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Geoff and Catherine Cooper (Peasedown St John, UK) win 1st National BICC Tours

Geoff and Catherine Cooper need little introduction to the international pigeon fancy. They have an insatiable thirst to achieve top results in national and international races with their latest success from Tours merely whetting their appetite for further success in 2014.

Farm Star, 1st BICC Tours 2014

The 2014 season

Geoff and Catherine have enjoyed several dream seasons in national and international racing. They have won a multitude of Section (Provincial) wins in domestic national races, several outright national wins and of course two 1st international victories from Agen in 2011 and from Pau in 2013. Many wondered if they could maintain this level of success in 2014; the answer is a resounding yes!

The Coopers started the season with an old bird racing team of 56 cocks and 18 hens with both sexes flown on widowhood. Their team of widowhood cocks were paired at the end of January with each pair rearing a single youngster. The hens were removed from the cocks at 17 days and the cocks finished rearing the young bird; thus cementing the bond each cock bird has with its box and home environment. Once the young birds had been removed, the cocks started the widowhood regime. The team were home-exercised for one hour in the morning and evening and when Geoff and Catherine noticed the fitness and vigour developing during these exercise periods, they received three training flights from up to 32 kilometres. During these pre-season flights, the Coopers placed great importance on the cock returning to his hen. This further develops the eagerness to return home for their team of widowhood racers.

The racers are fed 40 grams per day in two feeds; each after exercise.  They are fed Verse Laga Super Star Plus with added oil rich seeds in the last seven feeds before basketing.  A small amount of barley is added to the mix as a measuring tool as when the pigeons start to leave the barley then Geoff and Catherine know that the birds have had their fill. The 40 gram measure is sometimes added to as the long distance races approach as they want to ensure the birds have plenty of nutritional reserves when on their arduous cross-channel flights home. Trikanox by Gem is the only addition to the drinking water; it being used once a month to keep any canker levels at a minimum. Geoff and Catherine do make use of a veterinary check-up at several times during the season to ensure their team is healthy.

Like many of their like-minded national and international-flyer friends, the Coopers view inland racing as merely education and training opportunities for their team whose ultimate goal is the international races in June, July and August. The first races of the season were inland events of between 70 and 80 kilometres. Even though the ‘Cooper’ family are known for their success in the national and international events, they are always up with the leaders in these sprint events. Readers will be interested to learn that Geoff and Catherine win as many prizes (if not more) from sprint racing as they do from the long distance races!

Geoff and Catherine Cooper

National racing results in 2014

The Coopers first national race of the year was from Falaise with the British International Championship Club. A strong team of 37 birds was entered with the total convoy numbering 3278 birds. The Coopers put in a very strong performance with their first pigeon being 2nd Open, just behind the top Welsh loft of Gareth Teharne and Son. Their overall result was:

Falaice             194 miles (3278 birds)             section:            2, 8, 9, 25, 26, 31, 39, 40, 42

                                                                        national:          2, 8, 9, 25, 26, 31, 39, 40, 42

On the 17th May, the partners competed in twocross-channel races. In the British Barcelona Club race from Messac and the British International Championship Club race from Alencon, the Coopers’ team recorded the following results:

Messac   242 miles (2261 birds)   section:   2, 9, 40, 44, 68, 95
                                  national:  4, 24, 144, 167, 244, 339
Alencon  228 miles (6823 birds)   section:   19, 23, 118, 123, 124, 125, 135
                                  national:  33, 44, 240, 263, 265, 266, 299

Geoff and Catherine have therefore already achieved 1st National, 2nd National and 4th National in three different national races. In the breeding of their winning birds we can again find the illustrious name of Farm Boy (3rd National, 12th International Dax, 7th National, 3rd Euro Diamond Dax, 7th ace pigeon Euro Diamond and sire of Farmer George 1st International Bordeaux) in addition to the bloodlines of another of the UK’s ace international flyers, Mark Gilbert.

The race from Tours

On the weekend of the 31st May, 442 members entered 3,646 pigeons in the BICC Tours race. With a brisk headwind blowing across the channel and velocities down to 1100 ypm, the conditions proved ideal for the Cooper team. They timed a two year old dark chequer cock  to win 1st National. The winner was a two year old widowhood cock now named Farm Star. As a yearling he won 2nd club, 24th Combine Saintes (394 miles). His sire is a son of Euro Star who bred 5th National Carentan and 1st ace pigeon Europe Wuhan Golden Sands Derby. The dam is a hen called Margie who as a yearling flew the national programme through to Tarbes 570 miles. She is down from Farm Boy and Mtotto, two of the most prolific breeders in the Cooper loft. You can check out the full pedigree of Farm Star here. Geoff and Catherine’s second bird from Tours (probable 5th National) is a two year old chequer cock. His sire is a half-brother to Wollongong and a grandson of Mttoto. The dam is a daughter of Euro Star and Titch 21 and is a half-sister to Fleur (1st Section Fougeres). Therefore both the 1st and 5th National winners are grandsons of Euro Star.

Head of Farm Star

Future plans for 2014

Followers of the pigeons and results of Geoff and Catherine Cooper will know that their aim at the beginning of every season is success on the international stage. With a domestic national race already won, their ambition is to try and win another international race. The Coopers’ motto in pigeon racing has always been to ‘aim for the top’. Armed with their exceptional team of birds, who would bet against them achieving their ambition in the international races of 2014?