Mark Gilbert and Geoff and Catherine Cooper lead the BICC national race from Agen

The British section of the international race from Agen was won, for the second week running, by Mark Gilbert of Winkfield. Mark clocked two pigeons to be 1st and 2nd open; edging out his great friends and rivals Geoff and Catherine Cooper into 3rd place.

1st national BICC Agen for Mark Gilbert (click here to view the pedigree)

There was a British entry of 532 pigeons who, amongst more than 20,000 other pigeons from lofts across Europe, began their journey from south-western France at 06:45 (CEST) on Friday 27th June. A testing yet fair race unfolded with 65 pigeons homing on the day of liberation into the UK and all this against the wind and the inevitable drag of pigeons homing into Belgium, Holland and Germany.  Considering these testing conditions, onlookers were hardly surprised to see the names of Gilbert and Cooper at the top of the result sheet.

Mark Gilbert with 1st national BICC Agen (photo courtesy: Chris Sutton)

Mark Gilbert wins 1st and 2nd national BICC

Achieving velocities of 1259 and 1239 metres per minute, Mark timed two pigeons 11 minutes apart to claim his second national victory in a week. Further arrivals to the Winkfield loft won 4th, 20th, 30th, 41st, 50th and 54th open.  The pedigree of the 1st open winner is simply oozing with long-distance winning pigeons. Both parents were purchased by Mark from PIPA. The sire is none other than Kanibaal Barcelona, the winner of 4th international Barcelona (25,750 birds) and 26th international Perpignan (16,921 birds). The dam of Mark’s winner is another crack Etienne Meirlaen pigeon being a daughter of one of the most important breeders in the Meirlaen loft; the Gouden Vleugel. The Gouden Vleugel won 13th Barcelona (11,802 birds), 17th Barcelona (12,275 birds) and 73rd Barcelona (2,315 birds). He then went on to sire a host of winners including 15th Perpignan (3,464 birds) and 22nd Bordeaux (10,622 birds). In this latest winner for Mark Gilbert, the line of the Gouden Vleugel is assured to carry on for generations to come!

Sire of 1st west section, 3rd national BICC Agen

3rd national BICC for Geoff and Catherine Cooper

Geoff and Catherine Cooper’s first arrival was a  two year old cock flying 512 miles (824 kilometres)  to win 1st west section, 3rd open national. Their winner, now named Farm Stellar, was 90 minutes ahead of the next pigeon in the BICC west section.  Such was the quality of his performance on the day that, with the exception of the winning birds of Mark Gilbert, Farm Stellar was able to beat the birds in the centre and east sections even though he was flying against the westerly wind for the majority of his journey. He has been amongst the first to the loft every race so far this season including winning 2nd national BICC from Falaise 194 miles (312 kilometres) earlier this year. The Cooper's second bird in this race, winning 33rd open national, was Farm Star winner of 1st national BICC Tours in 2014.

1st section, 3rd national BICC Agen for Geoff and Catherine Cooper (Click here to view the pedigree)

Farm Stellar is bred from Brother Farm Boy who was sold on PIPA in 2013. He himself won many prizes including 1st west section national Tours and is a full brother to Farm Boy who won 12th international Dax, 3rd national Dax and 7th national Dax. Farm Boy is the sire of Farmer George 1st international Bordeaux. The dam of Farm Stellar is a home-bred Cooper hen that has scored in inland racing. In her pedigree we find Southfield Darkie, bred and raced by Mark Gilbert and a winner of 1st BBC national Messac 2009 against 2,300 birds and 1st BICC Pau 564 miles 2010. Southfield Darkie is a half-brother to both Night Flight and Southfield Pau, all three being of full brothers to M. Deweerdt and son's Raldo (19th international Perpignan). Followers of Geoff and Catherine’s family of pigeons will be aware of the potency of this line in breeding top-class racing pigeons; the list of winners for themselves and others is almost never-ending!

Map showing where the early pigeons were recorded from Agen, 2014

Hot spot map for Agen international

The above map shows where the pigeons were clocked from the 2014 Agen international race. It goes to illustrate how the pigeons racing into the UK need to head for home immediately from the liberation point; breaking away from the 20,000 pigeons heading for mainland Europe. Once again, the pigeons of Mark Gilbert and Geoff and Catherine Cooper spearheaded the British effort.