This is the most prestigious race in the UK, many races are called Nationals but this is one of the few true UK National races where members compete from all over the country.
Many good performances were recorded by the members, flying a hard race, against the wind and against the drag of the continental birds.
One fact which may not be obvious, is that out of the first fifteen on the result, nine of these birds all had the bloodlines of one family, either pure or crossed.
This is a record, I have studied the results of the Grand National for many years and never before has there been this number of top birds all sharing the same gene pool.
This is the family developed by Geoff Cooper and Mark Gilbert from Deweerdt of Kortemark base, and they won 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th and 15 thopen Grand National out of over 3400 British birds.
The winning pigeon clocked was “Litton Glory” raced by Paul and Helen Kendal from Wantage, and bred by Mark Dorrington. “Litton Glory” was bred from a brother to “Morning Glory” who was twice 2nd open Pau National. “Morning Glory” and his brother are 75% Geoff and Catherine Cooper bloodlines.
Morning Glory has the blood of Geoff and Catherine Coopers family via Harding Bros and their Champion pigeon “Ashgrove King” who won 1st open Grand National from Pau. The sire of “Ashgrove King” also won 1st section (provincial) from the Grand National and they are both 100% Geoff and Catherine's family.
The 3rd and 5th open National pigeons raced by David Hughes from Windsor, both Great Grandchildren of “Emiel” who won 1st International Bordeaux, via Mark Gilbert.
6th open went to Trevor Hazel from the Isle of Wight. His bird was from Geoff Cooper bloodines via Guy Reed, bred down from "Spiritus" and "Liesbet". These lines still run through Geoff Cooper's family.
Paul and Helen clocked their second pigeon to win 7th open National. Named “Glory Times” he is also inbred to “Morning Glory” from Geoff and Catherine Cooper bloodlines.
Geoff and Catherine Cooper from Peasedown St John were 8th open National, 1st section (provincial) with a two year old cock called “Woody” bred by them from their “Emiel” 1st International Bordeaux lines.
Mark Gilbert from Winkfield timed a yearling hen to win 12th open National. She was bred from his top breeding pair,the sire being a son of “Ted” and “Roxanne” when he was paired to a daughter of “Magnus”.
Geoff and Catherine Cooper also clocked a second pigeon to win 14th open National. This cock called “PD” is once again from their “Emiel” 1st International Bordeaux lines.
Andy Parsons from Salisbury clocked a three year old hen to win 15th open national. She was also a Great Grand daughter of “Emiel”.
Geoff and Catherine Cooper were 1st, 2nd and 3rd section (provincial) in this race. The section (provincial) that they fly in is over a third of the size of Belgium, this was a fantastic performance, the last time 1st, 2nd and 3rd was won in this section was in 1989, when it was Geoff once again who won 1st, 2nd and 3rd. With the same family. He has cultivated this family since the 1980's.
Geoff Cooper won Ace National Fancier from Tarbes National. for the years 2008, 2009, and 2010, and Mark Gilbert was third as seen on PBO Solutions NFC Data website.
Mark Gilbert also won the National Flying Club Averages for the Best Average All National Races (Ace National Fancier) and Geoff and Catherine Cooper were runners up (2nd Ace National Fancier).
The National Flying Club organised seven races in 2010 and for two fanciers to have won 1st and 2nd Best Average all races, one living in the East and one in the West, shows the calibre of their birds.
The Geoff Cooper and Mark Gilbert families are without doubt the most successful National families in the UK today breeding National prize winners for other fanciers throughout the country. This article does not mention any of the club, Federation and Combine wins this family has won for other fanciers, there are so many it would be impossible to list them all.
The list of 1st or 2nd open National and Classic winners bred from Geoff and Catherine Cooper's birds are now into double figures, and the list is still growing. They only have a small stock loft, ranging between 12 and 20 pairs of stock birds, so to breed so many top National Champions for themselves and others shows the strength of this family.
The photo shows some of these top fanciers, left to right is Andy Parsons, Geoff Cooper, Paul Kendal, David Hughes and Mark Gilbert.