The city of Marseille is the second largest city in France and was founded by the Greeks in 600 B.C. .Unlike the previous week's International race from St Vincent, the Marseille race is one of the most difficult International races in which British pigeons compete. This is due in no small measure to its geographic location in the far south east of France on the Mediterranean coast. The late Stan Biss mastered the conditioning of pigeons for this marathon event as can be witnessed by his incredible record of, I believe, 15 BICC wins from this race point. The 2013 event attracted  an entry of 103 birds from 31UK lofts. The terrific heat wave that the UK and most of Western Europe had experienced in the weeks leading up to the Marseille race weekend continued during the course of the race with temperatures in the 90's Fahrenheit. It would take a very brave pigeon superbly conditioned for the task in hand to prevail under the relentless heat.

 Race day arrived and with a 6 am liberation on Friday 19th July, the convoy had the help of a light easterly influence in the wind which was forecast to turn south east over parts of the course. The first bird to be recorded was at Olonne sur Mer on the west coast of France near Les Sables at 4.54 pm followed by a second bird to a fancier in the same town at 4.58, these birds recording velocities in the  1090's mpm. Further birds were then recorded just after 5 pm more than 200 miles to the north east at  Mandelbachtal and Forbach  in south west Germany near the French border and some 50 kms to the east of the French city of Metz. Further birds were recorded in Picardy in North East France and so, even though day birds were not initially expected to make it into the UK,  there seemed to be a slight possibility that some might make it accross the English Channel and back home to "Blighty" by nightfall on the first day.

 However, this was not to be and so it was an early start for the participants on Saturday, the second morning of the race. This proved to be a demolition job for fanciers in the East section who took 19 of the first 20 positions in the Open result.

David Hales of Hockley in Essex was the first to clock and this proved to be the eventual winner of the race flying 637 miles to its home loft. David has an excellent record on BICC International races and this season alone he has clocked birds to take 3rd Open Barcelona,9th Open Pau International and now 1st& 8th Open Marseille International.

David races his pigeons on the traditional widowhood system and never shows the hens to the widowhood cocks before the race but the hens are always awaiting the cocks on their return. The Marseille winner is a four year old containing all the best of the late Stan Biss's Bassi bloodlines on the sire's side of the pedigree and David's BICC Dax winner as grand dam on the mother's side. The widowers are fed communally in a hopper and have food before them 24/7. David mixes his own food using Gerry Plus, super diet and various seeds and adjusts the feeding as he sees fit. The preparation for Marseille saw the cock entered in one inland club race followed by races from Alencon and Argen with the BICC where he was first bird to loft on both occasions. He also had a Pithviers race with the EECC and then it was just a case of voluntary home exercise in the lead up to basketting for Marseille.

A full loft report on the Hales set up will appear in due course. Congratulations David on yet another BICC Open win and you also win the House of Aarden sponsored young bird.

 In second Open is a real cracker of a pigeon raced by the Aylesham, Kent partnership of Mr & Mrs Rhodes who are ably assisted by Steve Rhodes' younger brother Paul. The partners clocked the same chequer hen that finished at 2nd Open Marseille in 2012. This four year old round about hen is a grand daughter of Eric Limbourg's Joost. She was 65th Open BICC Pau International earlier this season and had been to two short channel races with the EECC in her build up to Marseille. The Rhodes combo feed Garvo Marathon to appetite and the birds are exercised once per day for one hour and are allowed to do as they please during this period rarely flying for more than 10 - 15 minutes at a time.

 Third Open was clocked at the Basildon loft of John Underdown who also clocked a second bird on the third day to take 14th Open. John timed a four year old cock sent sitting 14 day eggs.  He is bred from a Martin Greetham cock containing the bloodlines of the successful Glossop fancier Jed Hinchcliffe. The dam was bred by Mr & Mrs George Bates of Gravesend in Kent. In the build up for his tilt at Marseille the cock had cross channel races from Cannapeville, Pithviers and Alencon. These conditioning races, allied to an open loft to come and go as he pleased, brought the four year old into peak condition by the time of basketting for Marseille. All racers have access at all times to a hopper topped up with  a good widowhood mixture.

 Next in with not one but SIX good pigeons is the Wingham, Kent loft of F.Knowles & son. The active partner here is Simon who is a past winner of the Marseille race with the BICC and triple Europa Cup winner. Simon's birds take 4th,7th, 11th 18th,19th & 21st Open. Simon and wife Sarah own the Malibu Stud Shop which caters for all the needs of the local pigeon, poultry and horse enthusiasts. Sarah Knowles gives the following information on the birds that Simon clocked:-

"Simon's first bird is GB 08R 17218 chequer pied hen ' Little Pea' who was 1st open Marseille 2011 and 8th Open Marseille in 2012.  His second was GB 10R 31179 blue cock which has M. Parish bloodlines and has been 1st Open Boves East of England Continental Club 2011 and 47th Open BICC Perpignan 2012.  His third GB 09N 81023 chequer pied hen and is McClaren Southwell bloodlines and has been 104th Open Argen 2011 and 66th Open Perpignan 2012.  His fourth is GB 08R 17214 blue cock is Cyril Wells bloodlines and has been 43rd Open Perpignan 2011 and 4th Open Marseille 2012. His fifth GB 09X 34780 chequer cock was 21st Open Marseille 2012.
All of the above birds have been prepared with  three Bedhamptons with the Wingham Flying Club and 2 Pithiviers with E.E.C.C. All birds are raced on natural open hole and are fed on Bucktons Irish mixed with peanuts, sunflower hearts and condition seed as and when". A full loft report on Simon Knowles can be found on the BICC web site.

The partnership of Dickie and son Steve Pearmain are fast building quite a reputation for themselves in BICC International racing. At Marseille they clocked one of their team of hens to take 5th Section 5th Open to maintain their excellent record. Steve Pearmain gives the following details of their first bird "Regarding our blue hen we timed yesterday for 5th open Marseille she has raced quite well before being 15th open Marsielle 2012.

This year she had 2 prep races  and was 2nd open East of England Continental Club Pithiviers  2 weeks ago.
Dad is very fond of this hen and after she came from Marseille last year he pencilled her in for Marseille 2013 and he was well chuffed when she came!! 
The quality of the birds in the top 10 yesterday is outstanding many of them with multi performances SUPERB.
The days when pigeons were put to stock after one good performance are gone, fanciers are now racing these good birds on and true long distance champions are emerging."

 Alan Annis comes in next with one to take 6th section 6th Open. Alan's lofts are situated in the same compound as Simon Knowles at the rear of the Malibu Stud complex. Alan's bird is a two year old red chequer hen  bred from Brian Longs Red Barcelona bloodlines which was gifted to  Alan by his good friend Jamie Clarke.

 The father and son partnership of Kevin and Lee Buddle are enjoying yet another outstanding season of International racing with the BICC. Past winners of the Pau International race when they clocked the only two birds on the day in the UK winning 1st & 2nd Open, the Buddles have been clocking birds in the International races this season as if they were liberated just down the road at Folkestone, such has been their outstanding team performances. In this race Lee and Kevin clocked their good widowhood cock " Mike" which has the following impressive list of performances.

Lee writes:-
 "Mike" is a five year old cock and he was clocked from BICC Pau International 5 weeks previous winning 60th Open. "Mike"  has previously won:-

4th Open BICC Marseille International 2011 594 miles
24th Open BICC Perpignan International 2012 579 miles
37th Open Pau International 2011 544 miles
60th Open Pau International 2013 545 miles
64th Open Pau International 2012 545miles and now Prov 9th Open BICC Marseille International.

He was bred by our good mate and top pigeon fancier Mike Mithchell and is bred from direct Herman Van Helmond stock obtained by Mike from Belgium. In preparation for Marseille International he was given EECC Cannappeville on 1st May 136 miles, EECC Pithivers on 25th May 209 miles then into BICC Pau International 14th June 545 miles. 5 weeks rest with 2  20 miles trainers before being basketted for Marseille.

 Our 2nd bird in the clock is an 8yr old hen we call "Kendall" she was sent to BICC Agen International 3 weeks Previous to Marseille being clocked and winning 131st Open BICC Agen 484 miles. She has previously won 34th Open BICC Perpignan 2011 579 miles, 41st Open BICC Perpignan 2010 579 mles, 51st Open BICC Tarbes 2009 548 miles, 131st Open BICC Agen 2013 484 miles. she has also flown in good time but not clocked, BICC Pau 2008 545 miles, BICC Perpignan 2009 579 miles, BICC Barcelona 2010 676 miles, BICC Barcelona 2012 676 miles 
 Our 3rd bird is a 5yr old hen that is a half sister to "Amoy" our 2009 BICC Pau International winner.
 All our birds are fed Versele-Laga Superstar Plus with a little best all round added as the races get harder. also Hemp and sunflower Hearts are added in the evening".

 Yet another terrific team performance from Lee and Kevin taking 9th,12th & 15th Open.

 Unfortunately a computer malfunction  caused temporary disruption to the updating of the provisional result but  fortunately this problem was resolved on Sunday evening.

 As I prepare this report for publication news just in is that there is a bird in the west section to Terry Preddy of High Littleton. Terry clocked a three year old widowhood cock which is 75% Preddy bloodlines with a cross of Geoff Cooper Deweerdt. The Preddy lines contain the old Hansenne x Spangles through Terry's father and uncle Vic Preddy. The sire of the west section winner has won 7th Open Palamos and the dam is a daughter of Terry's 4th Open San Sebastian winner when crossed with a Cooper Deweerdt.

In preparation for Marseille the cock had a couple of inland races followed by four channel races including NFC Tarbes three weeks before Marseille. Mated in March he was allowed to rear a pair of youngsters before being put on widowhood. The widowers are exercised twice daily for one hour and are allowed to do as they please. They are then fed individually in their boxes on Versele Laga Superstar Plus.
At the time of writing this Terry's is the only bird recorded in the West section with no birds reported in the North section.

 And finally news of a brand new £1000 trophy presented to the BICC by Jim Emerton. Jim has kindly donated THE BARCELONA DREAM TROPHY-to be presented from 2013 onwards for the bird recording the highest velocity over 750 miles, in race time in the blue ribband BICC Barcelona  International race. Jim comments "The trophy is presented in order to recognise the patient skill of the winning fanciers and the speed and endurance of the competing birds in the world's greatest pigeon race, and in remembrance of my own Barcelona Dream pigeon. The cost will be around one thousand pounds ,and is given freely to inspire generations of Barcelona marathon fanciers"-Jim Emerton. There you go then marathon fanciers a £1000 trophy up for grabs each season. If that doesn't encourage competition at the distance then nothing will. Many thanks to Jim Emerton on his continued  generous support of the BICC.

Just one more International race from Perpignan on 2nd August but first the Le Mans race this weekend. Good luck to all.

 Gareth Watkins

David Hales 9th Open BICC Pau International 3rd Open Barcelona 1st Open Marseille all in 2013

1stOpen BICC MarseilleGB09N99490-layout

Mr & Mrs Rhodes & family 2nd Open Marseille with the same pigeon that was 2nd Open Marseille in 2012

Alan Annis 6th Open BICC Marseille

Dickie Pearmain with prov 14th Open BICC StVincent & 5th Open Marseille

John Underdown pictured with grand daughter Molly. John was 3rd Open BICC Marseille

Lee & Kevin Buddle of Dover are having another outstanding season of International racing including 9th Open Marseille

Simon Knowles 4th Open BICC Marseille

47_TerryPreddy 1st west section BICC Marseille