Out of the blind spot– Best of Bruges
Fashion breeds appear from year to year, to disappear beyond the far horizon as fast as they came. And there are those names who rarely appear spotlights for all the wrong reasons. Call it modesty or just not having the ambition to be on the front cover week by week. In this series we want to reflect on some of the names who earn a place in the sun, for the simple reason of producing top class results in past and present. In this issue we want to focus your attention on not just one, but four lofts, a group of friends coming from the Bruges area.
This league of pigeon men found each other in De Torhoutse Duif marking station in Wijndale, where they basket their birds for the short and middle distance. For the long distance the group split up and go either to Kortemark or Gistel. The Belgian racing pigeon culture is quite unique as you are not so much a member of a club, as you are to the national union. So you can basket your birds at any station in your area. These guys celebrate together, support each other, giving each other the best from their loft, making each other better racers, and foremost enjoy the companionship. It is very probable that all of this has helped these four names make their way up the ladder of success, leading them to national wins, national ace birds and top performances in one loft races. I met up with all of them on a warm Saturday afternoon in the middle of October. It turned out to be one of the busiest Saturdays on the road all year, just my luck! Four traffic jams in Holland and two further in Belgium but I finally reached my destination, a thai restaurant ‘Ahaan Thai’ belonging to one of the key players in the companionship, Geert Polling and his wife, in the center of Jabbeke deep into West Flanders. I got to speak with real pigeon enthusiasts, let me introduce them to you.
Ronny & Steyn Decoster
First up are father and son partnership of Ronny and Stijn Decoster of Roksem Westkerke. This partnership distinguished themselves on their first ever entrance in a national race. Being the second and third generation of their family to race pigeons, their main objective have been sprint and middle distance races. When they first entered a national, they managed to win 1st National Limoges against 14,673 yearlings in 2011. Their objective is still racing competitive on short and middle distance racing, but after this outstanding result they set their goals for the national up to 600km as well. They race both 30 widowers and 10 widowhood hens, but to the classic system with the partners waiting for them. They take part in the winter breeding and after weening the youngster, just two weeks prior to the start of the racing season the birds get to enjoy a couple of days together with their partner.
The hens will be raced every week and stay between the youngsters during the week, whereas the widowers will be raced every fortnight once the national races start. Before and after every race the partners will be shown. Also the team of some 80 youngsters are kept on the darkening system. The first round will be raced on widowhood, on the door, as well. They start from Arras 100km and from this team the hens will be raced three 500km nationals, while the cocks will get a maximum of two nationals races to prepare them for later career. The base of this family has been formed from the best bloodlines of their friends Marc & Geert Pollin, Ferdinand & Karel Denduyver, Luc Cristiaans, Deceunink Van Hoecke and of course the old lines from grandfather Georges Deceunink. Star of the loft is Lucas who is a top class performer gaining top results from 100km and top national positions the Chateauroux and Argenton national races. His dam came direct from Denduyver while the sire came from a local champion from 100-300 kilometers but who unfortunately never kept pedigrees but was the man to beat for years. From these families a type of pigeon was formed that can be described as well balanced, nice round bodied calm birds, with lots of energy wanting to come out, trembling all over, both white and colored eyes.
Ferdinand & Karel Denduyver
Next up are also father and son partnership of Ferdinand and Karel Denduyver of Ichtegem, a name which has been one of the top lofts in West Flanders for years now. Already 1st Provincial Champions with youngsters 1998, 1st Olympiad Ace Bird in Porto 2005 with ‘t Poeltje’ and a 1st National Limoges with their ‘Kapitein’ in 2010 to prove this claim.
1st National Yearlings Limoges 5,607 birds
2nd Open National Limoges 10,448 birds
Their father / grandfather Cyriel was a phenomenal racer, so the legacy continues. Nowadays also making a name in one loft racing, with top performances, winning the finals in both Thailand and the Czeck republic plus top performances in Romania and Greece recently. Participating under the name Fly4us, which is a group of friends including Geert Pollin, who all pitched in, sharing their winnings and using it for the next races to come. A great initiative in which non pigeon fanciers also participate. Ferdinand and Karel race from 100 until mostly 750 kilometers which is the international Agen, with an occasional Barcelona.
1st Olympiad Ace Bird in Porto 2005
They race a team of 48 widowers in the classic way with the partners at home and the widowers training an hour every day. When they start the season on the short distance races, the widowers are shown their partners, but later on in the season this is no regularity anymore, no fixed system. In between long distance races the widowers either get a middle distance race or just a week of rest, depending on weather and circumstances on the previous race. They own a team of some 80 youngsters from the first two rounds, which will be on the darkening system until the end of May. These will race on the door, widowhood system.
Breeding & Widowers Lofts of Ferdinand & Karel Denduyver
The youngsters are raced from June, the cocks will get some 1 or 2 nationals where as the hens will be raced until the end of the season. The third round of youngsters is destined for one loft racing. The foundation of their colony was mainly formed from the old lines of grandfather Cyriel, Marc & Geert Pollin, Marc & Franky Vandewalle and Erik Denys, all famed names with an almost guarantee of success, if you know how to handle it. Ferndinand and Karel had an excellent season in 2018 with top 100 national positions on Bourges, Brive, Jarnac, Tulle and peaking with a 1st Nat Zone Gueret with the yearlings. Their system includes a regular visit to the vet, treating against canker once a month, the last three feedings being the sport mixture from Versele Laga and aminovit from Herbots on a regular bases. Handling some of their birds you will find the smaller type, deeper keeled, well balanced mainly yellow eyes and very lively, lots of dark chequers which perform magnificent from 100-800 km.
Noel Roose & Roger Pyra
From Ichtegem it is just a few miles to Bekegem from where the partnership of Noël Roose and Roger Pyra prove year after year they are the amongst the very best lofts in West Flanders. These neighbors joined up as a partnership more than 20 years ago. The lofts are in the backyard of Noël and Roger enjoys his retirement as the loft manager. Ever since they have formed a strong team where in the early days they focused on short and middle distance racing, but in more recent years also focusing on the nationals up to 600km. The men race a team of 40 widowers on the classic system and take part in the process of winter breeding. Just before the season the widowers can enjoy staying with their partners for two days in the loft, and from there the system will commence. Before basketting the hens will be shown every time, and also on return of course. The first weeks of the season the distance will be build up until the national races, from which there will be races every second week. Both yearlings and old widowers will receive the same treatment and program.
De Grote Bever
2nd Provincial Ace Pigeon Young Birds 2015
8th Provincial Ace Pigeon All-Round 2016
The first two rounds of youngsters will be on the darkening system, and from the longest day also on the lighting system. They will endure a long season of some 15 races starting in the third week of May. The team will be split up into different sections, in which one part will be raced on widowhood, young cocks mated to old hens, and one section racing on the door, the total widowhood system for youngsters. Directly after the season the best young cocks will be transferred to the old bird section. The base of their family was formed with the ‘black line’ of Eric Honoré and proved to be excellent for crossing with several top lines including those of Ferdinand & Karel Denduyver. After a magnificent racing career including 1st prizes from 100-400 km their ‘De Oude Zwarten’ became their main breeder and backbone to the present day racing team. This pure bred Eric Honoré has been producing winners over three generations including his direct son ‘Senne’ winning 1st Nat. Zone Chateauroux and 4th National against 29,480 birds. ‘De Bever’ son to Marcel Sangers his ‘Golden Charly’ x ‘Amores Dirk’ from Cor Leytensis the other breeder having a great impact on today’s racing team. He is sire to Ace Bird in young bird racing and 3 x 1st prize winner ‘Zorro’ , sire to provincial winners, grandsire to 2nd Provincial Ace Young Bird, and furthermore proved to be the great crossing material to the Oude Zwarten offspring. They handle as the smaller type, somewhat deeper keeled, well balanced, with real knife like primaries which make part of a shorter type of wing. Very lively birds quite hard to handle. Also in 2018 the partnership showed great class and where crowned as 3rd Overall Provincial Champions West Flanders, taking no less then 20 x 1st prizes, this after 20 x 1st in 2017, 25x 1st prizes in 2016 and 25x 1st prizes in 2015, how about that for being consistently on top of your game!! Furthermore in 2018 in Nat Zone 1A they were crowned 1st Yearling Champions, 1st Short Distance and 1st Overall Champion both with old birds as with the youngsters.
Marc & Geert Pollin
Last but certainly not least we conclude with the world famous father and son partnership of Marc and Geert Pollin from Snellegem. Who doesn’t remember the 2015 season in which they experienced a record breaking year winning in just a couple of weeks 1st Nat Libourne Old Birds, 1st Nat. Libourne Yearlings, 1st Nat. St. Vincent and 1st Nat. Montauban plus 1st Nat Ace bird Yearlings KBDB Long Distance with their ‘New Belgian Pride’. In that season Belgium’s best long distance pigeon with 1st and 3rd national. More then 30 years this family have been amongst the great names in Belgian pigeon sport on middle and long distance. Especially when the races became harder, the Pollin's made their move towards the top of the national and international races. And this near the north sea coast, where the birds more than anywhere in the country often have to face the feared west winds.
Olympiad ace bird 2009 long distance
The Pollin’s take on the national and international competition with a team of some 100 widowers on the classic system with the partners at home. The widowhood hens stay in aviaries with no perches whatsoever, just sitting on grilled floor to prevent them from mating. Together with the breeders the racers are mated at the end of November and rear one round of youngsters. At the end of March they will be mated again for sitting on eggs for 10 days, from which they will go back to widowhood. During sitting on eggs, the future racers will receive several tosses. The cocks train both in the early morning and in the afternoon for an hour with closed windows. Because they own a big team of racers, the hens will not be shown before a race. In their own words they use a very basic system for feeding, starting the season on a moulting mix, and switching to a racing mixture when closing up to the nationals, all from Versele Laga. In their opinion they don't have to have their racers checked for canker on a regular base, as they strongly believe in the use of Kaucabam in the drinker, to keep their birds healthy in as natural a way as possible.
Olympiad ace bird 2009
The youngsters are on the darkening system from March until the end of May, after which they will get several tosses being prepared for mostly the provincial Tours races and mostly young hens will be send to the nationals. The base of today’s team has been formed by three great champions which you can find in almost all pedigrees. ‘Dortmunder’ Olympiad ace bird 2009 long distance, ‘Mortifer’ also Olympiad ace bird 2009 on the extreme long distance, plus ‘Nai’ a great racer but much more an outstanding breeder. Father and son Pollin created an incredible strong family which has proved able to take on any competition on their favorite races any day, for years to come.
This concludes this short tour around Bruges. This time no tourist trip visiting the beautiful medieval city center with its characteristic canals but still finding time to enjoy a Belgian quality beer in the sun on one of the many terraces around the market square, not a bad way to finish a pigeon trip I can tell you!