Lee Bastone 1st young birds and Jake Hammond 1st old birds Guernsey BICC


The last young bird race of the season for the British International Championship Club was held from Guernsey and 1900b were released in conjunction with 563 Any Age birds. Even though the summer has been exceptionally hot, and racing has been difficult for every Federation, surprisingly the number was up on the previous year. 

Lee Bastone from Burnham on Crouch won the young bird event with his close friend and near neighbour Jake Hammond winning the any age race with a yearling hen. 

As I drove to Burnham, the last ten miles or so was along winding country lanes and I noticed the hedgerows becoming a vivid red due to the abundance of Hawthorn berries, which made me reflect on the shorter daylight hours and its subsequent effect on our birds. Elaborate racing systems have enabled us to manage the progress of the moult in order to race further into the late summer, not only with young birds but old birds too and I was interested to find out how these two National winning birds were managed.

 GB17S42595 "Sharon"Lee Bastone had also won the last young bird race of the season last year and was one of the seven National winners in the Hullbridge Pigeon Club 2017, but the east winds this season meant they had to wait until the very end to add another two National wins to the club’s record. “It does not matter where you are in the country, you have to have the wind on your side for the National races” they said. The change in race program from Fougeres to Guernsey went down very well in this area too and they feel the returns are better as the birds come off the island heading for home instead of going up the coast of France possibly lost. It has to be said that it did not suit everyone though, especially the western side of the country but as long as decisions are made with due consideration for the welfare of our birds, most are happy to agree.

Lee sent 30 and got 29 home in four hours with the last one, a late bred hen, waiting for him this morning at the loft. He had five birds come together but the air turned blue because they would not come down as one of them was a stray which had spooked them. In this situation seconds seem like minutes and very shortly they did trap recording velocities which will take the first four in the Open, so all ended well for Lee. Jake on the other hand only sent two and received his second hen just 6 minutes after the winner, he too had a very good race. It was particularly pleasing for Lee as Jake's yearling hen was bred from birds he had given him a year or two earlier, when Lee decided to close down his stock loft and dispersed them between his friends as gifts. The breeding of the yearling hen is Staf Van Reet from birds obtained via Paul Arnold and “Radar” from Tony Marden and the young bird winner is half Vandenabeele with the other half being Frans Zwols via John Gladwin of Formula One Lofts. In fact, I was asked to photograph a direct son of “Tip Top” whilst I was there which was on loan and was responsible for 2nd and 4th open winning Lee £1000 in Nominations. 

 GB18B16246 "Burnham Queen"Being bred in the new year, after pairing up on Boxing Day, Lee puts all his young birds on the darkness system followed by the lights going on at the end of July to stabilise the moult until the end of racing. He feeds the same as Jake with Gerry plus being mixed with Junior UK and training takes place just before racing as Lees young birds exercise exceptionally well on this system. Jake on the other hand put six yearling hens in with his young bird team but he felt they held the babies back as they did not range as well this year. He persevered with them though and choose just two out of the six to send as they were really keen on their eggs and looked very well. Jake is very grateful to Lee for the gift of the Van Reet stock pigeons and said they breed exceptional pigeons which saves him having to buy from elsewhere although he did get a few Roland Janssens “to brighten up the garden” he said. 
I really like to see fanciers helping each other out with top stock birds and you do not very often hear of this within the same club members but the Hullbridge members are a close-knit bunch of friends with a fantastic atmosphere of comradery. Every season, after the last race they have a barbeque party in the evening at the clubhouse and they were happy to drink to two more National winners, even though they left it right to the very last day. “We can still hold our heads up at the BICC presentation” they said. 

Many thanks to both Lee and Jake for being so candid with my questions and a special thank you to Joy Bastone who immediately baked me some chocolate creamed cupcakes when I arrived. They were very much appreciated.


The Club had an excellent combined entry of around 2600 young and old birds for our final race of the season from Guernsey.  Initially the race should have been flown from Fougeres but a recent difficult yb race from mainland France was discussed by Senior Club Officials who felt it would be in the best interests and welfare of the pigeons if we moved our final race to Guernsey. This later proved to be a good decision.
The marking and collection of all the race birds went smoothly and both  lorries arrived at Horndean on the Thursday evening, where the birds were transferred on to the larger Volvo Transporter. As it was a Friday morning sailing the birds remained at Portsmouth Docks overnight and around 6am (Frid)  they received a light feed/water as the ferry was not due to dock in Guernsey till around 8pm that night and it would have been impossible to feed them at that time.
As usual the initial  weekend weather forecast was not good early in the week but our weather Advisor Steve Appleby  saw an improving picture and was fairly confident we would get a liberation on the Saturday. The usual early Saturday  morning telephone calls took place between the Race Advisory Team, Steve and our Chief Convoyer. Steve gave a good line of flight forecast and with blue skies and sunshine the birds were liberated at 7-45 am into a light south west wind that backed westerly at times in the Channel.
Channel light buoys showed 25 miles of good visibility and a very fast race ensued with winning velocities in excess of 1700 ypm. Overall we had 221 first yb  verifications and the returns seem to have been excellent so our decision to move the race to Guernsey was totally vindicated, despite having one or two complaints. Well done to yb winner Lee Bastone and A. Hammond and Son, who won the OB event.
Weather Report.
Once again the weather was kind to us for this the final race of the season. At first light blue skies and sunshine greeted our convoyers on Guernsey presenting a liberation sky. Over the channel a clear flight path under varying cloud formations was the general picture to the English mainland. Visibility in the channel was exceptional 27 miles plus as recorded by the meteorological buoys and winds were light mainly from the west south west. Most of southern England was under some cloud cover with clearer periods. A belt of rain moving from west to east affected many areas over the Midlands. With all the current weather information to hand the race controllers John and Mark were happy to give the go ahead to liberate. John Tyerman, Mark Gilbert and Steve Appleby your Race Advisory Team.
News and Views to Chris Sutton 01530 242548


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