In my opinion, it would make sense to conduct an investigation into the content and quality of the groundwater in the Ronse-Kluisbergen region. The fact is (and this was also the case in the past) that the marathon races are raced extremely hard in this area.
Last year Yvan Eeckhout from Ronse was 1st National ace bird Marathon KBDB and in 2022 the same title will be won by Jeannine Delbar – Raevens from Kluisbergen barely 2 km away from Yvan’s loft.
Nature has apparently gifted this region not only with very beautiful slopes and vistas, but also with rock-solid pigeons in long-distance and very long distance. Drawing up a list of the top marathon racers in this region would be an almost impossible task, but in 2022, the Golden Wing Barcelona, the national winner Tarbes (Saint-Vincent), the ace long-distance  and so many more are within a handkerchief of each other.
Old warriors with a lot of experience in marathon races have repeated it several times already… in hot and hard weather you have to be in East Flanders for the top results….and gradually we have to acknowledge this as being the case.

A rich pigeon history
Jeannine (from Zulzeke) married Raoul Delbar from Ronse in 1966. The Delbar family, a very well-known family in the textile industry and in pigeon racing.
Raoul was named after his father who was also called Raoul and was in turn a brother of Maurice Delbar. Besides countless top results achieved in the Delbar lofts, many worldwide have also succeeded with these pigeons. Gunther Prange from Germany, who can just about be considered Germany’s best player in the last 30 years, still swears by the Delbar-Tauben that are the basis of his success colony….and many others with him.
Jeannine and Raoul ran their own textile business together from 1978 in the continuation of the family business. Raoul had the customer contacts and was active on the commercial front, Jeannine ran the home front such as production, administration, staff etc… Hard work and not looking at any effort.
In the year 2000, they moved to a beautiful villa in Zandstraat in Kluisbergen on the border of Ronse and Kluisbergen with a beautiful view of Ronse and the hills of Wallonia behind. They immediately started with pigeons at this location and based on pigeons from the former colony Delbar from Ronse.
In 2012, Raoul passed away and Jeannine decided to continue along the pigeon path under the name of Weduwe Delbar-Raevens. Jeannine is a lady of the principle “hands to the plough and forward”. She has worked hard all her professional life, has held her own in good and difficult circumstances in business together with Raoul and continues to do so in her life and also in pigeon racing. She is an ardent follower of nature and besides pigeon racing, hunting is also her passion. She does all this with drive, vigour and a lot of mordancies.

A passionate hobby
As mentioned above, Jeannine is a lover of nature and animals are obviously a very big part of it. Passion for pigeons and pigeon sport is also chiselled into her heart. All this is carried out with the necessary care and discipline and within a manageable pigeon colony. With 16 couples of breeders (which are paired at the end of December), 55 old and yearling cocks (35 old birds and 20 yearlings) and an annual 80 to 100 youngsters, this is not a “small loft”, but neither is it a mega-colony. It must remain manageable and there must be time left for many other exciting things in life.
The cocks are played on classic widowhood and no breeding is done from the racers for the season. At the end of March, the pigeons are paired for a few days to facilitate training. Here they play classical widowhood with cocks, training once a day in spring and twice a day in warmer temperatures. The pigeons are trained in four small stages with their own transport and then go via the classic route from Noyon, Pont-St-Maxence, Vierzon on their way to the one-day long distance and very long distance programmes.
At basketing, the cocks get their nest dish for a few minutes but never see a partner. On arrival home, they stay together, and this length of time depends on the intensity of the flight.
The cocks are fed separately in the nest box and receive the food from the Beyers range. Jeannine feeds them for basketing with fine seeds and Bordeaux maize (which they also get in the baskets).
All pigeons are vaccinated annually against paratyphoid and the compulsory vaccinations against paramyxo. The young pigeons are vaccinated against the smallpox virus with the brush because it is believed that this results in a quasi-lifelong resistance.
Vincent Schröder is visited twice a year to check the pigeons before the breeding season and before the racing season. His advice is always thoroughly followed and preferably never treated blind.
The team of youngsters is trained very well with the aim of racing some 300 kilometres in their year of birth. Sufficient experience is the only goal and little importance is attached to the results of this young guard. As yearlings, they gain a lot of experience and preferably 1 national one-day long distance race to prepare them for full deployment from 2 years of age.

And the ace marathon old birds 2022 is…. “Blackfire” !
In 2020, Jeannine had obtained 5 youngsters from “neighbourhood fancier” Yvan Haelters from Maarkedal. Yvan is a man of many wars in pigeon racing. He already achieved many top results in the one-day race but especially in the long distance. With a very strong colony, based on the best long-distance races, he already excelled many times with top results in the 7 long-distance races, both with cocks and especially with hens. In addition, Yvan is a player who can finely grind a strain and his pigeons are therefore gems in the hand.
These youngsters were picked up in March 2020 and were carefully trained together with the other youngsters with Jeannine.
The aim was to let them grow and mature quietly to play them fully from the age of 2, as is the normal way of doing things here. And so it happened…
In the 2022 season, they were 2 years old and got to play in full. The usual preparation and with the international flight from Agen as the first benchmark.
And on Agen (a very nice, fair and normal flight) they were already “boenk” on it.

“Blackfire” (BE20-4200981) arrived at the loft first and achieved :
1st club
5th provincial 1,625b
15th national 6,657b
27th international 16,864b
Slightly in his shadow, his nest brother (BE20-4200982) arrived at the loft in 3rd place with a 602nd national result (and small sign that this pigeon was also cut from the right cloth).
(photo brother Blackfire)
With many positive expectations, these pigeons were basketed again for the international flight from Narbonne and then the party was complete. A tough race with lots of challenges along the way was sealed with arrivals at 8.02am and 8.16am in the morning which resulted in :
5th and 9th place nationally 5,749 pigeons
33rd and 49th international of 13,783 pigeons
“Blackfire” arrived second was beaten by his nest brother. What a pair of pigeons both flying top national and international suddenly owned by Jeannine.
Euphoria all around because of the performance, but it was still patiently waiting until after the flight from Perpignan to make an ace pigeon classification.
“Blackfire” was successfully flagged off as 1st ace pigeon heavy long-distance KBDB 2022, a title like a bell ! He beat other long-distance icons such as Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen and Stijn and Jeroen Rans. A magnificent podium.

“Blackfire” (and his nest brother) are wonderful pigeons in the hand. Strongly made, ample wing, long muscles, in short everything expected of a long-distance pigeon. Their parentage is also one to lick. Their sire is a fusion of the lines of “Golden Wing” Nouwen-Paesen with Eric Vermander’s a daughter of “Cesar” (“Cesar” flew 10th national Barcelona in 2013).
The mother is a cross of Jan Ernest’s Teletext variety with the sister of Joost Desmeyter’s very strong breeding line “Grand Cru” – Restiaen. Pigeons that can digest kilometres and show their real talents in the heavy long distance.

With this wonderful ace title, Jeannine can proudly look back on an unforgettable 2022 season, she can fully enjoy the many celebrations it brings and especially as the owner of these 2 top pigeons. With a nice nod to Raoul, many more great pigeon moments undoubtedly lie ahead.