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The Most Challenging National Young Bird Race in Europe High Littleton Young Bird National Tours

 Those of you who compete in National and International racing know how difficult this type of racing can be, the birds are not homing to one area, they are flying to a large area and they have to orientate very quickly if they are to be successful. It is much more difficult for young birds to fly in National rather than club races and how much more difficult is it for them to fly across the English channel?  At this time of year the air is getting colder and with a North wind across the sea, National racing from France is never going to be easy. The birds which make it home from these hard channel races are highly prized, they have had to cope with difficult conditions club racers never have to encounter.  They are racing overseas to a land mass of about 480 kms from east to west so they have to break at the race point if they want to compete with any success.

 High Littleton FC held their young bird National race from Tours in France on Saturday September 18th.  Young bird channel racing this year has been very testing for the birds and as a result the entry into the race was a lot lower than previous years. The shortest distance any bird had to fly was 400kms, most were flying further, Peiter Olberholster clocked two birds flying over 650 kms.
The propect of a hard National did not dampen the enthusiasm for the race and there was a feeling of anticipation and excitement as members basketed their birds for this, the most prestigious young bird race of the season.

Altogether 639 birds were entered from the six marking stations and convoyer Nigel Rigiani set off from Salisbury to Tours,  he had a good drive down to Tours and he arrived Friday morning to good sunshine and very light winds.  These conditions remained the same for Saturday and the birds were liberated at 07.15 in no wind, turning Northerly on route.  Thanks must also go to Peiter Olberholster for getting up very early Saturday morning and checking the weather on route for the birds.

The first to clock was Kevin King of Opportunity One Loft race at Portsmouth, one of two One Loft races competing with High Littleton FC. Having the Opportunity One Loft race and Richie Elliot’s SWOL based in Plymouth joining us certainly widened the scope of the race, it meant many more fanciers could take part in our National race, who otherwise would not be able to, it was the ultimate test for their young birds and well done to all who had birds home.
It was good to see early birds clocked from the east through to the west of the UK, the wind seemed to favour those in the middle, the lofts in the far west and east had a harder time but still put up some very good performances.

The winning bird was clocked by Chris Howse of the C. Howse and D.Parsons partnership. Many of you will have seen Chris’ name on the National and Classic results over the last few years and many will know David Parsons as one of the best pigeon vets in the UK. Chris and David's second bird won 2nd West  section.

Here is Chris' report on the race and his winning birds.
Firstly I would like to thank all the people involved in organising this race, which in my opinion is the ultimate challenge in Y'B racing.
The first bird timed is a D/cheq hen sent sitting 16 day eggs, this was her 4th channel race she was my first bird from N.F.C ST. Malo last week being prov. 6th section G, she had previously won 64th open C.S.C.F.C Carentan, and was timed on day from NFC Carenton, her sire is a nehu bred Busschart. That was one of my best racers, winning many club races and finally winning first section 6th open BBC poitiers 2007.
The dam of N16753 is a full sister to my NFC certificate of merit winner. This family of pigeons have produced some excellent pigeons. The sire first section G 7th open Saintes NFC 2010 is a brother to my merit winner. Also a sister to him is the dam of 1st section 7th open CSCFC Tarbes 2010.
My second pigeon which was timed five minutes after my first, arrived with two other birds. They all landed on a neighbours house for around three minuets until she finally came in. Her breeding is closely related to the first bird, as her dam is a full sister to the winner, the dam flew tours in 2009. The sire is a son from other brother to my merit winner. This was her second channel race having previously flown NFC carentan, being my second pigeon winning 16th section G. She was sent sitting eight day eggs.
This year I paired all my birds when I returned from Blackpool. All youngsters are put straight onto darkness when they are parted around mid march, until the second week of June. This year I started training around early June and raced the first three races with the W.O.E.S.R.C, then they were privately trained to the coast weekly, and also given 15 mile tosses mid week. YB's are feed with Gerry plus, with peanuts added.
Special thanks must go to my wife Jane, without her help this win would not be possible. As she helps with the feeding and exercising of YB's.
Next year we are planning to race these hens on widowhood as previously we have only raced cocks.
Finally I would like to thank Nigel Rigiani for the excellent condition the birds arrived back in as we had six back on the day from nine entered.

Third open was Kevin King and the Opportunity One Loft Race, based in Portsmouth. Opportunity lofts also won 1st East section.
They timed a very nice blue hen purposely bred for One Loft Races.  She was bred and owned by the “Double D's” Dave and Dek from the Portsmouth area.  The Sire is a Van Dyke from Syndicate Lofts and the Dam is a Van Dyke form Mick McMurch.  This lovely little hen won the Opportunity Lofts Tours race by over 35 minutes. Kevin feels the best way to test OLR birds is by entering them into these sort of races, where every bird has to think for it's self, from the moment it is liberated to when it lands on the trap, every bird timed in on a testing race like Tours has justified it's place in any loft.

In fourth was the top National  partnership of Geoff and Catherine Cooper of Peasedown St John. They timed a chequer white flight hen called Wollongong, named after a friend's home town in Australia,who was watching the birds come home. She had flown the hard NFC St Malo race the week before and Carentan with the NFC two weeks before that, making this her third channel race in a row.  She was raced on the sliding door system, and was paired to a young cock, she then changed her mind and paired to another hen,  This other hen laid and both hens were sitting.  The young cocks and hens were allowed to run together the day before basketing for St Malo NFC, the young cock which was paired to this hen pushed the other hen off the eggs and started sitting.  He carried on sitting for four days until the hen came back from the St Malo NFC where she was approximately 10th section.  The cocks and hens were then parted as usual except for this cock and hen, who carried on sitting the seconds hens eggs.  She was sent sitting to Tours.
 Geoff has created a family of birds that excel when the conditions are hard, he had five out of six home, by the time the race closed.
 Her Dam is bred from Georgina, the mother of George 1st Grand National Tarbes when paired to Mttoto a top breeding cock bred by Bernard Deweerdt.  Her Sire is a grandson of Brockamp's Euro Diamond bred by Clive Lister.

In fifth was Brian Sheppard from Trowbridge. Brian is famous for being the first British fancier to win an International race. Brian clocked a smokey blue chequer hen from his Trueman Dickens x Venner lines.  The sire is an '02 pigeon called Mr Dax and the hen a Trueman Dickens x Venner.  This young hen hadn't been in a basket for four weeks, her last race was Littlehampton with the West of england SR Combine. She was paired sitting about four days.  Brian was very pleased with his returns from the race and hopes it continues for many years.  In his opinion it is the best young bird race of the season.

Sixth open was F&J Halstead of Kington Magna.  John is no stranger to success with regard to young bird racing, over the years he has won many top prizes at national and classic level.
 He started off the 2010 season with 2nd Open in the first National race of the season with the BBC from Vire (2722birds), and finished it with 6th Open from Tours. This March hatched young bird on John’s ‘Reverse Thrust Darkness System’ is a dark chequer hen bred from a Jimmy Shepherd, Southwell cock, son of Boomerang, to a Jim Biss hen, daughter of Belamy which was on loan from Doug Gatland of Reigate. This young hen was having her fourth trip across the Channel after flying the 2 NFC races and the BBC Fougeres where she finished 22nd Section 110th Open from the 1427 birds.

Dave Wells from Borden clocked a chequer cock to win 7th open and 2nd East section. He is a Buschaert X Van Der Wegen.  It's last race was St Malo with the NFC where it won 3rd section, approx 33rd open. Prior to that it had four inland races and was flown on the darkness system.

Mark Sparey of Abertillery clocked a very good bird to be 8th open, flying 347 miles.  She is 50% Mark Gilbert Deweerdt and 50% Williams brothers of Tredegar via Burgham brothers " National Man" lines.
On the previous week she was 14th national Carentan with the Welsh South Road Nattional.  The week before she 1st club, 2nd Section, 2nd open fed Chale.
  This bird must have flown a lot of this distance on his own to have been so far up the result.  This proves the point that good birds do not follow the drag of the birds but set off for home on their own. The wide area covered by the Tours National and the number of birds sent, means that most of the birds had to think and race on their own, there were no large bunches of birds going to any one area making this one of the fairest National races there is.

A race like this produces some very good performances from birds which do not make the top few but none the less deserve a mention.
One name that has been consistently near  the top of many young bird channel races is that of meg Murray, I do not know Meg, but I certainly know her performances.  In this race she is 13th open flying to the most easterly loft in the race.
Another good performance was that of 10 year old Dom Barresi from Peasedown st John who flies on his own with just a little help from his dad Fabi with training the birds. This is his second year racing and this is the second time he has sent to Tours. Although he was not in the first few from Tours, he was the 19th fancier to clock, and  for a 10 year old lad that was a really good performance.  He timed a chequer hen who won the club race from Vire two weeks before.  He has now got the bug for national racing and is joining the NFC next year.  It was great to see how the other fanciers were quick to shake his hand and congratulation him.

High Littleton FC also held a Platinum Ring race within the Tours race, where members purchased a single ring @ £50.  This was not so well supported as last year but there is still a good prize to be won of £1727.79.  
This was won by Ted Gollop of Carshalton.  He timed a hen which he bred from a granddaughter of Smaragd and Invincible Spirit when paired to a cock down from the Red Barcelona.  She had two races prior to Tours, Exeter and Kingsdown and was sent flying to perch.

High Littleton FC would like to thank all the people involved with the race, without their support there would not be a race.  Thanks to Mark Gilbert, Eamon Kelly, Charlie Simmons, Peiter Olberholster, Nigel Langstaff and Richard Green volunteered to run the marking stations and thanks to their marking teams who gave up their time to help the club. Sally Anne Brooks and Mark Gilbert also provided food for their marking stations, Jon Stenner for running the club's website and doing a good job with the on line verification, Peiter Olberholster for providing the weather forecasts.  Imran Malik for selling many of the Platinum rings and finally Nigel Rigiani for doing a great job convoying the birds.

 I cannot finish this report without thanking the many fanciers who supported thisNational race and we look forward to seeing them all again next year.

   Name          Ring Number Town    Miles Yards Clocked Time  Yards/Minute Miles/Hour

1-  C Howse & D Parsons GB10N16753  Devizes     299455      14:24:33      1,226.16   41.80
2-  C Howse & D Parsons GB10N16768  Devizes     299455      14:29:28      1,212.28   41.33
3-  Opportunity Lofts   GB10N85653  Portsmouth  2521725     13:28:55      1,190.76   40.59
4-  G & C Cooper        GB10N2648   PeasedownSt 30749       14:51:20      1,184.15   40.37
5-  B Sheppard          GB10B12200  Trowbridge  3031109     14:50:32      1,173.11   39.99 
6-  J Halstead          GB10N34436  Gillingham  286665      14:28:23      1,163.00   39.65
7-  Dave Wells          GB10N31794  Bordon      2671400     14:11:21      1,132.03   38.59
8-  Sparey              WHU10N11028 Abertillery 347332      16:15:27      1,130.64   38.54
9-  R Oldfield          GB10N29110  Clanfield   25896       13:57:57      1,127.13   38.42
10- C Howse & D Parsons GB10J05873  Devizes     299455      15:04:45      1,121.22   38.22
11- M Gilbert           GB10N1371   Windsor     288271      14:49:36      1,115.60   38.03
12- M/M S Harris Daug   GB10N77739  Fareham     2551628     14:06:06      1,095.67   37.35
13- Meg Murray          GB10A00450  BurnhamOnCr 29469       15:09:26      1,090.79   37.19
14- C Riley             GB10N30291  MillStAndr  2711547     14:33:58      1,090.08   37.16
15- P Walker            GB10A01004  Cam Dursley 519      16:12:02      1,082.46   36.90
16- Opportunityts Lofts NEHU10TEE4606Portsmouth 2521725     14:06:44      1,081.39   36.87
17- P Walker            GB10N76514  Cam Dursley 330519      16:13:39      1,079.21   36.79
18- Wile & Lias         GB10N63788  Bristol     3161414     15:52:58      1,076.47   36.70
19- C Howse & D Parsons GB10N16739  Devizes     299455      15:27:24      1,069.65   36.47
20- R Elliot            GB10V36754  Plymouth    30189       15:31:46      1,066.60   36.36
21- R Elliot            WHU10N04611 Plymouth    30189       15:32:42      1,064.60   36.29
22- Opportunity Lofts   GB10S53367  Portsmouth  2521725     14:16:55      1,055.29   35.98
23- Opportunity Lofts   GB10N85688  Portsmouth  2521725     14:17:26      1,054.00   35.93
24- D Blake & Ptnr      GB10S93898  Christchur  259193      14:27:43      1,053.88   35.93
25- R Elliot            GB10N5905   Plymouth    30189       15:38:35      1,052.16   35.87
26- Gosling & Jarvis    GB10J01809  Mount-      2951695     15:31:15      1,049.66   35.78
27- D Hales             GB10N39051  Hocksley    2921558     15:27:46      1,046.09   35.66
28- D Barresi           GB10C46263  PeasedownSJ 3061656     15:53:54      1,041.08   35.49
29- D Abbot             GB10N44329  Basildon    2901353     15:29:40      1,034.54   35.27
30- C Simmonds          GB10N8782   Basildon    2901369     15:30:43      1,032.38   35.19