The extraordinary Tarbes Grand National race of Mark Gilbert (Windsor, UK)

The National Flying Club blue ribbon Tarbes race of 2015 was a testing event. The high temperatures, afternoon liberation and a near 600 miles of terrain all combined so that only the very best pigeons returned in good time. It proved to be the perfect hunting ground for Mark Gilbert.

(photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)

The Gilbert team had performed to a high level in the preceding N. F. C  races:

23.05   Fougeres (216 miles)   open                            12, 62, 81, 116, 155, 171.
                               section                         1, 4, 5, 7, 14, 20, 21, 25.
06.06   Messac (255 miles)     open                            24, 25, 234, 245, 280.
                               section                         6, 7, 21, 25, 28, 31, 32, 34.
20.06   Ancenis (283 miles)    open                            2, 8, 16, 17, 18, 38, 39, 40.
                               section                         1, 4, 9, 10, 11, 21, 22, 23.
04.07   Saintes (394 miles)    open                            5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 20, 21, 22.
                               section                         3, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16.

After several near misses from the Grand National race point in recent years, Mark targeted the Tarbes race in 2015 as one that he passionately wanted to win. A demanding season racing in three domestic national competitions and the international races meant that the Gilbert team had covered plenty of miles in their preparation for Tarbes. The convoy were liberated in Tarbes at 2:20pm to begin their 550+ mile journey home. At nightfall on the second day an incredible 27 pigeons had returned to their Windsor home when many well-established lofts were still awaiting their first arrival. The final open result showed that Mark placed 9 pigeons in the first 30 positions. Let us take a closer look at Mark’s first returning pigeons:

1st section (provincial), 2nd open – GB11J 10513

If pigeons were destined to achieve success through the genes that they possess then this is it! It contains the best bloodlines from two iconic lofts in modern European long distance racing: Brockamp and Deweerdt. On his sire’s side, he is a grandson of Euro Diamond. Euro Diamond has a fabulous list of achievements:

1st national  ( 2,719 birds), 2nd international  (10,323 birds) Carcassonne 2006.
3rd national (1,452 birds), 5th international (14,900 birds) Perpignan 2006.
5th international (3,180 birds) Bergerac 2005.
5th national (2,019 birds), 12th international (17,654 birds) Perpignan 2005.
9th national (3,575 birds), 21st international (13,390 birds) Marseille 2005.
23rd national Perpignan (2,210 birds) 2004.
58th national (4,928 birds) Marseille 2004.

On the dam side we find the Deweerdt champion racers Ted and Magnus. Magnus famously won 19th, 33rd and 128th in international racing and went on to found families of long distance racers across Europe.

Pedigree of 2nd open NFC Tarbes

2nd section (provincial), 3rd open – GB12J 00243

Mark’s second timer, arriving just 21 minutes after his first, is another first cross of two exceptional lines of pigeons. The sire’s side is again littered with the brilliant Brockamp pigeons. His grandsire is the famous Perpignan 06. In his own distinguished career, Perpignan 06 won:

1st national (1,452 birds) 2nd international (14,900 birds) Perpignan 2006.
20th national (2,019 birds)  35th international (17,654 birds) Perpignan 2005.
80th national (3,575 birds) 163rd international (13,930 birds) Marseille 2005.
111th national (2,210 birds) Perpignan 2004.
150th national (4,928 birds) Marseille 2004.

On the dam’s side, we find Mark’s great champion racer and breeder Southfield Supreme. As well as his famous Dax international win, he has been responsible for 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 15th, 17th and 21st open in the National Flying Club races in 2015 alone with entries of between 2000 to 8000 birds.

Pedigree of 3rd open NFC Tarbes

Mark’s consistency in the 2015 N. F. C. races must be applauded. In his section, the birdage is regularly over 1,000 and the open races are contested by upwards of 8,000 pigeons and yet time and time again Mark’s pigeons were never outside the first 25. Add to this a 2nd and 3rd in the Agen International race in 2015 and Mark can again be proud of his achievements. Congratulations Mark; onwards and upwards in 2016!

(photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)