise, and twice to Pithivers with the E E C C.

 Previous Performances.

 2009 Won Bergerac in local Club Race.

2010 B I C C  Pau  home in good time.

2011 B I C C  Tarbes /Agen  13th Open

2011               Perpignan  home in good time.

2012              Pau              86th Open

2012             St Vincent   53rd Open.

2012              Perpignan  home in good time.

  This year paired up 12th Feb ,allowed to raise 1 youngster. Then separated and flown completely celibate. When racing I feed a mixture of Versele Laga  high carbohydrate feeds." Mike and Cynthia also timed their second of three entries to take 16th Open.

David Hales of Hockley in Essex comes in for 2nd East section 3rd Open with one of his team of long distance widowhood cocks that are always there or thereabouts in marathon races with the BICC. David's timer here is a six year old red cock of Hagens Brothers bloodlines. His preparation for Barcelona was two short channel races  from Pithviers and Alencon and then three weeks rest from racing just voluntary home exercise. The cocks are hopper fed a good widowhood mix and do not see their hens before the race but the hens are always waiting for them when they get home. David also clocked a second bird to take 15th Open.

Next in line with two birds taking 2nd & 3rd centre section 4th & 5th Open is Mark Gilbert. Mark's two birds are both widowhood cocks.

The first bird has been 28th Open Saintes with the BBC and 2nd Sect 6th Open Perpignan with the BICC in 2012.

His father is a direct son of Smaraagd the International winner from Barcelona and his mother is a full sister to Derweedt's Champion Iban, and so the cock is a full brother  to Mark's 3rd International Pau this year. On a visit to Mark's three weeks before basketting for Barcelona I picked out this red black splashed cock as one to watch out for as he was in superb condition.

The second bird  in the clock is Marseille cock winner of 1st Open BICC Marseille in 2012.He is from a son of Rutz and Sons Barcelona Princess 1st German National Barcelona, and the mother is grand daughter of Ted and Magnus of Derweedts.

The Marseille Cock been a great racer for Mark scoring twice in the top 100 of the NFC young bird races as a baby. As a yearling he flew Agen 510miles and then scored in the top 100 from Saintes NFC. As a two year old he was 10th open NFC Tarbes 568miles, 1st BICC National Marseille 653miles and he is also a prizewinner at club and Fed level. Mark later clocked a third bird to finish 26th Open.

 Over in the west section the winner here was clocked to the ultra successful Peasedown St John loft of Geoff and Catherine Cooper - a partnership who recently won 1st Open Pau International to add to their 2011 Agen International win.  The Cooper's Barcelona winner is a seven year old widowhood cock now named "Daybreak Junior"  was clocked at 8.34pm to win 1st section 6th Open.  He has been a good honest racer for them, always in the first few to the loft.
Prior to this he has won :- 3rd Fed. Messac,
29th sect. 202nd Classic Bergerac, 211th Nat. Tarbes,338th Nat. Messac,209th Nat. Tarbes, plus 3rd west sect. 54th Nat Pau/Int., 3rd west sect. 18th Nat. Tarbes/Int.,
2nd west sect. 22nd Nat. Barcelona/Int.

His pedigree is full of top performance pigeons. His sire is Daybreak, a top racer who won a coveted National Merit Award. Daybreak Junior's grandsire is also the grandsire of Mark Gilbert's International winner Southfield Supreme.

  Daybreak Juniors Dam is Miss Pau, who flew Pau International as a yearling.  She is a daughter of  Miss Somerset, winner of the NFC YB Somerset cup and Miss Somerset's sire is "21" a top breeder and racer for the Coopers.

John and David Staddon clocked for 2nd west section 7th Open and David Staddon has this to say of their latest top class performance:

.." Where do I start, Dad and I are on cloud nine this morning. The Barcelona International is the most prestigous race in the calendar and we are proud to have clocked an early bird into the West Country where it would seem obvious that our bird has had to fly a lot further than the 709 miles he is allowed. Firstly we'd like to congratulate all birds and fanciers who have timed from this race, it is the toughest race in the world in our opinion. Once again Geoff & Catherine Cooper again topping the section with a fantastic bird but in particular we'd like to send our warmest congratulations to Martin, Claire & Jack Norman  on their fantastic winner 1st National 57th International from 25,000 birds is some achievement.

 Dad spoke with Martin and was delighted to hear that we had bred the sire to the winner. He is from a son of Mark Gilberts Nightflight 1st NFC Pau/Saintes and  Poco Pixie a Jos Thone hen from Faldo , Valentino and Gouden Grisj lines. It's a lovely feeling to play a small part in this magnificent birds performance.

 We timed our 2nd Section 7th BICC at 5.58am on Sunday morning. He can't have been far away the night before. He had flown some body weight off but otherwise was in perfect condition. He has been fed on Matador corn all season. He is raced on the Chaos System. He had taken a new hen the weekend before the race as his original hen had been sent to Tarbes NFC. This is all part of the Chaos system, sometimes it works in your favour as this cock was obviously keen to get back to his new love. He was sent to Barcelona in 2012 but returned after 3 weeks with a badly injured leg which we think may have happened at liberation. He recovered well in time and we felt we should give him the opportunity to atone at Barcelona in 2013. He clearly learned plenty on his odyssey last year. 

 He was originally raced from our old loft location in Merriott about 20 miles from our current location and broken out at Evercreech in 2010. His racing record has also been useful at both locations. 3rd Section C 10th Open NFC Alencon, 6th West Section 37th Tarbes/Agen BICC, 19th Section G 162nd Tarbes NFC, 37th Section G 260th Tarbes NFC, 93rd West Section 100th BICC Carentan & now 2nd West Section 7th BICC Barcelona.

 He is bred from a son of Dave Impetts 1st Section L 13th Open NFC Tarbes when paired to a daughter of Mark Gilberts Southfield Pau. We'd like to thank our good friend Mark Gilbert for supplying us with the bloodlines that now run through 1st & 7th BICC Barcelona 2013 not forgetting Mark's own 4th & 5th Open in the same race, quite an achievement.

The Padfield Family of Cwmtillery are regarded as one of the best long distance lofts in the UK and who can argue with their record of I believe 7 x 1st National at over 600 miles plus many top ten finishes at Barcelona at 757 miles. In the 2013 Barcelona race they clocked their outstanding long distance hen to take 3rd sect 8th Open at 757 miles making it three successful trips at this distance for this game hen. Does anyone reading this report know of any other pigeon in the UK that has notched up three successful trips at this distance. If there is anyone who does , then let me know and I will do my best to give that pigeon and its owner the credit they deserve. I have listed below this remarkable hen's racing record.
Blue white flight hen GB2006N28324.The bloodlines of this hen contain some of the finest birds to fly into the UK.

Her Sire is from a son of the Don 2nd BBC Palamos 743 miles when paired to a daughter of Padfields Perfection 1st 3rd 23rd and 39th WSRN Pau.

Her Dam was 9th WSRN Pau she was a full sister to the Paul Kendal's famous Holloway Boy (Sire of Morning Glory).We bred the mother of Holloway Boy and Derek Parkin reared Holloway Boy to be raced by Paul Kendal.

The Dam is a Half sister to Vince he was 1st WSRNFC Pau and his father the sire of the Dam was 7th WSRNFC Pau, the Dam of the hen a Wim Muller X Morgan and Cook also bred 4th WSRNFC PAU for Bernard Clarke.

 28324 flew Pau in 2008 and 2009 and Tarbes 2010.

In 2011, 2012, 2013 she flew Barcelona 757 miles and well up in the result on three occasions.

The preparation for the Barcelona Hen she was raced on the Round about system paired late February and reared a pair off youngsters. After 10 days of sitting the second round of eggs she was separated and the daily exercise regime started with twice daily forced exercise of 1 hour on each occasion. The preparation was straight off the loft (No Training) straight to Bed Hampton 110 miles).She went to Carenton  180 miles with the Welsh South road Fed following this she had another Bedhampton race 110miles then she went to Messac 278miles with the  NFC . This was her final race before the Barcelona International 757 Miles

Normally the Padfields like their birds to go to the distance races sitting at least 10 days but because of the bad weather early on in the spring, and being late getting them going  Vince and Dai decided to leave them on the round about system throughout the 2013 old bird programme.

28324's National performances are as follows:-



2011 Barcelona BICC 11th Open 3rd West Sect 2nd WDGCC

2012 Barcelona BICC 35th Open 5th West section 2nd WDGCC

2013 Barcelona BICC 8th Open 3rd West Section 1st WDGCC (probable result )

So that's 8th,11th & 35th Open BICC Barcelona plus other minor positions in her "warm up" races with the BICC. Pretty impressive stuff.

Paul Stone is a past winner of Palamos and Barcelona and has an excellent record in Marathon races. In this year's Barcelona race Paul clocked three birds to finish 9th, 23rd & 27th Open. Paul clocked three roundabout hens. The first and third birds home being full sisters. Their sire was bred from two 1st Open Barcelona winners one of which was Paul's 1997 Barcelona winner. Their dam is a very inbred hen going back to Blackcurrant Paul's 4 times Barcelona cock. Both hens had flown Tarbes in previous seasons and this year they had two inland races followed by Cholet and then into Barcelona. Paul's second in the clock is a blue hen bred from two black velvet Southwells gifted to Paul by his good friend Jimmy Shepherd. Paul has asked me to thank all the officials of the BICC for all the hard work they put in on the members behalf.

 Gosling & Jarvis of Mount Nessing in Essex come in with one for 10th Open. timing a 4 year old red cock flown on widowhood he has been a very reliable pigeon always homing but very often beaten by loft mates but this was to be his time, The red cock's racing career to date:-

As a yearling he flew with the NFC to Messac, Poitiers, Tarbes and in the Classic Bergerac. As a two year old he flew with NFC Fougeres and Tarbes where  he was 105th section 437th Open and BBC Poitiers. As a three year old he flew BBC Messac, Niort and NFC Tarbes. This year he had three inland races then with the EECC Canappeville and Pithivers,BICC  Pau where was clocked the second day finishing approx 100th then, three weeks later on to Barcelona. He was flown on widowhood all season but for Barcelona all the other cocks were removed from his section on Friday and he was given his hen just to steady him down. Feeding is  VL widowhood and Liege mixes with peanuts given as a treat. Red 55 as he is now known half brother was 5th section 11th open BBC Barcelona last year. The sire of Red 55 is Golden Eye a fantastic breeder bred by the late Jim Biss and is a son of Vend 1st NFC Pau he has bred winners with four different hens. The dam is a red hen bred from a pair purchased from Brian Sheppard the sire from Leon 84th and 136th NFC Saintes a grandson of Napoleon bred by Jos Thone and  a daughter of red Barcelona and the dam from cheq cock 1st sect G 40th NFC Saintes 8th WOEC Cherbourg 146th Open BBC Bordeaux and cheq hen 1st sect 3rd BBC Lamballe 95th Classic Guernsey from Nimpod and Gusan old Trueman Dickens strain. The partners have only sent to Barcelona twice and have been  in the result on both occasions. They would like to congratulate all fanciers that timed especially the winner and a special mention to Nigel Lane his pigeon is a superstar well done all....

In 11th Open is one to the highly successful father and son partnership of Kevin and Lee Buddle of Dover. Lee writes:-

"Our bird is a 2007 cock we call "Pipi" and he is a previous winner of 5th Open BICC Barcelona in 2011 and was verified just out of race time after returning home with a very badly injured wing and body in 2012. In preparation for Barcelona  2013 he had one inland race from Lyndhurst 127 miles, EECC Pithivers 209 miles on 25th May where he had 10hrs on the wing, EECC Pithivers again on 8th June where he had 14hrs on the wing arriving at 21:30pm and another EECC Pithivers on 22 June just 8 days before Barcelona Marking. "Pipi" is a full brother to "Spitfire" winner of 4th Open BICC Bordeaux/Agen 2012 & 36th Open BICC Bordeaux/Agen 2013 at a distance of 484 miles.  

"Pipi" is another reliable grand child of our top breeding and racing hen "Buddy", the mother of our long distance loft. 

Sire is a Jim Biss bird of "Favori" & "Navigator" lines which has been clocked Twice from NFC Tarbes 2005 & 2007 and NFC Bordeaux 2006. 

Dam is a Dtr of "Buddy" 2nd Section E, 4th Open NFC Pau 2002 when paired to the sire of B C Williams' "Conquerour" 1st BICC Perpignan 1996 which is a son of Brian Denneys "Dark Peron".  Yet another example of "blood will tell" - especially at the distance.

 All our birds are fed Verselle-Laga Superstar Plus with a little best all rounder added to it. Also sunflower hearts and hemp are given after their evening feed daily.

Lee and Kevin clocked a second bird to finish at 30 th Open on the provisional result.

 Ron Dove an expat Cornishman now residing in Kent comes in next with two birds for 12th & 22nd Open. Ron's first home is a 4 year old chequer hen of Geoff Kirkland x Jan Theelen bloodlines. Not raced as a young bird she had a few short channel races as a yearling and then in 2011 three short channel races and in to Tarbes where she was missing for 7 days. She certainly learned from the experience as in 2012 she had four races with the EECC and then took 61st Open BICC in the Agen International race and followed this up a few weeks later with15th Open BICC Perpignan. This season's preparation has seen her entered in 3 EECC channel races and then sent to Barcelona feeding a two day old young bird. Ron's concentration is purely directed at Marathon racing with the BICC and he has been particularly successful at it as can be seen by reading past results of BICC long distance International races.

Here are a number of other fanciers who timed good pigeons in this Barcelona race.

Joe Eastwood of Slade Green 13th Open; John and Spencer Nicholson  of Rochester[ top class long distance marathon experts] 14th &34th Open; Walter Castledine 17th Open; A & T Deacon[there again] 18th & 19th Open;Nick Harvey of Taunton[you're starting to make a habit of this Nick!] 20th Open; my mate and double Welsh National winner John Ludlam 21st Open;  Geoff and Clayton Preece 24th & 25th Open;Mr & Mrs Rhodes 27th Open; Crowley & Green[past BICC Barcelona winners] 29th Open then comes the great Wilf Reed of Monmouth at 31st Open followed by one to F J Cornwell of Southend at 32nd Open and former Barcelona winner and all round good guy John Lane of Whitstable with one at 33rd Open. These are all the fanciers who have clocked as of mid afternoon Monday 8th July. My personal congratulations to you one and all.

 At the time of completing this report there are unfortunately no birds home in the North or Irish sections. Rest assured I will give these pigeons the publicity they deserve in a later BICC race report.

I have included here a photograph of  Gavin Duggan of Chipping Norton who took 1st North section in the recent Agen International race. The photograph unfortunately reached me too late for inclusion in the Agen race report.

Here's wishing you all good racing in the coming International races.

 Gareth Watkins

Martin and JackNorman 1st Open Barcelona

Mannor Lofts GB09N97925 1st Open Barcelona

Mick Jarvis of the Gosling & Jarvis 10th Opern BICC Barcelona

David Hales 2nd east section 9th Open BICC Pau International & now 2nd sect 3rd Open BICC Barcelona

Gavin Duggan and loft assistants Myah and Flinn Gavin was 1st North section BICC Agen

Geoff and Catherine Cooper 1st section 6th Open BICC Barcelona

John&DaveStaddon 1st OpenBiccCarentan 2012 and 1st Open BICC Tours 2013 & now 2nd sect 7th Open BICC Barcelona

Mark Gilbert in again for 4th & 5th Open BICC Barcelona

Mike & Cynthia Mitchell 2nd Open BICC Barcelona

Ron Dove 12th & 21st Open BICC Barcelona

Vince & Dave Padfield with Bill Knox in centre finishing 3rd sect 8th Open BICC Barcelona