BICC National Falaise (1) – May 3rd 2008
By Les Parkinson on May 05,2008
The BICC kicked off their 2008 programme from Falaise last Saturday when approximately 4,500 birds were liberated at 7am in an east wind turning to south south-east en route. A fast race ensued and the honour of winning 1st Open went to Geoff and Catherine Cooper of Peasedown who timed a 5y widowhood cock called “J.W.”.
‘J.W’, winner of 1st Open
This is the second time this partnership has won Falaise with a distance pigeon, as two years ago they also won this race with “Wriggler”. This was “J.W.”s second race of the season, the first being the previous Saturday from Minstead, 44 miles. “J.W.” had four training tosses of about 20 miles prior to racing, normally the birds only have two, but because of the new loft all the cocks had four.
Geoff and Catherine were quite apprehensive about this season’s racing with old birds as in the autumn they pulled down all their old lofts and replaced them with a single block and rendered loft 85′ long. They were unsure if the old birds would bond to the loft the same. They need not have worried, they won the first race from the loft, a sprint from Minstead and the second race was Falaise. When he returned “J.W.” showed no urgency to trap, he came very high and flew what Catherine calls a “helter skelter”, just drifting down in circle, then as he reached the level of the loft he went clapping off for another lap of honour.
This was a good race for Geoff and Catherine, their birds returned in good condition and they had 19 out of 20 home.
All the race birds are fed twice a day on a mixture that Geoff makes himself based on Versele Laga and Willsbridge mixtures.
Geoff & Catherine Coopers new widowhood loft
Geoff and Catherine’s ambition is to stay at the top of National racing as long as they can. They used to say they would like to win a long distance National but they have had so many second and thirds they are beginning to think they never will!
In the BBC Nationals they have won second from every racepoint and they have won second, third and fourth from every racepoint in the National Flying Club many times.
‘Titch’, sire of 1st Open
The family of birds raced are mainly Deweerdts. Geoff has had this family since the early 1980s. In 1984 he had a superb year breeding from these birds. Nearly every bird bred scored top national prizes. This was the year he bred “John”, “August” and “Bulldog”. He also bred a chequer cock called “53” which won many top National and Classic prizes from Rennes 222 miles through to Pau 560 miles. This pigeon was put in the stock loft as he was breeding good birds as well as racing well (Geoff will often retire a good pigeon early if he is breeding well). When “53” was ten years old he bred a chequer cock called “Titch” who also won many top National and Classic prizes from 100 miles through to 650 miles. “Titch” was also retired early to the stock loft where he is still fertile and breeding good pigeons. In 2003 “Titch” when paired to a daughter of Deweerdt’s “Boris”, 36th International Perpignan, and bred a chequer cock which Geoff called “J.W.” who besides winning Falaise 194 miles, has also won 26th NFC Saintes, 9th NFC Dax, 1st Wetherby Midsomer Norton HS (flying north), 32nd Central Southern Classic Fougeres plus many other prizes.
The results of breeding and racing over the last twenty-five years show the versatility of this family; they can win from all distances, either in a head wind or a tail wind. To win Falaise in a tail wind against a majority of sprint pigeons is a remarkable achievement for a family that is famous for its results at 500 miles and over. This family has crossed brilliantly into many other families, too, resulting in many National and Classic winners for other fanciers. The racing team are mainly pure Deweerdts but some have a quarter cross of other good pigeons. Geoff will always try a cross from another good pigeon but he likes to line breed to the Deweerdts. Geoff has often been asked about “J.W.”‘s name, how and why “J.W.”? When he was racing this cock he had the number written down wrong in his loft book. Whenever he sent him to a race the number was wrong on the race sheet, and one of the markers, top local fancier Janet Wilcox, used to get so exasperated with him that he called the pigeon “J.W.” after her. He did eventually correct it in his loft book!