David Hales (Hockley, UK) – a continuing success story in long distance racing

The Marseille international race holds a certain mystique amongst long distance fanciers in the UK. The late, great Jim Biss had an enviable record from this race point with his fifteen victories and these performances have inspired the next generation of long distance enthusiasts to tackle the Marseille challenge. In the 2015 race, the British section winner in the international race was David Hales.


David Hales of Hockley (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)

A strong heritage in long distance racing

The Hales name has long been associated with success from international (BICC) races. Previous wins have been recorded from Falaise, Dax, Perpignan and Marseille and so the loft has a strong heritage of conditioning and racing birds to win from 500 to 700 mile races. In addition to these individual wins, the loft also won the prestigious Europa Cup with the BICC in 2013. This trophy is awarded to the best average from the international races with the BICC. The performances achieved by David were:

Pau              open    9, 23, 27
Agen             open    71
Barcelona        open    3, 14
St Vincent       open    32
Marseille        open    1, 8, 13
Perpignan        open    46, 53

Prior to the turn of the new millennium, the Hales pigeons were primarily raced on the north route to Scotland. David was a master in the art of young bird racing where he amassed an incredible 27 x 1st prizes in consecutive races. There are not many fanciers racing anywhere in the world who can lay claim to such an achievement. An ambition to achieve success on the south road began to arouse and thus David began to race his team towards and across the English Channel. Having achieved such success racing north, many questioned David’s thinking as racing from across the water poses considerable challenges and often demands a different type of pigeon. However success was achieved almost instantly as in his early years of competition he won 1st NFC Sartilly and 2 x 1st BICC Falaise. This whetted the appetite to achieve more success and so the decision was made to compete in the international race programme.


(photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)

A strong breeding base

The base of the modern team at Hockley is the aforementioned Jim Biss family that has been supplemented with introductions from the top continental lofts of Hagens brothers and the Bruggeman brothers. Another top UK fancier Alan Parker has also played his part in the formulation of the Hales family as the Parker bloodlines can be found in the recent ace racers Duncan, Tubby and Comfort Zone. The Biss family were based on exceptional long distance racers from the UK and across Europe. Pigeons such as Supercrack, Favori, Red Barcelona, Natrix, Black Velvet and Scout were used as a bedrock of breeders from whom a whole dynasty of ace long distance racers descended. Jim Biss was known as being a vociferous buyer of outstanding long distance racers from across Europe and his astonishing long distance record lays testament to the quality housed at his Hillside lofts. This family of pigeons have been responsible for achieving the following results in BICC races:

Pau (575 miles)       7, 9, 23, 28, 29
Tarbes (580 miles)    4, 12, 32, 37, 40, 45
Narbonne (595 miles)  7, 8, 11
Perpignan (617 miles) 1, 4, 6, 11, 14
Marseille (637 miles) 1, 1, 5, 6, 8, 8, 9, 10, 13
Barcelona (709 miles) 3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 17, 18, 21

A single minded approach

The goal at the beginning of each season is the Europa Cup races. As David openly states “the other races on the programme are either used as preparation for these races or are simply a hindrance.” David is extremely lucky to have a reliable partner in Duncan Goodchild. Duncan, an experienced fancier in his own right, joined the Hales team in 2008 and is now a vital cog in the racing and breeding operation. The racing system for old birds is primarily widowhood cocks. A small team of hens are raced on both widowhood and natural also. The team are usually paired up in March and rear a nest of young however due to being paired late in 2015, the pairs were split after ten days of sitting and the widowhood regime commenced. The team are fed Versele Laga Gerry Plus as the base mix but the partners bring them on with Super Widowhood and extra fats as the season progresses. They like to give fresh grit to their birds daily to help with the digestion process. In 2015, they have only exercised their birds once per day for 75 minutes. This home exercise has been supplemented with 40 mile training flights. This regime has ensured that their team have been fresh for racing and their pigeons have responded with several outstanding team performances:

19.06   Pau              538 birds         25, 70, 71
03.07   Barcelona        330 birds         12, 17
17.07   Marseille        77 birds          1, 6, 9

In preparation for these events, David and Duncan like their team to fly at least one 300 mile event with many of their team then often going on to compete in 2 x 500 to 700 mile races in a single season.

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Jake: 4th, 15th, 17th and 32nd BICC Barcelona (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)

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Duncan: 1st, 7th and 9th BICC Marseille (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)


Ninetilten: 1st and 4th BICC Perpignan and grandsire of 1st BICC Narbonne and 1st BICC Marseille (photograph courtesy of Chris Sutton)

David Hales has an enviable record from the international races into the UK. He is totally focused on achieving good results from the Europa Cup races and his management throughout the year is geared towards this. It is quite ironic how his latest win from Marseilles was inspired by the great Jim Biss, whose bloodlines form part of the Hales team today. Congratulations David and Duncan, surely your next triumph from the south of France is only just around the corner.