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Mark Gilbert (Windsor, UK) wins the British International Championship Club race from St Vincent

Mark Gilbert was hopeful of a bird on the day, although the northerly wind was against the pigeons over most of the 539 miles (868 km) his entries had to fly home.

He was not far wrong to expect a day bird as very early the next morning, at 5am, "Southfield Darren" dropped onto the landing board, just as it was getting light, proving he must have been very close to making it on the day of release.

Mark Gilbert (all photos courtesy of Chris Sutton)

He is bred from a son of New "Laureatt", 1st International Barcelona, when paired to a daughter of "Kanibaal Barcelona" 4th International Barcelona and 26th Open Perpignan. His granddam on the sire's side is "Olympic Romee" a super racer for Jelle Jellema being 1st Olympiad Marathon in Budapest 2015, 1st International Marathon Europa Cup and 1st National Ace pigeon BOTB 2013. The granddam on his mother's side is a daughter of "New Laureaat" 1st International Barcelona.

Southfield Darren

Mark had named his 1st Opem BICC St Vincent winner a few weeks previously when he then flew 562 miles (778km) from Pau, on the day, with two other loft mates to be 1st, 2nd and 3rd Open BICC and 4th, 5th and 7th International. As well documented, Mark went on to record the the greatest ever performance in the BICC from Pau, winning the first eight positions and having 39 birds on the National result of 129 birds recorded in race time. The first seven of those went back to St Vincent with the others earmarked for the next few International races from Marseille, Narbonne and Perpignan over the coming weeks.

Take a look at the pedigree of Southfield Darren here...

Mark does keep a large team by most standards, but they are extensively tested, going to continental races many times in the season in order to aid his selection for the International races which is his main aim. "I want to put the UK on the world stage" he said "we are as good as the continental fanciers and we can beat them, even though we have the seas to cross"