Mark Gilbert, Winkfield adds yet another National win.
The first International race of the season organised by the FCI is from Pau and UK fanciers enter their pigeons through the British International Championship Club of which a National result for the UK is derived.
It was of no real surprise to me when the first birds began arriving into the UK from France, very early on the second day, that Mark Gilbert was topping the leader board. Along with a hard core of top National flyers I know Mark sets his whole season around these International races and has several major successes at International level, in previous seasons having won the coveted first International prize three times!
Timing in very early the next morning at 5:19am, giving due consideration that it does not get light until 4:45am at this time of year, she was not very far from the loft at night fall and must have flown the first 500 miles on the day, and into a head wind. Having to cross the open sea, with tired wings takes a very brave performance and one which Mark continually extracts from his pigeons. The breeding plays a major role in this too and again Mark has left no stone unturned in his relentless search for top quality International pigeons.
The sire is from Rutz & Shone “Pau 06”, International winner from Pau 2006 and the dam is one of the best breeding hens at Mark’s Southfields Lofts.
She is responsible for 3rd International Pau, 3rd National Barcelona, 7th National Tarbes and now 1st National Pau. She is an Emiel Deweert pigeon and is a full sister to “Iban” who was clocked to be 4 times in the top 50 International. Ivan’s sister “Joan” was 10th International Barcelona.
She had been to three inland races and three channel races in as many weeks and was given three weeks just loft exercise in preparation for the Pau international and is earmarked for St Vincent as well as Perpignan in a few weeks time.
She is raced on the roundabout system and where both cocks and hens are raced and was allowed to spend the night with her partner before shipping for the race. She was paired on the 10th February and reared two youngsters but not allowed to go to nest again.
When I arrived to photograph the winning pigeon, Mark had his team of racing cock birds out for exercise and at last I had the opportunity to see the “Air Dancers” he had previously told me about, in action. I am of course not referring to the pigeons although they were putting up quite a display only in form widowhood cocks can perform, but to a silk sleeve placed on top of a large electric fan which dances about in all directions to indicate to the birds that feeding time has not yet come.