The 2 biggest pigeon events in Belgium are 2 National races from Bourges.
One is held end of May (old birds and yearlings), the other end of August.
The race in August is for youngsters, old birds and yearlings.
The Bourges race that was held in May this year was a fantastic race.
Not only because of the unbelievable weather (bright and headwinds) but the entry was also enormous, almost 49,000 birds, which was 18,000 more than last year.
The only negative thing was that the wind was a bit too much East so that fanciers in the west of the country (Flanders) dominated the national.
For the rest it was a perfect day.
A day for good birds in good shape, more specifically a race for widowhood cocks.
At least that is what people said in the past when the sky was bright, the wind ahead and the distance greater.
IN THE PAST
Till about 2000 the hens were supposed to be the weaker sex indeed.
Hens had only a chance to perform well in bad weather and in 2-day races.
At least that was the general opinion.
'Fieneke' from Vervoort and 'Paula' from de Mey were supposed to be exceptions.
Therefore very few hens were entered in the middle distance and one day races.
In Holland this was different.
Especially in the North many practised so called 'double' widowhood and fanciers entered both sexes while in Belgium not even 10% of the birds that were entered were hens.
Moreover the hens raced in a different competition to protect that from the widowhood and give them a chance to also perform well in their own competition.
However things changed dramatically in the beginning of this century.
More and more winning birds turned out to be hens even in the National one day races.
There were even rumours that those winning hens were boosted with secret lotions that only worked for hens but that was BS of course.
KBDB saw what was going on, they decided to take action and some years ago they forbade organising apart competitions for hens from then on.
They had to race in the same competition as the cocks.
Meanwhile more and more champions had their eyes open and more and more of them started to race hens, which was something unthinkable only a decade ago.
The prestigious National race from Bourges 2009 in hard weather and head winds, which was supposed to be typical weather for widowhood cocks to win, was the ultimate proof that the times are changing indeed.
- Vandenheede won 1st National old birds with a hen.
- He also won 1st National yearlings with a hen so the 2 fastest birds of 49,000 were hens. But that was not it.
- Cassaert won 5th and 6th National with 2 hens.
- Van Hove Uytterhoeven won 1st provincial Antwerp with a hen.
- Marcel Vercammen won 2nd Provincial with a hen.
- Rik Cools won 1st Provincial Flanders with a hen.
- On the same day Veenstra in Holland won an NPO race from Ablis with a hen and Hoogland won Orleans (15,000 birds) with a hen.
- These are just a few of the many examples.
It looked as if Louis Keirsmakers from Nijlen had given a warning what was going to happen since he won the great Interprovincial race from Vierzon one week before Orleans with a hen as well.
The country was in a kind of shock after the pigeon magazines published reports on the winners.
Many of them were hens. How could this be in this hard weather?
As I said very few hens were raced in the past. They were supposed to stay at home and welcome the widowhood cocks after the race.
Today more and more hens are entered.
Will before long the majority of the birds that are raced hens instead of cocks?