RAY GEORGE - 1st Alencon BICC


Young Bobby, the ten-year-old grandson of Ray George, did what most grandchildren of pigeon fanciers do and choose himself a pigeon to call his own. As usual in these situations the prettiest coloured pigeon in the loft was pointed out and given the name Mater after Tow Mater from the children’s film Cars. Bobby would go to the pigeon club with Ray and tell John Chipperfield it flew like lightening and he was going to win, which raised a few rye smiles, but in this instance he was right. Bobby’s Mater has won the British International Championship Club from Alencon against nearly 5000 pigeons!

Ray had kept pigeons as a boy, but he had given them up in 1968 when he married his wife Sandra and raised a family. A bricklayer by trade he worked in the local area running his own small building company until in 2005 he decided to retire and take up the sport once again. Obviously, the racing systems had changed dramatically since 1968 so he had a huge learning curve when he restarted and decided to master the classic Widowhood system. 

His lofts are self-built to suit the system and his old bird section is split into three small sections each containing around eight cocks which makes it easier for Ray to manage. They are paired at Christmas time and allowed to rear two youngsters before being separated as they go to their second nest. They are repaired for the coming season and trained whilst driving to nest and once sitting 10 days on eggs, are then placed on the widowhood system.

With feeding pots being placed in the nest boxes, his system begins with depurative at the beginning of the week before giving full Van Robaeys widowhood mixture for the last few feeds before the race, and once the channel races begin he adds energy mix to the food. His winning pigeon knows that others in the loft are slower eaters and will take full advantage by clearing their allocation in each box until he was satisfied, then he would quietly rest until next exercise period. Ray said that keeping to his feeding regime the cocks fly very hard around home, but he does give them one training toss on a Thursday with the local training scheme of around thirty miles. 
He would normally show the hens before basketing for a race but this time he felt he needed to do something different and quietly lifted his birds for the race without any motivation at all. They had flown very well in the first BICC race from Falaise being high up in the result and were in excellent condition, so he was quietly confident that if the weather stayed fine, he could get a fair pigeon again. After a one day holdover due to poor weather in the channel, news came of the liberation at 7:25am and he was sitting eating breakfast looking out of the window towards the loft. He saw a white pigeon dancing on the landing board a few minutes before he expected his race birds to return and quietly strolled up to the loft to investigate only to realise it was his grandsons white grizzle which quickly timed himself home to record the fastest velocity and win the open.

He had initially bought Van Loon bloodlines in 2005 but would also try a few youngsters from different lofts to pace against his own. One day an advert in the fancy press caught his eye by Bob & Jamie Langrish from Chorley, with racing kits for sale so he decided to try a few to race. Amongst these was the nearly all white Roland Janssen grizzle cock of Rode Bingo lines, which his grandson named “Mater” and Ray has rechristened “Bobby’s Mater”.

The Race Advisors John Tyerman and Mark Gilbert gave their report as follows;
“The second BICC National of the season from Alencon attracted an excellent entry of just under 5000 birds. Both Convoyers, Trevor and Steve were kept busy collecting the pigeons from the many marking stations and the two transporters arrived on time on Thursday evening at Horndean. They travelled by ferry overnight to Caen and arrived on site at Alencon early on Friday morning. Birds were later fed and watered but as usual the weather proved to be problematic and although Friday was a lovely day at Alencon, the rain soon moved in and persisted all day Saturday, making a liberation impossible.
The Race Advisory team had full discussions and Steve our weather expert was confident we would get a liberation on the Sunday morning once the rain belt had moved off into the North Sea. We had conversations very early on Sunday morning and as the weather was an improving picture Trevor and Steve were given the go ahead to liberate when they were happy with conditions on site at Alencon. The birds were released at 7-25 am into partial sunshine and a light south west wind and they cleared very well. The channel forecast was showing good visibility and light SW winds and the picture taken at Caen seafront around 8am shows excellent conditions. A good race ensued with winning birds doing over 1500 ypm to many parts of the country, well done to the winners”

Following the race in the weather report from Steve Appleby he said;
“The poor weather responsible for the one day holdover moved away northwards during Saturday night with expectations for a better day on Sunday. The forecast for good conditions to develop over northern France early on Sunday morning proved correct. The race controllers were somewhat concerned about the heavy cloud over the flight path to the coast but as expected the cloud soon dissipated. The image captured looking out to sea from Caen paints the general picture of a first class flying day, blue skies, white cumulous clouds and endless visibility. Winds were mainly from the west or south west light in strength. (see wind flow chart.) The race controllers John and Mark happy with the general situation gave our convoyers Trevor and Steve the go ahead to liberate. As usual the wind direction decided where the winners were timed in.”


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