Out of the blind spot - Martin de Poorter
Let me take you on a trip to the most south west part of Holland, the region called Zeeuws Vlaanderen. The same area from where since the ’40s until deep into the ‘80s the legendary late Staf Dusarduyn of Groede reigned on the Dutch national classics from St. Vincent and Dax. A name spoken still with great respect, Staf was considered to be one the founding fathers of Dutch long distance racing. To reach this part of the country either you have to come through the Westerschelde tunnel, or take the route as I did, driving from Antwerp in the direction of Bruges, right turn back into Holland.
Not the best of weather when arriving in Sluis, cold and foggy, luckily Martin anticipated on it, welcoming me in his warm outhouse, big burning logs on the fire. From this luxury outhouse we have a great view on the lofts, imagining how to enjoy this spot when waiting for the racers arriving from the internationals, something to envy. Heading towards the age of 40, Martin can be considered to be one of the young guns on the international scene, making a fast move up the ladder of success since he decided to focus on just this podium. Until his clearance sale in 2010 he was one of the leading men on the middle distance, taking not just several but many provincial wins and fantastic results. It didn’t take long until he also made his mark on the international races.
Martin de Poorter
Martin's lofts during winter with the snow blowing inside.
Martin proved to own a masters tough on the distance as well, when already in 2012 his now famed founding ace ‘Rainman’ won him the 1st national from St. Vincent. It only took him a few years to build a supreme family around this phenomenal racer, making Martin competitive on every single international race since. More than enough for me to give Martin a well-deserved place out of the blind spot.
Martin struck gold with Rainman, which came from team BDS being bred from two original Rudy de Saer’s, and grandson to founding ace De Perigueux. Rudy De Saer has been one of the leading lofts on the long distance in Belgium with his family based almost purely of original Gaby Vandenabeele’s. Martin knew that if he wanted to be competitive on the highest level of international racing, he would be needing the speed of the Belgian distance birds, and the perseverance and being able to deal with the hours of darkness from the best Dutch extreme long distance racers. With Rainman at hand, he found the perfect crossing material with two daughters from the Wesley of the family Van Houten, the former international Barcelona winners.
Martin blended these two families which very soon prove to be something exceptional for his high set goals. The grandchildren of Rainman have been outstanding this 2017 season, with the 1st Nat. Agen Belgium against 6,200 birds, and the star of Martin’s team, his 3yo Witoogje, again showed exceptional class with 5th Nat. Agen against 6,211 birds and 32nd Nat. Perpignan against 4,789 birds. As 2yo she already took 18th Nat. Agen against 6,890 birds. This perfect round bodied dark cheq hen, with astonishing pearl eyes, is a pure gem, not just in handling but also in character. When I entered her aviary she didn’t move a muscle and only seemed interested in her spot, the shortest route toward her nestbox, pure motivation and focus. Rainman isn’t just a lucky shot of the family. His half brother New Rainman, bred from the same father, won 1st NPO from Bergerac against 2,343 birds, 9th Nat. Agen against 4,464 birds. Handling the birds from these exceptional cross of Belgian distance and Dutch classic long distance lines, the ever so nice balance stands out with strong backs, the tail going down when tipping them forward, beautiful round muscles, and wriggling constantly to get out of your hands, pure character created by Martin’s master hands.
The system Martin prefers to face his competition with is the modernized type of racing on natural, which is practiced on several Dutch long distance top lofts. After the season each pair of old birds rear a round of late breds. When the late breds are weened, the on the inside lofts will be closed and both partners move forward into the aviaries from where they will enjoy the outdoor autumn, winter and spring. From September until January the old birds are locked in, from then on they will slowly be broken in again. In this period both cocks and hens will stay together in the same aviaries day and night. On the first of march the doors to the inside loft and the nest boxes will be opened for the old bird team again.
They will be allowed to sit on fake eggs, until they are fed up and leave the nests again, in Holland called ‘dead breeding’. The partners will be split up again from that point, and will be raced on total widowhood in the preparation towards the international races. From beginning of April the old birds will get the following preparation program, 2x 120 km, 2x 230km, 3x 350km, 1x 500km, and sometimes just 3x 350 km without the 500km race. The 350km is just one night in the basket, ideal for birds on natural. The objective is to give them at least 2000 preparation kilometers.
Martin will split up his old bird team into three different teams, and mate them on different dates depending on which will be their first race, either Pau, Agen or Barcelona. He will send them on the favorable position of sitting 10 to 12 day eggs, or later in the season on a few day old babies. The last preparation on Friday before basketting will be a 60km toss. The young bird team are allowed to take their time to mature no faster than needed, and receive some 4 to 5 races to a maximum of 300 kilometers. As yearlings they are expected to show some class from the internationals Agen and Narbonne. Outside of the racing season medication are a no go on Martin’s lofts, but when racing no risks are taken and he visits the vet, Dr. Blancke of team BDS, regularly and will take measures when needed, only when needed.
First Arival From Barcelona 2017
In just a few years Martin has proved to be a new name to reckon with, well not so new to the people from his own province, but now the rest of Europe also have to deal with this fanatic. A great system, magnificent birds, and a family who backs him up when needed. I am no fortune teller, still I expect it just to be a matter of time until he will celebrate his first international win, my eyes will be on Witoogje, time will tell.