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 41 British entrants were liberated at 5.45 am BST on Friday 18th July along with 12,158 other pigeons from all over mainland Europe. The weather at the start was fine with blue skies, and as the wind chart that accompanies this report shows, the winds were light and variable at the start changing to light south easterly along the Rhone Valley. Despite the easterly influence in the wind along the entire course of the race through France it seemed unlikely that the small entry of just 41 British pigeons could make any impact on the outcome of the International result.
Pigeons began to be clocked from late afternoon on the first day and there was a cluster of birds recorded in north east France near the border with south West Germany. The eventual winner of the International race was eventually clocked in Belgium at 5.41 pm flying 873 kms and recording a velocity of 1218 mpm. The runner up being clocked at 7.15 pm by the world famous Dutch long distance ace Jan Polder whose bird was flying 970 kms and recorded a velocity of 1196 mpm.
In the UK we had to wait until the second morning before the first birds began to filter through, and as most will be aware, the Friday night saw torrential rain and thunderstorms throughout the south East of England a fact that certainly didn't help the small British contingent.
First to clock at 10.07 am was the Dover partnership of Kevin and Lee Buddle and this was soon to be overtaken by a bird racing to the Canterbury lofts of Bill Knox. Both these lofts have enjoyed excellent racing with the BICC again in 2014.
However, both these timers were superseded by a bird racing up into Essex to the Wickford lofts of Dickie Pearmain and son Steven that recorded 747 mpm.
The winning partnership are no strangers to success as their record in recent seasons in BICC International races is second to none - so take a bow Dickie and Steve. Here's Steve's take on the race winner:- " We are well chuffed, this little chequer hen has come well in a couple of BICC races as she was 18th open BICC Marseille in 2012 and was our 2nd bird from Perpignan 2013 taking 50th Open BICC.
She is full of big winning 600mile blood as her dam was 8th open Palamos BBC in 2001 as a 2year old. The dam's parents were from Alan Parker . Her sire is a direct Nico Volkens, being a son of Barbarella .
Our second which is 10th open today was going to Marseille for the 3rd time. She was 15th open BICC Marseille in 2012 and 5th open BICC Marseille in 2013 and now 10th open BICC Marseille 2014.
This hen is very closely bred to Mary from Donegal our 2013 Perpignan winner and contains the bloodlines of Volkens' Barbarella and Lance.
We only sent the two hens to Marseille and both were prepared the same way - one short channel race in the East England CC then trained privately and basketted sitting 4 day old youngsters. Both of these hens were bred at our stock loft at my home in Donegal and brought to our racing loft at the family home in the UK via John Miller[courier]." Well done Dickie and Steve on your second BICC International race win in successive seasons. A full loft report on the Pearmain set up can be found on the BICC web site.
I should also point out that Dickie and Steve's second in the clock the blue hen now named "Marseille Maur" is in line for a Certificate of Merit as she has finished in the first fifteen Open on three occasions in successive years. Congratulations to both of you on yet another excellent result - you both deserve the success.
In the R/U spot is one to the Tyler's Hill[Canterbury] loft of Bill Knox vel 741 mpm. Bill has enjoyed great success in 2014 with the BICC having knotched up a series of outstanding team performances in earlier International races this season. This is what Bill had to say about this latest success:- .
"Congratulations to the Pearmains. The east section always provides tough competition for the internationals , whether the race point be to the extreme west of France or extreme east irrespective of the wind this section gets behind the task. A disappointing entry, considering Marseilles is one of the Europa cup races held in high esteem by the Continentals shown by an increased birdage.
My timer was a late bred in 2010. He flew a similar programme in 2013 i.e. 2 Cannappevilles 140 miles;
Pithiviers 220miles both with the EECC then Agen 55th open and Marseilles 22nd open. Having had a mishap with a hawk , his preparation for 2014 being Cannappeville, Saran, Pithivers all with the EECC then Agen 88th open BICC before his 2nd section 2nd open Marseilles. He was sent sitting 7 days prior to basketing. Both parents were bred by J Murray of Coxhoe and are very inbred to Stranraer Simon sharing the same grandsire."

In third east section third Open, vel 723 mpm, having been the first to clock is the ultra consistent[and successful] father and son partnership Kevin and Lee from Dover. The Buddles came oh so close to winning this year's Barcelona race being literally pipped at the post by good friends and near neighbours Peter and Heath Archibald. At Marseille the partners sent three and clocked two and this is what Lee had to tell me about their latest top class pair of long distance performers:-

"Our bird from Marseille is a six year old cock we call "Mike". He was sent to Agen International 3 weeks ago purely as a preparation training race as a stepping stone to fitness for Marseille international and he was our first bird home winning 13th Open being clocked at 17:15 on the day of liberation. He has been a very consistent race bird for us over the past few years and this prize from Marseille is his 8th International race prize within the BICC. He has previously won:-
4th Open BICC Marseille International 2011 594 mil
es 9th Open BICC Marseille International 2013 594 miles
13th Open BICC Agen International 2014 480 miles
24th Open BICC Perpignan International 2012 579 miles
37th Open BICC Pau International 2011 544 miles
60th Open BICC Pau International 2013 545 miles
64th Open BICC Pau International 2012 545miles
He was bred by our good mate and top pigeon fancier Mike Mitchell and is bred from direct Herman Van Helmond stock (Old Jan Aarden lines) obtained by Mike from Belgium.
As with all our birds he is fed with Versele Laga Superstar Plus with a bit of Verselle Laga best all round added to give it a bit more strength and flown on 100% widowhood. In the lead up to Marseille Mike had 3 channel races with the EECC from Canappevile 136m, Saran 220m & Pithivers 209m and BICC Agen International 480m Three weeks ago where he finished 13th Open BICC. The weather on route and here in the UK on Friday evening and Saturday Morning was awful with Thunder storms and Rain for a Long period of time. "Mike" will now have the winter off before starting again for the 2015 race season.
Our 2nd bird in the clock out of our 3 entries is a 9yr old hen we call "Kendall" she has also been a very reliable servant for us having flown countless races with the BICC International races. Her sire was from Paul Kendall of Wantage and he is a direct son of his top race cock "Ashdown" and her dam is also from Paul Kendall being a GG-Dtr of his "Morning Glory". In preparation for Marseille "Kendall" had the same as our first bird, that is 3 races with the EECC and Agen Int 3 week prior to Marseille where she finished 69th Open 480m. Her previous race results are:-
12th Open BICC Marseille Int 2013 594m
34th Open BICC Perpignan Int 2011 579m
41st Open BICC Perpignan Int 2010 579m
51st Open BICC Tarbes Int 2009 548m
131st Open BUCC Agen Int 2013 484m
"Kendall" has also flown:-
BICC Barcelona 2011 676m
BICC Barcelona 2010 676m
BICC Perpignan 2009 579m
BICC Pau 2008 in race time but not clocked".
Outstanding pigeons bred, conditioned and raced by two outstanding fanciers who are totally dedicated to long distance International racing. They have excelled in 2014 with four birds from a five bird entry on the Barcelona result. Another four birds from a seven bird entry on the Agen International result and an incredible five birds from an eight bird entry on the Pau International result. Superb flying. Well done both.

Mr & Mrs Steven Rhodes come in next at 4th Open vel 662 mpm with a 5 yr old blue cock which is a half brother to their 14th open Barcelona cock. The sire is direct Jac van de Wegen and is a grandson of De Stefan. The dam is a sister to the late George Bates' AJ and Silver Jay with Fear Brothers blood in the mix as well. He was sent feeding big young birds and driving his hen to nest again. The cock has previously scored
9th open Boves East England CC.
3rd open Cannappeville EECC.
69th open BICC St Vincent.
130th open Pau and has also flown Tarbes and Marseille.

Robert Harris is there again at 6th Open vel 626 mpm with his single entry to follow up his earlier 6th Open finish in the recent Pau race. This is what an obviously delighted Robert had to tell me:-
"My single entry is a 4 year old hen that was sent to Marseille sitting 9 day old eggs. She hit the loft a bit wet and with pink wattles, but her body weight was brilliant as if she hadn't been anywhere. Her breeding is the same as my 6th open BICC Pau hen this year, which is the bloodlines of Bruggeman Brothers, and Piet Lazerooms. Her full brother won the Kent Cosmopolitan Fed and the Kent Combine this year from Le Mans for me. She has previously been 33rd open BICC St Vincent last year which turned out a difficult race. T he preparation for Marseille was 3 inland races up to 136 miles with the Kent Cosmopolitan Fed, then BICC Alencon, BICC Tours and she also went to Pau International this year. I should have clocked her in but I went and got my clock read after timing 3 of my entries in and didn't bother getting a reset, and on my return home she was sitting in the loft waiting for me! She has also won 1st club Le Mans and 4th Kent Cosmopolitan Fed and 8th Kent Combine in 2012, then 2 weeks later I sent her to Tours in preparation for Pau International but I lost her as the Kent Combine birds clashed with tens of thousands of Dutch pigeons. She was eventually reported to me in North Holland at Groningen by Rutger Rittersma who went on to win the Agen international in 2013! Rutger kept her in for a week with food and water he then contacted me to say she had been released at 5am UK time. At 7.30pm that evening she hit the shed 525 miles single up on the day! I'm pleased to have timed her in as I only sent the 1, and the weather wasn't the best for this race with all the thunderstorms about. I would like to say a big well done to everybody that has timed in, my son Alfie has named this pigeon Robbies Girl".

Next in at 7th & 9th Open vels 569.8 & 568 mpm, we have two birds to the loft of 2013 Europa Cup and Marseille race winner David Hales, aided and abetted by Duncan Goodchild. Duncan gives the following information on their two birds:-
"The 1st bird timed was "Duncan" last year's Marseille winner. He is a 5 year old Biss x Alan Parker blue cock flown on widowhood.
He is slowly putting together a reasonable portfolio of prizes including 1st BICC International Marseille 637 miles, 7th BICC International Marseille 637 miles, 73rd BICC International Agen 512 miles, 18th Classic Bergerac 467 miles as yearling. Also this year in his training races he was 4th & 16th with the EECC Cannapeville 170 miles.
His prep this year was hampered and he missed the big fly we like them to have. He went to one inland race then EECC Cannapeville, BICC Tours but on the lead up to Pau International he decided to have a fight in another box. He was left to recover and the 16th EECC Cannapeville being a come back race - his last race before Marseille. He did have a couple of training tosses out to 60 miles and was flown pretty much open hole morning and evening.
The 2nd bird timed was "Dave's Red" he was in the loft whilst Dave was sorting out "Duncan" and finished up less than a yard a minute behind on velocity 568mpm.
This 3 year old cock is a half brother to last year's 3rd Open BICC International Barcelona 709 miles clocked on the 2nd day in a very tough race. He is a Parker cross Hagen Brothers. His grandsire being 80 1st & 4th Open International Perpignan 617 miles 38th Open NFC Tarbes 580 miles etc. His prep was the same as Duncan expect he made Pau International 575 miles and was the 4th bird to the loft. He seems to be slowly getting a hang of International racing having been timed at Marseille 637 miles, Perpignan 617 miles and Pau 575 miles. He was also 15th Open HLFC Tours 292 miles as a young bird and 132nd Open BICC Tours as a yearling.
Dave says that this cock was untroubled by this fly perhaps a possible Barcelona candidate for 2015? Well done to all those brave enough to have sent and timed in what is probably the hardest International race on the calendar".

Yet another former Europa Cup and BICC Marseille race winner, Simon Knowles comes in next with a bird recording 569.2 mpm to take 8th Open. Simon clocked a second bird later on the third afternoon to finish at 14th Open. The first in the clock is a three year old blue cock sent sitting 14 day old eggs. His sire is a winner of 9th Open Barcelona and contains all the best of the Malibu Stud bloodlines that have served Simon so well over many years in the long hard International races. His preparation for Marseille entailed three 100 mile trainers with the Wingham club plus two short channel races with the EECC. Feeding here is Buckton's Irish Mix with added peanuts and seeds in the build up to the long races. The birds are allowed an open loft to come and go as they please on most days. Simon's second timer, recording 354 mpm, is a four year old cock, again on the natural system and sent feeding a small squab. This one is of Mick Parish bloodlines and has won 7th Open Marseille in 2013;47th Open Perpignan in 2012 and 1st Open EECC in 2011. His preparation for Marseille 2014 was similar to Simon's first timer.

Dickie and Steve Pearmain's second timer comes in at 10th Open.

At 11th Open vel 552 mpm was one to the Basildon loft of J Underdown. John timed the same chequer cock that finished at 3rd Open BICC in the 2013 Marseille race. This year he was sent on chipping eggs and had been lightly raced with the EECC in the build up to Marseille receiving just one Boves and one Pithiviers race beforehand. The cock was bred by Schofield & Greetham and contains Jed Hinchcliffe [NFC King's Cup winner] and George Bates' Fear Brothers bloodlines.

Another "regular" on BICC International race results is Alan "Wally" Turner of Elvington, near Dover. In this Marseille race Alan clocked a seven year old hen in pouring rain at 7.40 pm to record 510 mpm to finish at 12th Open. The hen was sent to Marseille for her third attempt having previously featured on the BICC Marseille results in 2012 and 2013. This year she was sent feeding two small squabs after being lightly raced in the early part of the season. This preparation took the form of a few 100 mile trainers with the Wingham club followed by Poitiers with the Fed where she finished 2nd Club 8th section Fed and then into Marseille. Her bloodlines are the old Delbars that have flown so well for Alan over the years.
The penultimate bird of those birds clocked as I complete this race report in time for the publishing deadline, is one to the Dover loft of Geoff and Clayton Preece. The partners clocked a six year old German ringed pigeon to finish at 13th Open vel 362 mpm.
This is what Geoff had to tell me:-
" Chequer widowhood cock - One from our first batch of youngsters that we purchased in 2008 from our good friends at the well known German loft of Stoffel-Ophoff. The cock is a reliable 'all weather' pigeon that always gets in the clock. Bred on both sides to the legendary '270' Golden Barcelona. This is his third Marseille and fifth International. We are proud to have competed in the Marseille International, one of the most prestigious Europa cup races."

That then is the Marseille race over and done with and all fourteen birds clocked were from the east section. A very difficult race flown in harsh conditions at the home end with heavy rainstorms interspersed with thunder and lightning and yet, once again, the same names with the same pigeons keep coming through. There's a moral there if you look hard enough.

To close this report on the Marseille race I have included here details of the winner of the North Central section in the recent St Vincent International. This one was clocked after my report on the race had been sent off but I can assure readers that this is a special pigeon as it has now won 1st North Central section with the BICC in two races this season. The first was from Poitiers when it finished at 33rd Open from almost 2,000 pigeons, and now it wins 1st section for a second time in a difficult 600 mile race. This is what the Mitchells had to say about their superstar:-
"He is of Vandenabeele x Peter V.D Merwe bloodlines via Jutla Brothers and a couple of weeks ago it won 1st N.C section from Poitiers. I would like to thank Mr and Mrs Sheila Mayes for letting me and my Dad Jim take the pigeons up on the Sunday, where Jim helped their Son fix the taps. Jim will do anything for a cuppa! I would also like to thank Russell Bradford and his wife for also accepting pigeons on a Sunday as they have done in the past.

In the photograph are from left to right, Abigail Mitchell, Chloe Mitchell and Lauren Mitchell with their Uncle Jamie Mitchell.

Unfortunately their favourite, Grand dad Jim Mitchell, was not in the photo as he has not won anything yet!!" Cheeky little minx!!!!
Gareth Watkins

Donegal Girl 1st Open BICC Marseille for Pearmain&son

Bill Knox's 2nd Open Marseille

Mr & Mrs Rhodes 4th Open Marseille

Dickie & Steve Pearmain's Meritorious Award winner Marseille Maur 15th,5th &10th Open BICC Marseille

Kendall of the Buddles 5th Open Marseille

David Hales and Duncan Goodchild 7th & 9th Open Marseille

Simon Knowles 8th & 14th Open Marseille, holding one of his long distance pathfinders

John Underdown pictured with grand daughter Molly. John was 3rd Open BICC Marseille 2013 &11th open 2014 with the same pigeon

AlanTurner 12th Open Marseille& Bill Knox [R]. 2nd Open Marseille


J Mitchell 1st North Central section St Vincent

Kevin and Lee Buddle

Mike the Buddles first in the clock from Marseille

Robert Harris' Open Marseille hen

Robert Harris & son Alfie