Following on from the great success of the first two races from Falaise and Alencon in the BICC Old Bird race programme, the weekend of the 31st May saw 442 members entering 3,646 pigeons in the Tours race.

The city of Tours stands on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and the Battle of Tours in 732. It is also the site of the Paris-Tours road bicycle race. Tours is the largest city in the Centre region of France, although it is not the regional capital, which is the region's second-largest city, Orléans. In 2006, the city itself had 138,268 inhabitants and the metropolitan area had 546,105.
The weather for the day of the race was forecast as excellent with plenty of blue sky and light winds.
The following is Race Advisor John Tyerman's report on preparations for the liberation:-

The Club had another good entry of 3646 birds for the Tours National which was a substantial increase, up by 48% from last year's figures (as highlighted to me by our Treasurer, Russell Bradford). This time the marking and collection went without any hitches other than a delay on the A3 due to a serious accident, but both transporters were on time to catch the Thursday evening ferry from Portsmouth to Caen. For this race the birds were again under the expert care of Chief Convoyer Trevor Cracknell and his two assistants Barry and Steve. The convoy arrived safely at Tours around lunchtime on Friday and birds were later fed and watered on site. I had earlier spoken with our Weather Advisor Steve Appleby and he was confident that the weather would be good for the proposed race on the Saturday. Steve predicted sunshine and light NE winds at the racepoint and overall good flying conditions, so this information was passed to Convoyer Trevor with a discussion that it would be best to liberate as early as possible, bearing in mind the wind direction and flying distance for our longer flyers.
On Saturday, around 5-45am I again spoke with Steve and as usual he gave a very detailed weather report for the line of flight back to the UK. He made us fully aware of the fairly dense cloud cover with morning mist/fog in the Falaise area, but as Tours was in good sunshine and 100 miles south, this was of no real concern. Our thoughts were that in the light North East wind the convoy would drift more towards Cherbourg avoiding the Falaise region. The English Channel was clear with good visibility, and light NE winds turning variable.
I again spoke to Trevor around 6 am on Saturday, and he confirmed it was a beautiful morning at Tours with barely any noticeable wind. I relayed the line of flight forecast to him and and at 6-30am the convoy was liberated into sunshine and a very light north east wind. They cleared well into blue skies and sunshine. On the drive back to Caen Trevor reported excellent weather for around 70 miles, then just north of Alencon they came into the predicted cloud cover but there was no rain and although it turned out to be a testing race, there were over 330 first bird verifications. Our Congratulations to Geoff and Catherine Cooper on another fine win. Thanks again also to all our markers, i/c's and Convoyers, Trevor, Steve and Barry.
John Tyerman - Race Advisor.

Steve Appleby our resident weather expert gives the following in depth assessment of the meteorological conditions on race day:-
Weather Report
On balance this BICC race from Tours was certainly a testing one as the velocities indicate. At first light conditions at Tours were first class as viewed from the weather satellite. Broken cloud and sunshine with good visibility gave the convoy that essential good start required for a successful race. I informed John Tyerman of the overall weather conditions which resulted in liberation at 06:30 hours. Approximately 70 miles of broken cloud and sunshine (as reported by the convoyer on his return journey) and observed on the satellite was available to the race birds. Any pigeons reaching the Falaise region would have encountered some thicker cloud. Having said that the flight path to the west of the Falaise area up to the Cherbourg peninsula was the clearer route. It was quite evident that this cloud cover which persisted for most of the day prevented organisations liberating from Falaise. Early morning mist/fog was identified over more northern regions but would not have presented an obstacle to the BICC pigeons. The birds would have had no difficulty racing over the top of any remaining early morning ground mist as it only reaches a maximum height of approximately 250 feet. The entire Cherbourg peninsula was under broken cloud and sunshine, as was most of the channel. Visibility overall outside of any mist was very good especially in the channel. Winds over land in France were light from the north, north east (see wind flow chart) and over southern England light and variable. Over the channel they were well defined from the north, north east and although light force 2 to 3 played a significant role in deciding the provisional velocities.
Steve Appleby

I attended the Gwent Marking Station and everything, as usual, was all efficiency and light with Ted Garwood, Jimmy Bullock, Colin Neale, Wynn Llewellyn along with Gordon and June Mears, Terry and Carol Gardner aided by the "old sea dog" John Ludlam making sure that all went off smoothly. It would appear that more than 250 pigeons were basketted at Newport for this 350 mile race. I would imagine many of those entered were destined for BICC Barcelona or the Welsh SRNFC Tarbes in a months time.

Now we move on to the race itself and at this point I should once again stress that the positions quoted here are purely provisional and are based on the provisional result compiled from members first bird verifications. The final result may well differ considerably.

In first place yet again, taking 1st west section and 1st Open with a pigeon recording 1174 ypm, is the world class West Country partnership of Geoff and Catherine Cooper of Peasedown St John near Bath.
Geoff and Catherine timed a two year old dark chequer cock to win 1st National. After leading the way in two earlier National races this season, only to end up 2nd and 4th in the final result, they were relieved to see their name stay at the top of the leader board on this the third occasion!!
The timer, as mentioned, is a two year old widowhood cock now named "Farm Star" and he has been a good consistent racer for Geoff and Catherine, always in the first few to the loft. As a yearling he won 2nd club 24th Combine Saintes 394 miles.
His sire is a son of "Euro Star" who bred 5th National Carentan and 1st Ace pigeon Europe Wuhan Golden Sands Derby. The Dam is a hen called "Margie" who as a yearling flew the national programme through to Tarbes 570 miles. She is down from Farm Boy and Mtotto two of the most prolific breeders in the Cooper loft.
Farm Star has flown 3 inland races and two channel races prior to this race. If all goes well his main race will be Bordeaux/Agen International with the BICC on the 28th June.
A comprehensive loft report on the Coopers can be found on the BICC web site.

Next , in second spot in both section and Open on a velocity of 1167 ypm, is a pigeon to yet another top class partnership, that of Ron Scammell and Paul Peploe of Garndiffaith near Pontypool at the base of the South Wales Valleys. Ron and Paul have won something like 10 Nationals in Wales and have come close to winning two BICC races in the past two years, finishing as runners up in the 2013 & 2014 Tours Nationals with the BICC. To say that the loft has been on form in the past couple of weeks would be a massive understatement as they have knotched up the following list of performances in successive weeks:-
1st & 2nd Welsh National Carentan followed the next week by 1st Welsh South Road NFC Carentan plus1st Welsh SR Fed Carentan.
Then 4th Open BICC Alencon and now 2nd Open BICC Tours.
The hen taking 2nd National at Tours must be ranked as one of the best racing pigeons in the UK today. Just look at her NATIONAL positions over the past few seasons racing on the round about system:-
In 2011 as a yearling she took 61st National Messac;55th National Tours;50th National Saintes.
In 2012 she won 17th National Carentan;2nd National Cholet[came with National winner & clocked second];8th National Niort;5th National Bergerac, winning the Gold Cup with the Welsh SRNFC for best series of Performances in a season plus the RPRA Welsh Region Award for most Meritorious Performances.
This season she has 28th National Maidstone and now 2nd National Tours to her credit. Some pigeon!!
She is also bred in the purple as her sire is "The Nearly Cock" a winner of three times 2nd Open in National races and sire ,gsire, ggsire of scores of winners at all levels for many fanciers throughout the UK.
On the dam's side is the "Bernard Clarke Hen" a National winner and top stock hen for the partners. A full loft report on the partners will appear shortly.
Another well known West Country partnership come in next at 3rd west section 3rd Open , none other than father and son partners John and David Staddon with one recording 1165 ypm. The partners have previously won 1st BICC Carentan in 2012 & 1st BICC Tours in 2013 as well as 2nd BICC Pau, 2nd BICC Falaise & 2nd BICC Alencon in recent seasons. John and David send their warmest congratulations to good friends Geoff & Catherine Cooper on yet another National victory. This is what David had to tell me about their timer:-
"We timed our 2yo hen now named Shapway Rose. She is raced on the Chaos System and is turning into a very promising young hen. She was 48th Open NFC Saintes National last year in a very tough race as a yearling, she was also our first timer in last weeks Carentan NFC and now 3rd Open BICC Tours. She may now head back to NFC Cholet before being prepared for a big end of season target. She is bred from our good racing hen Lady Sumo when paired onto a Verreckt Arien cock, Pascal Arien being the man who's chaos system we use. Her nest mate Shapway Towers has won over £1400 for us so not a bad pair at all. Coincidentally these two nest mates are paired together for racing."

F Bartlett & R Jones from Southampton come in at 1st central section 4th open vel1158ypm.
The winning pigeon is a 2 year old hen and her breeding is Andreas Drapa cross J.V.D Bosch raced on Natural Hood sitting 2 eggs at 8 days on own her own as her mate had been injured and was unable to get up to the nest box to carry out his domestic duties. The hen has already won this season down the coast in Rob's local club so is showing promise.
Her sire is from there J.V.D Bosch family based around there multiple National winning family that has previously won the NFC from Nantes and a car , the first 4 in the BICC National from Falaise and the BBC National from Poitiers.
Her dam is an Andreas Drapa being down from "CARL" mutiple winner in the thousands being a car winner and 1st Olympiad winner.
He won 1st 11,185 birds - 1st 7396 birds - 1st 1551 birds - 1st 1193 birds - 1st - 729 birds - 2nd 5370 birds beaten by "FLITZER" - 2nd 3878 birds again beaten by "FLITZER" 2nd 3019 birds beaten by "FLITZER" 2nd 3247 birds - 2nd 2869 birds - 2nd1580 birds - 2nd 1222 birds - 2nd 1379 birds. The dam is also being down from "FLITZER" multiple winner in the thousands also and winner of a car and 1st Olympiad champion winning 9x 1st and won a amazing 1st 5431 birds - 1st 3878 birds - 1st 6970 birds - 1st 5508 birds - 1st 5370 birds - 1st 7150 birds - 1st 1551 birds, 1st 1193 birds - 1st 3878 birds - 1st 5431 birds - 1st 3019 birds - 2nd 11,185 birds beaten by loft mate "CARL" and 2nd 7395 birds beaten again by "CARL".
This new family of Drapa birds have hit well this year for Rob as only a couple of weeks ago a Drapa cock won over £1000 and winning the Car nom in the Central Southern Classic and last week 2nd section NFC Carentan with a Drapa cross J.V.D Bosch of similar lines.
Rob Jones races on his own now due to his uncle Fred Bartlett passing away many years ago but Rob has kept the partnership name going. Rob feeds his own mixes of corns made up from Versa Laga & Marimans that is based on the old 1-2-3 Bosmolen system and all birds are trained twice a week normally from the east against the wind from between 30 & 40 miles in the evening if Rob manages to finish work by 6pm or by Tony Wareham who takes the birds through to Bognor Regis, but most of the time Robs birds get trained from Fontwell by Nigel Langstaff. So a big thanks from Rob to the both of them. All birds are given the Aviform products during the racing season to keep them healthy with no other treatments needed to keep them in good form. The products seem to help the birds recover and race longer into the season with most birds flying every week and doing well on there 8th - 9th and even 10th race across the channel as down south there is a big race every week with the Classic - BICC - BBC and the NFC so not much club racing is normally done due to all the big races. Rob has asked me to give a special mention to Tony Wareham and John Attrill on their excellent performances over the past few weeks.

Mark Gilbert comes in at 2nd Central section 5th Open vel 1150 ypm. Unfortunately I have no further information on Mark's timer.

Frome fancier K Haines timed a bird for 1146 ypm to take 4th west section 6th Open. Unfortunately, despite several attempts to contact Mr Haines I was unsuccessful and so I do not have any information on his pigeon.

In at 3rd Central section 7th Open vel 1143 is one to Tony Wareham. This is what Tony has to say:
"Congratulations to Geoff & Catherine Cooper on their win.
The pigeon I timed is a blood red cock and is bred from stock obtained from the late Jack Beggs of Southampton. Mainly Janssen based on the dam side and Willem de Brijn on the sire's side. I was pleased with his trap on the day as he has been known to take his time on other occasions. I had five from my seven entries on the day and a further one early next day. I would like to congratulate Robbie Jones on his section win and also to thank him for taking my birds to the marking station.

Phil and wife Tess Newton of Weston Super Mare maintain their outstanding form with a bird recording 1138 ypm to take 5th west section 8th Open.. Their bird was sent to Tours sitting a three day old youngster. He has been a consistent racer over the past few years scoring in several big races.
Last year he was 45th open Alencon BICC and in 2012 he was 48th open Tarbes Central Southern Classic. He will now going to be rested for a few weeks and trained up ready to be sent to one of the longer races. As usual a big thank you to Phil's wife Tess for all her help with the birds and Phil would like to send his congratulations go to Geoff and Catherine Cooper on another great win.

Paul Ayling of Gosport. Paul clocked for a vel 1131.8 to take 4th central section 9th Open. Despite emailing and telephoning on a number of occasions I failed to get any information on the Ayling pigeon. It's getting a bit monotonous this isn't it?

Taking the final position in the top ten Open was a bird recording 1131.3 ypm to the Portchester partnership of Mr & Mrs S Harris & Daughter. This one was narrowly beaten on decimals by the Ayling pigeon and this is what the partners had to say about their timer:-
"Our first bird is a 3 year old Janssen cock named "The Ghost". He was bred by Mr/Mrs Cross & Son from Gosport, His previous results are 9th Open 4th Section, CSCFC Carentan 2,258 birds. 4th Open, 2nd Section NFC Fourgeres,7,064 birds. 79th Open, 3rd Section Cholet NFC, 5,886 birds. 7th Open, 2nd Section CSCFC, 877 birds Bergerac. He is raced on a round about system".
Not a bad tool to have around the loft that one!!!!!

Right, lets have a look around the sections now. The West and Central section winners have been covered earlier in the top ten Open result.

The North west section and provisionally 16th Open was won for the second successive race by a bird racing to the lofts of T & J Davies of Birtsmorton. This one was doing 1117 ypm.
Jeremy's timer is a three year old cock flown on the round about system. He was shown a new hen for an hour before basketting and in the week before basketting was treated to various products that Jeremy markets including Energy Oil and Energy Powder. His breeding shows plenty of top racers in the background breeding. Birds that win through to Tarbes at more than 600 miles.

Second North West section and provisionally18th Open was one to Chris Preece of Bridgnorth vel1114ypm.Chris' timer is a three year old Janssen cock flown on widowhood named Ben after Chris' two week old grand son. The Janssen lines originated from Ian Axe and they have proved to be good channel birds for Chris since their introduction.

In third section was a bird on 1043 ypm racing to the Rushwick loft of John Rodway.

Over in the East section we see Chris Hunt of Maidstone with the winner on 1115 ypm taking 17th Open. Chris clocked a three year old Jan Aarden widowhood cock bred down from Invincible Spirit and Invincible Dettori lines from Louella Lofts. During the 2013 season he was entered in five channel races and scored in each and every one.

D Wilton & son of Chadwell St Mary come in next with a pigeon on 1112 ypm for 2nd East section 19th Open. They timed a 2 year old widowhood hen that also scored 19th BICC Argen as a yearling. She is bred from an egg gifted to them by King's Cup winner Mark Bulled and is closely related to his Tarbes National winner.

The ever present Mountlessing partnership of Gosling & Jarvis take 3rd East section 23rd Open vel 1108 ypm..They timed a 2 year old dark pied cock nicked named something unmentionable! He was closely followed by his brother a yearling dark cock nicknamed Hiawatha which should also appear well up in the section result. The nickname for the first arrival is because when exercising with the rest of the team a wood pigeon landed on the roof of the shed in a flash sh..ger landed trod the wood pigeon and clapped off!! The partnership were shocked to say nothing of the wood pigeon's reaction. Hiawatha got his name because he was scalped in a fight earlier in the season. The two cocks are flown on widowhood and had four inland races then sent to Messac in the BBC two weeks ago both arriving in good time. Their sire is Kingpin bred by Jim Biss and is a grandson of Vend 1st NFC Pau and Zimbiss 1st BBC Palamos. He is responsible for many prize winners including 1st section Potiers the dam is 95 bred by Ponderosa. She is a Muller Van Wanroy First Lady x Black Giant bloodlines. The partnership found it a very testing race.

The winner in the North Central section was Chipping Camden fancier and I/C at the Evesham marking station, Gavin Duggan. Gavin's timer recorded 1082 ypm to finish provisionally at 36th Open. This is what Gavin had to say about his section winning pigeon:-
"First I would like to congratulate Mr & Mrs Cooper on another National win - another top performance . My pigeon is a yearling having his second ever channel race. He is a Jan Aarden cross and is flown on a sort of roundabout system. My second pigeon is also out of the same line and looks to be in the top ten in the section so hopefully something to work on as I'm only into my 4th season racing after a long absence."

Colin"Curly" Barnes comes in next with a pigeon recording 1081 ypm to finish provisionally at 2nd section 38th Open. The Barnes timer is a bit of a "Bertie Bassett" mixture of Busschaert, Vandenabeele and Darren Peters bloodlines. Flown on the natural system he was sent to Tours sitting 10 day old eggs.

Mr & Mrs Jeremy Wright of Lutterworth come in for 3rd North Central section with a 2 year old widowhood cock recording 1063 ypm to be provisionally 51st Open. The breeding being a grandson of Jeremy's 1st section Sennen Cove NFC winner bred by Jeremy's good friend Chris Raes of Belgium and the dam being a daughter of a pigeon obtained from Freddy Vandenheede of Zingem in Belgium.

Over in the North East section the winner was clocked at the Ipswich loft of Tony Calver on 1077 ypm. Tony's timer is a widowhood hen of Wal Zoontjen bloodlines via club mate Colin Smith. She is a previous prize winner this season including 3rd Fed Alencon two weeks before Tours and has also won 33rd Open Tours previously so has certainly earned her corn.

A Wright & daughter of Otley come in next with a bird doing 1065 ypm.

The bird is a dark chequer Wal Zoontjen widowhood cock. The cock was the partner's first bird from last years BICC Tours race so he seems to like a harder race. He returned in excellent condition and will more than likely go to Poitiers next with the BICC. The Wrights would like to congratulate Tony Calver on winning 1st NE section.

Third north east section goes to Mr & Mrs P Barker's bird on 1060 ypm.

Finally, congratulations to John Romney up there in the North East at Houghton le Spring near Newcastle, who clocked early on the second morning with one of his Lone Stars. If some of the details on some of the prize winning pigeons is rather sparse, and in some cases non existent, it's because I was unable to obtain any information despite several attempts to contact the fanciers concerned. My apologies to all concerned but I do have a very tight deadline if the race reports are to be ready for publication in the next week's pigeon papers. If I fail to contact you after three attempts then I'm afraid it's a case of "three strikes and out". When you have a good pigeon that appears high up on either the provisional section or the Open result please try to make yourselves available for me to make contact on the day after the race is flown. Alternatively, take the initiative yourselves, and phone or email me with your pigeon's details - there's no need to be bashful!

And finally, I have been asked by the marking station officials at the Gwent Marking Station to inform fanciers who intend to use the Gwent station that the times of marking are from 9 am to 11 am and NOT as published in the handbook.
Also could all fanciers ensure that their race entries are either wing stamped or carry a telephone address ring as per RPRA rules. Failure to do so WILL ENTAIL REFUSAL of your entries in the race.
Gareth Watkins

Geoff-&-Catherine-Cooper-1st Open BICC Tours 2014

1st Open BICC Tours-Farm-Star

David & John Staddon 3rd Open BICC Tours

Rob Jones of Bartlett & Jones.1st Central section 4th Open Tours

Mark & father Geoff-Gilbert. Mark was 2nd sect 7th Open BICCAlencon

Tess & Phil Newton 7th Open BICC Falaise;10th Open BICC Alencon;8th Open Tours all in 2014

Paul Ayling3rd section 5th Open BICC Alencon;9th Open Tours

Mr Harris 10th Open Tours

A Wright & dtr 2nd NE section Tours2014-05-3118.10.49

Chris Hunt 1st East section BICC Tours

Curly Barnes 2nd NC section Tours

D Wilton & son 2nd East section Tours

Gavin Duggan 1st North Central section Tours20140601_154010

Jeremy Davies1stNWSectionAlencon & 1st section Tours with daughters Jessica and Heather

73_Jeremy Wright 3rd NC section Tours

Ron Scammell and Paul Peploe with Dellan Scammell.

Tony Calver 1st NE section Tours