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Keith Mott

L&SECC / CSCFC Tarbes Classic 2010

That’s the two Classic’s longest old bird race from Tarbes over for another season! The ‘main event’ was a hard race this time, with mostly light head winds and very high temperatures in France all over that weekend in June. Having said that, I liberated in a very light south wind and en route home through France the wind seemed to me to be veering between south east and north east. On our way back to Caen we stopped off at Nantes for a ‘taco’ break and the heat was very intense, but when we stopped for the night at Fougeres, the temperature had dropped right down, and the wind had gone around to west / south west. Hard racing seems to be the norm this season, inland and continental, with the wind mostly having an easterly element in it and it has produced some really stinging races in the first half of the 2010 season. In the week build up to the ‘main event’ everyone was anticipating a hard race with the head winds promised by the weather men, but in my opinion the intense heat in France on the liberation day was the factor that slowed the birds down. But hard race doesn’t mean bad race! I had several mobile phone calls with the two classic secretaries, Clare Norman and Terri Hoskin, while on the road home and while there were no day pigeons, they were very happy with second day verifications, telling me Nick Smith of Salisbury, the CSCFC winner on 924 ypm, recorded three birds in the first 22 position from his four birds sent, Gary Inkley clocked in eight birds, recording 2nd open L&SECC, my ol’ mate, Les Kid of New Milton had five of his seven birds entered on the winning day, Padfield Family of Abertilly in Wales were 3rd and 5th open in the CSCFC, recording three birds in the first 25 open, there were seven birds recorded in Wales on the winning day, Fred Emberson of Canterbury got four out of five birds sent and Dean Jones, the CSCFC longest flier, clocked at 630 miles on the winning day. The Central Southern Classic Flying Club had 67 verifications on the winning day. In spite of it being a hard race, I think it is safe to say, it was a very good race!

The birdage in all the L&SECC and CSCFC races have been down this season, mainly in my opinion because of the losses accrued in races in the first half of the season and the increased amount of races put on by other Classic and National clubs this year. The average fancier doesn’t carry enough birds to cope with a Classic or National race every weekend of the season! I convoyed three organizations to Tarbes this time, L&SECC, CSCFC and the Welsh NFC, who entered about 1,100 birds. My assistant and driver for the race was Geoff Biffen and we met up at mid-day on the Monday at the Boxhill Transport yard in Capel. Geoff lives in Epsom and has been a heavy goods driver for 30 years, and has no experience with racing pigeons, telling me he likes a bit of garlic on his pigeons! He did a great job with the 2,000 miles driving over the Tarbes week and I think at the end of it he appreciated how wonderful our birds are flying all that way home. When you go with the birds to Pau or Tarbes, as I have eight times now, you can appreciate what a long way it is and how fantastic the birds are when they fly home, especially when they do it on the day of liberation.

Marking of the CSCFC Tarbes pigeons at both the Frome and Salisbury stations went super smooth and the former secretary, Clive Merrills, introduced to the Classic’s patron, Tony Carter, who was at Salisbury to meet up with the President and Chairman, Robbie Hooper and Kevin White. The L&SESCC and Welsh NFC birds turned up at Salisbury in mid-afternoon and Clare Norman and her band of helper very soon had their birds transferred to the CSCFC race crates. We left the Salisbury marking station and arrived at Portsmouth docks at 19.40hrs, to find several burnt out trailers on the dock side. Brittany Ferries had had a fire on one of the ferries, putting it out of commission and it had coursed a very big waiting list, so we could not get a ferry that evening as usual. I protested at the booking office, but to no avail! Loosing eight hours in this manner really throws the convoyer’s management out of line in a big way and puts extra pressure on the man and the birds. We spent the night on the dock and I watered the birds before we sailed for France at 08.00hrs on the Wednesday morning. The ferry arrived at Caen at 14.00hrs, where I fed and watered the birds on the dock side. I would normally be feeding the convoy at this time at St. Leger services, 400 miles down the motorway!

We had a good run down to the south of France, arriving at the Tarbes liberation site at 15.15hrs on the Thursday to brilliant sunshine and 36 degrees of heat. I opened up the trailer and watered the birds on arrival at the car park site, and I must say the birds looked in great condition in the crates. The last time I visited the Tarbes site in 2008 the near by Pyrenees Mountains were clear and made a magical background to the car park liberation, but this time with the easterly element in the wind the mountains were a bit hazy. I rang my race advisors, Robbie Hooper and Steve Appleby, at 21.00hrs and they both gave me a great line of flight report for the race day, but the convoy would encounter light head winds in France.

I awoke at 03.30hrs on the Friday and opened up the transporter and top up the water system. I rang Robbie and Steve at 05.00hrs and they confirmed their excellent on line weather reports, so I liberated the 1,100 birds at 05.30hrs in a very light south wind. The sky was clear blue, with the sun coming up behind the Geant Casino Super Market and the birds cleared the site well in a northerly direction. The weather conditions on our drive back to Caen docks were perfect for 550 mile racing, but my only concern was the very high temperatures through out France that day.

On my return from France it was good to receive the list of brilliant performance put up by the members on such a testing race! None as good as hearing that Amin and Shabir Khan of New Malden had won the L&SECC from Tarbes, recording their third Classic win! I’m told that their latest L&SECC winner is very special hen, winning the Classic Longest Old Bird Merit Award, and I’m looking forward to taking her photograph and penning a full loft report on the Khan Brothers for publication in the next couple of weeks.

The 2009 season saw Amin and Shabir record some outstanding positions, including 1st Three Borders Federation (1,703 birds) from Kingsdown. The partner’s Federation winner was their good two year old Janssen blue widowhood hen, ‘35’, and she flew the NFC Saintes race as a yearling in 2008. This wonderful hen was their first pigeon on the clock from the 2009 Bergerac classic to record Khan Brother’s second L&SECC win! Amin and Shabir got five birds on the day from the Bergerac classic, from a team of ten pigeons sent and clocked three to record 1st, 4th and 45th open, lifting over £1,300. Khan Brothers recorded 2nd open London & South East Classic Club from the Alencon Classic race in 2008 and although they have won the Classic three times, they are a bit unlucky being 2nd open on several occasions. The brothers moved to New Malden from Kingston in 2003 and only taking a kit of young birds with them, this great performance marked the start of a new era for the Khans at their new loft.

I convoyed the London & South East Classic Club pigeons to Bordeaux in 1999 and after the morning mist had lifted I liberated the 959 birds at 07.35hrs, with sunshine on the baskets. Eleven game pigeons were recorded on the day of liberation, with Amin and Shabir Khan clocking their first arrival just before 20.00hrs. Khan Brothers won 1st open L&SECC from Bordeaux in 1999 and their winner, a two year old Janssen Meuleman blue hen, was a real class act, having won major positions previously, including 1st Section, 3rd Open L&SECC Guernsey as a young bird. The hen just called, ‘22’, was a grand daughter of Herman Beverdam’s, ‘Real Deal’, and her dam was from Mike Fitzhugh of Redcar. Amin told me she was chipping off on the day of marking for the Bordeaux Classic and the lads waited for the egg to hatch before taking her off to the Sutton marking station. Amin and Shabir have enjoyed some quality success in recent seasons, including 2nd and 5th Open NFC Young Bird National (7,000 birds), 1st Section, 3rd Open L&SECC Guernsey, 2nd open L&SECC La Ferte Bernard, 1st and 2nd Open SMT Combine Alencon, 1st Open L.& S.E.C.C. Bordeaux, 1st open L&SECC Bergerac and now 1st open L&SECC Tarbes. A brilliant racing record by any ones standards!

Congratulations to Nick Smith on his brilliant performance in the CSCFC and also to Khan Brothers of New Malden who win the L&SECC, recording their third win in the classic. Fantastic pigeon racing! We are off to Bergerac this weekend for the last L&SECC / CSCFC old bird race of the 2010 season, so good luck to every one for that one! I can be contacted with any pigeon comments on telephone number: 01372 463480. See yer!





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