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National Winners from Belgium 2001
by Stefan Mertens
This is the first part of a two-part article. To see the second part, click here.
26 BOURGES NATIONAL
For the first national race of the new season, the pigeons had to stay one day longer in the basket than normal because of bad weather. A day later, there was a lot of smog, but a strong sun made everything clear, and at 11:20 a.m. the 37,714 pigeons could be liberated.
BOURGES May 26
Marcel Duffeleer and Emma De Vuyst
DUPONT - "DE BLAUWE" 1ST AGAINST 16,143 YEARLINGS AND QUICKEST AGAINST
In the pigeon sport, it is very nice that "little" fanciers can beat the "bigger", well-known fanciers. This is proven again on the national race from Bourges. Eric Dupont, 60 years old, comes from a pigeon family. His father was also a fancier, but never kept a lot of pigeons. Here we can say "like father, like son" because at this time Eric has only seven widowers, four breeding couples, and some young birds.
The widowers were paired December 20th, and they bred a couple of youngsters. When the youngsters were almost old enough to separate, Eric's neighbor started to re-build his house, and a big crane would pass several times every hour above his lofts. "When I saw that, I decided not to race, and my widowers bred a second round of youngsters. But as the start of the season in April was getting closer, I decided to start, and 14 days later I was standing with a little basket in the club."
The "Blauwe" (4149517/00) was responsible for the nice victory in the Bourges race, and this pigeon was more than just motivated. Eric says, "Normally the entrance of the sputniks is closed with a little piece of wood, but this time I didn't close it very well and their was some open space. A hen had seen that, and she tried to enter the widowers' loft through that little hole. But the hole was too little and she got stuck. I suppose she stayed there for about an hour. You can imagine what those widowers were doing when they saw and heard that hen! And believe it or not, but when I noticed my 'mistake' I thought, 'Now I can forget it. My widowers will not have good results on Bourges.' But my 'Bourges' had other ideas and won the 1st national."
DE VUYST-DUFFELEER 1ST AGAINST 21,571 OLD BIRDS
Roosdaal…south from Brussels situated in the province of Brabant. That was the place where we had to find the national winner against the old birds. We met a very new "pigeon couple", Emma De Vuyst and her husband Marcel Duffeleer, who started in 1996 with pigeons. The pigeons were an inheritance from father De Vuyst, who died in 1999. When mother De Vuyst died, father De Vuyst came to live with his daughter and brought his pigeons. Because there were no lofts there, new lofts had to be built, and Emma put about 32 meters of loft in the garden. Room enough…and Emma now had a new hobby.
At this moment the colony has 43 widowers, 22 hens on the nest, and about 80 youngsters. The strains are, of course, the old base of father De Vuyst and pigeons from Felix Pauwels (Herne), Marnix D'Hondt (Semmersake), Family Houben (Itegem) and De Norre and Son (Deftinge).
But we want to come back to that national race from Bourges. This race was won by "De Bourges", a nice grizzle who was very motivated for this race. As a young bird, he was not basketed often, and as a yearling he was certainly not the best pigeon in the loft. But this year, he was more motivated and put some nice race results on paper.
And Emma will never forget his arrival. "I was just back from basketing my young birds for a 100 km race when suddenly my "Grijzen" was sitting on the sputnik. Luckily, everything was ready, so I didn't lose a second."
2 BRIVE NATIONAL
Brive national…the second national race from Belgium has written history. Again, with one day's delay, the 22,040 pigeons went, with very good weather for a nice race. But the "tragedy" was found at the end of the race. The team of Collier-Swinnen from Wespelaar was known first as the national winner, but the organization "BelgischeVerstandhouding" judged it in another way. In these races, each pigeon has two countermarks. The first countermark must be clocked as soon as possible and the second, a control ring, must be clocked within five minutes.
Now the Collier-Swinnen team did not clock the second countermark at all. They kept it and took it with them to the club. The organization took notice of this fact and judged that this team could not win. Due to this fact, Joseph Schmitz from Baelen won the first national.
This fancier is certainly tops in the pigeon sport. In 2000, he had the first national ace-pigeon for long distance-"Armstrong", named after the American biker who has won the Tour de France several times.
Joseph already has more than 40 years in the pigeon sport and has pigeons Pol Bostijn - Paul Tossens and Philipsens. But the star of the day was certainly "Le Brive" who has had nice race results before.
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16 CAHORS NATIONAL
Cahors is a very nice race with a lot of pigeons every year. This was another successful year because there were more than 10,000 pigeons basketed for this 770 km race (distance Brussels).
The weather was very good, and due to the strong south-west wind, the first pigeons flew more than 1550 m/m.
Jos Deno is a well-known fancier. He has already won 57 provincial and four semi-national races. The only dream that was not fulfilled until now was first prize on a national race. But on the weekend of June 16th, this dream came true, thanks to the "Bliksem", a nice five-year-old top pigeon.
For years, Jos Deno has been one of the best middle-distance racers. But middle-distance pigeons come home on Saturdays. That was sometimes a problem, because Jos is an undertaker, and a lot of funerals take place on Saturdays. Because of this, Jos sometimes had pigeons come home before he got home. Jos grew tired of this situation and called Filip Herbots to sell his pigeons. Filip didn't agree with Jos about selling the birds, and proposed a partnership to fly the long- and very long-distance races.
Jos' old base stayed (pigeons from Gommaire Verbruggen, Herbots Bros., Vandenabeele, Toye, Jan Maes, Beullens en Zoon, Houben, and Robert Van Eycken) and were enriched with pigeons from Eric Limbourg and Jean Haussoul.
The story of the national Cahors race was a real thriller. Jos says, "There were fanciers here waiting for the pigeons coming home from Tours. Suddenly, I had three pigeons at the same time. They were clocked electronically, but one of the fanciers said that he had heard a fourth beep. I thought, 'You never know' and I took a quick look in the loft of the Cahors pigeons." Jos couldn't believe that his "Bliksem" was already with his hen.
The partnership of Deno-Herbots has 56 widowers and 24 couples raced on total widowhood. The widowers are coupled on February 3rd and may brood for eight days. April 1st they are coupled again and brood for three days. They follow the medical system of Raf Herbots.
Results "Bliksem": 62 national Bourges 11,936; 46 provincial Vierzon 2213; 223 national Cahors 11090; 254 national Brive 23,142; 9 provincial Issoudin 1614; 65 interprovincial Argenton 4740; 87 national Souillac 6035; 75 Cahors 3476; 97 provincial Brive 201312; 1st national Cahors
Father "De Geschelpte Simon" 8016702/94
Grandfather 8001558/87 (Roosens x Houben)
Grandmother 8028947/91 "Dochter Asduif"
Mother "T Kleintje" 2499929/94
Grandfather 2450791/85 "Witneus"
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Louis De Weerd
Etienne De Beule
7,841 old birds
Pau, organized by "Colombe Joyeuse" is known as an "elite" race. Not only because the number of participating pigeons per fancier is limited, but also because it is the first international race on the schedule. And we have to tell it like it is-Pau international was a very heavy race.
We can classify Jos Rombouts among the little fanciers. With 20 widowers, based on pigeons from Marcel Dillen and Karel Meulemans, the season started. Around Christmas, they were paired up and could breed a couple of youngsters. When the youngsters were big, the youngsters and the hens were together, and the cocks were separated on widowhood. So they were not paired up a second time.
And the national winner, named "De Pau"-he was the "King" of the widowhood loft this year. Last winter Jos built two new boxes in the loft. The intention was to put more yearlings in the loft, but one yearling got lost in the beginning of the season. The "Pau" saw his chance and took the box. The base for his international victory was built.
Pedigree of the "Pau"
Father: B97/6222764 - "Blauwe Meulemans" - Karel Meulemans
Grandfather 96/6373550 son 1st international Dax Grandmother 95/6270648 from son Kadet
Grandfather 92/6222240 "De 240" 2 x ace pigeon ZAV
Grandmother 655/93 line "Buffel" William Geerts x Gust Van Kets
JUNE 30 MONTAUBAN
ROBERT MORRIER WINS WITH A LEAD
Montauban was, of course, the most important race, the last weekend of June. 7,967 pigeons were basketed for this race (800 km distance Brussels), and due to the very good weather they could be liberated at 7:45 a.m. The winner was Robert Morrier from Haccourt (near Luik/Liege). His "142 (B97/1059142)had a speed of 1242 m/m and was 15 m/m quicker than the second-place bird.
Morrier is a well-known name in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Both of his grandfathers were pigeon fanciers, and his father always had pigeons. In 1976 father Morrier died, and all the pigeons came to Robert. The pigeons were from the following strains: Borguet (Wandre), Housse and Devriendt x Bostijn. Even today, these pigeons are still the base. Of course, Robert bought some other pigeons, and he was very successful with pigeons from Larock (Bergen), Roonen (Vise') and Van Sweefelt. In recent years, Robert bought pigeons from Gommaar Vergruggen (Kaggevinne) and Frijns (National winner Montauban 1999).
The "142" is not only a very good racer but also a good breeder. A son has already won a first prize from Valence and another son won five prizes in five races. The "142" is a strange bird. The week before Montauban he wouldn't train anymore. When he went outside, he flew to the roof of the loft and stayed there. "To be honest," says Robert, "I didn't trust it. But when the pigeons were basketed, I had a little chat with Frijns. I told Mr. Frijns about the '142' and Mr. Frijns answered that his national winner did the same when he won the 1st national. And since the mother of the '142' is a sister of that famous pigeon of Frijns, I linked everything.
Pedigree of "142"
Father: B 95-1046462
Grandfather: 89/107340 (old base x Van Sweefelt)
Grandmother: Line "Dikke" Verbruggen
Mother: Sister "39" from Michel Frijns
JULY 8 BARCELONA
Barcelona is the marathon race for pigeons in Europe. This year's international race was a very famous one, because 25,760 pigeons participated. Those 25,760 pigeons came from Belgium (13,218); Netherlands (7,567); Germany (3,059); France (1,603); England (228) and Luxembourg (85). On Friday, the usual day of liberation, the baskets stayed closed, and on Saturday as well, due to the bad weather. No liberation was possible. On Monday, the weather was good, and a very fast and easy race was the result. The International winner was Har Heymann (Beesel - Netherlands). His nest hen's speed was 1,373.05 m/m.
NOTARIS DONS JAN-KAPELLE OP DEN BOS - A DREAM COMES TRUE
Notaris Jan Dons is a very happy man. As president from "Cureghem Centre" (organizer of the Barcelona race) he is, along with his team, responsible for this race. "Only when everything goes well," he says, "can I sleep again."
And now the Barcelona story. Our friend in the sport says, "Like every year, I was at the liberation of the Barcelona pigeons. From the moment that the pigeons are up, I go in the direction of the airport to take my flight direction from Belgium. At around 11:30 p.m., I was at home, but as a Barcelona racer, you must get up very early. When I woke up, I had a quick look at the lofts, but there was nothing to see. Then I took some fresh water to give to the other pigeons, and I had just filled up one drinking bowl when my "Zwarte Witpen" was there. I was very nervous and my pigeon saw that and was a little bit afraid of me. It took seven minutes before I could clock her." Notaris Don had 29 Barcelona pigeons. They first flew some short-distance and middle-distance races, and their last race before Barcelona was Angouleme (600 km). Then they stayed home for about a month. Only the week before Barcelona they went to 50 km. The day of basketing they received their hen and some straw, bringing some extra motivation. The national winner was bred by Herman Van Helmond (Vosselaar) and has some Aarden blood as its origin.
JULY 7 LIMOGES - OLD BIRDS
WIDOW SMEULDERS WON LAST YEAR'S 2ND NATIONAL
In September 1999, the death of a well-known fancier was announced-Pol Smeulders from Bekkevoort. Pol was a good fancier, and the pigeons of the Clerknckx Brothers was his base. After Pol's death, his widow, Maria Maas, decided to continue with the pigeons. A new start was planned, but thieves broke into her loft and 30 top pigeons were stolen. Only four pigeons came back. All the rest were gone. Maria continued despite the setbacks, and a couple of weeks later she won the 2nd national Limoges. It was a good motivation to go on, and in 2001, on the same race-Bingo. The 1st national was clocked. This winner (204346/99) won with a speed of 1570.39 m/m. The preparations for Limoges were not easy. He had two very bad races, and each time he was out overnight. After that second bad race, the soon-to-be national winner stayed a month at home, because rest is sometimes the best medication.
Pedigree of 2042346/99
Grandfather: 2550366/82 Van Cauwenbergh pure Janssen
Grandmother: 2218217/90 - own base, line "Kleine" which was 3rd ace pigeon of Belgium
Mother: 6069207/98 direct Guido Loockx (Tessenderlo) Grandfather: 2448305/97 son of Ijzeren Driessens and Son
Grandmother: 6505898/92 sister of Bourgesman
JULY 14 LIMOGES - YEARLINGS
For a lot of yearlings, the Limoges race is the big test of the season. Limoges is about 600 km, and 23,698 pigeons were basketed. But this year the weather was not so good, and it took a long time to complete the race.
LOUIS DE WEERD - KESSEL
Louis De Weerd has been a pigeon fancier since childhood, but his best results were in the years that he raced with Van Loock under the name Van Loock-Verbauwen. During that period, they won national Bourges and national Angouleme.
The partnership ended in 1983, and Louis started his own loft. He bought pigeons from Houben (Itegem); Braeckmans (Kessel); Bisschop (Stokkem); De Coster (Steenokkerzeel); and Verbruggen (Scherpenheuvel). From all these pigeons, the main base is the Houben pigeons. Louis can say that 80 percent of his pigeons have Houben blood.
All together, there are 50 widowers, including 22 yearlings. They breed a couple of youngsters early in the year and are coupled a second time at the beginning of April. The widowers are basketed every 14 days for races up to 700 km.
Limoges was of course the top result of the year. His winning bird was clocked at 15.49 hours and flew a distance of 640 km a speed of 1333.91 m/m.
Pedigree Father: 6041430/89 "Goede Blauwe"
Grandfather: 6436662/81 "Den As" (1st ace pigeon Hafo Lier 1982)
Grandmother: 5085981/85 "Grote Blauwe"
Mother: 6177610/96 "Donkere Verbruggen"
Grandfather: 2061046/94 "Donkere Triomph"
Grandmother: 2201280/89 line "020" Verbruggen
JULY 14 DAX
On the same weekend of the Limoges race for yearlings, the long-distance birds also had a very important international race-Dax. Dax is 850 km from Brussels and had 4359 Belgian, 4334 Dutch, 2653 Dutch and 932 French pigeons in the baskets.
P. Van Bergen from De Lier (Netherlands) won the international race. The Belgian victory went to Ghis Farvacque from Bleharies.
GHISLAIN FARVACQUE - HE FOUND HIS WINNING PIGEON IN THE LOFT
"I am only a beginner in the pigeon sport," Ghislain began his story. "Before, I was a farmer and I had no time for the pigeons. But when I retired, my brother Serge motivated me to start with pigeons. So, my first birds came from my brother, who had a lot of Slots pigeons (Daisy Slots - Lede) in his loft. And I must say that it went very well, right from the start. The first year, I was young bird champion at the middle distance, ahead of one of the best fanciers of Belgium-Casaert (Nechin).
And now the Dax story. Ghislain races at every distance, so each week he has pigeons on the short-middle-, and long-distance races. Also on the weekend from Dax, he had pigeons from Chantilly, Toury, Bourges, Limoges, Jarnac and Dax. And now the story: "I was with one of my clocks at the club. Due to the rainy weather in France, nobody expected Dax pigeons, so I took my time and drank some beers. But at a certain moment, I started to doubt, and went home to prepare for Dax. When I got home, I couldn't believe my eyes. One of my pigeons was sitting on the loft. Nothing was ready, so I lost a lot of minutes. Who knows how long my bird was sitting there? Maybe I lost the first international prize."
Father: 6360027/93 comes from brother Serge - line Slots x Verboven
Mother: 4075486/97 directly from Slots Daisy (Lede)
JULY 21 - SOUILLAC
The Souillac national is the last national race that counts for the national championship in the long-distance category. Souillac is 680 km from Brussels and was a very nice race. The first pigeons were in the west side of Belgium with the partnership De Beule-Verhaeghe as national winner.
DE BEULE-VERHAEGHE -WAARSCHOOT-WINS IN HIS LAST YEAR AS FANCIER
We see a big smile on Etienne De Beule's face when we congratulate him on his victory. But the smile changes quickly when he tells us that this season was to be his last year as a pigeon fancier. "I have a lot of health problems. Problems with my heart. I'm lucky that my wife helps, otherwise I couldn't even have started this season. Everything will be sold at the end of this year. Even my house will be sold. We are going to live near the sea. I will be following the pigeon sport at a distance."
"What kind of pigeons do I have? Well, since 1998 I was pursuing the long-distance races and therefore I invested in pigeons from Florizoone (Nieuwpoort) and De Ridder (St. Ulriks Kapelle). Those pigeons were crossed with my old base, and then I am talking about pigeons from Andre' Dereere (Oostdiunkerke), Jris Blomme (Westkerke), Gilbert Vercauteren (Kaprijke), Michel Beernaert (Lovendegem), Roger Van Dijcke (Lissewege), Silvere Toye (Otegem) and Godfried Verstichelen (Pittem).
This beautiful check pigeon is sitting with four other pigeons in one little loft. But "The Souillac" was the big boss in that loft. The other pigeons could go to have a drink when "The Souillac" said it was OK. In a certain way, they needed his permission. Motivation is the key word, because a few weeks before his national victory, he also won the 1st Chateauroux with more than five minutes in front, and this against 520 birds.
Father: 4532826/98 line Florizoone
Grandfather: 4380304/90 (Devroe x Vercauteren)
Grandmother: 4369234/88 "Dikke" De Ridder
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