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Special Pigeons in 2004 (Part one of two)

The old bird season starts early April for the majority of fanciers both in Holland and Belgium. The ‘sprint guys’ in Belgium start a bit earlier, the Dutch long distance racers somewhat later.
As for young birds there is a clear distinction.
In Belgium the young bird season starts in May, in Holland not until end of June or early July.
Half September the races are over for fanciers in both countries, they let the birds moult, apart from some Belgian ‘Sprint fanatics’.
When fanciers review the season that is behind them, the weather is always a hot item, since they connect the results with the weather that is so unpredictable and changeable in the small ‘pigeon countries’ near the North Sea.
For many a fancier the weather is an excuse for a poor season.
They refuse to admit that poor birds are a reason for poor results or the fact that they lacked condition. They blame poor results on the weather or ‘a bad location’.
It has always been like that and will always be.
The champions do not complain and they are right.

Bad weather conditions may be an excuse for one bad race results but not for a bad season!

Furthermore there will be outstanding birds every year regardless the weather conditions. That was the case in 2004 as well.

The name of Dutch Koopman is well known all over the world; especially in China.
Throughout his career he has had good results, though these are rather controversial in Europe.
Some say he races so well because competition is poor.
Is that a fact?
Competition in the area where he lives may indeed be not as strong as elsewhere but one cannot deny that several Germans became great champions with birds from Koopman and so did Mrs Vink, who races against the best.
Gerard must have fantastic birds though his results probably would not be that impressive if he would live and race elsewhere.
His favourite races are those from 400 to 700 kilometres, for the 2 day races he had only one hen in 2004.
Just one hen is not many but good enough if her name is ‘Miss Waalre’.
She won 2 succeeding 2-day NPO races which is exceptional but even more special is the amount of kilometres she flew in just a couple of weeks’ time.
- May 29th St Ghislain about 325 kilometres.
- June 2nd she was entered for Ruffec.
- She got home June 5th and won the first prize from this hard 900 kilometre-race.
- June 12th she flew Houdeng, 300 kilometres to win 87th prize (16,800 birds).
- Three days later (!) she was basketed for Sint Vincent (1,200 kilometres!) and won the first prize again from 1,334 birds. That is not real many but winning both a 900 kilometre and a 1.200 kilometre race in 2 weeks’ time is no less than historic.
How he got this miracle bird? Just a present (again) from a friend.
Friendship is often worth more than money, as it seems again.

‘How this bird was raced? ‘Had Koopman planned to race it so often and so far in such a short time?’ one might wonder.
Of course not.
Nobody prepares a bird for such ‘missions impossible’.
It was her breath taking condition that made him decide to enter it again and again, even after she had just arrived home from a previous race.
She was in such a fantastic shape that it was as if she asked to be basketed.
Condition is important in any sport, even more than quality.
Personally I had rather pool money on an average bird in good condition than on a superbird that is not in good shape.
Without condition you can forget it, from long distance and from short distance, in hard weather but also in easy weather.
Birds without condition just are not fit to race, but they are not fit for breeding or moulting either.
Furthermore I think condition is more important in an easy race with tailwinds than a hard race with headwinds.
When a race is hard a superbird that is not in good shape may win a ‘late’ prize, in case of tailwinds and a high speed it will NOT win a prize, how strange this may seem.

Concerning ‘good form’ I will never forget my first National victory from Orleans. The winner was a young cock on a 4-day-old baby and if there is one thing on which most champions agree it is a hopeless position it is such a one.
Therefore I did not even think about entering it despite its good origin.
Talking about its origin; in those days I wrote a book about Janssen Brothers and found that the latest good breeder they had was ‘Young Merckx’.
So I did not rest until I got a child of this bird in my loft.
I mated him to a sister of my so-called ‘Good Yearling’, a sensational racer, but his sister performed poor and was not good looking either.
But ‘good looking’ and ‘good’ are two different things, which many men that married a ‘good looking’ woman may confirm.
The first baby of the mating ‘Son Young Merckx’ and ‘Sister Good Yearling’ was to be the national winner from Orleans, despite its bad position.
It was his condition and the care for its baby that had tempted me to race him. Against all odds and theories it won 1st national.
Also in reports about National winners you often read about the phenomenal form of the bird before the race.

The opposite is also true:
Many super birds failed or even got lost because they lacked condition and it was only after the race that the fancier realised it was not the bird but he who was to blame. Initially he did not intend to enter it, because there were doubts about its form but he always found an excuse.
- A Championship or money was at stake.
- It was its last race.
- The weather forecast was good.
- Or the distance was short.
So the bird was entered and failed.
If you are about to basket birds you should be surprised about the form. The least doubt is too much.

A great champion on the 2-day races in Holland is Saarloos. In the 90-ies he was so smart as to buy pigeons from Belgian Noel Peiren.
Peiren was THE sensation in 2004, winning 2 Nationals in one-week time. He lives in the Western part of the country, due to eastern winds his location was good but this was not the reason why he won: Many hundreds of fanciers that participated in the same races had the same favourable location.
After his two national victories in one-week time one can imagine that half the world was after his birds with the result that they became high priced.
Saarloos however was so smart as to buy his birds when they were still affordable for the common people and it was that one day in 1996 that changed his life.
After he had bought some birds and had started the engine of the car to return home Peiren came running up to him with a 5-day-old baby in his hands.
If he could under sit the little thing Saarloos could have it for free, Peiren said.
He could under sit it indeed and went home with Peiren’s gift in a tiny box.
Three years later a white flight stunned Western Europe by winning:
- 6th National Bergerac (14,284 birds).
- 8th National Sint Vincent (8.565 birds).
- 12th National Dax, (5,856 birds).
With these results it became National Ace NPO and World Champion V. L.
The owner was Saarloos; the pigeon’s name ‘Wondere Peiren’ and you already guess which bird it was: The 5-day-old baby that Saarloos got as a present.
Small things may have great consequences in life but also in pigeon sport.
Sometimes you need the luck to be at the right place at the right time.
If Saarloos had had no problems starting the engine of his car nobody would ever have heard about ‘Wondere Peiren’, the World Champion V. L. 1999.

It was in 2000 that a friend (W de Bruyn) asked me if I felt like having a day off and visit some fanciers.
He would drive; my task was to introduce him to fanciers WITHOUT a great name but WITH super birds.
Such birds are mostly reasonably priced and reasonably priced birds de Bruyn wanted, since he wanted to race them.
Expensive birds are put in the stock loft but that is not his style.
Racing them is the fastest way to find out how good (or bad) they are.
I knew ‘no great names that had great birds’ and we went to one of them: Gilbert Meire.
From him we bought a bunch 4 week old babies; most of them turned out to be no good (that’s normal), a couple were average (that is also normal) but one was a Miracle bird (that is not normal).
This bird (‘the 907’) won first prizes from all distances, it was crowned 4th best of Western Europe and later on it turned out to be a fantastic breeder as well.
So our trip was a success because, let’s be reasonable, if you buy 15 birds and one of them is a super you are lucky.
Meanwhile De Bruyn had become friends with Belgian van Lint who lived in Taiwan at the time.
In 2003 he returned to his roots, he decided to race pigeons and got about 20 babies from his Dutch friend to start with.
Though his fellow sportsmen were happy that a new racer had joined them they did not take Van Lint or his Dutch birds serious.
But this did not last for long.
Much to the surprise of a whole nation he dominated the young bird races in 2003.
‘O.K. young birds in a brand new loft that perform well often happens’ people said and forgot about Van Lint.
Then came 2004 and guess what?
The birds that did so well as babies were amazing again as yearlings.
One of them was his 03-112, a bird with a Dutch band.
As a baby it was outstanding and as a yearling it won National Vichy.
The father (the 907’) was the bird that I had advised de Bruyn to buy from Meire, the mother of 03-112 is a descendant of my 96-5660145 (sorry for bragging).
So again we have an example of a Super bird that was gotten as a present.

(Will be continued)