Geoff and Catherine Cooper (Peasedown St John, UK) enjoy another season at the top in 2014
The Cooper dynasty of racing pigeons continues to go from strength to strength. 2014 saw the Coopers achieve several top ten positions in challenging BICC international races; including yet another national victory from Tours to add to their collection.
Geoff and Catherine Cooper receiving the 1st international Pau trophy
A family that just keeps on coming
Whilst Geoff and Catherine have won many section (provincial) and outright national and international titles in recent years, a more important feature of their family of birds is that they race as a team, often recording many early prizes. The consistency of their team can be seen through their results in the BICC races in 2014:
Falaise 194 miles (3278 birds) section: 2, 8, 9, 25, 26, 31, 39, 40, 42 national: 2, 8, 9, 25, 26, 31, 39, 40, 42 Alencon 228 miles (6823 birds) section: 19, 23, 118, 123, 124, 125, 135 national: 33, 44, 240, 263, 265, 266, 299 Tours 307 miles (3655 birds) section: 1, 4, 9, 21, 28, 36 national: 1, 4, 9, 54, 88, 112 Poitiers 350 miles (1938 birds) section: 13, 18, 32, 38, 44, 45 national: 19, 26, 53, 66, 81, 84 Pau 561miles (379 birds) section: 7, 22, 24, 25, 30 national: 31, 73, 82, 89, 99 Agen 512 miles (532 birds) section: 1, 5, 10, national: 3, 34, 69 St Vincent 530 miles (302 birds) section: 2, 5, 7, 8 national: 4, 10, 54, 58
The stars of the Cooper family in 2014
Geoff and Catherine consider their best racer of 2014 to be Farm Stellar. His results from 2014 include winning 2nd national Falaise and 3rd national, 328th International Agen. The Agen International was flown in a North West wind and so to win 3rd place in the BICC was a great achievement. However to win 328th against 11,227 European birds, when flying to the western side of the UK, is remarkable. In the pedigree of this racer we can find Euro Star who would also go on to sire the Cooper’s timer from the Falaise young bird national.
Woodson: 19th BICC Poitiers and 4th BICC St Vincent
Farmer Sparey (grandson of George): 1st club, 1st W. E. C. Bordeaux
Farm Star: 1st national BICC Tours
Farm Stellar: 2nd national BICC Falaise, 3rd national, 328th international BICC Agen
BICC Falaise 2014
The UK fancy has endured a difficult series of channel races with young birds in 2014. On Saturday 13th September 1,263 young pigeons were entered into the BICC Falaise race. John and David Staddon of Evercreech were the outright winners with their winning pigeon being 25% Cooper bloodlines. Geoff and Catherine themselves won 3rd section, 4th open BICC. The Coopers timer, now christened with the name Euro George, is a son of Euro Star who is himself a son of Brockamp’s Euro Diamond. Euro Star is rapidly becoming one of the most important sires in the Cooper loft as he is responsible for a number of excellent racers including the 1st Ace pigeon Europe Wuhan Golden Sand Derby winner. The Dam of Euro George is a daughter of top breeder and racer George, the undisputed super breeder for Geoff and Catherine.
Rob Brooks with his winner of 2nd BICC Pau (50% Cooper bloodline)
Testimonies of 2014
As the bloodlines of the Cooper family of pigeons begin to trickle their way across the UK, so have come a steady stream of reports of their birds achieving success for other fanciers. Barely a week goes by where the pigeons of Geoff and Catherine are not mentioned in the dispatches of race winners from across the United Kingdom. Eamon Kelly of the Lloyd and Kelly partnership won 1st UK SAMDPR final race this year with a young bird 50% Cooper blood. Rob Brooks of High Littleton won 1st section, 2nd national from Pau BICC International; the dam was a gift bird from Geoff and Catherine. Graham Clift from Gloucester has two sons of Farmer George breeding him excellent pigeons; including 2 x 1st federation as young birds in 2014.
Geoff Cooper with Rey So from the Philippines
A bright future
2014 has again been a year where Geoff and Catherine Cooper have shown themselves to not only possess a family of outstanding racers, but also being a couple who have that rare ability to get their team to perform at the top from the first national race to the last. 2014 has also seen their breed influence the successes achieved by other fanciers in the United Kingdom and beyond. 2015 promises to be an exciting year for the Cooper family of racing pigeons; both in their home lofts in Peasedown St John and those creating new dynasties in lofts around the World.
Geoff and Catherine Cooper (Peasedown StJohn, UK) win 1st National BICC Tours
Farm Star, 1st BICC Tours 2014
The 2014 season
Geoff and Catherine have enjoyed several dream seasons in national and international racing. They have won a multitude of Section (Provincial) wins in domestic national races, several outright national wins and of course two 1st international victories from Agen in 2011 and from Pau in 2013. Many wondered if they could maintain this level of success in 2014; the answer is a resounding yes!
The Coopers started the season with an old bird racing team of 56 cocks and 18 hens with both sexes flown on widowhood. Their team of widowhood cocks were paired at the end of January with each pair rearing a single youngster. The hens were removed from the cocks at 17 days and the cocks finished rearing the young bird; thus cementing the bond each cock bird has with its box and home environment. Once the young birds had been removed, the cocks started the widowhood regime. The team were home-exercised for one hour in the morning and evening and when Geoff and Catherine noticed the fitness and vigour developing during these exercise periods, they received three training flights from up to 32 kilometres. During these pre-season flights, the Coopers placed great importance on the cock returning to his hen. This further develops the eagerness to return home for their team of widowhood racers.
The racers are fed 40 grams per day in two feeds; each after exercise. They are fed Verse Laga Super Star Plus with added oil rich seeds in the last seven feeds before basketing. A small amount of barley is added to the mix as a measuring tool as when the pigeons start to leave the barley then Geoff and Catherine know that the birds have had their fill. The 40 gram measure is sometimes added to as the long distance races approach as they want to ensure the birds have plenty of nutritional reserves when on their arduous cross-channel flights home. Trikanox by Gem is the only addition to the drinking water; it being used once a month to keep any canker levels at a minimum. Geoff and Catherine do make use of a veterinary check-up at several times during the season to ensure their team is healthy.
Like many of their like-minded national and international-flyer friends, the Coopers view inland racing as merely education and training opportunities for their team whose ultimate goal is the international races in June, July and August. The first races of the season were inland events of between 70 and 80 kilometres. Even though the ‘Cooper’ family are known for their success in the national and international events, they are always up with the leaders in these sprint events. Readers will be interested to learn that Geoff and Catherine win as many prizes (if not more) from sprint racing as they do from the long distance races!
Geoff and Catherine Cooper
National racing results in 2014
The Coopers first national race of the year was from Falaise with the British International Championship Club. A strong team of 37 birds was entered with the total convoy numbering 3278 birds. The Coopers put in a very strong performance with their first pigeon being 2nd Open, just behind the top Welsh loft of Gareth Teharne and Son. Their overall result was:
Falaice 194 miles (3278 birds) section: 2, 8, 9, 25, 26, 31, 39, 40, 42
national: 2, 8, 9, 25, 26, 31, 39, 40, 42
On the 17th May, the partners competed in twocross-channel races. In the British Barcelona Club race from Messac and the British International Championship Club race from Alencon, the Coopers’ team recorded the following results:
Messac 242 miles (2261 birds) section: 2, 9, 40, 44, 68, 95 national: 4, 24, 144, 167, 244, 339 Alencon 228 miles (6823 birds) section: 19, 23, 118, 123, 124, 125, 135 national: 33, 44, 240, 263, 265, 266, 299
Geoff and Catherine have therefore already achieved 1st National, 2nd National and 4th National in three different national races. In the breeding of their winning birds we can again find the illustrious name of Farm Boy (3rd National, 12th International Dax, 7th National, 3rd Euro Diamond Dax, 7th ace pigeon Euro Diamond and sire of Farmer George 1st International Bordeaux) in addition to the bloodlines of another of the UK’s ace international flyers, Mark Gilbert.
The race from Tours
On the weekend of the 31st May, 442 members entered 3,646 pigeons in the BICC Tours race. With a brisk headwind blowing across the channel and velocities down to 1100 ypm, the conditions proved ideal for the Cooper team. They timed a two year old dark chequer cock to win 1st National. The winner was a two year old widowhood cock now named Farm Star. As a yearling he won 2nd club, 24th Combine Saintes (394 miles). His sire is a son of Euro Star who bred 5th National Carentan and 1st ace pigeon Europe Wuhan Golden Sands Derby. The dam is a hen called Margie who as a yearling flew the national programme through to Tarbes 570 miles. She is down from Farm Boy and Mtotto, two of the most prolific breeders in the Cooper loft. You can check out the full pedigree of Farm Star here. Geoff and Catherine’s second bird from Tours (probable 5th National) is a two year old chequer cock. His sire is a half-brother to Wollongong and a grandson of Mttoto. The dam is a daughter of Euro Star and Titch 21 and is a half-sister to Fleur (1st Section Fougeres). Therefore both the 1st and 5th National winners are grandsons of Euro Star.
Head of Farm Star
Future plans for 2014
Followers of the pigeons and results of Geoff and Catherine Cooper will know that their aim at the beginning of every season is success on the international stage. With a domestic national race already won, their ambition is to try and win another international race. The Coopers’ motto in pigeon racing has always been to ‘aim for the top’. Armed with their exceptional team of birds, who would bet against them achieving their ambition in the international races of 2014?
Geoff and Catherine Cooper (Peasedown St John, UK) add a second international victory to their collection in 2013
Geoff and Catherine Cooper with friends Mr and Mrs Darren McFadden
at the Pau International presentation dinner
A unique pairing
On Friday 14th June, Geoff and Catherine were sat in their beautiful home and gardens awaiting the return of their team of 8 entries. What unfolded was, in international pigeon racing terms, an incredible performance, as the Coopers timed 3 birds to record 1st, 8th and 16th open international and 1st, 4th, 5th international hens! These 3 remarkable birds raced at the front of the field over the 902 kilometre course; with the outright winner being their ace hen Wollongong. With their other international winner Farmer George, now in the breeding loft, Geoff and Catherine have a truly world class pair of birds with which to breed another generation of exceptional racing pigeons. How many other lofts can pair international winner to international winner, both bred and raced by the same fancier?
As readers of previous reports will have learned, Geoff and Catherine now focus their efforts solely on achieving success in international races. In the United Kingdom, this is practised through racing with the British International Championship Club. In 2013, the Coopers achieved the following results:
Falaise 194 miles (4198 birds) section: 1, 6 open national: 581, 679 Alencon 228 miles (4797 birds) section: 4, 5, 6, 9 open national: 6, 7, 8, 15 Tours 307 miles (2453 birds) section: 19, 42, 45 open national: 19, 44, 49 Pau 561 miles (342 birds) section: 1, 2, 3 open national: 1, 5, 6 Agen 516 miles (660 birds) section: 2, 4 open national: 8, 27 Barcelona 719 miles (265 birds) section: 1 open national: 6 St Vincent 533 miles (215 birds) section: 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 open national: 6, 18, 20, 26, 30
Added to this impressive list of results, the Coopers won 7 x 1st prizes and 60 top 10 prizes in club racing (70km – 300km). These results were achieved flying in only a handful of races due to national and international racing commitments. However, it is the same pigeons that win and achieve early prizes in these races that go on to excel at the long distance international events.
A single-minded family
The Coopers have an exceptional family of pigeons that have achieved these results. They are a family of pigeons that think and race as individuals, famous for flying on their own over long distances, all the way to their home lofts. It is unusual to find a family of birds unafraid to leave the main flock and fly on their own. When they do this they also have to fly nearly 200km over the sea, which results in a sudden drop in temperature and strong cross winds.
This has been proved by their 2 international race winners; Farmer George won the Bordeaux international race in 2011 by 47 minutes and Wollongong won the Pau international race by 32 minutes in 2013. These 2 pigeons both contain the line of the incredible George in their pedigrees.
The incredible racer and breeder George
The 2013 winner Wollongong, a previous winner of 1st club Exeter, 4th National Tours, 10th section St Malo and 3rd section, 35th national Pau, is a Hans and Peter Brockamp pigeon on her sire’s side but her dam is a half-sister to George, the Cooper’s 1st NFC Tarbes winner. Other ace racers for the Coopers that contain the line of George are Scotty (1st section, 5th National Agen, 1st section Falaise and 1st section, 9th National Bordeaux), Georgia Jean (8th international Pau, 4th International hens, 5th National Pau , 1st Euro Diamond Pau, 1st section, 22nd open Pau, 21st section, 51st open Tours) and Southfield Abigail (2nd International yearlings Bordeaux, 3rd International hens). Another daughter of George is the dam of the amazing Farmer George, a winner of 1st international Bordeaux from 22,029 birds, 3rd National section Tours, 135th NFC Saintes and 150th open Fougeres. Yet another daughter of George has bred 1st ace pigeon Europe in the Wuhan Golden Sands Derby race in China. George has been a brilliant line for the Coopers and his offspring have been equally influential in other lofts that have obtained them. Such examples are: 1st grand national Pau for Harding Bros, 1st international Dax for Mark Gilbert,1st open Saintes national for Stan Dangerfield, 1st open Pau Classic for Witney and Reed, 1st grand national Tarbes for Paul Kendall and 1st national Carentan for J and D Staddon.
At the top of the mountain
2013 will be another memorable year for Geoff and Catherine Cooper. Not only did they record a second outright international race victory, but they also took their tally of national section (provincial) wins in 2012 and 2013 to an incredible 10. This brings the total number of 1st national section wins to over 40! Their recent top international prizes are 1st Bordeaux, 1st Pau, 2nd Bordeaux, 8th Pau, 12th Dax, 16th Pau, 37th Dax and 86th Perpignan. With George, Farmer George and Shiraz (2nd international Bordeaux) already in the stock loft and breeding some excellent birds, the addition of Wollongong will make this one of the strongest breeding lofts in Europe. Geoff and Catherine therefore remain at the very summit of European pigeon racing!
Geoff and Catherine Cooper (Peasedown St John, UK) win Pau International 2013
The rolling hills of the Somerset countryside, with its neatly cut hedgerows and crop laden fields, are one of the most idyllic locations in England. To watch your pigeons racing to their loft after a cross-Channel race is a privilege to behold. A loft report on Geoff and Catherine Cooper, winners of Pau International 2013.
The evening of Friday 14th June was extra special still, for it was the date that the United Kingdom claimed yet another international pigeon race victory! The victors and recording their second international race win were Geoff and Catherine Cooper of Peasedown St John. To make this performance extra special, the Coopers timed two more pigeons within one hour to place 8th and 16th in the provisional international result. They recorded another three birds the next day making it six birds home from an entry of eight; marathon racing at its best!
Racing loft of Geoff and Catherine Cooper
On hearing that their team of eight entrants had been liberated at Pau at 05:45 (GMT), Geoff and Catherine predicted that to be amongst the leaders of the race, they would need to time at 17:15 (GMT). How correct they were, proved when at 17:12 (GMT) they clocked their chequer white flight hen Wollongong to claim the international win and join an elite group of ace fanciers who can call themselves double international race winners. Allowing for overfly Wollongong was 30 minutes ahead of the next bird in the international result and Farmer George was over an hour ahead of the next bird when he won the international race from Bordeaux in 2011. These birds don’t just win the race; they win it by a huge margin! Click here for the pedigree of Wollongong.
This win is just the latest in a long list of victories that the Coopers have claimed in national and international pigeon racing. Geoff and Catherine’s infatuation with such events was created way back in 1976 when they recorded 1st section, 2nd open British Barcelona Club from Palamos in northern Spain, a race of 701 miles to their loft. Since this time they have achieved the following in UK national races:
National Flying Club
9th Open Guernsey 5th, 6th, 6th, 8th, 15th Open Nantes 7th Open Bordeaux 3rd, 7th 9th, 11th, 12th Open Pau 3rd, 5th, 7th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 48th, 58th, 104th Open Dax 3rd, 7th, 9th, 13th, 15th, 26th, 65th, 103rd Open Saintes 1st Open Tarbes 12th International Dax
British Barcelona Club
2nd Open Sennen Cove 2nd Open Rennes 6th Open Lamballe 2nd, 2nd, 10th Open Nantes 2nd, 6th Open Palamos
British International Championship Club
1st National Falaise (2005) 1st National Falaise (2008) 1st, 2nd, 3rd Guernsey National 2nd Pau National, 350th International 2nd, 2nd Perpignan National 86th International Perpignan (at seven years old) 1st International Agen 1st International Pau
Central Southern Classic
19th Open Ramsgate 4th, 6th Open Bergerac 5th, 6th Open Guernsey 6th, 9th Open Rennes 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 10th Open Nantes 2nd, 5th, 7th Open Saintes 4th Open Bergerac 6th, 10th Open Pau
Please note this is only a brief summary of the Open results achieved by the Coopers and does not include provincial victories of which there were six in 2012 alone.
A Family of Individuals
The Cooper family of birds can be traced back to the original R. and M. Venner family who was responsible for the Palamos performance in 1976. In 1980, Geoff and Catherine then began to introduce selected birds from the Deweerdt family of Kortemark, Belgium. Selected birds direct from the Deweerdt champions such as Emile, 1st International Bordeaux, Magnus, Sylvester and Iban were brought to Somerset with outstanding success. The blood of Emile can be found in nearly all of their champion racers. More recent introductions to make their mark are those obtained from Dax international winner Brian Sheppard (a son of Legend, the international winner) and fellow double international winner Mark Gilbert (a daughter of Southfield Supreme, the international winner). As can be seen in the pedigree of Wollongong, pigeons from Hans and Peter Brockamp have also been used as a cross into the original Cooper family to great effect. These birds have since been carefully blended together to create the Cooper strain that is responsible for these fantastic cross-Channel performances.
Quite often, when the birds fly across the Channel, they have to cope with bad weather and strong cross winds. This is what makes the British pigeons different to those racing to their lofts in mainland Europe. As their performances clearly justify, the Cooper pigeons have an inbred ability to break away from the drag which is so important in international racing where the main drag of birds fly up through France and then into Belgium, Germany and Holland. To win an international race in the UK, the pigeons have to head for home almost immediately from the liberation point; hugging the French coast before heading out into the sea for a fly often in excess of two hundred kilometres. This ability is what makes the Cooper thoroughbreds rare and precious!
Farm Boy, amazing racer winning 12th International Dax plus many top
national prizes and sire to Farmer George 1st International Bordeaux
George, a winner of 1st NFC Tarbes. Sire, grand sire and great grand sire to many outstanding pigeons
for the Coopers and those fortunate enough to obtain his descendants.
Like all of the old bird race team at Peasedown St John, Wollongong was raced on total widowhood. Along with her loftmates, she received three inland races before being entered into the cross-Channel events. With Geoff and Catherine’s passion now being international racing, these races are predominantly with the BICC. The birds are kept fit with twice daily exercise periods around their home. They are fed the Versele Laga range of corn in communal hoppers but are fed some hemp and fatty seeds individually in their nest boxes. The methods and management is kept as simple as is necessary; it is the birds that are special according to Geoff and Catherine!
Sharing the Success
For many, the true test of a family of birds is how they perform when raced by others. The Cooper birds have again excelled themselves in this regard as the following results justify:
1st International Dax, 2nd International Yearlings Bordeaux for Mark Gilbert 1st Grand National Pau for Harding Bros “Morning Glory” 2 x 2nd National Pau for Paul Kendal 1st National Saintes for Stan Dangerfield 1st Classic Pau for Witney and Reed 2 x 2nd National for Richard boylin 1st National Tarbes for Paul Kendal 7th National Tarbes for Paul Kendal 1st National Carentan for J & D Staddon 1st Classic Messac for A & S Thompson
Catherine & Geoff toasting to the international Pau victory
At the present time, Geoff and Catherine Cooper stand tall amongst the elite of international pigeon racers. Their loft location, positioned in the west of the UK, is far from ideal to achieve success in domestic competition let alone on the international stage. Yet despite this, armed with a team of truly magnificent, single-minded birds, they have become double international pigeon race winners. Geoff & Catherine Cooper’s latest international win places them in a unique position in European international pigeon racing as they can pair two international winners together – bred and raced by them; what a world-class pairing! However, the Coopers are not finished yet; they hope many more international winners will be spotted heading for home across the hills of Somerset in the not too distant future.
Geoff & Catherine Cooper (UK): ‘The dream becomes a reality’
He told me “I know it won’t be easy but Catherine and I have won pretty much everything which we can in England, so now we want to try and achieve the ultimate victory in the International arena.” The results that Geoff was referring to include 1st National F C from Tarbes,12th International Dax, 39th International Dax and 86th International Perpignan. Additionally the loft has nine 1st prize placings in three National provinces which is a record number of wins for this award.
‘Farmer George’ 1st International Winner
Little did either of us realise that just a few weeks later I would be phoning the partners to congratulate them on a fantastic win from Bordeaux against a huge International entry of 22,029 birds with their two year old Blue Chequer widowerhood cock named ‘Farmer George’, with a velocity of 1159 mpm. This bird as his pedigree will emphasise, is full of National winning blood. He is a Grandson of ‘Farm Boy’ a giant in the Cooper’s loft at Peasedown St. John. Quite simply ‘Farm Boy ‘ has achieved more than most fanciers dare fantasise of winning in both the racing and breeding lofts. On his dam’s side he is a Grandson of ‘George’ the winner of 1st National Tarbes. Never has the saying about ‘the apple falling close to the tree’ been more apt and fitting. If proof is required of ‘Farmer George’s’ racing prowess then his 3rd West section placing in the British International Championship Club should satisfy even the most ‘Doubting Thomas’!
The birds are a real family at Geoff and Catherine’s, for over 30 years of skilful blending with Geoff’s old family and the pigeons obtained from the Deweert family of Kortemark, Belgium an area steeped in long distance racing. Of course during this period of time judicious crosses have been introduced then slowly removed. So that the base remains loyal to the ‘Old Line’.
Amazingly a second arrival was clocked shortly after the International winner and this bird is right up there as well. This bird is a son of P.D. a bird which has twice been 2nd placed in the National at section (Provincial) level from Alencon and Tarbes. This bird is now called ‘Shiraz’ because Geoff and Catherine were enjoying a glass of this fine wine when he homed. This was courtesy of a bottle gifted to them by their friend John Smallcombe in gratitude of his 1st Section winner that same day in the National F C Tarbes race which was bred from a pair of G & C Cooper’s birds. Without any doubt this was truly a ‘Champagne day’ for a wonderful partnership and more importantly two lovely people.
So yet again another example that emphasises the standing that British racing pigeons are rapidly gaining. Brits are proving to be both fierce and dangerous competitors even though their birds must face a dangerous obstacle in the form of the English Channel a stretch of both volatile and temperamental water.
Geoff en Catherine Cooper (Bath, UK), winnaars van Bordeaux International oude duiven
“Farmer George” was 3de Nationaal Sectie West van Tours met BICC Nationaal op 11/06/11. Dit was zijn laatste vlucht voordat hij gekorfd werd voor de Internationale. Hij is afstammeling van “Farm Boy”, die vele Internationale en Nationale top prijzen won, en een dochter van George, die buiten de Grand National van Tarbes ook nog vele andere Nationale top prijzen won. Op “Farmer George”‘s pedigree staan in iedere generatie winnaars. De winnende bloedlijnen van de topduiven van Geoff en Catherine gaan terug tot aan de geïmporteerde duiven uit de vroege jaren 1980. In die jaren introduceerde Geoff duiven van Deweerts uit Kortemark, en heeft sindsdien veel succes met deze duiven. Wanneer Geoff een goede racer uit de competitie haalt, houdt hij ze om met hen te kweken, zodat hun uitstekende genen niet verloren gaan.
De Internationale winnaar Bordeaux 10.611 Oude Duiven: ‘Farmer George’
Ze haalden nog een andere duif binnen, een zoon van “PD” genaamd “Shiraz”. Hij is op dit moment 5de Internationaal. De oorsprong van zijn naam wordt verklaard in het volgende verhaal: Een lokaal clublid, John Smalcombe, die diezelfde dag de Nationale Sectie G van Tarbes won met een duif wiens ouders door Geoff en Catherine gekweekt waren, trakteerde hen in de namiddag met een fles Shiraz. Geoff, Catherine en hij openden de fles en dronken samen een glas op John’s overwinning terwijl ze wachtten op hun Internationale duiven. Ze hadden net hun eerste glas op toen “Farmer George” viel. Omdat deze duif reeds een naam had, beslisten Geoff en Catherine om hun tweede duif naar John’s fles Shiraz te noemen!
De ‘Shiraz’: winnaar 3e Internationaal Bordeaux 10.611 oude duiven
“PD” heeft zeer goed gevlogen voor Geoff en Catherine: hij won 2de Nationaal Sectie (provinciaal) van Tarbes en 2de Nationaal Sectie (provinciaal) van Alencon Nationaal plus nog vele andere top prijzen. Meer details over al deze duiven kan u vinden op hun website www.geoffcooper-pigeons.com
Geoff en Catherine hebben vele Nationale en Internationale prijzen gewonnen, maar het is hun droom om een eerste prijs op een Internationale te winnen. Dit seizoen heeft Geoff zijn duiven met het BICC Internationaal programma meegestuurd, waarin het grootste deel van de duiven naar het oosten van het VK vliegen, en slechts enkelen naar het westen. Dit betekende dat de kansen op het winnen van een open prijs zeer klein waren, maar dit baarde Geoff geen zorgen, want het voornaamste doel waarvoor hij deze duiven meestuurde op deze lastige vluchten was om hen te leren hun grenzen te verleggen. Dit is essentieel wanneer je een Internationale in het VK wil winnen. De Britse 648 hadden het heel moeilijk om van het konvooi van 22.028 duiven los te breken, en Geoff en Catherine’s duiven moesten dan nog 220 km over het Kanaal vliegen, een overtocht die – afhankelijk van het weer – voor vele goede duiven wel eens het graf kan worden. Wanneer je rekening houdt met de richting die het grootste Internationale kovooi vliegt vanuit het startpunt, en dan bedenkt dat de Britse duiven in een compleet andere richting moeten vliegen, kan je begrijpen hoe lastig dit wel niet moet zijn voor hen.
On achieving the Grand Slam – A loft report on Geoff & Catherine Cooper (Bath, UK) – Part 1
The partners had previously won 1st Open in BICC races and the King’s Cup with the NFC when they won 1st Open Tarbes a few years back. Add to these wins at National level, scores of Club, Federation and Combine wins, then the winning of 1st Open in an International race completes a terrific record of wins at all levels of competition within the sport – hence the title of this article The Grand Slam.
I first met Geoff some 24 years ago when he was flying a highly successful team of pigeons to his then home at High Littleton a few miles from Geoff and Catherine’s present home at Peasedown St John. At that time, the late 1980s, Geoff had a superb team of widowhood cocks bred around imports from Andre Vermote and Emiel Deweerdt & sons. On the first and many subsequent visits I made to High Littleton, I handled all the loft’s big winners – pigeons such as “John”, “Silver”, “Stumpy”, “Bernard”, “Little” and the incomparable “Bulldog” – one of the finest pigeons I have ever handled and with performances at National level to match.
The lofts at that time were built into the stone outhouses at the rear of Geoff’s home and business premises and a deep litter of dry droppings was employed in all lofts. Since those days, a move has been made to Peasedown St John and a brand new purpose built breeze block loft built to accommodate the race birds and stock team. Despite the move and the change in home environment the winning of races at the highest level has continued without a hiccup.
That covers a little of the background to the present success story, but what of the man himself? Geoff is now retired from his butchers business and from an early age, he had a love of birds, having pet jackdaws, owls and kestrels as a boy. He started in the sport at the young age of 13 when he used to clock his uncle’s racers on their return on a Saturday. That’s when the racing bug really bit deep. Geoff’s first major influence was therefore his uncle, who, although he never enjoyed much success, “did the deed” and introduced Geoff to the sport of racing pigeons. Another fancier from the West of England who had a major influence on not only Geoff, but also on many other fanciers in the area, was the great Reg Venner from Street. Reg and his wife Myrtle raced their team of birds with great success on both the north routes through to Lerwick at more than 600 miles as well as the south road through to Pau. However, probably the greatest influence on Geoff’s development as a fancier was Emiel Deweerdt from Kortemark in Belgium. Geoff first visited the Deweerdt lofts in the early 1980s, and he was impressed both with the birds and, just as importantly, by the man himself. On subsequent visits to Kortemark, Emiel and Geoff spent many evenings together talking about racing the birds and he told Geoff that the secret to racing pigeons was that there is no secret. There were certain “do’s and don’ts” but no secrets. Even now Geoff still races his birds to the same principles as Emiel recommended all those years ago.
Geoff’s first loft was a far cry from the present purpose built loft. It had an open front and was raised a couple of feet off the ground. There was honeysuckle planted at the front of the loft and as the honeysuckle grew and covered the loft front, Geoff noticed that the birds’ performances improved. He let it cover more of the front of the loft and Geoff realised that the protection from the draughts was why his birds were performing better. It wasn’t long before he had the front of the loft completely covered so no air could blow directly onto the birds. This was in the late sixties, so in all probability he had one of the first closed in lofts in the West of England. The stone built lofts at High Littleton were also designed on the same lines with minimal ventilation and the birds raced out of their skins. The first birds raced were a mixture of top local birds, Fred Channing of Bristol and Reg and Myrtle Venner from Street. These formed the base of a successful family which won 2nd BBC National Palamos and 6th BBC National Palamos at 701 miles. Geoff raced the birds on the natural system in the 1970s, turning to widowhood in the early 1980s, when he raced so successfully to High Littleton.
The move to Peasedown St. John
Geoff has raced with his wife Catherine at his present location since 1994. The present loft is a block built structure, 32 m long and 2.5 m wide. It houses 60 widowhood boxes in four sections. The two young bird sections are fitted with 140 perches, -70 in each section. There is also a section for 18 racing hens plus a stock section with aviary attached. The loft faces due south, and attracts the full benefits from whatever sun there may be in the West of England.
All sections have hardwood grid floors which have loft granules underneath and this is replaced as needed. The boxes and perches are cleaned every day and the corridor running along the front of the internal sections is also vacuumed daily.
The racing system
This year, Geoff and Catherine have the biggest team of race birds they have ever had, as they are racing 18 hens on widowhood as well as 50 cocks. They rear a large young bird team each season, as they like to race as many of the inland races as possible with the young cocks whilst the young hens go to as many channel races as they can manage if fit and well.
All the old birds, both cocks and hens, are raced on widowhood, the cocks racing to their hens and the hens racing to their cocks. Geoff doesn’t like racing roundabout as on too many occasions the birds can return and find an empty box. He doesn’t have many hard and fast rules but one of them is that when the birds are raced widowhood, their mate must always be waiting for them in their box when they return.
The young birds are raced on the sliding door system, whereby the cocks and hens exercise and live separated in adjoining compartments during the week and then run together on basketting day. When they return from a race, they can spend the race day and night together before being separated once again until the following basketting day.
The birds are paired any time between the beginning of December and the end of January. However, this year Geoff and Catherine were invited to Australia to give a talk at the Adelaide Convention, and this was over the New Year, so none of the birds were paired until their return in the middle of January.
Whenever the birds are mated, they are all mated at the same time, both stock and racers. The cocks rear one round of young birds, as do the racing hens. All the hens are removed from the cocks’ section before they lay a second round of eggs and the cocks then finish rearing the young birds by themselves.
At this time, all the birds, cocks and hens are exercised separately, once a day. Once the young are reared and the cocks are on their own, they are on widowhood and are exercised twice a day for an hour, as are the hens. If the birds are reluctant to exercise, Geoff will put up a flag for the hour. All the birds are used to this routine as the young birds are flagged during the young bird season, so it is all part of the daily routine for them.
Prior to old bird racing, the cocks will have two or three training tosses up to 25 miles, with five days minimum between each toss. Once racing starts, no more basket training takes place.
The young birds have between eight and twelve training tosses prior to the young bird season and then no training once racing starts. The only exception is if they are going to a race from a different direction, then instead of going to a race the week before they will have a training toss on line for the next race.
The young hens have every inland club race until the National and Classic channel races start and are entered in as many channel races as possible if they are fit and well. The young cocks normally race the inland club programme, occasionally having a channel race. This is because Geoff has found that the hens usually mature faster then the cocks. All young bird are raced on the darkness system, and Geoff has used this system with great success every year since 1994.The youngsters are separated as soon as they show signs of pairing and are then raced on a sliding door system, as outlined earlier.
On achieving the Grand Slam – A loft report on Geoff & Catherine Cooper (Bath, UK) – Part 2
All the birds are hopper fed and the stock birds have food in front of them at all times. The race birds have 40grms [just under 1 ½ ounces] per day of Verse Laga widowhood mix, and more if they need it. This is fed in two meals, once in the morning and once in the evening, after exercise. Geoff always adds 5% barley to the mix – if they eat all the barley they are hungry and he feeds them a little more. If they leave the barley they have had enough. Before each National (channel) race the fat content is increased for the last seven feeds prior to basketting.
Medication and the use of supplements
Geoff does not routinely treat for canker, worms or cocci, he only ever treats if there is a problem. He always vaccinates for paramyxo at the start of the year and he does not like to see the misuse of antibiotics as bacteria soon become resistant to antibiotics if they are misused. Geoff controls problems like worms with good hygiene in the loft. Once you break the cycle the birds do not become re-infected. Nevertheless, he always keeps medication in the cupboard because problems can and do arise during the racing season and must be dealt with immediately if the season is not to be disrupted.
Supplements are used in the form of natural oils [ground nut and oregano], plus hemp, peanuts and the usual grit and minerals. No vitamins are fed, as the Versele Laga corn mixtures have all the vitamins the birds require.
If Geoff could only use one supplement it would be natural oils, usually bought at the supermarket.
The main bloodlines housed in the lofts can now be termed the “Cooper” family. These are largely based on the Deweerdts from Kortemark Belgium. As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, Geoff first visited Emiel Deweerdt in the early 1980s and purchased children of his top racers. Many more visits were made to the Deweerdt family over the following twenty years and Geoff introduced more children from the top performers. The children of these introductions were tested and the best racers were then retired to stock and from these, the “Cooper” family has developed and grown in strength. Geoff gifted birds to Gordon Harding of Harding Bros who won the Pau Grand National with the progeny of these gift birds. He then had children back from these successful racers to pair to his own stock birds, thus increasing the strength of the stock loft. This has proved an excellent method for keeping the good bloodlines prominent within the loft.
Over the last thirty years, many other birds have been introduced to try as a cross. If any of the young birds from these introductions prove good enough, they are then paired back to the original Cooper family. Not many have passed the test but one notable exception was the fast flying SergeVan Elsacker birds. This pairing bred “DayBreak”, who scored four times in Pau 560 miles, winning a coveted National Flying Club Merit award. A Van Elsacker hen of Geoff, which bred and raced successfully, was gifted to his very good friend and fellow International winner, Mark Gilbert, and bred Mark’s 1st International Dax winner “Southfield Supreme”. Interestingly, the sire of “Southfield Supreme” was a brother to the sire of “DayBreak”.
Geoff’s ideal pigeon is a light handling bird with long flights and good feather quality; anything else, size, shape, the back, is irrelevant. He has seen too many winning pigeons of all shapes and sizes to look for just one ideal shape.
Some winning pigeons
The Cooper family have bred birds to win from 45 miles through to 649 miles. Geoff and Catherine were 86th International from Perpignan with a seven-year-old widowhood cock called “Flipper”. Some of the founding birds were:
- “Bulldog”, 1st National section G Pau, 18th Nantes National plus many other prizes.
- “John” twice 6th Nantes National, 2nd Nantes National and 12th Pau National.
- “August”, who was 5th Nantes National, 1st Plymouth etc.
The above three birds were the foundation birds of the current Cooper family. Other super racers included: “Farm Boy” 12th International Dax 3rd National Dax, 475th International Dax and 3rd National Dax. He is the sire of “Farmer George” who won 1st International Bordeaux OB by over an hour against 10,061 birds and fastest of 22,029 birds by 45 minutes. Another super star is “George” who won 1st Grand National Tarbes and is responsible for breeding many top pigeons including three individual birds which sired birds to win 1st International Bordeaux, 2nd International Bordeaux yearlings for Mark Gilbert and 1st National Section Fougeres.
At the moment, Geoff and Catherine have some children of Hans Brockamp’s “George”, “Euro Diamond” and “Marseille 09”. These will be bred from and their progeny put to the test. Any that survive will be retained and integrated into the “Coopers”. So far, Geoff is very pleased with the introductions as one young hen called “Wollongong” was 4th National Tours, 1st Exeter, 10th National Section G Fougeres and 1st HLFC Tours. “Wollongong’s” Sire is a Brockamp of Euro Diamond lines and her Dam is a half sister to “George”, Geoff’s winner of 1st Grand National Tarbes.
In the last ten years, Geoff and Catherine have won 1st International, 2nd International, 12th International, 475th International – PLUS 4 x 1st Nationals, 2 x 3rd National and over 35 FIRSTS SECTION in National and Classic races.
“Farmer George”, winner of 1st International Bordeaux was bred “in the purple” as his sire was “Farm Boy”, who won 12 International Dax; 475th International Dax plus 2 x 3rd National Dax, and his dam was a daughter of “George”, the winner of 1st Grand National Tarbes.
The sire of “Shiraz” the winner of 2nd International Bordeaux , was “PD”, who was twice placed 2nd in the section of National races.
It is always a hard decision to retire a good racer but most of Geoff and Catherine’s top race birds have been bred from retired top racers or daughters of these top birds.
Thoughts on the future of the sport
Many fanciers are leaving the sport for a variety of reasons and are not being replaced by new ones. Geoff feels many of these problems could quite easily be addressed. He often hears fanciers complain about clubs voting to exclude good flyers, yet they forget they are only as good as the fanciers they fly against. Backbiting is also causing fanciers to give up, as many are disillusioned by the lack of sportsmanship. Add to this family break-ups and fanciers having to relocate, and the numbers leaving the sport grow each year. Although Geoff does not take part in One loft Races he feels they are a good way of getting the general public interested, especially now that several schools are getting involved.
Geoff and Catherine are looking forward to racing more of the International races in the coming season, and their main aim is to win another International in 2012. They were pleased to see more fanciers have joined the BICC taking up the challenge of International racing. With three first International wins in 2011, Geoff believes that British fanciers have proved they are as good as any in Europe and if more were to take part in these premier races many more wins would be possible.
They would also like to wish every one a good season for 2012. Who knows the next winner of an International race could be you. One thing is certain though – you have to be in it to win it so join the BICC, the home of International pigeon racing in the U.K
It only leaves me to wish Geoff and Catherine the very best of luck for the 2012 racing season. Geoff was winning top prizes long before I first met him in 1988 and I’m sure he will continue to excel well into the future – his mantra being “Keep it simple”.
英国巴斯（Bath）的杰夫和凯瑟琳.库柏夫妇(Geoff and Catherine Cooper) 摘下波尔多国际赛成鸽冠军
“农夫乔治”在今年6月11日获得了BICC杜尔斯国家赛西区季军。这是他出征波尔多国际赛前参加的最后一场比赛。这羽勇将出自“农场男孩” x “乔治号直女”，“农场男孩”曾在很多国际赛和国家赛中入赏前名次。而“乔治号”则曾获得塔碧斯国家赛冠军和很多其他国家赛前名次。看一下“农夫乔治”的 血统书后就会发现每个世代都有冠军，杰夫和凯瑟琳的顶级鸽系最早可以追溯到1980年。1980年杰夫从科尔特马尔克（Kortemark）的迪威斯 （Deweerts）引进的鸽子非常成功。当杰夫退休的时候，他将优秀赛鸽留种从而提高自己种鸽中优良基因的浓度。
他的另外一羽赛鸽也就是PD直子“西拉”(Shiraz)获得国际赛第5名。当时正逢当地俱乐部会员约翰斯莫联合鸽舍（John Small combe）在同一天赢得了塔碧斯国家赛G区冠军，这羽鸽子的父母出自杰夫和凯瑟琳夫妇，那天下午约翰为他们定了一瓶西拉红酒以示感谢，在农夫乔治归返之 后他们将红酒打开刚刚喝完第一杯的时候，这第二羽赛鸽恰好归巢，于是杰夫根据约翰的西拉酒将这羽爱将取名“西拉”。
这个赛季杰夫参加了BICC国家赛，这项比赛多数鸽子都是向英国东部飞，很少一部分向西部飞。这就意味着他们入赏的几率极低，但是杰夫并不在意，因为他参 赛的主要目的是让鸽子体验艰苦比赛并且学会从大群中分开的技巧。如果你想在英国赢得国际赛这一点十分重要。这场波尔多国际赛英国的集鸽羽数只有648羽， 这样的话从22028羽鸽子中及时分群就会非常困难，杰夫夫妇的鸽子还要飞越220km 的英吉利海峡，如果天气不佳，这个海峡就会成为很多好鸽的葬身地。要知道大群赛鸽队伍英国鸽子的飞行路线与大群有着很大的不同，那么你就会明白他们赢得这 个冠军是何等的不易！
俱乐部很少组织比赛, 但是英国库柏依然赢得了非常多的俱乐部奖项, 以至于他们更想挑战全国以及所有越海赛更有难度的比赛,他们所参加俱乐部的比赛仅是为了给全国赛或者经典比赛做准备而已.越海赛飞进英国西南部是极为艰难 的. 鸽子需要能够应对海面的强风以及穿越南海岸和自己所在地之间连绵起伏的山脉,当他们的鸽子归巢的时候要飞越英格兰南海峡,其有300英里之宽, 480公里. 要赢得成功, 鸽子必须在起初的比赛中就冲破大群, 然后独自赛飞数英里. 这些极为艰难的比赛状况并未组织杰夫(Geoff)和凯瑟琳( Catherine)·库柏对越海赛的钟爱, 并且他们自己培育出一路在英国善飞艰难的全国赛及经典赛的顶级家族.
当你研究成绩的时候, 你也许会主要到英国全国赛以及经典赛参赛鸽的羽数比比利时, 荷兰以及德国参赛鸽的羽数要少很多.这是由于英国越海全国赛以及经典赛难度极其之高,并不是有许多鸽舍的鸽子都具备如此要求并能在全国赛中获胜的. 参加全国赛和经典赛的鸽子都是全英国鸽舍选出最顶级的赛手派遣参赛的. 英国划分成区, 如同比利时的省一样.许多这些地区比比利时几个省相加都要大, 事实上, G区正是库柏所在比赛区,这个地区足有半个比利时大!
库柏鸽系也为许多其他英国鸽舍作育出了许多冠军, 迄今为止2011年已经有10篇报道是关库柏鸽系赢得全国赛以及经典赛冠军, 2010年塔碧斯国际赛, 在英国前15名的9羽鸽子,包括冠军都是出自同一家族.
当杰夫(Geoff)和凯瑟琳(Catherine) 的一羽两岁龄雨点雄鸽,取名为”农夫乔治”“(Farmer George” ) 把他们的赛鸽生涯带到最高峰, 这羽雄鸽荣获波尔多国际赛10611羽的冠军,他们一直都为国际赛的冠军努力奋斗中, 但是由于住在英国的最北部,远离主鸽群, 这就意味着对其强大的西风赢得比赛不是一件易事,2011年波尔多国际10622羽冠军领先亚军62分钟,领先22029羽国际亚军45分钟. 要想赢得这样的殊荣, 他必须得顶分飞行900公里, 直接从主鸽群脱颖而出, 归巢的时候飞行地非常地, 落在鸽舍顶上, 直接进入鸽舍, 荣获国家赛的殊荣.
62分鈡之后,杰夫(Geoff)和凯瑟琳(Catherine)又归巢一羽黑斑雄鸽, 名叫“西拉兹”(“Shiraz”)，赢得2011年波尔多国际亚军、全国亚军!他归巢的时候有五羽幼鸽在空中一同飞了片刻, 最终进舍赢得国际赛亚军.离上次一位鸽友在一场国际赛赢得冠亚军,已经有非常很多年的历史了!
这些成功源于基础种鸽,它们都是冠军得主或者冠军的直子女在将来配在一起. 这些顶级鸽子相互都有紧密的血缘关系,建立起来一个庞大的基因库.同时,杰夫(Geoff)和凯瑟琳(Catherine)有着非常精心的育种计划,建立起可以在1000公里最高水平的比赛中可以获胜的一个家族, 不管是告诉还是低速都可以获胜.
在库柏种鸽舍中, 所赢得的国家赛冠军, 亚军以及季军都是由杰夫作育并且使翔的. 并不是很多鸽舍都有这些全国真正的冠军,都是由鸽主自己作育且自己比赛的.
“农夫乔治”“Farmer George”是2011年波尔多国际冠军10611羽冠军, 波尔多22029羽总赛22029羽冠军. 图尔斯WS省赛季军, 它是”农场男孩”x”乔治”的一羽女儿作出的一羽直子!
法莱斯全国2464羽冠军（315公里） 巧列特HLFC冠军、CSCFC大区693羽11位 达克斯全国大区季军、全国688羽5位以及国际11898羽1248位（840公里） 波尔多大区12位、全国178位 圣特斯WESRC1804羽16位 波尔多全国178位
阿伦肯全国大区冠军 塔比全国大区亚军、全国塔比2833羽14位 梅沙克经典2269羽61位（383公里） 法莱斯全国4417羽63位（334公里） 波提尔全国5954羽168位（560公里） 圣特斯全国5315羽191位（720公里）
它们是一支在过去25年里近亲培育出来的一个顶级鸽系,所有的这些顶级鸽都是血脉相通, 并且所有的赛鸽都流淌着这些顶级鸽子的血脉.许多世界顶级鸽都是杂交的;但是这些鸽子通常只是杂交过一代,杰夫认为当你开始杂交鸽子的时候, 让鸽系的基因都有所下滑..杰夫用了几个小时的时间去讲解如何配对的思想, 如何提升鸽系的水平以及鸽子的速度并且确保这些因素不会让鸽系下滑! 作育出的每羽鸽子都具备早顶级的比赛以及最艰难的比赛中抗衡的基因.
库柏鸽系的创立非常罕见，一个近亲的家族可以在过去的25年里面叱咤鸽坛。杰夫总是为他的鸽子在寻求新的血脉，他说：不断寻找鸽舍同一血脉可以提升鸽舍表 现是非常重要的。如果混血成功，它们将会返回到库柏原始的鸽系上。不是许多引进的鸽系都可以站住脚的，但是一旦有立足的，就可以让鸽舍的水平上升并且维持 数年。这种方法正是库柏鸽舍育种所维持的方法。数年来，持久地保持在英国跨海全国赛以及育种方面的顶端。
杰夫和凯瑟琳·库柏鸽系荣获全国最佳鸽舍，在三个省(C,D,G)连续赢得9次此头衔的轰动记录，没有任何一个英国鸽友所能及的。近年来超过35次赢得省 赛冠军，这就是该地区的一个新纪录。这些全国赛最全国赛距离最长的比赛并且是英国最权威的全国赛。这些比赛都是极其艰苦的比赛，通常比赛当日仅可归巢数 羽。两次，杰夫和凯瑟琳·库柏的鸽子在比赛当日本省唯一归巢的鸽子。在1998年，“尼克斯”（ “Nicholls”）以及2010年“伍迪”以及 “PD”,他们在隔日的清早打钟了比赛第一羽归巢的鸽子, 名为”尤斯塔斯”(Eustace).杰夫和凯瑟琳·库柏两次在全国大赛中赢得本省3次冠军, 1989年以及2010年, 没有任何一位鸽友做到这样!这个赛季他们再次赢得了塔碧斯全国赛/国际赛的亚军, 季军以及4位!
全国大赛有4000多羽顶级鸽参赛, 仅归巢极少的鸽子并不是什么稀奇事情.有时候当日归巢不超过20羽, 这足以体现全国赛大赛的艰苦度有多么高了!
库柏鸽系被全世界鸽友爱戴, 他们曾售往/拍卖到台湾, 南非, 菲律宾,中国以及日本.
杰夫和凯瑟琳·库柏所赢得全国赛的殊荣有很长的荣誉单, 此外, 使用杰夫和凯瑟琳·库柏鸽系的其他英国鸽友在全国赛以及经典赛上取得优秀成绩的,代表鸽友包括:
波斯经典赛冠军(约翰·哈尼斯John Haynes) BICC波城全国赛冠军(凯文·海克克Kevin Hitchcock) 塔碧斯全国赛/英国国际赛冠军（保尔·肯达尔Paul Kendal） 达克斯全国赛冠军（马克·吉尔伯特Mark Gilbert） 圣特斯全国赛冠军（马克·吉尔伯特Mark Gilbert） 古尔斯经典赛冠军（史坦·单格菲儿德Stan Dangerfield） 波城经典赛冠军（哈丁·布罗斯Harding Bros） 塔碧斯经典赛冠军(约翰·哈尼斯John Haynes) 波尔多国际赛一岁鸽组冠军盖·瑞德Guy Reed） 米德兰全国赛亚军，这羽鸽子连续两年赢得亚军（马克·果薇Mark Gower） 米德兰全国赛亚军（马克·吉尔伯特Mark Gilbert） 波城全国大赛亚军（保尔·肯达尔Paul Kendal）
此外,许多其它的俱乐部以及联赛的成绩在此由于篇幅所限, 就不一一列举!如果你正在寻找增强自己鸽系的鸽友, 库柏鸽系是韧性和速度的不二首先!
International winner old birds and the fastest one in the entire race of 22.029 pigeons: Mr. & Mrs. Cooper (Bath, UK)
The international winners Bordeaux (Villeneuve Agen) old birds, and the fastest one in the entire race against 22.029 pigeons are Mr. & Mrs. Cooper with their cock ‘Farmer Georges’ at an average speed of 1159 m/min.
Mr. & Mrs. Cooper
The international winner old birds: ‘Farmer George’
An introduction to Geoff & Catherine Cooper of Peasdown St John
In 1980 I went to Belgium on a coach trip and was introduced to the Deweerdt family from Kortemark. We quickly established a good friendship with Emile and purchased some birds which were to be the foundation of my loft today. I have always maintained that the breeding loft is where the success of the loft is founded. Many people can buy good pigeons but it is what they do with them afterwards that determines their success, or lack of it!
When people look back to the 1980’s and see the fanciers names at the top of National racing, the name Geoff Cooper, or G G Cooper as I used to race, was always there, amongst many other good fanciers. It was the same throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s. This remarkable record is due to the care and diligence of my breeding programme, paying attention to the winning genes and not losing them through out-crossing.
In 1984 I had an exceptional years breeding. I bred a team of birds that had everything. They flew for hours from the start, roaming up and down the valley, flying for the love of it. When it came to racing these birds they were winning from the first young bird race to the last. In a National race from Guernsey where my birds had to fly 80 miles (128 kms) over the sea, I took 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 8th only sending six birds. The majority of the birds were flying to the east of England, whereas my birds were flying to the west,and had to fly most of the journey on their own. These brave birds were to become record breakers for myself and then for many other fanciers in the UK.
The genes of ‘Bulldog’, ‘John’, ‘August’, ‘53’, ‘The Old Deweerdt’ and many other 1984 birds can be found in the colony today. In 1986 I was 5th & 6th National Nantes with August and ‘John’, in 1987 I was 6th & 8th National Nantes with ‘John’ and ‘Bulldog’. In 1988 ‘Bulldog’ won 1st National Section Pau; 33rd National Pau 560 miles (896 kms) on the day and ten years later his grandson ‘Nicholls’ also won 1st National Section Pau; 3rd National Pau, flying nearly an identical time of over 14 hours. ‘Nicholls’ was the only bird on the day west of Portsmouth which is in the middle of the south coast. The next fancier did not clock in the west of England until the next morning, showing how far ahead ‘Nicholls’ was of the rest of the convoy. ‘Nicholls” was also a grandson of ‘The Old Deweerdt’.
Ten years later in 2008 I won the ultimate race in the UK at that time, the Tarbes Grand National. I timed a chequer cock of similar lines to the above being a grandson of ‘Titch’ a champion racer and breeder who was a son of ‘53’. ‘53’ was responsible for many excellent racers and breeders including ‘Windcheater’ who won 1st National Section, 7th National Bordeaux, again winning against the odds, flying into the West of the country in a west wind, with the majority of the birds flying to the East of the country. Another son of ‘53’ was ‘Titch’ who won many top National prizes, at distances from 100 miles (160 km) through to Pau 560 miles (896 kms). Not only an excellent racer ‘Titch’ bred ‘JW’ who won 1st National Falaise 200 miles (320 kms) and 9th National Dax 525 miles (850 kms) and a son of ‘Titch’ bred ‘George’ the Tarbes Grand National winner. The dam of ‘Titch’ was a daughter of ‘August’ and the dam of ‘Windcheater’ was a sister to ‘August’.
‘John’ won four prizes in the first eleven of National racing, a record at the time. He bred ‘Unlucky for Some’ who won 2nd Classic from Nantes. The winner of Saintes National for Stan Dangerfield was down from ‘John’. The list of winners for other people is listed elsewhere on here, and it is a very impressive list.
I will not hesitate to retire a good racing cock if he is also breeding good young birds. Most of the time his stock loft comprises of retired racers or children of top racers. I spend many hours searching the internet and other outlets to try and source the best possible new introductions for the breeding loft. When I introduce new stock his I will pair them to my best birds, if this is successful, this cross is then paired back into my own family. This ensures the quality of his original stock is enhanced, never diminished. I have tried many introductions over the last twenty five years, but very few have stayed. I purchased some Van Elsaker Jepson birds in the early 1990’s one of these, the sire of ‘Day Break’ my National Merit Award winner (three times in the top 100 of the Longest National Race), was the grandsire of Mark Gilberts International Dax winner. I also bred and raced the dam of Mark’s International winner before giving her to Mark.
What is remarkable about this family is their ability to win from 45 miles through to 650 miles in all winds and weathers. When the weather is hard, this is when these birds come to the fore. I have multiple timings when many other fanciers do not see a pigeon.
The latest introductions are some direct H P Brockamp birds. Catherine and I first met Hans Peter when we all went to Taiwan in 1999. I have two sons of ‘Euro Diamond’ a daughter of ‘George’ and a son of ‘Marseille 09’ and although it is early to judge, so far I have been very pleased with these introductions.
A Brockamp/Cooper cross called ‘Wollongong’ was 4th National from Tours 300 plus miles as a young bird, flying across the sea. ‘Wollongong’ also won as a young bird, 1st Exeter; 10th National St Malo Section G and 343rd National St Malo. These were hard races, especially the overseas races and I was very impressed with the quality of the Brockamp birds when crossed with my own. Another hen that has raced very well is ‘Fleur’ who won as a young bird 2nd Fed Seaton; 127th National Lamballe; 1st National Section Fougeres, and as a yearling 352th National Tarbes/International, and was the 18th yearling clocked from Tarbes National. I firmly believe in keeping it simple, health, motivation and fitness, if you can have all three together and you have well bred birds then success should not be far away.
The stock loft is the hub of the loft, it is from here your success starts. In the loft at the moment there are three National winners of mine, bred and raced by me and several sons and daughters of National and International winners. If someone does well with a bird from our family then I will always have one back for the stock loft. This way you introduce new vigour, without losing the winning line. My advice to anybody would be buy the best you can afford, one pair close to the winners are better than two pairs a generation away.
This family have bred winners and National winners for many other fanciers. This list of winners with these bloodlines include 1st International Dax for Mark Gilbert, 1st National FC Pau for Harding Bros, 2x2nd Midland National for R Boylin, 1st National Saintes for Stan Dangerfield, 2x2nd National FC Pau for Paul Kendal, 1st National FC Tarbes for Paul Kendal, 7th National FC for Paul Kendal, 1st Classic Pau for Guy Reed, 1st Classic Pau for Mark Gower.
In 2010, six out of the first eight in the Grand National from Tarbes and nine out of the first fifteen all shared the same bloodlines. This included Catherine and me winning 1st, 2nd & 3rd National Section G from Tarbes; 8th, 14th & 35th Grand National Tarbes. It is a fact that the bloodlines of this family have created more UK National winners than any other family pro rata birds bred.
I hope this gives you an insight into how I have reached the top with my birds through selective breeding, and how I am always looking to improve and develop my family.
Throughout the season I will keep you informed about what is happening with regard to the racing and management of the birds.
8th, 14th & 35th National FC Tarbes; 1st, 2nd & 3rd National Section G Tarbes.
1st National Section G Tarbes 8th National Tarbes 2,833 birds 1st HLFC Tarbes 2nd MNHS Chale 4th WE SR Combine Chale 3,102 birds 165th National Poitiers 5,954 birds
2nd National Section G Tarbes 14th National Tarbes 2,833 birds 61st Classic Messac 2,269 birds 63rd National BICC Falaise 4,417 birds 168th National Poitiers 5,954 birds 191st National Saintes 5,315 birds
8th National BICC Falaise 35th National FC Tarbes 3rd National Section G Tarbes 276th National FC Tarbes