This race though, is the challenge of challenges, and brave are the pigeons and the men who rise to the challenge of The Barcelona International.
This year with the heavy losses both here in the UK and the continent it was no wonder the entries were lower and in the UK seventy four members (74) sent two hundred and forty eight birds (248) were sent to compete against 15.459 continental birds, making a total of 15.707 International entries, that were liberated at 09-00 CEST.
Among these entries are the superstars of long distance racing, birds that are competing at the highest level of distance competition.
Birds returning from this race bring strong emotions, and tears of joy to the fanciers awaiting their return.
Mark Gilbert is no exception to these emotions of long distance racing, and this year he once again shows his skill and tenacity, by winning the UK National Barcelona with Southfield Hugo, achieving a velocity of 800m/min over 1131.89 km.
This velocity will possibly place him high in the final International result. A challenge that both haunts and drives the urge to win this magnificent event.
It seems there is no end to Marks ability to get the best from his birds, as Southfield Hugo last year achieved 1st UK National Perpignan International. A remarkable bird bred from remarkable pigeons steeped in the history of Barcelona. You find the pedigree here.
One could write a book on Mark Gilbert of Windsor, but any discerning fancier would acknowledge the degree of difficulty racing the International events into the UK and note that this man is a phenomena. Winners often have to tolerate critique as it is unfortunately a human trait, this writer though prefers to applaud and congratulate the men who rise to the challenge,and without exception to those who enter Barcelona.