D Bullen & Son
The winners of the British International Championship Club from Poitiers are the father and son partnership D Bullen & Son from Croydon, but are known to their many friends as Wicky and Kirk Bullen.
They had won this race with a late bred, given to them by their good friend Ray Roberts, also of Croydon. Ray, who had previously won the British International Championship Club from Guernsey in 2014, had bred six youngsters in July and gave them to Wicky and Kirk to race.
When I arrived at the Bullen loft, Ray was there too, as he only lives a few hundred yards away and they are great friends. I congratulated them all and grew more and more astounded as the picture emerged, regarding the breeding of the winner.
The pair of pigeons that had bred the winner was from a Glyn & Gavin Buckley sire, coupled to a hen bred by Frank & Geroge Bristow from Horbling. Regular readers of my loft visits will notice a pattern emerging, the winners of the 2015 National Flying Club race from Messac, Glyn and Gavin Buckley, have now also bred the Sire to the winner of the British International Championship Club race from Poitiers 2015, and the Dam, bred by the Bristow’s, is a loft which has won many National races on both the North and South routes in recent years.
Raymond said he had been watching the Buckley’s results for a while and when he saw an internet sale of their pigeons, he bought two, and because he had bought two; he was given a third for free. The third pigeon, which is bred out of their number one pair, had unfortunately broken both of his legs in training, so the brothers were unable to put an electronic chip ring on him, therefore could not race him. Instead, they had considered him for their own stock loft but offered him to Ray as a good will gesture, and indeed it was that same pigeon that bred the British International Championship Club winner. He is of Van Elsacker and Braspenning bloodlines and the brothers had raced very well with these for years over the channel.
Frank & George Bristow was also firmly on Ray Roberts radar and he had ordered ten youngsters from them towards the end of the season. Frank had closed down his stock loft for the year but agreed to pair some of his best stock hens to his best racing cocks to supply the youngsters for Ray. Consequently a hen out of Franks “Cassaert” bloodlines was paired to the cock from the Buckleys and “Sienna’s Cloudy Day Boy” was born.
Interestingly, all the fanciers involved in this scenario, have never asked for a pure pedigree with any pigeons obtained. Their only requirement is the need to be from winners, at the top level of the distances required. This philosophy is common in top racing lofts but I would not suggest that no breeding records are kept; of course they are, but that they will pair good pigeons together regardless of the pedigree.
Sienna’s Cloudy Day Boy is a late bred of July 2014 having only his third ever race although Wicky was quick to point out that they had managed to get him through a complete wing moult and was not carrying any nest flights. As a youngbird he was only lightly trained out to fifty miles and paired early this season in one of the race sections. But after a few early season losses occurred they decided to close down his section, so he and the remaining pigeons were placed into the main section to claim a new box.
They race on what they call the “Chaos System” whereby the cocks and hens live and train all week in separate sections, but on basketing day they are allowed into the breeding boxes to play around a little, and for the time together, chaos ensues. Before this race their winning cock had only had two previous races and in one he was 4th Section in the British International Championship Club from Tours, so they knew he held a lot of potential.
Previously, Wicky and Kirk Bullen shot to fame with a fantastic performance from Pau in 2011 where their pigeon won first International. “Isla’s Rainy Day Boy” was so called because although the wind on the day favored the UK pigeons, there was a belt of very heavy rain all along the south coast and no pigeons were expected to return that day but their pigeon flew through it, and arrived drenched but victorious, after putting up a performance that drew tears to the eyes.
On the day, Wicky was watching the horse racing from Ascot on the TV and there was a delay in putting the horses into the stalls. He was cursing his chances due to the weather and had spent most of the day in a temper, so whilst the horses were being sorted out he walked outside, still cursing to himself, when all of a sudden there was a flash of wings and a pigeon landed. But he had stray pigeons hanging around the loft and he had to look to see if it was one of them because when he landed he was stunned. He then realised it was his pigeon from the Pau International but he had to get the Tippler out to entice him into the loft.
He had been raced from Tarbes the year before, along with his hen, which did not return. So he had paired to the Tippler hen and the following week he was sent to Narbonne because he looked so well, and he scored third open. The following year he was paired to a very good hen but he was never really content with her, so before he went to the Pau International, the Tippler was put back into his nest box and it was her that spurred him on to such a great performance. Good stockmen, good observation and good pigeons win internationals, even if the weather is against them.
His breeding is a mixture of Stoffel, Janssen, Van Wanroy and Bosra, a combination of bloodlines that has produced one of the very best distance pigeons in the UK at this moment, and although they were offered large sums of money, they choose to retain him for their own breeding loft. Wicky said he had raced pigeons all his life, and it was a dream come true to win the International, which was payment enough for him.
The pair had previously won the National Flying Club with “Reggies Boy” from Dax and was fifth International. He was released at 10am and he was clocked at 6:20 am the following day flying 530 miles back to Croydon. He is of Van Wanroy bloodlines crossed with a Janssen and is grandfather to “Isla’s Rainy Day Boy” and has also bred many section winners. He is sire to the Bullen loft and I asked Wicky why he had put a sprint Janssen pigeon with a long distance Van Wanroy, to which he replied “speed” you must always be looking for speed!