Firstly, a little news on the NFC presentation for 2020. Mr McGrevy has recently spoken to the Management of the venue who have reassured him that the presentation will take place as planned and they are able to follow the government guidelines on social distancing. The situation with the lockdown restrictions have made this season very difficult and we are all in need of a good weekend so in my best Yorkshire accent “get ya tickets booked, it is going t’happen”. I enjoy celebrating the winners of the National Flying Club, and I always get an extra chill down my spine when the winner of the Grand National is called up to collect a huge array of trophies along with the coveted Kings Cup, it is truly magical for them and the members in attendance. I would have been a crying shame if it could not have gone ahead, and I am really looking forward to applauding Mark Gilbert as he collects the trophy he rightfully deserves, “The Kings Cup” will now carry his name along with the greats of all time.
The National Flying Club Grand National race from Pau took place on the 31st of July after being liberated at 06.15 hrs UK time in a light South West wind, gusting to 10 mph. The air temperature was 21 degrees and humidity 74%. There were variable winds on route but mainly south so although the forecast was for much higher temperatures later in the day, it was felt that the southerly winds would assist the 2700 birds taking part. The National Flying Club had also agreed to convoy the Central Southern Classic and the British Barcelona Club with a joint liberation, and as Mr Ian Evans, Chief Executive of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, is very keen to encourage more joint liberations in future, he and the RPRA Development Officer, Richard Chambers decided to award £1000 to the race, split equally over three distance zones, with the title of “Pau Masters” being awarded to the joint overall winner.
Recording a winning velocity of 1144 yard per minute, Mark Gilbert is now the undisputed holder of this title, as his recent record breaking performances at marathon races has been nothing short of outstanding and now he can add the National Flying Club Pau Grand National to add to his list of achievements, along with the added bonus of RPRA UK Masters winner of the joint liberation of three major clubs.
It is no secret that Mark has set himself the goal of winning the Barcelona International, which is 716 miles to his loft in Windsor and as an aid for selecting his 2021 team, he decided to send 50 yearlings bred out of his very best marathon bloodlines to the National Flying Club Grand National from Pau, 562 miles, which is considered by all his peers to be the very best race in the UK to win. This is rarely an easy race and it would help to identify his future Barcelona candidates, plus it has been a life long dream for Mark to win the NFC Pau Grand National and with the Covid 19 restrictions earlier in the year, circumstances meant that the Barcelona International race would take place on the same day, so to compete in both of the very best long distance races in the UK and Europe was certainly a day to look forward to.
The high temperatures the pigeons experienced during the race took its toll on the entry of 2700b and after 13 hours 47 minutes, just one brave pigeon appeared on the leader board for the 2018 Tarbes Grand National loft of Wearn Bros & Neilson flying 531 miles. Just under an hour later Mark saw a pigeon approaching from the south which flew straight to the trap in the fading light, to record a time of 14 hours 25 minutes flying 562 miles on the hottest day of the year so far and still just a yearling, bred for the task and acquired from a fortuitous misunderstanding.
A couple of years ago Mark had asked a friend in Holland to try to acquire young birds from a fancier called Cees Van Heartem in Terborg, who he had noticed had been putting up some very good Barcelona performances. In 2017 the race was arduous, and he achieved 7th and 12th International so Mark wanted to buy youngsters out of those very pigeons, his friend made contact and a price was agreed. When the youngsters were ready and the payment due, Mark questioned that they were indeed out of the seventh and twelfth international pigeons “No” came the reply “Cees van der Laan had third and fifth International”. He had gone to the wrong fancier, there had been a misunderstanding and they were not from the birds Mark had wanted. He was then presented with a dilemma and as his agent had taken delivery of the two youngsters, he decided to buy them to save any future problems and they were put into the breeding loft, paired together with only one pair of youngsters taken from them to race. Now named “Southfield King” the Pau Grand National winner is one of those youngsters.
The Barcelona International was also liberated on the 31st July and again due to the heat, no birds were recorded at all in Europe on the day, but on the second day Mark did get one, winning first Open BICC and 128th International, but that’s a story for one of my colleagues to tell. “Well done Mark Gilbert” on winning the Pau Grand National and the Barcelona UK National on the same day with “Southfield King” and “Southfield Gold Lady”, there is only one dream left for you now and you certainly know how to make your dreams come true. “Grand Master” comes to mind and at the time of writing this article, Mark has 14 of his yearlings on the result and a further 6 had returned to my knowledge giving him a very promising prospect for the Barcelona International 2021.
Before I continue with the section report for Pau, another very important point to make is that the post is proving to be unreliable in certain areas so I would suggest as well as sending clock sheets recorded delivery as per the rules, it would be prudent to scan the paperwork if possible and email it on to the Secretary as a “belt and braces” exercise. But I must reiterate that it is an extra precaution to make, and not to be used instead of posting the signed hard copies. The National Flying Club committee would like to thank the two organisations who joined us for the Pau Grand National liberation this season. The Central Southern Classic FC and the British Barcelona Club members could cross nominate, which helped all three clubs and also helped the RPRA hold a combined race with prizes given to three bands based on the distances of 600 miles & under, 601 to 700 miles and over 70 miles. The three club results have been submitted and the winners have been announced in the British Homing World with Mark Gilbert, Stephen J Cooper and Nicholas Adshead being the first fanciers to win what is hoped will be the first of many combined liberations in the future. The top 20 of each section can be seen on the RPRA website.
David Bacon from Tunbridge Wells won the section with a blue chequer cock which has flown channel 23 times with his best results being 7th Sect 66th Open Tarbes in 2015, 3rd Sect 30th Open Tarbes 2016, 27th sect 178th Open Tarbes 2017 and now 1st Sect 5th Open Pau Grand National 2020. On his sires side is Louellas “Invincible Sprit” and “Morning Glory” via Paul Kendal and his dam bred by David from a Fear Bros 1996 red chequer cock which had flown Tarbes clocked five times being 30th Open 42 open, paired to a daughter out of Bourges Belgian national winner 24.000 birds for my friend Pascal Vanbruaene.
Fred Hall and daughters clocked for second section 23rd Open with a two year old widowhood cock. His sire was a gift from Crammond & Langstaff and is from a grand son of “Euro Diamond” x “Southfield Melissa” bred by Mark Gilbert the e dam is a granddaughter of “Geeloger” bred by Stuart Wilcox with her sire being “Special K” son of “Geeloger” and her dam “Beau” daughter of “King of Rekkem”. In the BICC race from Agen a full brother of the 2nd section winner was 11th open BICC so seems to be a good line, fingers crossed.
Third section was clocked in Emsworth by Bertie Shepherd also being 71st Open. David Farr in Bognor Regis was 4th and 9th Section 82nd Open Pau National with a blue chequer white flight cock on roundabout. His dam is a gift from Peter Kendall of Bideford in 2015 from his old Barker family, she has been on the BICC Agen result for the last 2 years and last season scored 126th Open 48th sect and in 2020 she was 55th open 26th sect. His sire bred out of a Bert Shepherd Ko Nipious Jan Aarden cock out of his 2nd open Pau National winner and dam out of a full sister to the dam of Crammond & Langstaff “Brexit” 1st BBC Barcelona. 9th sect for David was bred out of a pair of stock birds from John Wills, John gave him some of his stock birds when he moved to Brackelsham Bay, and they are already breeding there worth, with his first birds from Agen and BICC Bordeaux being from them too. Fifth section was Alan Holdaway also from Emsworth with his first bird being a very reliable cock called “Viking”, which has now recorded 1st sec 34th Open Ancencis NFC, 262nd Open Tarbes NFC, 247th Open Tarbes NFC, 6th sect 15th Open Tarbes NFC and 5th section 82nd open Pau NFC. He is now retired to breed a loft full of his like. Alans second home from Pau, is a chequer cock bred by Tony Leggett scoring 8th sect 116th Open Pau NFC on his first try.
Many thanks to Bill Edwards for compiling the following report; Taking 1st Section B and 2nd Open Pau NFC are previous winners of the NFC Grand National, Jimmy Wearn and Eric Nielson from Ramsdean in Hampshire, who once again recorded the first bird into the country and led the field for a while with only two birds being clocked on the winning day. The chequer pied hen now named “Ramsdean Olivia” is pictured with Eric and Jimmy’s granddaughter Olivia. Her breeding is “New Lauriatt” on the sire’s side from James and Peter Parker crossed with “Starlight” from Mark Gilbert. Some of her previous results have been 3rd Section, 14th Open Bergerac Classic 2019 and then 2 weeks later 3rd Section, 8th Open Bordeaux with the BBC. She has been raced celibate this season, only being paired prior to basketing. Jimmy and Eric would like to give a big “well done” to race winner Mark Gilbert.
Second section and 11th Open is the ever-consistent loft of Andy Parsons from Salisbury. Andy would like to congratulate Mark Gilbert for winning the National and John and David Staddon for winning their section, having a great weekend racing and to all who clocked birds on a hard race. Andy’s pigeon is a three year old late bred that was not raced until two years old. In preparation for Pau she had two short channel races, the second one being from Messac with the BBC, which turned out to be a testing race. She was then rested for five weeks with no training before being basketed for Pau, when she was sent sitting 4 days on eggs. Her breeding is classic for his loft, being a direct daughter of “The Dancer” when he was paired to his own granddaughter. She in turn is from the “Five Times” cock when paired to his Merit Award winner with the Central Southern Classic, which is a daughter of “The Dancer”. The “Five Times” cock and “The Dancer” are both half-brothers to “Proud Mary” again a Merit Award winner with the NFC. Andy clocked a further 10 birds and worth noting that his second bird clocked is from a half-brother to “The Dancer” and “Proud Mary” and has the same dam as his first bird.
Third section, 17th Open is Mick Bradley from Titchfield. Mick would like to congratulate Mark Gilbert on a great performance winning the race on the day with a yearling, and all the section winners especially as eight of them were in the top 20 on a hard race. Mick’s prize winner is a three year old hen which was in the top 100 of last year’s Tarbes result. She is bred from a direct son of “Indy” when paired to a daughter of “Paarsburst” which was purchased at Blackpool a couple of years ago. Paarsburst was a winner of two Dutch Nationals for Piet de Vogel of the Netherlands.
Forth section, 21st Open is the Isle of Wight loft of Eddy Rann. Eddy’s prize winner is a six year old cock now named “John’s Boy” after John Rowland who recently passed away and bred the sire to “John’s Boy” which scored 1st Section, 8th Open Saintes NFC. The dam is a daughter of “Mecca” from Jimmy Shepherds birds. “John’s Boy” was raced with the Solent Fed to the West and Falaise with the BICC, Messac in the CSCFC and Fougeres with the NFC before being rested for 2 weeks and then Yelverton with the Solent Fed and local training on the Island. He was fed on Champion Plus, Superstar Plus and mixed fats for last 4 days. Eddy clocked the second of his six entries, “Mo” giving him a much needed boost as his season had not been going to plan prior to this race. Eddy would like to thank Guy Reed for taking the birds from the Island to the marking station, the NFC for looking after the birds and congratulations to all who clocked from this challenging race especially Mark, Jimmy and Eric for timing on the day.
Fifth section, 22nd Open is my old mate John Ayling from Fareham. John is a dedicated long-distance enthusiast and his season is aimed at the longest NFC race. To a small back garden loft, John has previously won 1st open NFC Pau, 1st Open Central Southern Classic Pau and 1st Open BICC Narbonne Open plus a shed load of section and open prizes in the longest races. John is not now in the best of health and relies heavily on wife Jackie to perform most of the pigeon duties for him these days. John is also very grateful to Gosport Club secretary, Elvin Booth for taking his birds training. John was genuinely disappointed when he never recorded an arrival on the day but cheered up when his self-bred Blue hen repeated her last year’s performance of 5th section for two consecutive seasons. John also recorded another 5 of his 8 entries in race time all flown natural and sent sitting.
The winner of section C flew to the loft of Mike Staddon in Crewkerne. Mike clocked two from Pau to also take 1st and 5th section, 70th and 150th Open. G Glaze from Shaftesbury was 2nd with Peter Doble, also in Crewkerne clocking two birds to take 3rd and 4th section. Both were two year old hens flown natural and sitting twelve days on eggs, the first being a great granddaughter of “Corey Boy” 1st Open PALOMAS B.B.C for Corey & Roger Owers of Crewkerne and “Padfields Invincible”. The second bird is a granddaughter of “Corey Boy”, “Padfields Invincible” and “Padfields Jack” Peter would like to congratulate mark Gilbert and Wearn Bros & Neilston for clocking the only 2 birds on the day, what a fantastic achievement. He would also like to say we'll done to all section winners and to thanks Mike Staddon for taking his birds to the marking station.
Firstly, my apologies for missing out the photos for the Fougeres race. They were sent to me on time but I failed to put them into the correct folder on my computer and they never got sent to the press. I have included them in this report to hopefully give the fanciers due recognition. Graham Buck won first Section D and said “First of all I would like to congratulate all the Section winners on what was another very difficult Blue Ribbon National race. My three year old hen is the same hen that was 2nd Sect, 71st Open Tarbes in 2019, when she was sent as a spare hen. This year she was sent to Pau sitting 14 days, but this was a bit longer than I would have preferred. She had three inland races and the Fougeres NFC (taking over 10 hours) before going to Pau. My birds do not receive any training by road after young bird training and I encourage them to exercise from the loft. This hen is bred from birds I had from my friend Bryan Maude of Redcar”.
Lee & Dyer were second section with a two year old hen sent sitting 14 days, and is off Geoff & Catherine Cooper's winning bloodlines with the parents being bought as a matched pair of young birds personally selected by Geoff. She was also 2nd Plymouth & District Classic Club from Le Mans last year, beaten by a loft mate and in preparation for this Grand National from Pau, she was sent to Falaise with the BICC then trained from Portsmouth before sending her to Pau. They clocked their second bird on the third day, which was another Cooper Pigeon.
Third was Brian Reene who said “First of all l would like to say congratulations to Graham Buck, who was 1st section D a fantastic pigeon and brilliant performance by the owner, to my mind the best bird in the race. My bird was overlooked for racing during the early part of the year, for some reason l kept passing her by. Four weeks before the National l thought, you haven’t been anywhere yet, it’s about time l gave you a go. She had just laid, sitting about 2 days and wasn’t happy about being lifted off the nest, nonstop grunting with her claws dug into the nest felt, she didn’t want to go. But she handled very heavy in great need of a race so l sent her to Salisbury about 70mls. She had no training and l thought she would take all day, however she was my 1st bird from 15 sent and not too far behind the leaders. The following week l sent her to another Salisbury and again she was my 1st bird and right up there with the winners, she was sitting 9 days for that race. The following Thursday still sitting the same set of eggs, she was sent to the NFC Messac National, when she was my 1st bird to win 15th section D. The very next day her eggs hatched and l let her rear a single youngster. She was very keen and wouldn’t let her mate come anywhere near her and for at least 4 days, she drove him out of the box but allowed him to sit on the front of the nest box and watch. I knew then l had a good one for the upcoming Pau National. She was my single entry and l pooled her well, as l was confident l would get her in good time. She is a three year old with her Sire being a nine year old stock bird called “The Picauville” which is a Grondelaer. Her Dam is an eight year old Ko Nipious from “Border Chief”. She was paired to her half-brother in the nest pan in the photo, who was my 1st bird 9th section from Sigogne NFC 2019. As you can see she has now re-laid, still as keen as ever, trying to dislodge her mate and the youngster in the photo is the one she was rearing when she flew back from Pau. This young bird will auctioned on line to raise funds as part of a late bred sale for my club, the one and only Devon Cornwall and West Somerset CFC. Now I’m thinking hmmmm, “what will she be like for the old hens National?”
Forth section was Chris Williams timing 'Finley' as he is fondly known, named after Chris and Wendy's grandson. He is a two year old chequer cock which has been a consistent racer. He flew Coutances NFC as a young bird, raced hard as a yearling inland and sent to Fougeres NFC. This year he went to Fougeres and Messac NFC winning 3rd Plymouth & Dist Classic Club and 14th Sect D. “Finley” was sent to Pau sitting one day eggs and his sire was bred by Les Jane, the dam is 'Triple One' one of Chris's most consistent channel racers.
Previous National winners Underhill & Prettejohn were fifth section and the partnership would like to congratulate club mate Graham Buck in timing his exceptional hen to win 1st Section “D” in a west wind and what proved to be a very hard race. Their blue chequer hen “Dotty” was sent sitting on a 3 day old young bird. “Dotty” has always been a very reliable and honest pigeon but without hitting the heights of some of her loft mates. Her Sire “The Fighter” is a half brother to “Rossi” winner of 1st Open NFC Fougeres in 2017.
The winner of section E Mark Gilbert was also the overall race winner, who timed a yearling on the day flying 14 hours 25 minutes and went on to clock another 10 yearlings with the tenth being 142nd Open. Truly fantastic flying and close on his heels was club mate John Haynes who clocked at 5:25 the next morning to take 2nd section 3rd Open.
A friendly sparring partner of Marks, John enjoys the local rivalry and also won 4th section and clocked a total of eight birds with the last one being 73rd open. When I was down in Windsor they were discussing if they were 3-3 or 3-2 on the season after the Pau race with John adding in his own words “Firstly, congratulations to Mark and Jimmy winning with two great pigeons on the day. My 3rd Open winner has been a consistent minor prize winner at the distance, his sire is a son of Rutz & Sons “Champion Beloki” and his dam is a daughter of Mark Gilbert's “Golden Barcelona” x daughter of “New Witbuik” x “Silvie”.
Third section E were Britton & Hames from Caversham near Reading with Mr & Mrs S Fear in Hayes, fifth section.
As we all know the RPRA encouraged the NFC, CSCFC and the BBC to liberate together from Pau and this has been received as a positive step forward in long distance racing. A combined result will be put together and published by the RPRA Development Officer Richard Chambers in due course but it was particularly pleasing to see the President of the CSCFC racing as Mr & Mrs Clive Merrills winning section F in Swindon. I declare I am repeating his report to the CSCFC but I think it speaks volumes as to what can be achieved with joint liberations. “As President and Race Advisor for the Classic I want to thank the NFC Race Advisor, Steve White for his courtesy in contacting me in the days leading up to the race and in the evening before liberation took place. By asking my opinion as to the prospects, showed the consideration he had for all organisations in the joint race. A gentleman and my thanks again to you”. Clive and Wendy won the section with a four year old blue hen of no particular strain which has been consistent but never outstanding until this race. There is no particular preparation, she had one inland race and then with the BBC at Messac five weeks prior to this, with a 30 mile training toss the week before. As all their birds are celibate the cocks and hens go together on race day and the next day so all come home to a mixed loft, before being separated again until the next weekend or race.
Second section was F J Quinn. In Sailaway who said “Congratulations to all the winners, it was not a walk in the park and as I type this I have 7 home from the 10 I sent. I must thank my friend Andy Parsons for all the help and birds over the years with all home bar one containing Andys bloodlines.
My first bird is 100% Parsons being a grandson of “Champion Monty” with this being his first time at 500 miles, he is hard to get right and last year he was 48th Open Bergerac. My second bird being 4th section is a full brother to the sisters which have won a bit and the third in the clock was my pick, a winner of 3rd section Tarbes 2017 and many more. She is also Provisional 4th in the GDSBNFC and a 1/2 sister to the first bird. Keep trying your time will come”. Third was James Fulford in Salisbury and fifth section was J & P Parker from Beenham near Reading.
First section G was Dave & John Staddon of Ditcheat. They have enjoyed a fantastic season in National and Classic racing this year with many outstanding performances. Dave sent me the following details “Firstly massive congratulations to Mark Gilbert on winning the King's Cup. He so deserves this victory, bad luck Jimmy & Eric. We had a really good race from Pau this year. We sent 12 birds and timed 8 on the 2nd day, they were in excellent condition so the convoyer should be praised. We are 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th & 11th Section. Our section winner is a two year old cock flown on Chaos widowhood. He has been a good cock already and went to this race being heavily pooled. He was our first bird from the very hard 2019 Agen International winning 7th Section 47th National as a yearling. He was also 8th Section 9th National Falaise 7441b 2020 and now 1st Section 7th Open National Pau NFC, 1st Section 2nd Open CSCFC Pau and 1st Section 3rd national BBC Pau. He also won 1st GDSBNFC Pau. We have named him “Gemstone” and he is bred from our star breeder “Gem”, a direct son of the NFC's most famous Double Certificate of Merit Winner “Freelands Gem” of Bill & Beryl Lewis. Gem is already Father Of 3rd Section 3rd National Cholet 290 Miles 2859b 2019 3rd Section 3rd National Fougeres 201 Miles 743b 2019.7th Section 47th National Agen 526 Miles 998b 2019 8th Section 31st National Agen 526 Miles 2018 10th Section 100th National Tarbes 560 Miles 1952b 2019. Gemstone's mother is “Rosie” bred by Mark Gilbert. Rosie is from a son of “Perpignan 06” and the “333 hen”. Rosie is already Mother to 3rd NFC Saintes, 20th Tarbes, 20th Tarbes, 43rd Tarbes and the NFC Ace Pigeon is 2016 “G-Force” and the NFC Ace Pigeon 2018 “Evie”. So, you can see Gemstone is bred to be a champion. We have put his nest sister in the breeding loft for 2020 as we had a feeling this cock was going to be special. His preparation went without a glitch from Falaise BICC, St Philbert BICC, Poitiers BICC where he had 11 hours and returned clapping around the loft. A big thank you to my Dad and partner John, who keeps me on the straight and narrow as far as the pigeons are concerned. We are getting closer to winning the King's Cup, which is something Dad has always wanted to do”. I am sure it will come very soon Guys, impressive results after a short time at the new loft location.
Third section was Tony Emery who said they waited patiently but the doom and gloom took over, and the weather closed in. Up bright and early the next morning and the weather had lifted, and then so did their gloom, as their little dark hen ‘Heatwave’ arrived. She looked well and not a sign of exhaustion at all. Her breeding is from Keith Nethercott x Cannon x Fear Bros. Her sire won 17th Open, 3rd Section G Tarbes and the Dam took 1st West Of England South Road Combine from Marmande. “Congratulations to all fanciers who had birds back from Pau and my thanks to all marking stations working hard to achieve all safety restrictions. Finally, my appreciation and thanks to the Convoyer for the attention and care in looking after our birds in such temperatures. Can we be lucky for a third time in 2021, let’s hope so”.
Forth was NFC Committee man and top auctioneer Stuart Wilcox who said “Well it was a tough Pau NFC and we were pleased to time "39" to be 4th Sect G 65th Open NFC Pau Grand National. "39" is 100% Chris Hebberecht being a grand son of “Talis” and “Champion”, he has won some good prizes including 3rd West Sect Cholet and was 150th Open NFC Tarbes Grand National in 2019. His half sister has been 5th BICC Falaise and 27th National St Vincent. He will get a deserved rest and we will go again next year!
Fifth was S Luff and Walker Brothers who clocked their
good two year old hen “Blue Forty Four” following a gruelling 22 hour 47 minutes on the wing but she was in great condition on arrival. She is generally flown on the true widowhood system but on this occasion, 10 days prior to basketing, she was showing up to another hen and laid an egg on the floor. The morning after she laid the egg, it was placed in her nest bowl with her cock to encourage her to lay the second egg and up to two days before basketing, the pair had the section to themselves as all the other cocks and hens were shut out of this section. Her preparation for this race being all previous BICC National races from Falaise, St Philbert’s and Poitiers where she won 2nd WS Sect, 9th Open.
She has always been a consistent racer being their first pigeon from Bergerac 2019 winning 1st Club, 7th WOESRC Bergerac 296 birds. 6th NW Sect, 22nd Open CSCFC Bergerac 1,088 birds. Her breeding is impeccable with her sire bred for stock from their NFC Tarbes section winner “Hardy” who was 1st Section 20th Open Tarbes in 2014, followed by 4th Section 25th Open NFC Tarbes 2015. To breed the sire “Hardy” was paired to “Golden Queen” bred by Kipp & Son from Althornbach being a daughter of “Golden Glory” x “Purple Queen”. “Blue Forty Four” dam was bred by Graham Clift via Freildenhofen x Coopers down from “Forest Junior” “Forest Gump” This is a cross which has worked very well as both hens that they timed taking 6th & 8th Open CSCFC Tarbes 2019 are of the same line. They are very happy with this result as the birds were moved after racing last year, a new loft was built for the race birds, all the birds were settled and broken to the new location in February and performed over and above their expectations.
Graham Kirkham in Boston won first section H 16th Open with a three year old natural hen sent sitting 11 days on eggs. Bred from direct Jan Polder birds, the sire is from “Marathon Man” son of “Delta King”.
His second bird, winning 7th section is a three year old dark pied natural hen sent sitting 14 day eggs. She is bred from a cock from Dave Impett and a hen from George Hilson. Both birds were flying their third race and jumped 350 miles. The team was fed on Polders mix equal parts Paddy Rice, Malting Barley, and Widowhood Mix. High energy corn plus peanuts fed for last 10 days. They were paired on 10th April, both hens had dropped their 3rd flight in the basket and arrived in great condition.
Second Section and 19th Open was T E & J Stygall in Norwich with a hen closely related to their 9th section 147th open pau 2020. The first hen is half-sister to 3rd section 67th Open Tarbes 2014 and also closely related to 1st section 42nd Open NFC Tarbes 2016, 3rd section 63rd Open NFC Tarbes 2019. They would like to thank Peter and Jean Virtue and also Brian and Thelma Denney for spurring us on in good and bad times.
Richard Manning also flying to Boston was third section 32nd Open with D Jones in Sibsey forth section 89th Open.
Fifth was David Fisher who joined the NFC this year purely to fly Pau which is the furthest he has ever sent having started out north road and previously sent to Lerwick but never Saxa Vord with the NRCC. NFC Pau is 608 miles to David and he timed two nestmate hens which have always been consistent. Having not been raced as young birds but trained 50 miles, lightly raced as yearlings out to Cholet, the blue chequer pied hen went on to Agen and returned just out of race time. This year again on roundabout they went to BICC Falaise and St Philbert then rested for Pau and privately trained to 50 miles. Their sire was bred by Mark Bulled, half-brother to his certificate of merit award winner this year, bred from a son of “Legacy” when paired to “Hanna” and was purchased at the UK champions auction at Blackpool. The dam of these hens is a blue hen bred by Darren Macfadden and purchased via Elimar, she is a a granddaughter of Dark Prince, Pau Princess & Megans Lad. The blue hen is also the dam of Alfredo for Duncan Knox 5th open Scottish National racing pigeon club Maidstone 327 miles 2019 & 6th Open Hazebrouck 419 miles 2020. He was buzzing when the blue chequer hen dropped, having been trying to build a team of distance birds from Mark Bulled, Joe Raeburn and Darren Mcfadden, both Joe and Mark have been very helpful, providing birds and advice in preparation for distance races.
First section I and 34th Open was Gary Carter from Childswickham. Gary timed a three year old hen sent natural on 4 day old babies. She came back from Sigogne as a yearling in 2018 injured and didn't race in 2019 so has been lightly raced. Her preparation for Pau was 4 club races with the last one being Truro two weeks before at 190 miles, which had put her right for the task in hand. She is small in size with a big heart and her breeding is down from Pennylands Supreme crossed in with a new introduction Gary has acquired.
Second was Keith Bush from Cossall who always puts up a very impressive performance in the NFC Grand National races year after year. This time he clocked to be 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th section with his first bird being 61st Open. Keith was split by Alan Hailsworth in South Normanton who took the fourth section prize.
First section J was P Dewsnap from Stoke on Trent who was thrilled to win first section 15th Open and also won forth section 38th Open. He clocked a two year old hen raced on natural sent feeding tow newly hatched babies which were her first young of the year. Her breeding is “Matt Rakes” on one side and “Padfields” on the other. He said “I would like to offer my thanks to good friend Keith Bush for all his help and advice. Keith also had a great race, as he has done many times over the years. I would like to congratulate the winner of the race M Gilbert, who had a fantastic weekend racing, also winning the BICC Barcelona. Finally, thanks to all the officials for working so hard to make racing possible during this extremely difficult year”.
Second were Mr & Mrs Nigel Shaw in Crewe who said “the pigeon we timed from Pau 681 miles to be 2nd section J 20th Open NFC is a daughter of the Batenburgh cock which scored well for us and retired to stock at two year old and her mother is a daughter of Macaloneys “Black caviar”, she is only a yearling flown on chaos / roundabout system.
Third section 35th Open was Graham Clift who wrote “First of all congratulations to Mark Gilbert and Wearn Bros & Neilson with two outstanding day birds on what again has proved to be a testing race. My pigeon is bred from a grandson of Freialdenhofen's “Forrest Gump” & “Carcassonne” paired to a sister of Mark Gilbert's 1st BICC Marseille cock. This pair previously bred for me a 3rd Section BICC from Le Mans, the dam owned by Mark Sparey, also bred my first pigeon which was 5th Section NFC Tarbes 2019 in another tough race. She is proving to be a really good breeder for both Mark and myself. The cock had three channel races prior to Pau from Carentan, Fougeres the last one being Messac two weeks before the national.
Fifth section went to my good friends Booth and Roper in Tewkesbury. Trevor and John timed their super hen “Sportsview Amy” who took 1st section, 5th open from Tarbes last year, to take 5th section 40th open from Pau this year. As you can see from the picture her performances have been outstanding. She has turned out to be a hen in a million winning top positions in National competitions since her yearling days. At the age of five years they have now decided to retire her to the stock loft and are not tempted to send her again to try to achieve a certificate of merit. She also won the J.R. Dunn, R.Mitchieson and The Barlow Trophies and won the entry to the Algarve Great Derby. She also played a big part in winning the Langstone Gold Cup last year and she was really fancied to do well again this year. They timed a second hen 35 minutes later to take 7th section 59th open and they can’t believe they had 2 birds in the top 60 in the biggest NFC race of the year. They would like to congratulate Mark Gilbert on winning the Open and all section winners. Also, a big thank you to everyone at the Alveley marking station for their hard work.
Putting in one of the best performances of the race was the section K winner Nicholas Adshead in Selby, North Yorkshire. He timed in his little blue hen “Hermia Solus” at 10:11am on the second day flying 724 miles to win 4th Open NFC Grand National Pau. A fanatic for the NFC Grand National, he plans his whole season for this one race and this year he felt the hens were slightly better than the cocks as the cocks had been to every NFC race which may have taken a little too much out of them. The hens had only had one NFC race, the local club races and were also trained with the young birds out to 25 miles daily. For their motivation the cocks were paired to stock hens, given a little straw and left to build a nest for a couple of days and his hens were paired to stock cocks with enough time to be sitting 12 days. An hour before he went off to the Sheffield marking station, he went into the hens loft to put them on the floor for a while in order to keep them clean in the basket and he noticed his little blue hen was not on the nest. He searched the small hens section on his hands and knees, beginning to wonder if the hawks had taken her or something before finding her still in the young bird section from the night before. So, he put her back on her eggs for an hour before leaving, which may have given her that little extra unplanned motivation for the very hard day.
Second section 8th Open was Alec Finlay in Leeds flying 726 miles with a granddaughter of Jan Polders “Rainbow Warrior” which flew Sigogne and Cholet on the day last year in NFC. This season she was his first pigeon at Messac being 63rd section.
Third section and 14th Open was Stephen Cooper in Sheffield who said “All the pigeons in section K were eclipsed by the fantastic performance of Nick Adshead's brilliant pigeon. My first pigeon is a four year old latebred and was not raced as a young bird, lightly raced as a yearling and two year old, with nothing exciting as a three year old. She is out of a Luc van Copponolle hen purchased from Pennine Heights stud. Her sire was bred by Dave Impett. I exchanged a cock bred the same way with Phil Rawson and Bruce Towers, Bruce used to curse "the Cooperman cock" because it always flew for another hour after the other cocks had dropped. It even caused him to miss Emmerdale one night. I think this cock scored from Tarbes and was lost at the same race the following year. My celibate hen was prepared with four inland races and then NFC Fourgeres, when she came the next morning, given approximately three weeks rest before Tarbes. My second pigeon to take 10th section K 139 open, is a 2 year old celibate hen, sired by the same Dave Impett cock via of a Wouter Nederpelt hen out of what was his best stock cock "Chad". Thank you, John Wheatcroft. I got other birds return, Wednesday, Thursday night, Friday morning, and Saturday. All were in good condition, so well done to the convoying team. All my pigeons were cross nominated into the BBC and the two I timed would have been 1st & 2nd section E, and 6th and 48th open, but for a glitch in the online verification which caused problems for quite a few BBC members. I have only entered twice in the BBC and been disqualified each time, even though I followed the instructions on their website. In the event my first pigeon won first place in the RPRA 600-700 mile band. Thank you to the marking team at Sheffield and Dave Allen for the complimentary tea and coffee he supplied. Hopefully we will be able to have a breakfast and the usual good banter next year”.
Forth section was Andy Holland from Shipley who was 4th & 8th section 25th 80th Open with his first bird being a double grandson of “Tuff Nut” owned by Brian Denney and the dam is from Auke Smid of Holland, being a granddaughter of Barcelona 1. His second bird is also a Brian Denney crossed with a Menne and daughter. This bird has previously been 4th section k Sigogne,1st 700mile NE club also 1st club 2nd Dewsbury Fed from Poitiers 521 miles on the day. Both birds arrived in very good condition.
Fifth was Nigel Clark who was also 26ht Open. Nigel tells me that this hen finished 6th Section K from Tarbes last season but this year she has gone one better by finishing fifth. Nigel races to a small 10' x 6' shed and often starts the season with only half a dozen old birds to race. He would like to mention that most of his pigeons are bred down from gifts from Joe Langbridge from West Sussex who for the past few seasons has sent some young birds up to Nigel to try. Joe's pigeons originate from A E Shepherd. Nigel would obviously like to thank Joe for his kind gestures.
First was B P Lee in Congleton with his pigeon named “Zlatan” after Zlatan Ibrohimavich who scored wherever he played. He is a slatey pied cock raced on the widowhood system with his sire being from Roger Suttons channel family and his dam a Florizone bred for me by Stockports Brian Littlewood from his Tarbes winning bloodlines. As a youngster he prized regularly, including 8th N/W section MNFC Chale and second in the prestigious North Staffordshire 4 bird Carentan young bird open, wining £840. As a yearling he won 10th section 25th open in the MNFC Tours race. Last year he was aimed at Tarbes, competing in all land races along with Carentan and Fougeres, then to NFC Tarbes where he won 1st section L 38th open and the Western region bird of the year trophy. This seasons preparation was similar to last year, although he had him worried at the NFC Fougeres where he was 12 hours on the wing, Brian rested him from then up to Pau and he has achieved a remarkable double by wining section L again. He has earned his perch and will retire a champion.
Second were Mellor Brothers, from Crewe in Cheshire with Ronald Pendleton in third place. Ronnie sent a three year old hen sent sitting 14 days which also went to the 1st NFC race from Fougeres then sent straight to pau. She raced three hard channel races with the club as a yearling and had two second clubs with only two club birds on the day both races. Her father was a gift off Roy Harding from Spurstow. He had been in the clock from both Bergerac and Tarbes for him but returned injured from the Beeston 2 bird so he gave him to Ronnie. Her mother is his own Jan Aarden family. His other entry returned early Thursday morning just out of race time.
Having a great weekend and taking forth section L were Team Wicker & Wright. Alan Wicker in Bolton along with partner Steve Wright from House of Aarden also won the BICC International race from St Vincent the same day. They timed a Busschaert old Coppi lines crossed with a Padfield Family Jan Aarden widowhood cock which was also timed from Bordeaux last year in the MNFC beingn 6th Ace Pigeon Long Distance.
Fifth section L was previous Tarbes Grans National winner Micky Locke from the Wirral.
First section and flying 778 miles were Allan & Carol Walker of Stockton on Tees who had the only bird in race time to top their section. Their six year old chequer hen was flown on a roundabout system and bred from Billy Tarren and & G W Kirkland stock. Last year she was raced out to 612 miles and this season she was 20th section NFC Fougeres 430 miles.
I am grateful for the help given to me by Kevin Foster who collated this report for section P “Once again, another classic Pau race with just a few day birds and some early arrivals next morning. Section P leaders were right up with the National winners so well done to all.
Leading the section and 6th Open is J Clarke and daughter of Selling in Kent. A previous BBC national winner, Jamie won the Kent combine from Exeter a few weeks earlier so the form has continued into the National arena. Jamie said “First of all would to congratulate mark on winning the NFC Pau Grand National, he is making 500 mile racing look like sprint racing at the moment and everyone else who clocked on a very hard weekend. My hen is a late bred in 2018 from the lines of Mr & Mrs Marshall pigeons of which we have added children from most of their Champions over the last couple of years to try and get something that will race from 500 miles. We clocked two on the day and both were bred out of the same pair of stock birds which will hopefully keep breeding them for us. I brought these from Mr & Mrs Marshalls sale at Blackpool a couple of years ago. They were sent to the early BICC races in preparation for this race and came steady. This was my ﬁrst go for a couple of years at the race so was happy to see her come in good time on their ﬁrst proper test at this distance. She is raced on the roundabout system going out once a day for around one hour and fed Matador corn. We will look forward to sending her back next season”.
Second section 9th open as well as 5th section are a partnership that often feature at the sharp end of these classic races, Keith Gosling and Mick Jarvis of Mount Nessing in Essex. The partnership timed their ﬁve year old dark pied hen “Madame” and their ﬁve year old chequer pied cock “Frenchy” having their fourth Chanel race of the season. They had previously competed in the BICC Nationals from Falaise, St Philbert and Poitiers when they were ﬂown on widowhood for these races but paired together after Poitiers in preparation for the Pau National and were sent sitting nine day old eggs. When Madame arrived home she was still keen to the eggs, sat them immediately and when Frenchy landed the partnership could not believe the pair were home. They are half brother and sister and both pigeons are consistent performers. Madame has previously won 1st section 89th BBC National Fougeres, 11th section 248th BBC National Cholet, 15th section 350th BBC National Fougeres, 21st section NFC Fougeres, 35th section 85th BICC National St Philbert and 48th UBI combine Falaise. Her sire was bred by John Searle and is full of long distance blood being a grandson of Tuff Nut 5th NFC Pau, The Emporer 2x1st National 1st and 2nd international Dax, Nadira 1st National 1st international Carcassone 1st National 1st International Perpignan 4th International Perpignan and 6th International Carcassone and Euro Diamond 1st National 2nd International Carcassone 3rd National 5th international Perpignan.Her Dam was bred by John Halstead and is daughter of Maurice 1st BBC National Palamos when paired to a daughter of Ashley 2nd BBC National Barcelona. Frenchy won 2nd section 6th BICC National Poitiers. His sire is the French cock, a son of Barcelona 1 winner of 1st French National Barcelona when paired to Miss Langon winner of 1st French National Langon. His dam bred by John Halstead is a daughter of Maurice 1st BBC National Palamos when paired to a daughter of Ashley 2nd BBC National Barcelona. The partnership feed in preparation for the longer races a mix of VL super widowhood Leige and high energy mixes with plenty of peanuts. The partnership entered 6 birds for the Pau race and timed 4.
At third section 12th Open is Mark Bulled from Harlow, a previous winner of the NFC Grand National race with “Legacy”. Mark said “I timed a 2yo hen feeding a week old baby. She is a granddaughter of Legacy 1st NFC Tarbes and Sergeant Cecil 1st LSECC Tarbes. I was particularly pleased to time my 5 year old widow cock ‘Paddy’ shortly after to hopefully win a certiﬁcate of merit award for 3 times in the ﬁrst 100. Well done to all that timed in another testing Grand national. The best race in the UK.” Well done mark on another ﬁne performance.
Forth section 13th Open is Dean Childs of Wickford. Another previous National winner and emerging as a National force at the distance. Here is what Dean said “GB17N069393 was my best long distance bird last year recording the following results: 6th Sect 6th Nat BICC Perpignan, 2nd Sect 12th Nat BICC Pau and 21st Sect 29th Nat BICC Cholet. This year he was prepared for NFC Pau. He had been kept celibate all year and paired to his hen three weeks before basketing and therefore sent sitting his ﬁrst eggs of the year. His Breeding is 100% Mark Gilbert blood, the sire being from a super racing cock for Mark when paired to a direct daughter of Kanabal Barcelona which was herself 1st BICC Agen. The dam is a direct daughter of “Southﬁeld Dream” 2nd NFC Tarbes for Mark, being clocked at around 9.30pm on the day of liberation”.
Thanks to Perry Liddle for putting together this section report. It is difficult to race on the Cornish coastlines and I respect our members keep putting up great performances into Cornwall. “A relatively low entry from Section Q with only 11 fanciers sending 47 birds. They do say that there are no easy 500 mile races and once again Pau proved to be a real war of attrition with less than 10% of the convoy making it home by the end of race time. Leading the way with 1st Section Q, 260th Open was Team Luscombe and Wright, flying to Lee’s address in Roche. Capping a wonderful old bird season, they timed their good two year old blue bar widowhood cock at 20:13:11 on the Saturday evening to record 524ypm. Lee’s excitement when he clocked was summed up in a simple text message “Boom”. I phoned immediately, to find out what they had clocked, and Lee explained that he given absolutely everything to reach home. As he came over the rooftop, Lee hadn’t immediately recognised his wingbeat because he was so tired, then the huge rush of excitement came as he folded onto the drop board. Now named “Captain Q” for his efforts, this imposing blue cock is absolutely bred for the job being a grandson of “Champion De Cas” 1st International Barcelona Ace Pigeon 2009 – 2010 and “Champion Padfield’s Iron Lady” 4 times Barcelona, each one clocked in race time. Team Luscombe and Wright have had what can only be described as a dream season, previously winning the Section from Fougeres as well as taking Second Section from Messac. However, it was not just the fact that they timed early birds in each race, but also produced a solid team performance with multiple timers in each race. Hardly surprising, knowing the quality stock at their disposal from the House of Aarden. I would say that their season has not only been a triumph for their pigeons, but also a triumph for their preparation.The formation of the Cornwall Classic Club, specifically formed to provide focus on Classic Racing into Cornwall. Affiliation to the Devon South Road Federation, providing education for their birds, being pulled all over Devon and having to break and keep going to reach their homes in Cornwall. Regular testing for disease, to ensure that their birds are healthy, and finally a vigorous regime of exercise and meticulous feeding to bring them into form. With little left to chance, their performances are simply a reflection of planning, hard work and fearless execution. Of course, we congratulate the partnership on winning the Section, but also congratulate them on winning the Cornwall Classic Club from our longest race, which means that they also win the accolade of having the photograph of the winning pigeon “Captain Q” as the logo on our Facebook Group for the next 12 months. A fitting finish to an excellent old bird season; their hard work has been rewarded.
In our opinion, a bird which should have been second Section Q, 304th Open was timed by Jake Waldock, Chairman of the Cornwall Classic Club, flying to Trethurgy, who clocked his beautiful 4yo blue bar natural hen at 13:32:22 on Wednesday lunchtime to record 219.88ypm. This is a little hen simply never gives up and Jake has named her “Game Lady” for her efforts. She flew Tarbes in 2019 taking two weeks to get home, arriving with her belly completely skinned. Jake believes that she has been attacked by falcons so often, that she is literally terrified to go out of the loft. In her first training toss of 2020, from only 10 miles, she arrived home at lunchtime the following day, and Jake knew immediately that she needed time. Given her confidence, she had a training toss from Honiton as a sharpener before NFC Messac, which put her in top condition for Pau. She was sent as a spare hen who was jealous and flirting with the cock bird in the next nest box. Her pedigree, which Jake describes as seriously well bred, demonstrates an eclectic blend of old-fashioned Barcelona blood. Her sire being from a Des Coulter cock when paired to a Jack Randle Southwell, a granddaughter of Lady Jane (6x Barcelona or Palamos) and Morie, a Jack Shepherd Southwell, winner of 1st and 8th BICC Barcelona. Her dam, was bred from a brother to sister mating that were bred from a son of Lady Jane (6x Barcelona or Palamos) when paired to a granddaughter of Morie (1st and 8th BICC Barcelona). I had the pleasure of handling this hen a few days after her exertions and she really is a beautiful lady! Such a beautiful hen with a family lineage to match, absolutely bred for the job, it was disappointing to see her on the Provisional result, but excluded from the Final National Result. I understand that RPRA rules state that there will be no rounding in the calculation of the velocity, but it would have been nice if the velocity of Jake’s hen could have been rounded after calculation. The close of race time states 220ypm rather than 220.00ypm and if we take 219.88ypm to 0 significant figures it rounds to 220ypm. Therefore, we would like to appeal to the NFC to award Jake and Game Lady the card; it is the Pau Grand National after all! To give full credit to all the pigeons that managed to make their homes from Pau,
I would also like to mention five more gallant birds that never gave up and homed just outside of race time. Andy Haydon of Bude got his two year old blue chequer Busschaert Cock flying to 10-14 day eggs on the Wednesday morning. Andy told me that his bird is the full brother to his Fougeres timer, where Andy was 3rd Section and that their breeding goes back to the Busschaerts go way back to birds originally obtained from John Clapcott of Bodmin. I remember flying against John in the late 1980’s and he was always tough to beat across the water. Therefore it is little surprise that Andy has flown so consistently this year. The next four birds to get home, were once again to the ultra-consistent Team Luscombe and Wright. These Jan Aarden based birds have a true “never say die” attitude and simply keep going. Their second bird home was a yearling blue chequer cock, a grandson of Padfield’s Jack and Padfield’s St. Vincent that was previously 4th Section Messac. Third was a 2yo dark chequer cock, a grandson of Black Rico (Brother of Ridico the winner of 1stInternational Barcelona 2006) and Padfield’s Jack. Next was a yearling dark cheq W/F hen, bred from a son of Padfield’s Invincible when paired to a daughter of Padfield’s Kaysie, previously the winner of 4th Section Fougeres. Finally, was a yearling blue cheq w/f cock, a double grandson of Padfield’s St Vincent, that was previously the winner of 2nd Section Fougeres. What bodes well for the future is that their birds were all timed in the earlier NFC races. Proving that if you want to win from the extreme distance you simply have to send your best!
It is saddening to say that I have not received any information from D Jones in Wrexham who won first section 28th Open flying 684 miles or from Mark Sparey after winning second and third section flying 596 miles. Having said that, I do respect that some fanciers do not want any publicity although B Cooke & Son from Wrexham in fourth place did email me the details of his four year old blue cock on having his second channel race of the season, after not being raced last season due to injury. The sire was bred by Nicholas Adshead of Selby, and the dam bred by the late Tony Murray Wrexham.