Flying the British flag in Europe in 2015 - Mark Gilbert (Windsor, UK)

In the national and international races of 2015 the pigeons of Mark Gilbert have again performed at a high level. Fanciers from across Europe have looked on in awe as the Gilbert name has appeared near to or at the top in the weekly events. There is a simple reason for this: Mark is a fancier who is always striving for perfection.

Mark and Geoff Gilbert (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)

The 2015 season began on the 11th April. Mark’s aim was to give his team three inland races in preparation for the national and international events and thus although the results were not important, they were nonetheless impressive:

11.04   Yeovil (92 miles)      2656 birds       2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 24, 26, 27, 29.

18.04   Honiton (114 miles)    2968 birds       6, 7, 28.

25.04   Exeter (137miles)      2930 birds       13, 25, 26.

The team were then tested in the national competitions. For Mark, the team is split between the British Barcelona Club, the British International Championship Club and the National Flying Club. Regardless of the organisation that they are competing with, the Gilbert team have performed to a high level in every race. The results in the British Barcelona Club races have been:

04.05   Carentan (149 miles)  open    2132 birds       44, 57, 73, 95, 115.

16.05   Messac (255 miles)    open    1562 birds       1, 2, 6, 7, 23, 34, 40, 71, 74.

In the National Flying Club races, Mark’s team has again shown their class by winning the following prizes:

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)    provisional open         5, 9, 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19.

                               provisional section      3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15.

The BICC races provide a real test for the birds’ orientation skills. The club boasts a membership from Wales in the west to Essex in the east and all areas in-between. The races are often won according to where the wind direction is blowing and thus the Gilbert loft is at a disadvantage as Mark’s loft is located in the middle of the boundaries. In 2015 as in previous years, Mark has therefore relied upon the quality of his pigeons to keep him near the top of the result sheet. His 2015 results have been:

17.05   Alencon (210 miles)    open 4657 birds          18, 23, 28, 29, 30, 31, 49, 52, 53.

                               section                  1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 15, 16.

30.05   Tours (288 miles)      open 4315 birds          53, 54, 99, 122, 127, 138, 152.

                               section                  10, 11, 14, 21, 23, 27, 31, 35.

13.06   Poitiers (350 miles)   open 2701 birds          13, 28, 29, 38, 39, 46, 79.

                               section                  4, 8, 9, 14, 15, 20, 35.

19.06   Pau (562 miles)        open 538 birds            31.

                               section                   8.

Whilst of course being fiercely competitive, Mark is far from boastful about his results and performances. However facts are facts and his BBC win this year is his 14th outright UK national win. He has also amassed three international victories: 1st international Dax with Southfield Supreme, 1st and 2nd international yearlings Agen with Southfield Melissa and Southfield Abigail and 1st, 2nd and 3rd international hens Agen with Southfield Melissa, Southfield Karen and Southfield Abigail. Mark then added 5th international yearlings Agen and 26th and 31st international old birds Agen in 2015.

The main line in Mark’s loft is that of Southfield Supreme, Mark’s 2004 Dax international winner. This golden breeder of van Elsacker origin has left a golden seam of top quality racers in the Gilbert loft. In 2015 alone he has been responsible for 2nd, 8th, 15th, 17th and 21st open in the National Flying Club races with entries of between 5800 to 8000 birds. He is also the grandsire to the aforementioned pigeons that scored in the Agen international result. Add to this the fact that Mark’s good friend Roger Lowe raced a grandchild to be 1st Central Southern Classic Guernsey and we can safely say that the Supreme blood still runs strong in 2015!

In addition to Southfield Supreme, Mark has also preserved the lines of his other ace racers in his breeding programme. These include Southfield Darkie (1st BBC Messac and 1st BICC Pau), Southfield Karen (2nd international hens Bordeaux), Southfield Champ (1st NFC Saintes), Southfield Warrior (4th NFC Saintes) and Southfield Melissa (1st international hens Bordeaux). To these ace racers, Mark has added to his breeding programme children of Euro Diamond (2nd international Carcassonne, 5th international Perpignan, etc.), New Laureaat (1st international Barcelona), Mona (1st international Narbonne) and Minstral (8th international Perpignan and 30th international Carcassonne). If you further add Mark’s acquisition of the great champions Kannibal Barcelona, Starlight and Golden Barcelona, then you have a breeding loft and gene pool that can match anyone in Europe.

There are therefore no secrets at Southfield Lofts. You will find simply a team of excellent racing pigeons managed in an efficient way. Their ancestors have been outstanding racers and thus Mark can be sure in the knowledge that quality will always breed quality. It is surely only a matter of time before national win number fifteen comes to Southfield Lofts.


et bonne continuation.