BICC  Le Mans

 The race point of Le Mans in late July is an ideal testing ground for yearlings at a time when they should be at peak fitness and having gained a wealth of experience during the races in the earlier part of the season. The 2,182 pigeons of the BICC were bolstered by the entry of a number of  birds from the Scottish National winning partnership of Richard and Jamie Combe of Elphinstone near Edinburgh. This now makes the BICC a truly International club as we can boast members representing all four countries that make up the British Isles namely England, Ireland, Wales and now Scotland. Welcome to the club Richard and Jamie and I sincerely hope that your entry proves to be a forerunner of many more from north of the border!


  "The Club again had a very good entry of 2182 pigeons for the last OB National of the season from Le Mans.    Race marking went smoothly at all the various venues  and both transporters arrived at Horndean just after 7pm,  Thursday.     All race  birds were  transferred/loaded onto the larger vehicle, and our thanks to Paul O'Leary and his team for their invaluable assistance in this task.  The overnight ferry crossing to Caen was very smooth and Chief Convoyer Trevor Cracknell  reported a safe arrival at Le Mans around midday Friday, where birds were later fed and watered.   

   Our weather advisor Steve Appleby had been in regular contact and expressed his concern about heavy rain and storms that were forecast for Northern France on the Saturday.  This weather was also predicted to extend into the UK.   The weather information was relayed to Convoyers  Trevor and Steve.   Then, early Saturday morning following a further update and confirmation of poor  weather in Northern France, a decision was made to hold over,  with Sunday looking a much better  racing day.    

            Steve Appleby  telephoned   around 6am on Sunday morning giving a very detailed and favourable  line of flight  weather  forecast for both Northern France and the UK and this information was relayed to our Convoyers at  Le Mans.   Due to the Local Agent insisting that a French organisation be released  before the BICC our own liberation was slightly  delayed till 7am, but  with a fine morning at Le Mans  the pigeons cleared well into a light south west wind.    This wind increased to  SW force 4/5 on the Channel where visibility was described as very good.   Returns overall seem to have been very favourable.  with 99% of competitors verifying first arrivals and pleasing to note that M/M Anderson of Washington, timed at 6-08pm flying 482 miles.   Again thanks to  Steve Appleby, our Convoyers and all those who assist at the various marking stations."

 John Tyerman
Race Advisor
Weather report

Conditions improved vastly during Saturday night for this BICC race from Le Mans. The storms affecting France and the channel had now moved away north eastwards and good weather followed on behind from the south west. At first light the view from the satellite was one of broken cloud and sunshine from Le Mans to the northern French coast line and a clear channel. I informed John Tyreman of the welcome improvement with the weather conditions effectively switching on the green light for liberation. Winds were light southerly over the race point but as the birds raced north they gained speed due to the increase in wind velocity.  Winds over the channel were mainly southerly with a little westerly influence moderate F4 increasing fresh F5 (15 to 20 mph) and visibility good. A good race in prospect.

Steve Appleby.

I was taking a mid season break in Cornwall at the time of the race and can confirm that the wind at Charlestown on the coast near St Austell was strong[30-35 mph southerly] on the Sunday morning as I was sitting on the harbour side outside our hotel, the Pier House at Charlestown, watching three yachts racing down the channel into the teeth of the wind.

 What follows here is a report based on the provisional result that is itself based on fanciers' first bird verifications. The final result might well vary should some of those fanciers mentioned have clocked subsequent birds close up.

The birds certainly made the most of the favourable wind as the winning pigeons were recording almost a mile a minute in the conditions. It proved to be a photo finish between two pigeons racing into Essex to the lofts of David Coward Talbot and Alex McKenzie and for three days it was assumed that the Coward Talbot pigeon had gained top honours by the very narrowest of margins. However, when the clock sheets were scrutinised and clock variations adjusted it transpired that Alex McKenzie's pigeon had reversed the positions by decimals with a velocity of 1734.1 as opposed to David Coward Talbot's pigeon recording 1733.8.

Alex Mc Kenzie is a past winner of 1st Open BICC Tours and is greatly helped in the day to day management of the birds by his brother Tony, who is in reality a silent partner. The McKenzies clocked a yearling widowhood cock containing the bloodlines of the late Stuart Elvin Busschaerts crossed with birds from Brian Denham and Janssen Van Den Bosche via Albert Babbington. The cock has been a consistent racer this year being first or second in the clock on a number of occasions. Alex and Tony usually mate the racers and stock birds when they return from the Blackpool show and all are allowed to rear but not necessarily their own babies. Once on widowhood the cocks are exercised twice daily at 6.30 am and 4 pm and on both occasions are allowed to do as they please with no forcing. The widowers are fed individually in their boxes on Gerry Plus and have just one ounce per bird per day. Congratulations once again Alex and Tony on a very good performance.

 David Coward Talbot. David's timer is a blue hen named Amelie recording a velocity of 1733.8 ypm.

The Hen has been raced as a roundabout hen for the whole season this was her second Channel race . She was bred by David s business partner  and Editor of the Racing Pigeon, Lee Fribbins from his Leo Van Rijn x Sootjen family. David and Lee have a stock team together of Van Rijns which they share  to breed youngsters each season .   The Le Mans hen did not rear at the beginning of the year , she was paired on the second week in February  and was exercised twice a day , fed on a mix that David prepares himself to his own specifications. Like all the yearlings they are raced with the intent of giving them a fair chance in each race in which they are entered. This means picking each race for them as an individuals. David believes even as yearlings they are still learning and every help is given to them to improve. However, as two year olds its a different story as they have to perform to gain their box for the following season .

David’s second pigeon ( both came together) is a yearling Blue Chequer Cock and is again  raced on the roundabout system. He is bred from  Brian Long's family of pigeons  and is one of David’s favourite yearling cocks. The Le Mans race was only his second Channel race this year.

Taking 3rd section 3rd Open vel1713 ypm was one to the Fagg& Nicholas partnership of Hartlip in Kent.  After numerous attempts to contact the partners I was eventually successful and Colin Fagg gave me the following details of their bird. Colin and partner Linda Nicholas timed a two year old dark chequer pied hen of Lambrecht bloodlines bred by Tony Webster of Erith. Raced on the round about system in the early part of the season, she was mated and sitting eggs when sent to Le Mans. The hen has certainly seen plenty of the "Briney" this season as she has been accross the Channel three times with the local Combine[winning 5th Combine in one race] and three times with the NFC. As with the other racers she is fed on VL Superstar Plus and has two exercise periods each day and in the build up to Le Mans had a 60 mile single up toss from Ash. 

The Chadwell St Mary, Essex partnership of D Wilton & son come in next at 4th East section 4th Open with a bird doing1711 ypm. The partnership consists of Dad Dave assisted by son Rob and grand son Andrew. The partners clocked a yearling blue hen, raced on the widowhood system. She was having her 2nd channel race of the season and had previously  won 1st Bromley Guernsey Open race as a young bird. 

 Eighty one year old George Burgess of Wraysbury on the western outskirts of London comes in with one of his round about cocks recording 1686 ypm to top the Centre section. George, as many will no doubt know, is a past King's Cup winner from Pau with the NFC and has been winning races with monotonous regularity since 1946 when he started up in partnership with his late father. The Le Mans section winner provisionally placed at 5th Open  is a two year old Soontjen cock bred by Hathaway & Poole from a son of the Docherty Cock purchased by George from Frank Sheader and loaned to the partners to pair to their Soontjen stock hen that is responsible for many top class racers. The round about team is mated early, allowed to rear then separated when sitting their second round of eggs. Cocks when on the system are exercised twice daily - morning and night with the hens going out for exercise at mid day. The hens are fed in once per day after exercise whilst the cocks have a light feed after morning exercise followed by their main meal after evening exercise. George mixes his own feed based on Versele Laga mixtures.

In 2nd Centre section 6th Open position, vel 1685 ypm is not one but two birds to none other than the Winkfield Wizard aka Mark Gilbert. Mark had two widowhood cocks arrive together   and both cocks were brothers from a son of Dutch Master of Syndicate lofts when crossed with a daughter of Goldern Gaby when he was paired to Lady Bliskim of M and D Evans. It looks likely that these two will take 6th & 7th Open .

 John Pether of Henham comes in next at 5th East section 7th Open on the provisional result with a pigeon on 1685 ypm. John clocked a yearling hen flown on round about. The birds- 18 hens and 24 cocks were allowed to run together and those that mated and laid were then allowed to sit for 10 days before the whole team was separated for the remainder of the season. Exercised once per day, which is forced if necessary, the racers are fed twice each day on a mixture of John's own specification based on Versele Laga Superstar Plus with various additives. The hen contains all the best of John's "old family" which is based on Van Loon and Haeltermans with a cross of WLG Kersal Cock blood through her dam which is a direct daughter of the famous Kersal Cock. Her preparation for Le Mans was several inland races followed by BICC Alencon and then into Le Mans.

 Third Centre section 8th Open goes to D J Hughes of Windsor with a bird doing 1679.4 ypm. The timer is a 3 year old VanElsaker widowhood cock whose father won more than £4000 racing at National and Classic level including two complete ETS systems. Mr Hughes was introduced to Serge Van Elsaker by Mark Gilbert. Thirty eggs were purchased and the £4000 cock was hatched from one of these eggs. The Le Mans timer has been a consistent pigeon winning 3rd Club Truro a week or so before Le Mans despite being badly injured earlier in the season.

 Mr & Mrs Terry Robinson of Goff's Oak look likely finish in the top ten at 4th Centre section 9th Open. Terry is a past double winner of the London North Road Combine plus three times runner up in Combine races but now concentrates on south road racing. In the Le Mans race Terry clocked a yearling Vandenabeele cock to record 1679.3 ypm to take 4th centre section 9th Open on the provisional result. The cock was actually bred by Ken Wise and had been raced on the widowhood system earlier in the season but was sent to Le Mans sitting 14 day old eggs. Mated at the start of the year in early February he was allowed to rear youngsters before being separated and put on the widowhood system. Terry exercises the birds twice a day and likes them to have free flight as long as the raptors stay clear. All birds are fed mixtures that Terry prepares himself from Versele Laga  feed with a strong influence of Gerry Plus as a base.

Yet another former London North Road Combine winner comes in next at 6th East section 10th Open vel1666 ypm, none other than Vic Shaw of Harlow. In fact Vic assisted by his grand son Andrew, has won no less than FIVE firsts on the North road with the LNRC and backed this up with FIVE runner up spots at Combine level as well. The Shaw timer here is a 2 year old widowhood cock bred from a bird purchased from Preece Brothers & sons of Abertillery from one of their many Welsh National winners. The cock has always been consistent winning a number of prizes up to Fed level and Le Mans was his third trip accross the Channel this year. Vic exercises the cocks once per day for 75 - 90 minutes. They are locked out of the loft to do as they please for most of this time and are then allowed an open loft for 10 - 15 minutes to come and go through the open doors. They are then fed in with the food given in measured amounts in a communal hopper.

The North section winner was clocked at the Thaxted loft of Matt Donovan vel 1664 ypm. Matt clocked a five year old blue cock of Brian Denny Blue Pau blood lines that has been raced on the dry widow wood system and Le Mans was his third channel race of the season. 

Second North section vel 1656 ypm was a two year old Soontjen widowhood cock to the Wisbech Cambridgeshire loft of Terry Roughton. This one is bred directly from a pair of Soontjens purchased from Frank Sheader. Raced on widowhood in the earlier part of the season he was re mated and sent to Le Mans sitting 14 day old eggs. This is Terry's first season in the BICC, the pigeon flew north as a young bird turned south as a yearling only flying inland. The Le Mans race was only his 3rd race across the Channel.

 The Cambridge partnership of T & N Hart & son come in for 3rd North section vel 1652 ypm with a three year old Wildermeersch widower. The partnership now consists of Trevor and son Lee as Trevor's brother Nigel passed away some time ago. The loft is in super form this season winning 12 of the 15 races competed in thus far including 3 x 1sts on the Le Mans weekend. The Le Mans timer returned from an earlier channel race completely flown out but with some TLC from Trevor and Lee he was built back up and then entered in an inland race the week before Le Mans from where he returned none the worse for wear. He was then basketted for Le Mans with every confidence.

 Over in the west section the birds had to work hard to make any impression on the wind and leading the way here was a bird to Graham Clift of Turley, a village situated between Cheltenham, Tewksbury and Gloucester, on 1533 ypm. Graham clocked a second bird less than a minute after the first which could also take 2nd section in the final result. This is what Graham has to say about his Le Mans timers:-

"I purchased direct children of Brian Denney's top pigeons, the first pair of latebreds in 2009 followed by further introductions in 2010 and 2011. They have bred excellent birds from the word go. Last year 7th Open CSCFC Carentan, plus 2x 1st club winners and 2nd and 6th Federation. This year 2nd Section BBC Messac.

The provisional Section winner from Le Mans on the sires side is a grandson of "Tuff Nut" 5th Open NFC Pau and "Brian's Blue" 748 miles on the day NFC Tarbes for Brian Denney and the dam is a daughter of Mark Gilbert's 1st NFC, "Southfield Pau". I clocked my next pigeon one minute later he is a nest mate to my 1st Section, 3rd Open BBC Messac in 2012..

The cocks and hens have been raced widowhood all season but were paired and sitting 10 days for the Le Mans race. The birds are exercised 1hour morning and evening; both cocks and hens are hopper fed Versele Laga Superstar Plus with a small amount of hemp, sunflower seeds/ peanuts added, plus barley all year and the young birds reared on Start Plus. I am grateful and fortunate that my life long friend George Harding manages the stock birds and rears the yb's from his address. I race the first round and we breed a second and third round as an insurance, which we train up from his address and I break and race them as yearlings with some success.

I sent 16 birds to the race and had them all, they returned in excellent condition a credit to the BICC."

 Derek Flowers ably assisted by brother Clive has won no less than EIGHT National races here in Wales since resuming in the sport just 7 years ago. This is Derek and Clive's first year with the BICC and at Le Mans they clocked one of t heir round about team on 1525 ypm to take [provisionally] 2nd section. The bird is a hen that was raced on round about for the best part of the season and had competed in every cross channel race with the BICC [other than the Internationals] prior to basketting for Le Mans. In preparation for Le Mans she was re mated and sent sitting chipping eggs - her first ever eggs. The story is that the hen returned after two years away following a young bird race from Lillers. She still carried two nest flights in each wing which were badly faded so obviously she had spent the two years "roughing it" so to speak. The bloodlines are WLG Janssens x Ray Moleveld Koopman.

 Robert Brown of Devizes in Wiltshire, the winner of 1st West section from Alencon earlier this season comes in with a bird doing 1521 ypm to take 3rd section. Robert writes:-
" My bird was bred from pigeons gifted to me by Eric Higginbottom from pigeons obtained from Peter Fox of Syndicate Lofts.
The sire was bred from Lichte de Klak x mother of the Stealth pigeons.
The dam is bred from Apollo x Golden Girl  and Olympus x Golden Nugget.
I normally race the cocks on widowhood but after their last race from Alencon with the BICC, I decided to leave them paired together so they were sitting about 10 days when sent to Le Mans. I had 10 out 11 on the day and the other one returned the next day".

 Well from what I can gather after speaking to the various fanciers when compiling this report, the race was yet another outstanding success and the Weatherman Stev Appleby, race controller John Tyerman and convoying team led by Trevor Cracknell should be congratulated on a difficult job well done.

 I cannot finish this report without highlighting the performances of some of our longest flying and recently joined  members. The Le Mans race saw Mr & Mrs Anderson of Washington, Tyne & Wear clock at 6.08 pm with a bird flying 482 miles vel 1268 ypm to take 198th Open on the provisional result. I was unsuccessful despite several attempts to contact Mr & Mrs Anderson as the phone I contacted was constantly switched off with a message to call back later. There are only so many times that I am prepared to do that.

Club President John Tyerman also has this to say to his fellow countrymen Richard and Jamie Combe:-

" Congratulations to  Richard and  Jamie Combe from Elphinstone (near Edinburgh)  who timed two pigeons this morning at 5-28am and 6-27am - great flying into Scotland by two new BICC members".

 The following is Jamie Combe's comments regarding the preparation of their Le Mans candidates:-

"Our first pigeon from BICC Le Mans race is a 3YO Chequer Hen bred through lines that have been successful for us in SNFC races over the last 20 plus years. Although 3YO, she has not had a lot of experience before this year as we would normally expect our 2YO pigeons to fly at least one 500 mile plus race. She had only 3 races to Selby (166 miles) as a YB and then 4 races to Peterborough (257 miles) as a yearling. In 2012 she returned injured from her fourth race - her final prep before the Gold Cup - and so her season was curtailed. This year she had her first attempt at a long race when she flew the SNFC Alencon race (530 miles) at the end of June but we had failed to get her in the correct nest condition. She was sent sitting 15 days on eggs but ideally would have been on a small baby. She homed from what was quite a tough race on the 2nd day and went back on her eggs. She must have restarted her incubation period as she happily sat her eggs right up to 17-18 days at which point we were able to slip her a newly hatched baby and she went to Le Mans on the Wednesday evening prior to basketing sitting 2 days on the youngster.

 She is a direct daughter of one of our very best cocks “Midnight Son” who was a great racer and breeder over the years but sadly died in March this year at the age of 17. He was bred in 1996 from 2 very good birds; his sire a top breeder (whose full brother won 33rd Open SNFC Rennes and full sister 22nd Open SNFC Sartilly) and his dam a champion racer who had been 5th open and also 99th Open SNFC Sartilly. During his racing career Midnight Son won the SHU Dewar Trophy for Champion Pigeon of Scotland in 1998 and won a coveted SNFC Gold Award for 5 x diplomas from channel racing (all in excess of 500 miles). His finest moment came in July 1998 when he was timed at half past midnight to win 3rd Section 7th open SNFC Sartilly (500 miles), his 3rd SNFC diploma of the season. He also recorded 3 diplomas in 1999 as a 3YO before injury and foot and mouth outbreaks curtailed his channel racing opportunities as both a 4YO and 5YO. He returned as a 6YO for his 5th trip to France, this time winning 62nd open SNFC Reims to clinch his Gold Award. He was then retired to stock with an unblemished record of 5 diplomas from 5 attempts at channel races in the SNFC.  At stock he has done very well being sire and grand-sire of many good pigeons for us and others. A summary of his SNFC career record is below:

9th Sect 16th Open SNFC Frome
72nd Sect 131st Open SNFC Rennes (542 miles)
3rd Sect 7th Open SNFC Sartilly (500 miles)
Winner of SHU Dewar Trophy 1998
109th Sect 241st Open SNFC Frome
65th Sect 153rd Open SNFC Rennes
4th Sect 37th Open SNFC Sartilly
45th Section 62nd Open SNFC Reims (549 miles)

 As a producer Midnight Son has been sire or grandsire of pigeons responsible for well over 20 SNFC diplomas ranging from 13th open Newbury at 320 miles through to 1st Sect, 2nd Open Chenoise at 563 miles.  He is a grandsire of several good 600 miles winners for other fanciers - including Dale Newcombe and Bobby Carruthers (both sadly deceased) who were great admirers of "Midnight Son" - notably a 6th open SNFC Tours for Jim Sanderson of Pathhead.

 The dam of the Le Mans hen is an unraced Red Cheq hen ‘6510’, specially bred for stock, who is an inbred double grand-daughter to one of our best producers ‘3251’. She was a latebred in her year and was never trained or raced. At stock she has already produced our good cheq hen ‘84’ who was 6th open SNFC Niort (670 miles) 2012 and 14th open SNFC Ancenis (590 miles) 2013. The sire of 6510 is a son of 3251 and was a Mealy cock who was 18th open SNFC Tours flying 612 miles. Her dam is a red hen called 'RUBY' who is a daughter of  3251. 'RUBY' was a super racer, winning an SNFC Silver Award for the following results: 2nd Sect, 12th Open SNFC Alencon, 9th Sect, 39th open SNFC Tours,  16th Sect, 60th Open SNFC Alencon and 21st Sect, 132nd Open SNFC Alencon.  A full brother of 6510 has also been retired to stock and is also siring and grand-siring winners for us including a 18th open SNFC Reims, 29th open SNFC Clermont, 40th Open SNFC Cheltenham & 96th open Alencon.

 This was our first race with the BICC and we wish to thank the BICC officials John Tyerman and Carol Francis for fast-tracking our application to allow us to compete, Les Blacklock of the RPRA Cumbria region for doing likewise with our last minute RPRA application, the workers at Northampton station for offering to feed and water the birds before race marking, SNFC clock setter Bobby Dickson for clock setting and checking and particular thanks to John Rumney for the onward transhipment of the birds from his home to Northampton which more than halved the journey we would have faced otherwise. If future race programmes are suitable (and we have enough pigeons !!!) we are keen to continue to compete in the BICC in coming years".

 There you go Scottish fanciers, the way is now clear for more of you to join the fastest growing and most progressive club in the British Isles. All are welcome come and join us and make history today.

Next and last International race of the season this weekend from Perpignan- who will be the lucky winner of the race and the House of Aarden sponsored young bird????

 Gareth Watkins

Alex & Tony McKenzie 2nd Open Falaise & 1st Open Le Mans

David-Coward-Talbott 2nd Open BICC Le Mans

Derek and brother Clive Flowers of Pontypool. derek was 2nd west section BICC Le Mans

George Burgess 1st Centre section 5th Open BICC Le Mans

Graham Clift 1st west section BICC Le MansDSC_0420

Mark & father Geoff-Gilbert. Mark was 2nd sect 6th Open BICC Le Mans

Matt Donovan 1st North section BICC Le Mans

Rob and Andrew Wilton 4th open BICC Le Mans

Robert Brown 3rd west sect BICC Le Mans

Terry Robinson 4th sect 9th Open BICC Le Mans

Terry Roughton 2nd North section Le Mans

Trevor & Lee Hart 3rd North section Le Mans

Vic Shaw & gson Andrew prov 10th Open BICC Le Mans