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Eclipse650 Club 08-05-18

 Honourable Secretary David Woodworth ESQ                                                  President Tony Murray ESQ

“Craig finds a way on a difficult day”

The inaugural race of the newly formed Eclipse the 650 club was an event for some was eagerly awaited, for others such as this scribe and some of the newly formed committee a nervy affair. The club was formed on a firm base with every piece of feedback that has been received had been positive. The attendance at the initial meeting and subsequent meeting were well patronised with people volunteering for posts which was even more exciting. Well know local pledged support and with David Woodworth and Tony Murray at the helm we were hopeful of a send, but we had always reiterated it is the open-door policy that we wanted to promote and avenue into International racing although people would probably judge us by numbers.

The day arrived and as I arrived at the newly opened marking station I was met by club sponsor Cliff Davenport (Cliffs Pigeon and Pets Supplies) and Dave Woodworth (secretary) who had already set up the ETS and Manual Marking points. Apprehension would be one way to describe our initial feeling (or at least mine) but we had not need to worry as before the station was open for business Billy Bresnahan and Paul Hourihan arrived from Liverpool. They were soon followed by Alan Wicker from Bolton who not being a member of the Eclipse was a BICC fancier of some years taking advantage of a closer marking station.

It was great to see a couple of other fanciers just turn up to support us and help with the marking. Mr Sainte’s himself Andy Lloyd made himself available and the help was very much appreciated. Once marking got under way Billy Bresnahan, Andy Lloyd and Dave Woodworth managed the marking etc. and it was great to see other fanciers from Shropshire and Crewe attending to enter, into the race.

Nine Eclipse members entered-into the race sending forty-five pigeons with another two BIICC members sending another nine birds the marking station figures were an admirable eleven sent fifty-four. With marking completed and the crates sealed and loaded the job had been completed with only minor hitches that were dealt with via experienced people with no fuss and the actual banter and nerves that had been prevalent through the process erupted into quite some laughter at the end of the afternoon.   

The main event had to be when the BICC driver (Steve Adamson) asked where there was a local shop to get a sandwich after his four-hour journey, to be told by our host Clifford to “hang fire” while he cooked him up 1500 calorie all day breakfast which was gratefully received and devoured in quick fashion. Thank you for the hospitality Clifford and a special mention to Mark and Clifford for providing free coffee and tea all afternoon it was gratefully received.


BICC Transporter at Chirk Marking Station


Dave Woodworth and Crewe fancier Nigel Shaw at the marking of the Falaise Pigeons

Dave Woodworth, Andy Lloyd and Billy Bresnahan marking the pigeons

Billy Bresnahan marking at Chirk


Eric Watkins Shrewsbury discussing the forth coming race with BICC driver Steve Adamson.

Clifford Davenport, John Lloyd and Stuey Lee deep in discussion at Cliffs Pigeon and Pets

Alan Wicker, Bolton using the Chirk marking station


The BICC transporter leaves Chirk, on rout for Evesham

The Race: And so it began, the BICC web site announced that the 2652 BICC Falaise National pigeons were liberated at 8:15 am and cleared well. They had forty miles of good weather up to Caen and the Channel that was showing around five miles of good visibility, with no rain. The Shipping forecast showed south west winds of around force five for Dover and Wight areas. 

Steve Adamson (BICC Driver) has taken an image to show good weather at lib site. (Photo courtesy Bob Beasant)

Waiting at the home end it was forecast to be a difficult race with race controllers stuck between a rock and a hard place, hold them and probably not get another chance to liberate for days. A tough event was anticipated by most and as the day drew on everyone north of the M4 was watching the early times tool on the web site.

The birds soon started to arrive in a quicker fashion than I certainly anticipated. What was perceived in the North West to be 1000 yard per minute race was a lot quicker for the shorter fliers with the leading pigeons amassing speeds of just about 50mph (actual 1465 ypm or 49.9mph). As the race progressed through the day it was becoming more and more obvious that the further flying birds were in for a tougher race than the shorter flying counterparts and all eyes again were focused on the early times board to see where the speed would lay in the Northern sections.

The first pigeon to verify in the Eclipse 650club was that of Craig Gough in Shrewsbury. Craig timing is at 4.19 to record a speed of 944 ypm (32 mph). When the verification appeared, Craig was the furthest flyer to verify on the day.

Racing over a distance of 284 miles Craig’s cheque pied hen was verified as provisional 1st Eclipse the 650 club, 3rd. North West Section, 135th Open BICC. A two year old cheque pied hen she had previously took some minor cards as a young bird. As a yearling she took 19th Section J 134th Open old hens Coutances in the NFC. This was the first time Craig had sent with the BICC, having joined the Eclipse the 650 club to take advantage of the new marking station which has encouraged people like Craig to have a crack at these purist nationals.

Craig does not have ETS so as a consequence Craig spent his afternoon loitering between his conservatory and his loft keeping a close eye on the early times as they were being updated on the internet. Seeing the two early times recorded in the North West section in Tewksbury and Worcester Craig (along with the rest of us up north waiting) new an estimated time when he could expect to see pigeons.

Craig was fortunate to be at the oft when the hen arrived rather low and trapping immediately. Timing her in and then verifying to see his position to appear on the first update to record a provisional Third NW Section and first inaugural Eclipse 650 Club.

The hen was firstly paired on 5th March, let sit for ten to twelve days before removing her and her eggs and putting her on the roundabout system. No youngsters were reared from her all this season.

Prior to being sent to Falaise the hen had two tosses and one 88 mile race before being sent to the BICC. Her dam was procured via an internet sale direct from Alwyn Hill, the sire was bought from Gavin Graham of Cumbria and is believed to from Islas Rainy Day distance lines crossed into Alwyn's pigeons. 

Craig Gough’s Falaise Winner

Craig Gough (Right) with his son Tommy with their Eclipse 650 Falaise Winner

The neat lofts of Craig Gough inaugural winner of the Eclipse the 650 club Falaise race

As the race progressed the BICC and the Eclipse 650 club had to wait another one hour forty minutes before another bird would be verified into the area. Having spent myself best part of the afternoon at the loft and getting a sore neck from getting up and down off my prayer mat it was a sigh of relief and then a little disbelief when the next verification was put onto the updated list.

 The fourth pigeon to verify into the section and the Eclipse 650 club was at the loft of Paul Hourihan and John Crowder, Croxteth, Liverpool.  The pigeon timed in at 6pm recoding a speed of 31 mph the verification showed a provisional fourth NW section 142nd Open and provision l second inaugural Eclipse Falaise. Paul Hourihan and John Crowder would be verified as the longest flying bird timed on the day. A brilliant performance.

The pigeon is a blue cock, was broken out from Pauls old loft in 2013 he was his 2013 best young bird winning a Hereford mid-week race and scoring three other separate occasions between midweek and Saturday racing. Having moved him along with nine other yearlings to his new loft, the ten yearlings were all raced inland without worrying the judge. The ten were then all sent on the channel a total of six races from Fougeres out to Niort all as yearlings.

This blue cock timed in every race and never had a night out but only scored a prize from Fougeres which was 3rd club 20th AMAL. The following year as a two year old he would score three times which included winning the club from Monmouth and taking 2 AMAL. This was his first foray on the channel of the season producing an astonishing result which will be admired by those purists who enjoy this type of racing. To date this cock has been 13 times across the channel (he is now 5 years old) and has never yet had a night out. His sire is a direct son of Galileo, (out of the young couple) his dam being a granddaughter of Gaby Vandebeele's WittenBulk.

The race would close on the Saturday with only two birds recorded on the day, so it was with a lot of hope that we were to enter the theatre again on the Sunday morning hoping for that buzz of timing in. The first to appear on the verification would be the Ludlow loft of Tom and Jo Scott. Timing I at 6.37am to take provisional 9th NW section 229th open BICC and provisionally 3rd Eclipse the 650 Club.

The next to verify show on the updates were another two Eclipse 650 members, both well-known and experienced national’s fliers they were the lofts of Bill Besnahan taking provisional 4th Eclipse the 650 club, 10th NW section and 232nd open. Eric Watkins would time in a few hours in front of Billy but with a lower velocity. Eric timed in at 10.25 to take provisional 5th Eclipse the650 club 11th Section and 233rd section.

What was anticipated to be an extremely tough event did not let us down. Huge thank you to all those fanciers all nine of you who sent in avery early race of the season your support and help was very much appreciated.  To those who timed in huge congratulations to those fanciers like me who didn’t, keep the faith you have to keep sending to find the good pigeons and at some stage (God Willing) we will all find them. 

Good luck in the next event.