Checking the provisional result for an hour or so, they realised no other birds were showing so considered it to be a glitch within the new website software or their own computer. But after a while the phone calls from other fanciers started so they looked again and to their surprise, only one more bird, a little hen called “The Proof” was the only other one on there. She had gone one better than last year to record second open for Heath Archibald in Dover and they recognise she is a fantastic pigeon which as I said, the NFC Grand National gives them their stage. So something very exceptional was happening, his exceptionally well bred pigeon, after months of preparation with years of trying could actually go on to win this one! The rest of the day was a blur, with phone conversations from fanciers calling to congratulate them.
Jim Wearn and his partner Eric Neilson have held the ambition to win the NFC Grand National race all their lives. Before he sadly passed away, Kenny Wearn would look after the breeding loft and many years were spent trying to win the big one with top class pigeons being introduced as they became available. Jim saw a star shining on the horizon and he decided to purchase a youngster bred by Mark Gilbert offered for sale on the PIPA Auction website, and his instincts have proved to be correct. Mark had presented a youngster direct out of “Starlight” when paired to “Southfield Mellisa” which is in fact exactly the same way bred as Mark’s BICC Pau winner the week previous to Tarbes! This was then paired to a daughter of Geoff and Catherine Cooper’s “George” which has resulted in the Tarbes Grand National winner 2018 and a combination of bloodlines that has dominated these hard-east wind nationals experienced this year.
Jimmy and Eric have decided to call their pigeon “Ernie’s Blue Star” in tribute to Ernie Deacon a close friend who would come a sit with them when waiting for Tarbes pigeons in the past years. He was raced on the widowhood system and when I visited them 24 hours after clocking in, he was bouncing around the loft. We had liberated him after the photos and he clapped around for a couple of laps showing his top form, before landing right on que for my camera shutter to capture the “landing gear out” moment. I asked how he was prepared and was told he had been given Gems Superstar Widowhood ad lib. Jimmy said that he buys it in bulk and since they had begun to use it, two National wins have come their way. A club nearby called “The 100 Club” run by local pet store owner and fancier Kevin King is used for training, and he goes most weeks to Carentan or Falaise which is a tremendous help for local fanciers in preparation for the nationals and is of course fully subscribed.
I asked them what their next goal in pigeon racing was and was told to let them come down off cloud nine before expecting an answer to that one. It will be a moment to remember for years but does not compare with a federation race years ago from Dax when they got the only bird on the day, with rain all through France and darkness falling, Jimmy saw a bird drifting in over the house and as he ran to open the door of the loft, it went straight through his legs! “Nothing in pigeon racing will ever top that” he said, but having spoken to him on several occasions, I doubt he will ever stop trying to top it.
Well done Jim and Eric, Kenny would be proud of you both and I think he sprinkled a little bit of stardust, when you decided to buy that youngster out of “Starlight” to couple with Geoff & Catherine’s pigeons, as the future will prove even further. I predict the beginning of a new era in Ramsdean.
First section A was D & D McFadden in Cranleigh with a 5 year old blue pied hen sent sitting 16 days. She is a granddaughter of “Razor’s Girl” his 1st Open LSECC Tarbes winner when paired to “Megan’s Lad” of Eric Cannon bloodlines and sire and grandsire of a lot of his best distance birds. She was his fancied pigeon for this race and this is her third year in the clock from Tarbes being 11th Sect, 56th open Tarbes NFC 2017. Darren also took the second spot with a 2 year old grizzle hen also sat 16 days and having her first go at Tarbes. She is a daughter of “Snow Prince” who was 1st Sect, 4th Open Tarbes NFC when paired to “Pau Princess” who was 2nd Open International Pau. Third place was Mick Tuck of Witley being 28th Open provisional. A small loft with a big reputation especially for getting pigeons through when the going gets tough, as was the case with this years Grand National when returns were very sparse indeed. Mick only races 12 pairs on natural and breeds 24 young birds.
No stock birds are kept so every pigeon has to earn its perch to stay in the loft over winter and as he looses very few. His strict selection ensures the standard is maintained at a very high level. The original pigeons were obtained direct from the late Eric Cannon with the occasional cross over the ensuing years. Mick has honed his own family of tough racers that score no matter what the conditions. The pigeon timed in this years event was a six year old hen sent sitting a five day old squeaker, her previous performances include 2nd South Coast Fed Poitiers and was Mick's first bird from Tarbes NFC 2017. She was clocked 10.21 on the 2nd day when there were only five day birds. Her dam is Mick’s all time favourite “Pau Star” 2nd section A, 9th open NFC Pau Grand National timed on the day. Her sire is a Blue cock 1st club 2nd Federation Bergerac when only three birds were timed on the day and only 25 recorded in race time. This hens sister also won 5th Open Tarbes in the Central Southern C.F.C 2016 on a difficult day which shows the strength of the bloodlines housed in Mick’s loft. Coming in at provisionally fourth Section is that well known distance flyer A.E. Shepherd.
Bert timed a yearling cock from this tough race. The blood lines of his birds are mainly of the old Ken Kippax, and all of Bert's birds are flown on Widowhood. Mullen & Son were fifth with their single entry, a 2015 Red Cheq cock which was bred by their friend Darryl Luxford of Horley. They had told him about their wish to have a silver pigeon and he assured them his pair would breed a Silver and they could have one which turned out to be a red chequer but they have no complaints. Being raced on widowhood for most of the season he was re-paired two weeks before basketing for Tarbes. This cock bird was previously 16th open CSCFC Pau open race in 2017. He was fed on Gerry plus with Superstar complimented with a fat mix and for his Tarbes set up races, he went inland once and over the channel three times. Thanks to Alan Blake for helping with this section report.
The partnership of Wearn Brothers and Neilson were the winners of Section B and The Open from Tarbes in very testing conditions. The partnership consists of Jimmy and Kenny Wearn with Brother in Law Eric Neilson.
Unfortunately, Kenny is no longer with us but would be chuffed to bits with this win because it has always been the prime target and motivation for this partnership to win the NFC longest race. It gave me great pleasure to congratulate my friends Jimmy and Eric on winning Section B and more importantly fulfilling their dream of winning the National Flying Clubs longest race from Tarbes.
The partnership are no strangers to success in the big races and by winning this race from Tarbes and last year’s National race from Messac it could be argued that they have won the two most testing national races of recent years. They have previously had several birds finish in the top 100 from the NFC longest race, which have included 5th, 6th, 9th, 12th and many more over the last 4 seasons and this has spurred them on to fulfilling their dream, but I am sure that they will now bank that and set themselves new challenges, as Jimmy said, “you can’t stand still, it is a great feeling but you have to move on to new challenges”
Their 2YO blue cock, now named” Ernie’s Blue Star” in tribute to Ernie Deacon who often waited for the birds with Eric, Jimmy and Kenny, was certainly bred for the job, the sire being a son of Mark Gilbert’s “Starlight” and the Dam a daughter of Geoff and Catherine Coopers “George” winner of Tarbes National. Remarkable what an influence Mark Gilbert seems to be having, not only with his brilliant performances but with his stock.
Jimmy and Eric’s lofts are situated in the Hampshire country side and adjacent to a large Country and Nature Park with Hawk attacks a constant threat. For this reason the birds are not let outside the lofts until breading is finished and this year that was well into April. As a yearling “Ernie’s Blue Star” was raced celibate just to a perch up to Messac and Jarnac (Fougeres) National. This year in preparation as a 2 YO he did get a nest box and paired up but his eggs got smashed before he was separated and flown on widowhood. He raced the previous national races and the hard Poitiers with the BICC. He also had a few training flights with the local Premier 100 club which basket on a Friday for a short channel race on Saturday. On the winning day, there being no day birds they were at the lofts waiting from first light but calculated that any birds that roosted on the French side of the Channel could make the mainland about three hours after sun up and their Blue cock duly obliged at 08 16 but after verifying it was several hours before they realised that they were in with a good chance of winning the dream prize. They were given the verification number 3 and thought that there were 2 birds in front of them and when no other birds appeared on the early times they put it down to a computer malfunction. Eric and Jimmy agreed that motivation is as important as breeding and fitness and different things are tried to achieve that bit extra. With a corridor running along the inside of the loft, the hens or cocks can be allowed access to the corridor but not access to the actual section of their partners before basketing. Jimmy and Eric had further arrivals to finish 4th Section, 7th Open and 17th, 21st and 24th Section. Well done on a brilliant performance in the most testing of conditions.
Andy Parsons, of Salsbury was second section and Andy writes “First of all, I would like to give a huge congratulation to Jim & Eric on their wonderful win, plus every other fancier who clocked a bird in such a difficult race especially those who fly 600 miles plus. I believe the extreme
heat and heavy cloud cover has taken its toll on our birds, whatever the
liberation, early or late I feel patience and experience is needed by those who control our liberation.
I clocked 8 birds from 32 sent, my 1st bird is a 2yr old dark cock and is a bird who has a lot of character around the loft. As a yearling he was clocked at 9pm from Bergerac and looked very fresh, cooing in my hand, he did exactly the same after this very hard fly. He is bred from a son of the best pigeon I ever owned, “The Dancer” when paired to the Dam of 2nd NFC Tarbes, The Dancers breeding is Burgess/Painter. The Dam is from Mark Gilbert being a half sister to Mark's “Marseille Cock”, her dam being a bird I believe purchased at the Blackpool show of Brian Denny lines.
My bird was sent on 2 day eggs after previously flying celibate and his preparation was two 20 mile training tosses, one race from 124 miles and then into NFC Messac, no other training or race was had before Tarbes so perfect for such a hard race in my view.
My second bird is very special as she has just won my second NFC Merit Award and she has never been lower than 30th in the result last three Tarbes Nationals, all of which were challenging races. She was sent on 5 day eggs after flying celibate and had the same preparation as the cock mention above, in fact the longest she has flown in her preparation for Tarbes was five and half hours. She is half sister to “The Dancer” mentioned above. The Sire of my Merit Hen now named “Proud Mary” is my good friend Keith Bush, a long distance fancier I rate very highly. He
is a Cock I said was too big for me, but what do I know Keith? He is
also Sire of some excellent birds, one of which I clocked in the CSCFC last week which interestingly had within 2 minutes of the same flying time as my first bird in this race.
Richie Thomas, Portsmouth, 3rd Section B, 6th Open NFC Tarbes
Richie would like to congratulate Jimmy and Eric on their success. Richie’s first timer is a two year old dark cock of Southwell X Catrysse bloodlines bred by Dave Matthews of Bordon.
He was won in a raffle as a youngster on a Coach trip to Holland with Robby Jones. In preparation the cock has been to Coutances, Messac and Ancensis, without setting the world alight but just steady and always there. He had been flown on the Roundabout system but paired up for Tarbes and sent sitting 10 days. Richie also had a 2nd arrival for 9th section, a 4YO Blue Vandenabelle Blue cock that was bred by Crammond and Langstaff and purchased at the Southern Classic Breeder Buyer sale. This cock has plenty of previous form including 4th open Bergerac Classic, 5th Open Tarbes Classic, 2nd Solent Fed Bergerac, a couple of Club wins and was Richie’s first arrival from Coutances and Messac Nationals. Richie would like to thank wife Jayne for her help with all things especially training, to Rodney Broom for the training and Kevin King where he gets his corn and supplements
A quick mention for my mate John Ayling who has not enjoyed the best of health of late but clocked an arrival to be 9th Section B. Just the tonic he needed. John is a previous winner of Pau NFC only bird on the day, 1st open Pau Central Southern Classic, 1st Narbonne BICC open only bird on the day and a suitcase full of top finishes in the long races but broke his hip and had a minor stroke earlier in the year and could not even get to the lofts for a couple of months. He is very grateful to wife Jacky for fulfilling all the loft duties including training and cleaning out.
First section was Neville & Diana Spracklen once again and are absolutely delighted with their latest winner
She has been a consistent bird for them having won many prizes including, first Weydor specialist club 4th section, Tabes 2017. The grandchildren have named her “Wessex View Poppy”. She will have one more race this year from Sigogne. Her breeding is full of long distance blood with her sire being “Tarmac” who is a son of Mark Gilberts double national winner “Southfield Darkie”. The dam is a daughter of “Southfield Treble”. These two blood lines have been extremely good for them, being responsible for 10 x first prize winners. They would like to congratulate the winners and everyone who clocked pigeons on an extremely hard race.
Second section was Peter Doble who would like to congratulate the Wearn brothers on a fantastic performance as well as all of the section winners. He would like to thank his club sec’s Mr & Mrs Frost for all their hard training tosses that got them fit “Ha Ha!” and Mike Staddon for taking the birds to marking. The sire of the bird he clocked is a double Grandson of “Indy”. The dam is a double granddaughter of “Invincible Spirit” bred by Steve & Lesley Wright (House of Aarden). As our Messac race was cancelled due to bad weather, she only had three inland races from Littlehampton (98 miles), Coutances (140 miles) and finally Tarbes. A previous winner from Fougeres in club and 5th club Coutances this year, she was sent feeding two five day old youngsters solo as he had lost her partner. All of his birds are fed Willsbridge corn.
Third place are previous NFC winners in 2018 M A & S C King Mel & Sue King who send their congratulations to all the section & open winners and all that managed to time in especially multiple timers. Their bird was a dark yearling hen on widowhood. The sire being a Limburg X Vandenabelle nephew of our 1st Open C.S.C.F.C Bergerac winner. The dam is a Limburg X Vandenabelle daughter of our 1st Open C.S.C.F.C YB Ramsgate winner. Fourth place goes to Mr G Glaze of Shaftesbury in Dorset.
First place goes once again to Gill and John McClements who are experiencing a super season
“Our chequer hen has been quietly consistent this year. She reared a round of youngsters in March and was then put on roundabout, mainly because we only have a 24ft loft and find this system allows us to get the most racing. She had one short inland race 28th April of 82 miles, then NFC Coutances 19th May(146ml) the following week BICC Cholet(269ml) two weeks rest then 9th June Poitiers(336ml) she was a day late from that hard race and was allowed to stay with her cock and was sent to Tarbes sitting 8days on eggs. On weeks when not racing, the birds would get a trainer of around 70 miles. Her sire is off our ”Z” ring hen, of Delmotte/Jurion bloodlines, paired to a Robert Ten Berge cock. Her Dam is down off a red pied hen bought as a YB from Andy Parsons of Salisbury”.
Graham Buck 2nd & 3rd Section D provisional 52nd & 53rd Open Tarbes would like to congratulate all the winners and everyone that clocked in this exceptionally difficult race.
Graham’s five year old barren hen was 9th Section Tarbes in 2016. This year she had 4 inland races and the 3 NFC races prior to Tarbes. His 2yo hen had 2 inland races and Messac NFC before the Tarbes race. Both these birds were bred off stock he had from his friend Bryan Maude of Redcar. They were both sent sitting 10-12 days.
John & Gladys Wilkinson came in fourth and would like to congratulate all members who timed in from this hard race.
Their blue cock GB16N05398 was paired mid February and reared one round. The birds were then split and raced on roundabout, repaired at the end of May and the cock was sent with a 7day old baby in the nest. His sire had taken 4 x 1st positions in our strong Plymouth & District RPC and was bred from a pair of gift birds from great friend, Roger Cutforth from his late brother Dave’s stock, Famous 05 on the Sire’s side paired to a hen off Ponderosa’s g/daughter of James Bond. The dam of our winner was also a gift from another good friend, Graham Buck, himself an NFC winner, bred down from Bryan Maude of Redcar’s family of pigeons. His “Good Luck” charm in the form of Roger Cutforth came to visit and sat in the garden for only a few minutes before the bird came, on entering the loft they noticed the tail feathers missing and on inspection, he had been hit by a B.O.P. in the rump, what a gallant bird!
Fifth section was Dave Woodland who sent his cock after being repaired and sitting nine days and had flown the first three nationals this year. The sire is a Freialdenhofen, a grandson of “De Perpignan” and “De Carcassonne” which he had on loan from his friend Tony Horner. The dam is home bred, being bred down from Cyril Wells San Sebastián winner when paired with a Gorby hen. As a young bird he was only trained and lightly raced as a yearling.
First and fourth section E was Mark Gilbert with a bird bred from a son of “Euro Diamond” which is sibling to 2nd open Tarbes and has now bred 8th open Tarbes. The mother is once again out of “Starlight” and “Southfield Jane” 1st open NFC Saintes.
Second was Mr and Mrs K Hine, this partnership are consistent across the season year in year out and do a great job in Ken's memory. The 2nd section pigeon a 2 year old recording a velocity of 708 ypm. Third section was Paul Stone of West Drayton with a 2 year old Black velvet Southwell cock. He has kept the Southwell pigeons for many years and regularly exchanges pigeons with Jimmy Shepherd. The nestmate to the cock was also in the clock on Sunday so a perfect weekend for the Southwells proving they excel on a very tough day. In preparation he had an Exeter with the club and NFC Messac where he had a good 9 hour fly for preparation. When we spoke he was still looking for his pigeons from Barcelona, good luck I hope you get them. In fifth position was Les Cross of Hitchen clocking a 2 year old recording a velocity of 637 ypm. Les pooled this young Grizzle cock as he had him lined up for Tarbes all year and was expecting to get him. He is bred by Terry Westwood and Terry paired one of his own pigeons to a grizzle hen that topped Section H, 63rd Open Tarbes for Marley Westrop, a fantastic flier. Ironically, Les previously lived in Section H so had he still been there his dam and son could both have topped the same section. Les only competes in two races a year with his focus on Tarbes and Barcelona.
J & P Parker continued their super season with first and third section from Tarbes; “ Firstly We would like to congratulate Jimmy and Eric on their outstanding performance, a brilliant bird in extreme conditions. Our first bird was down from our JPS Machine pigeons when paired to a daughter of JPS Pennine Heights, a former winner of this prestigious race. This year our hens were raced several times across the channel and kept on the widowhood system in preparation for the race. We had Four Birds in race time and two back within the week. As everyone knows, you keep everything crossed and spend hours looking up in the sky, however when they come from Tarbes it’s like no other race. It’s all both my Dad and myself have ever wanted. I would like also to thank Ian, our partner within JPS breeding for his continued advice, thanks mate”
Second section was F J Quinn who would like to congratulate all who timed in a difficult race. By Wednesday evening he still only received one bird home himself which is bred of gift birds via two good friends. The d=sire came from Duggie House who now lives in Moffett, Scotland. He had previously won 27th open Tarbes Grand National with the dam being from Andy Parsons and he would like to thank them both. This pair have also bred 31st Open Tarbes with the CSCFC 2018 is a full sister and last years Classic Bergerac hen is another full sister. His Tarbes hen was 31st Open Messac in the BBC 2018 and he would like to thank his friends and family for all the congratulations.
Fourth Section were B Sherman & S Wells, whose pigeon was also fourth section Tarbes in 2015when they had three birds in 20 minutes. Obviously a lot easier race then this year's. They would like to congratulate everyone who got birds home and they are glad to have a bird in the result, but a lot happier when they got home from work on Monday evening to find their good blue cock sat on top of the loft.
M Gaiter,of Reading was fifth section with a yearling hen of Wally Turner and Mick Parrish breeding. She had three channel races as a young bird, two with the BICC from Guernsey and the NFC Coutances where she was 437th open 2oth section. This season she has been to Poitiers and Falaise with the BICC before the Tarbes race.
Man of the moment in section G is Daniel Hocking who writes
“Firstly I’d like to congratulate Wearn bros and Neilson on their win, what a fantastic achievement to win the NFC Tarbes Grand National, stuff dreams are made of. Well done to everyone else who timed on such a hard race .
My focus at the start of the season was to try and send a strong team for Tarbes and with this in mind I picked out sixteen 2 year old and up birds to go. My first section bird and the first to carry my loft name was “Westerly Warrior“ a 2 year old cock who’s been showing himself well, being my first bird on several shorter races. He’s bred from top distance bloodlines, the parents I had on loan from Sheldon horn. The sire being a Bruggerman a direct son of “Super Barcelona”, the dam being bred by Mark Gilbert is a g/d of “Southfield Supreme” and “Emiel”. This is this cocks first time at Tarbes and will be put back now for next year.
My 3rd section is a pure Bruggerman hen bred for me by Sheldon Horn when I got back into racing. She’s a fantastic racing hen and this being here third time at Tarbes she keeps getting better. My 4th section is bred from birds though Dave woodland. This hen had a nasty smack at the start of the season training when she came back with a split in her chest. After some time to repair she went with the Devon Cornwall and West Somerset CFC to build her back up, she then went to Messac and Ancenis where she had some decent time on the wing. When I saw her drop from Tarbes I was over the moon as she was obviously not hindered by her earlier injury, this also being her third time to Tarbes. All birds are fed on a variety of Gem corns from Steve Willis in Bridgwater and were raced on roundabout until Tarbes and then repaired the day before Tarbes and allowed a free loft to come and go.
Second section were the consistent loft of J & D Staddon and Dave had this to tell me.
“Congratulations to Jimmy and Eric on realising a dream, winning 1st Open the Tarbes Grand National. Very well deserved. Also well done to all section winners including Dan Hocking in our section. In fact, everyone who timed in this very difficult race should feel a sense of pride in their birds. This was, without doubt, the worst grand national I can remember for returns at the time of writing we have 1/10 with 9 pigeons who have previously scored at Tarbes missing, we of course hope they will work back along with the many other champions who are away around the country. We timed our good five year old blue hen “Shapway Evie” which is normally flown on our Chaos widowhood system but paired and sent sitting eggs for this year's race, just as she was when winning the section from Bordeaux last season. She has been a great hen for us with plenty of previous form. 3rd section 115th Open BICC Guernsey, 4th Section 8th Open BICC Guernsey, 2nd section 90th Open BICC Alencon 15th section 59th Open BICC Agen, 82nd Open Tarbes NFC both in 2016. 17th section 221st Open, 1st section 48th Open BBC and now 2nd Sec 22nd Open Tarbes 2018. She is a full sister to our champion cock “Shapway G Force” the NFC Ace Pigeon 2016, 1st sec 3rd Open Saintes NFC, 4th section 42nd open Tarbes NFC, 3rd section 20th Open Tarbes NFC and 18th section 242nd Open Tarbes NFC 2017. The dam of both pigeons was bred by Mark Gilbert from a son of Brockamps “Perpignan 06” and his “333 Hen” a daughter of “Southfield Supreme”. The sire is one of our own family from the line of “Lady Caroline” our 2nd Open BICC Pau winner. He has bred 2nd, 3rd & 9th open National winners. Mark continues to provide us with amazing pigeons of the highest quality.
In fifth spot was Stui Webb who wrote “I have decided to call my 5 year old chequer hen, "Lantokay Lady" as this is the name of an early Celtic Settlement in Street, Somerset where I live.
This is her third race of over 550 miles, once with the Pau Classic where she was timed well and twice with the National Flying Club at Tarbes. Last year at Tarbes she was a third day pigeon, this year 5th section G and 56th Open. I was the third fancier to time in the section.This is my second try NFC Tarbes, last year being 15th and 21st section G with two different pigeons. The Dam of “Lantokay Lady” was bred by Bill Stribling of Weston-Super-Mare, and is full of Barcelona blood. The Sire was a pigeon I bought from Mark Sparey descended from Mark Gilberts DeWeert family. She has only had two inland races this year and one across the channel. I would like to thank Andy Parsons for all the help he has given me”.
First section is Andy Talmer who
said, “This is the first time I have ever entered the Tarbes Grand National Race and what a feeling it is to clock from such a hard race! Emotions certainly run high and what a buzz it is to record and see an arrival from TARBES displayed on the ETS screen!
My bird is a five year old blue pied hen sent sitting 18 days and this was only the 4th channel race of her life, the third time across this season. She is from by Bricoux family of birds which originated from Jim Kimmance from Liverpool, I was lucky enough to obtain young birds from him some years ago (Thanks again Kim) and have built a family of birds around them. A special mention to Robbie Morris from Great Missenden, whose phone calls, encouragement, advice and opinions are taken on board and very much appreciated. Many thanks to all the well-wishers, who have messaged, called and emailed me on this achievement. Congratulations to the race winners and all section winners, well done to everyone who has recorded arrivals and hopefully many more birds will make it home”.
Barry Baker was running second section but unfortunately it will not be on the final result due to an unfortunate accident. I know Barry and how hard he works on his pigeons, also with the race being so difficult he would have been thrilled to see his hen returning, he was obviously upset and asked his daughter to write his account for me;
“Twelve months before this years Tarbes race Barry Baker of Newark named his Jan Arden Hen ‘Miss Fortune’ after she was provisionally 3rd section from Bordeaux, however the clock sheet got lost in the post between the clocking station and the MNFC headquarters. This year proved that her efforts would again be in vain. Barry tells of the events. “I was away on holiday with my Mum, so my Dad took my 2 entries to the marking station on the Tuesday. We had agreed to meet in Birmingham on the Wednesday, so he could take my Mum home and I would take my clock from him ready for the weekend. However, he was involved in a crash on the M42 of which he was ok but taken from the accident. Obviously, the clock was the furthest from my mind at the time, the safety of my parents being paramount. On the Thursday we rang the breakdown people to ask if we could get access to the car and was told Friday afternoon, all was not lost. However, after getting to the car in the breakdown compound, we found that several items were missing from the car including my one week old Bricon Speedy Extreme clock. I quickly spoke with Paul Hill the race controller and discussed it with him I said i would get a T3 clock and take the ETS ring off and put in the T3 he said to video it all, I was aware this may not of been done before, but wanted to still register the bird if I got one and as discussed with Paul see if anything could be done.” The race proved to be the hardest for many years, with 30-degree temperature and a strong north east winds. Barry Baker loft sits at the very top of section H, in the East Midlands, 678 miles from Tarbes. “It was late on Sunday afternoon when I was at work when my dad rang to say that I had a pigeon back, I got home as quick as I could, it took me 25 minutes, I got my dad to video me taking the ETS ring of the bird and putting it in the T3. She would of been 2nd section “The video was sent in to the NFC and on the Monday Barry received the news that they could not accept this. “Deep down I know they probably wouldn’t have accepted this, there is proof she was marked, there is proof she came back at the time, but not recorded in accordance with the rules. She was also sitting 2nd in the Greater Distance Single Bird Nomination Club as well “Regardless of the bird not being registered in the correct way it is still a remarkable achievement, to make it home that far, in the east the country with that wind. The 3 year old Jan Arden hen, was breed by Joe Davies and sent sitting on a 7 day old single youngster. About the pigeon Barry added “I sent her to Coutances this year and one club race as a trainer, the past month she has been out with the young birds every day, if I let her out with the other hens or cocks, she flies around twice then straight back in to her box, she's a real pain, so I’ve taken to letting her out with the youngsters, she at least get a bit more of an exercise. I used to think there was something wrong with her, not exercising, but she just wanted to be in her box, maybe that obsession helped her push home” Maybe next year ‘Miss Fortune‘ will lift the curse, her ring number is 3221, she missed out on 3rd section, 2nd section, and 2nd in the GDSBNFC, just the 1 to get.”
Mr & Mrs I Raper timed a five-year-old Vanwanroy x Barker to take second section which has been a widowhood hen all year, then repaired for the race three weeks prior and sent sitting 3 days. This is her third time at Tarbes, first time in the clock but no fault of the pigeon he says, its down to him not timing her even though she came in race time. She will now she will be put away for next year.
First section I was Terry Lowndes with a cheq white flight hen whose sire was bred by Mr Colin Shimwells and was itself 15th open Tarbes. It is from his own bloodlines “The Flying Festivals” of Eddie Newcombe. The dam was also from the Newcombe bloodlines and they have had many good results from Tarbes at 682 miles, 52nd, 116th, 138th open NFC Grand National plus five times 1st Section NFC young birds . Many thanks to Jim Bates who works hard as clock setter for the Ashbourne Flying Club, and to my grandson Harley for all his help.
Second Section was Steve Redfern who is delighted to have qualified for a Certificate of Merit and would
like to congratulate Terry Lowndes for his section win. I asked Steve to write about his hen “Fi” and he said “she is sired via a cock from my original base pigeons I acquired when I moved to Derby from Joe Raeburn out of his Kings Cup winner “Gwen”, Michael Burden and Alan Shore, the mother is a gift from Keith Bush who I believe is the best long distance flyer in the country at 600 miles plus, she was sent in her usual nest condition, sitting 16 days and had her usual prep race at Messac NFC, like her loft mates that have flown Tarbes five times she is now retired to stock.”
Third section was Keith Bush and as many will know Keith has targeted this race for many years having taken over his Dads long distance birds. We had a long conversation regarding the liberation and gave me the benefit of his many years of experience racing at 700 miles. He does not like the limelight and races as a hobby but he did send me a few words “thanks for call and frank discussion. At the time of writing I have four returned out of thirty entered. What a disaster, why we're pigeons having to fly 500-700+ miles liberated in far from ideal conditions? Pigeons flying over 650miles don't orientate as well as those flying shorter distances, so once they had a poor start they found it difficult to impossible to get going. 700-mile racing isn't 5 plus 2, it is an entirely different ball game. Anyway my first bird was a 2013 late bred from my second bird from Tarbes this year, he gave me a pleasant surprise as I had given up when he dropped after 9 on the third day, all my birds fly natural on open hole. No training with three land races then into Carentan, down to nest then Salisbury with the club two weeks before Tarbes. I have this family about 40 years now with few introductions as I can't afford the prices they charge nowadays, I do let a few go but mainly gifts and several have done well in this year's Tarbes for others. I hope the NFC Committee will look into the race and come up with ideas to improve, one suggestion I would like to make is to have someone with experience at 700ml having some input, a midday lib would I believe have been the answer this year, I believe it is better for the birds and fairer for all”
Geoff and Barbara Kirkland clocked one of Barbara’s hens to win section J.
She is a two year old bred out of Daniel Arean crossed with their Snake line and flown on their modified widowhood/chaos system. The hens live in the aviaries day and night, only go in to the loft when they come in from exercise or a race. They have now called her “Heatwave.” And would like to congratulate all the section winners.
The Chambers Family came in second and third section
and write “The first two birds that we timed in last weekend were both exceptional pigeons for us, both bred for the job as you would expect from such a tough race from Tarbes which to us in 660 miles. Our first bird who looks like winning 2nd section 62nd open was a blue cock who has previously won 7th section 149th open Tarbes in 2017 in what was also a very difficult race. He is bred from two birds purchased from Van Ouwkerk-Deckers a fancier who I had contacted three years ago after studying the long-distance international results. Both of his parents have raced from 500-600 miles several times and are inbred to his two 1st National St Vincent winning pigeons. Our second bird has also proved to be an excellent pigeon for us scoring 3rd section 74th open this year having previously won 5th section 139th open Tarbes in 2017. This hen is of Brugerman breeding being a daughter of a gift bird sent to us by David Impett of Blackpool, after we came 1st section 7th open Tarbes in 2014 with a son of one of his birds. This hen landed in remarkably good condition and the photo I have attached was taken moments after she had arrived home. Our third bird from Tarbes this year is a dark cheque cock who is once again bred in the purple of our long-distance pigeons. this cock is a grandson of our Bergerac Hen who won the diploma of distinction from the MNFC scoring 5 times in the open result from 550-660 miles including 2nd section 2nd open. Our third bird this year is a full brother to our 2nd arrival from Tarbes in 2017 who achieved 6th section 144th open. These brothers are closely related to our principle pigeon “Dutch Thunder” who came 1st section 7th open Tarbes in 2014, with his brothers winning 8th section and 10th section Tarbes 2017 when we timed 5 birds from 660 miles within one hour! All of the above are direct descended from out 1st Open MNFC Bergerac winner in 1997 “The Dutch Cock” which was at the time the hardest Bergerac race on record with the MNFC. As you can see all of our birds have been tried and tested now for over 20 years and are still performing in the very toughest of races. When no-one else seems to get them, this family of birds never let us down.”
Graham Clift was fourth section J and sent me the following; “Firstly, well done to anyone appearing on the result of this difficult race, as very few pigeons were clocked particularly over 600 miles. Special congratulations to Geoff Kirkland who wins Section J his bird flying 680+ miles and well up in the Open result. My pigeon is from a son of "Farmer George" for Geoff & Catherine Cooper, the dam from a son of "Melissa" Mark Gilbert when paired to a daughter of "Wollongong" all top performing pigeons. Of my six entries I had two more in race time but unfortunately had my clock knocked off on the night of clocking my first pigeon, given the years I have been racing pigeons I should have known better!”
Fifth section was Mr & Mrs Gwyn Lloyd who sent me a few details of their bird. He is a three year old Jan Aarden x Vandenabelle with the dam being Leo Pronk via Louella Stud and the sire a Vandenabelle, his grand dam bred by Mel & Sue King bought at CSCFC breeder buyer. Also in the pedigree is two 1st international Barcelona winners at 750mls & 719mls beating 21,176 & 27,368 birds. Grand Dam daughter of “Montauban 3” full brother to 1st national Montauban 690mls Hugo Battenburg De Ruffec lines. This same cock was also 2nd NW section 25th open in BICC Poitiers race 3 weeks ago furthest flying bird on day 14hrs 39mins on the wing and has been raced on roundabout but was sent to Tarbes sitting 8 day eggs. When he arrives he always does two circles clapping around the loft & then down & in. Although a bit lean he was in great condition for the amount of flying time put in as the photo shows him settled straight on his eggs.
First section K was Mr & Mrs N Bush who
said that “Having competed in every Grand National with the NFC since 1982, a period of 36 years, and timing in every one of those years, this must be one of the hardest races we can remember. Congratulations to all those game birds which made it home. Our provisional 1st section K winner, flying 718 miles, is a 4yr old dark chequer cock who was also 14th section K Tarbes in 2017, which was another difficult race. On basketing, he had dropped 2 flights and was sitting 8/9 days. This year he had 5 inland races as far as Battle (200 miles) before Tarbes. The breeding of this cock is through the old Bush Family developed by our late father, Ned Bush and continued with his sons Colin, Keith and Neil. His sire was bred by Keith out of his top stock pair. His dam is also a stock pigeon and has bred other good 700milers. She is out of a chequer cock off Keith's 2nd sec Tarbes hen when paired to my 4th and 9th sec Pau hen.
Brian Littlewood won first and third section L but did not want to disclose any further information. We respect that Brian, and may I add that to win section L from Tarbes deserves a huge congratulation, maybe I will get to buy you a beer at the Lancashire Social Circle.
Lee Davison & Son were second with their white grizzle hen “Scarlett”.
This little hen has had some cracking results at the distance, and it seems that the harder the race the better she performs. Her preparation this year was 4 inland club races up to 174 miles then jumped into Alencon 369 miles with the BICC and the newly formed Eclipse 650 club at Chirk. Her next race was 2 weeks later again with then BICC from Cholet 449 miles, where she was 5th NW section 186th open and 1st Eclipse 650 club. She was rested for 4 weeks and just loft flown but not forced to fly, and was given two 60 mile training tosses with the rest of the old bird team but on her 2nd toss didn’t return home untill the next morning. Out of 30 old birds the only bird missing was Scarlett, this was a real worry after being so careful in her for Tarbes, just 9 days before the big race. When she returned the next morning she was fine which was pleasing and everything was back on track. She was only shown her cock before the race this time as in other years she’s gone to Bordeaux sitting a 14 day youngster and last year sent to Poitiers sitting a 3 day youngster. Some of her previous results are 4th Liverpool Classic Club Bordeaux 2016, 9th west section MNFC 128th open, 1st Liverpool Classic Club Poitiers 2017, 3rd west section 44th open and now 2nd section L Tarbes 2018 also 1st Eccles 2 bird. Her sire is “POCOSAN 2” bred by Armstrong & Wheatley, which is from “POCO 165 x INDYGO”. Poco 165 is a son of the number 1 stock hen “Tia” Indygo is a daughter of Champion INDY (Matt Rakes) The dam is the number 1 stock hen “MAX 79”, she is a direct daughter of MAX the only ever double MNFC winner when paired to a Darren Peters (Gary Daykin hen from SABRE X SECRET ). MAX 79 has bred numerous pigeons for myself and others to win at club and national level including two 1st sections in the MNFC & NFC and 3rd west section Poitiers and now 2nd section L Tarbes . Also 6th section L Tarbes 2017 6th section L Fougerers for G &G Buckley from Rochdale.
Fourth section L was Crehan & O'Connor who can now relax a little
as he will have a great coefficient from this race. “
My 5th section L Tarbes was
a 2016 blue hen bred by Jan Hooymans in Kerkdriel, she is a previous winner of 3rdsection 92nd Open BICC Poitiers in a really hard race 3 weeks before Tarbes, I have attached the pedigree so you can see her breeding”
Section P saw only 8 pigeons make it on the winning day but there are some great stories attached to those who got them. Well done to all of them and the handful more that made it on day three. Once in a while you will read about performances that take your breath away, but the widely used term ‘Champion’ can truly be applied to the winner of the section and 2nd open H & P Archibald,
otherwise known as Heath and Peter Archibald of Dover they have flown the flag admirably for extreme distance racing into Kent over the years, and since the sad passing of Peter a few years ago, his son Heath has been the standard bearer and what a good job he has made if it. Let Heath take up the story: “The hen I got from Tarbes National was the same pigeon when I was 3rd open 1st sec P, being my single entry last year. Her preparation this year was a Bedhampton, BICC Alencon, Bedhampton and a Le Mans with the East of England. She also went to BICC Poitiers when she didn't return until late on the Sunday. She was quite down and I thought it was touch and go whether she would make Tarbes but after a week of complete rest she started to be her old self again and had 60 mile trainer on the Wingham trainer, then on the Sunday before Tarbes she had a 40 mile private trainer where she was 6 minutes in front of the rest of the other birds. She had done exactly the same the last year before Tarbes, so I knew she was ready. On the Saturday morning I was up early waiting and when she arrived at 10.32 I was so relieved to see her home. I thought that by that time of the day there would of been loads of birds home when I verified her and got through to secretary and got the verification no4 I thought “that's a low number” but by the time I had got back to the loft my phone had gone and it was my friend Kevin Buddle saying “you got her then” I asked if it was on the leader board? he replied yes you are but there are only two timed in so far I couldn't believe that she had done so well once again.
“The Proof” is bred out of a retired racing hen “The Pau Hen” who was 4th 18th & 25th Pau with the BICC and 28th Hens International 222nd International 2011. She was twice on the day from Pau she is R O Jones of Wales bloodlines. Sire of the Proof is a son of my good friends Lee & Kevin Buddle’s “Tom” winner of BICC certificate of Merit when paired to “Day Thirty” both of these two pigeon have flown over 500 miles on the day. She was fed on a couple mixes put together mainly Gem Irish with Bamfords Extreme Energy mix a few peanuts and a lot of love. I would like to thank Freddie Hadley for looking after my birds while I went off and got married in Rhodes in the middle of May he done a great job keeping them going for me, also thank you to everybody who has congratulated me and yes I think my old dad is looking down with a big smile”
The partnership of Keith Gosling and Mick Jarvis are in 2nd section 3rd open,
and thus is another partnership from Essex that consistently compete at the highest level. They timed their two year old red hen “Chantel” winning her second prize at this famous race last season as a yearling she was 32nd section P 167th National. She is a very consistent racer, last season prior to Tarbes she won 149th section BBC Poitiers. This season, after a couple of training races inland, she had been entered to four channel races she has won them all against an east wind, 18th section BBC Coutances 15th section NFC Coutances 18th section BICC Cholet she also flew the very hard BICC Poitiers race arriving around 6 O'clock in the morning but was not timed as the partnership had two birds on the winning day. The dam of Chantel is a red hen full sister to the partnerships Red cock “Barca 55” who has won 4th section 7th BBC Barcelona 3rd section 10th BICC Barcelona 3rd section 18th BBC Barcelona and 29th section 48th BICC Barcelona both parents bred by Brian Shepard bloodlines include Red Barcelona The emperor and Jingles the sire of Chantel is a mealy cock bred from the partnerships Champion Matt when paired to his granddaughter Champion Black Eyes Matt won the following 17th section 27th BICC Alencon 19th section 60th LSEC Alencon 30th section 154th LSEC Tours 5th section 11th LSEC Pau 11th section 112th LSEC Alencon 11th section 47th LSEC Bergerac 18th section 167th LSEC Tours 11th section 24th LSEC Tarbes Matt is bred from two of the partnerships best performers Heinz 1st Retford 1st Berwick twice 1st Coupar Angus 1st Stonehaven 1st Thurso 2nd Wetherby 2nd Ripon 2nd Berwick 2nd Wetherby 3rd Coupar Angus 3rd Thurso and and Pasha inland 1st club 1st federation Portsmouth 4 times 1st club 2nd federation Lyndhurst Chanel in order of performance 7th section 29th LSEC Guernsey 78th section 233rd NFC Fougeres 128th classic Tours 47th section 183rd BICC Saran 81st Amal Tours 30th section 39th BICC Tours 9th section 56th LSEC Guernsey 56th section 207th BICC Tours 25th Amal Alencon Black Eyes won the following 1st section 2nd BBC Coutances 1st club 5th federation Market Rasen 1st club 9th combine Ripon 45th section 87th BBC Poitiers Black Eyes is bred from Champion Matt and Champion Astra 4th BBC Bordeaux 15th NFC Bordeaux 18th NFC Saintes 19th NFC Guernsey 50th NFC Fougeres 69th NFC Fougeres 129th BBC Bordeaux 153rd BICC Falaise Chantel was raced on widowhood for the inland training races and her first 3 channel races prior to the BICC Poitiers. Her cock was introduced Tuesday evening prior to the Thursday basketing for Poitiers and upon arrival was left paired to her cock until she laid and was sent to Tarbes sitting around 5 days. She was fed on VL widowhood mix with VL Liege mix and peanuts added in the build up to the race.The partnership entered just 2 to the race after this performance Chantel will be rested for the year. In at 3rd section 10th open is Paul Walder from Sheerness. Paul is another flier that sets his stall out for Tarbes each year and He clocked a three year old hen, here’s what Paul had to say “She is a Brockamp x Vanhee the sire being a grandson of the Mistral and the dam a daughter of Zwarten Atoom and Bamby of Vanhee. She was sent to Tarbes sitting overdue. She has scored before from Tarbes, being second section, 35th open as a yearling, so you can see she is a game hen. I would like to congratulate the Wearn bros and Neilson on winning the national also the other fanciers who timed birds on the winning day in this hard race, great birds all of them.
In 4th section is Tom Williams from Orpington, Tom as you may recall clocked on the day from Tarbes a few years back and was actually leading the race overnight. Here is what Tom had to say “I clocked two birds from three sent to Tarbes. The first is recorded as 20th open 4th sec P, the second 64th open 8th sec P. They are both four year old widowhood cocks and this is the third time they have both flown Tarbes. The first one clocked has also been 256th open from Tarbes. He is the nest brother to Son of Seagull who was third open Tarbes in 2016 when only 6 made it on the day. The second bird has been 116th open Tarbes, 129th open Saintes, 226th open Saintes with the NFC. This year he was 3rd sec from Cholet with the BICC. These two cocks had the very hard race from Poitiers when the first came next day and the second spent 14 hours on the wing. “80” is bred from “Mr Reliable” 3 times second section from Tours, Bergerac and Tarbes with the L&SECC, the dam of 80 is from a merit award winner from Tarbes called “Fred” and raced by Daryl Luxford. He never had a night out when he was racing. I clocked 80 at a minute past 8pm, he had given his all and was locked in his box with a honey drink and some small seed, the following morning he was fine, and I gave him his hen. They are both fine and will now be put to stock. Both these cocks come down from Wearside Lass 1st UNC Bourges and Lionheart 2nd UNC Bourges. When starting my long-distance campaign, I decided to start with UNC birds who had flown Bourges not once, but several times and it has certainly paid off. I race just 12 widowhood cocks and find that plenty for my grand age of 79. It was a very hard race with the heat and that ENE wind.” At 5th section is Fred Cornwall from Southend, Fred was well up in last year’s Tarbes race and is there again with two on the winning day; “First bird Jasper is a nice steady pigeon and has been amongst my first birds home in the East of England Continental club this year. His last race before Tarbes was in this club on the 26th May from Fontenay, 220 miles, where he gained 11th open. I think this is a great club to educate your pigeons, especially yearlings. His sire is a cheq purchased from J & D Staddon, being a grandson of J Thone Sumo and M Gilberts Southfield Pau. His dam is a blue, purchased direct from A P Overwater, Holland. My second bird from Agen was a yearling hen bred from the same hen.” We must make mention of Fred’s 2nd bird a 6yo in at 7th section, that has been to Tarbes 5 times, wow! Rounding off the winning day birds at 6th section is Kevin Foster at Longfield hill with a three year old widow hen, who was in the result at NFC Tarbes last year and previously 6th National Le Mans as a yearling. She has the same dam as the hen timed a few hours earlier from the Agen International for provisional 9th east section, a direct daughter of “Wriggler” from Geoff Cooper .
In Section Q we had an increase in entries against last years’ Grand National with a record number of 13 Cornish fanciers sending 28 birds. With the promise of an easterly wind, the Duchy was hoping for the opportunity to be right up there with the leaders. However, the oppressive, unrelenting, dry easterly wind, created conditions for what turned out to be one of the hardest, most difficult, Grand Nationals on record with many fanciers throughout the country failing to clock. With no day birds being recorded, the first bird timed appeared on the NFC website, timed into the Southampton area. On Facebook, there were suggestions that the NFC website was not working, the truth was, that birds were few and far between. It soon became evident that the birds were not towards the western side of the Country, as we had hoped, and that the birds were in the middle to eastern side of the country. I am sure that Saturday was longer than 24 hours, it was certainly a long, long wait! It was another early start on Sunday morning and we settled down for another day of scanning the skies. In the early afternoon news filtered through that the first bird into Cornwall had been clocked and at 1st Section Q, 99th Open was Lee Luscombe and Mr and Mrs Steve Wright, flying to Lee’s address in Roche.
They timed their good 2yo blue chequer celibate hen at 12:32 to record a velocity of 395ypm for the 547 mile journey. She is absolutely bred for the job, being a granddaughter of the fabulous “Cracker” (the winner of 1stand 3rd Open BICC for the Luscombe’s) when crossed to a hen of De Rauw Sablon lines obtained from Roger Phillips of Guernsey. Although only being a two year old, this hen has had loads of channel experience, previously scoring 5th Section Fougeres, 6th Section Messac last year as well as flying Coutances and Cherlot this year in preparation for her tilt at Tarbes. Considering where it appears the birds entered the country, we could hypothesise that this gallant hen has actually flown the best part of 750 miles to reach home, but being the nature of pigeon racing all we will ever know is that she flew at least 547 miles. The partnership were absolutely delighted with her performance and have named her “Q Queen” in recognition of her efforts. Lee, Steve and Lesley have formed their partnership with the single minded aim of flying the long distance channel events and their policy is simplicity itself, top quality bloodlines, worked hard and meticulously prepared for the NFC and BICC Races. They have been really consistent all season and this cracking performance will just about be the cherry on top of the cake. Considering the fantastic range of stock birds available at the House of Aarden, Lee, Steve and Lesley are clearly going to be the loft to beat in Cornwall and I confidently predict that apart from section wins it will only be a matter of time before they are also making their presence felt nationally. Congratulations to the partnership on their performance from Tarbes, roll on 2019!
Although outside of race time, I should also mention three other gallant birds that battled their way home. Shaun Watson got his good cheq pied cock at 14:03 on Tuesday, agonisingly, just a few hours after the race had finished and the Angwins got their good Poitiers cock just before dark on Tuesday night and on Saturday they were delighted to get their Poitiers hen. It says it all that I am quoting days rather than a time, but these are special pigeons that deserve a small mention. To add something slightly different to the end of my report, I would like to offer a suggestion to try to ameliorate our birds’ chances of homing in hot, dry conditions. I do not wish to criticise the race in any way; as hindsight, is a wonderful thing and we can all be blessed with 20/20 hindsight. As a suggestion of how to minimise the effect of such extreme weather conditions, what would happen, if the liberation took place at 16:00? This would give the birds at least 6 hours flying in the relative cool of the late afternoon and evening, before going down to roost. The following morning they would be up early and on their way again, in the cool of the morning, meaning that they would reach the channel at around midday. In this way our birds would have flown the vast majority of the race in the cool of the evening and early morning without being hampered by the oppressive midday heat over Central France. As I said, we are all blessed with 20/20 hindsight and this is just a thought!
First section was George Durham of Abertillery with second section going to Preece Bros & Son. The bird they timed from Tarbes is a seven year old old blue roundabout cock called “Gwasted Iron Dirk”. His breeding is their old Morgan + Cook (Iron Man) Burgham Bros blood crossed with a hen they had from the German champions Friedlhoffen. The sire is Gwasted Nikon their number one old family stock, sire of 1st BICC Falaise and one of our Gold cup winners with the Welsh South Road National plus many more channel performers. The dam is half sister to Friedlhoffens 1st International Pau. This old cock has been real consistent over the years winning many minor prizes at National level. Even this year earlier on he won 1st Gwent Greater Distance club Alencon. He has crossed channel 28 times and is already a Merit Award winner from Tarbes with the WSR National.
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