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Special Pigeons in 2004 (Part two of two)

About presents, luck and coincidence I have another story; the story of the International winner Barcelona in 2004 (Vrosch Meyers from Holland).
Their ‘Barcelona Rambo 2’ (00-2427013) arrived in the dark, shortly after 5.00 a.m. beating 24,909 pigeons from all Europe.
In 2000 Mr Vrosch auctioned his birds, due to health problems, but he was not lucky with the timing.
It was the year of the fowl plague and the auction failed; for 24 birds was not even a bid of 25 guilders (12 euro).
No one seemed to like the birds nor their pedigrees.
Vrosch however thought they were too good for the poultry and took them back home. One of them was to be the International winner Barcelona 2004!!!
Vrosch is good at long distance and do you know how he formed his family?
First he tries to be friends with long distance champions hoping this friendship will be sealed by one or more presents (pigeons) later on.
He finds it a much easier way to get quality birds than by spending money.
I agree and have never understood people, foreigners in most cases, with those funny glasses on their noses to study the eyes of birds, looking for ‘eye sign’ whatever that may mean.
Looking into the eyes of a fancier makes more sense to me, since you much depend on his honesty and good will when buying birds.
The eyes of a pigeon do not tell if it is any good, whatever others may say about it.

A real special bird is F-98-361048 from Robert Ben from France which is often referred to as ‘the best long distance bird ever’.
Though many pigeons are called ‘the best ever’ (especially in auction lists…) I think this time that term is NOT exaggerated.
‘Super Ben’ (its nick name) won:
- 5th International Barcelona (24,909 birds).
- 21st International Perpignan (18,192 birds).
- 20th International Barcelona (20,204 birds).
- 3rd International Perpignan (16,800 birds).
- 44th International Barcelona (25,760 birds).
- 119th International Perpignan (18,246 birds).
And even this impressing list is far from complete.
He won National (France) 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th from Barcelona and Perpignan. With this record he even beat that other famous French bird ‘Supercrack’ from Crusson.
‘Super Ben’ is of pure Dutch origin; the father has a Dutch band and so have the parents of the mother.
This is not real strange though.
For 2-day races ‘the gap’ between Dutch birds and others is getting real big as is well known now to fanciers on this side of ‘the great wall’ and beyond.
‘Super Ben’ is a reward for a maniacal search for good birds. In the 90-ies this French fancier was so impressed by the results of Dutch pigeons at long distance in International races (despite their over flight), that he hired a chauffeur to drive him all the way to Holland.
He did not hire a driver because he was so rich but… he had no car!
In Holland he bought youngsters from well-known long distance guys which resulted in the best long distance bird ever.

It stands to reason that ‘Super Ben’ was sold and it stands to reason as well that it was Japanese Kijima that bought it, since there are no financial limits for him if there is a bird that he wants.
So far the International winner Barcelona 1992 (from Biemans Holland) was the highest priced pigeon ever (bought by English Masarella) but now the record holder is ‘Super Ben’.
The price card that hung round its neck was no less than 200,000 euro.
In its pedigree we find the names of C v d Velde, Batenburg, Overwater and v d Wegen. All Dutch who live real close to each other.

The special thing about ‘Super Ben’ is that he was ALWAYS there and knowing what that means you should live in Western Europe where the weather may change day by day.
Since the weather is often a decisive factor in the races there is a saying ‘different weather, other pigeons’ but not for this French Giant with Dutch blood.
Tailwinds or head winds?
Good weather or bad weather?
It did not make any difference to him; he was the bird to be beaten in all kinds of weather.
I heard people that handled ‘Super Ben’ say how surprised they were. The bird was thin and long with big wings; not the nice bird that they had expected to handle.
But who are we to say how a good pigeon should look like?
The International winner from Barcelona 2004 was for sale as a yearling but no one even wanted to pay 10 euro for it.
Klak wanted to sell his ‘Knook’ (‘the ugly one’) but… potential buyers nearly vomited when they handled him since it was so ugly indeed.
Till the day he died Klak praised the Lord that no one wanted ‘Knook’ since it was to be the father of one of the best birds he ever had, his ‘613’.

Recently I was at the loft of Belgian Gust who showed me his top racers. ‘How do you like them?’ he asked.
‘They are breath taking’ I said, adding ‘apart from that one hen’.
‘Which one?’ he asked.
I pointed at a big 1997-bird with a deep keel and eyes that looked o so stupid.
‘That is the mother and grandmother of many of my supers’ he reacted.
Later on the Belgian Super champions Heremans Ceusters were at my place. They know I successfully crossed my birds with Gust’s and so did they.
‘Gust has superbird’ we agreed.
‘Yes especially that 1997 hen is an exceptional breeder’ I said.
They shrugged, since they did not know about that bird. But what they DID know were the results of her offspring.

I myself only look at the pedigrees of young birds after the season.
The reason is I want to be neutral. When I have say 40 babies and two of them get sick they must go.
It is the only way to get a family of good and healthy birds.
A pigeon has no reason or excuse to get sick when others in the same loft with the same care stay in good health.
But you know how it mostly works. When a bird gets sick and you know it is one off of good parents you will have more patience with it than with others and that’s wrong.
You need good birds that also have natural resistance against all kinds of viruses and bacteria that are on the alert to attack.
If I do not know the origin of a bird that lacks good health I do not fall for the charms of its pedigree and will get rid of it more easily.
Now I had a 2004 bird that performed fantastic, she was a beauty as well and therefore I looked up its pedigree.
The father was a yearling cock that I had bought.
It was so big that I would have eliminated him if I had not paid good money for it. Birds for which you paid money you give more chances.
The father of that nice hen that performed so well was a son of that ugly 1997-hen from Gust.

Finally there is the story of a real special hen that is not famous, on the contrary.
She was not able to win one decent prize.
What did I say?
‘She could not win one decent prize?’
It is even worse.
She was too stupid to make it home from 25 kilometres only.
Every time it was basketed, the owner, Belgian Armand Schoolmeesters, had to pick it up at a fellow fancier since she entered the first loft she saw on her way home.
Till Armand got sick of it.
Racing her was useless; therefore he put her in an aviary.
Armand still does not know why he let her live, nor does he understand why he bred a baby off of this hen that was as stupid as can be.
But that baby was almost unbeatable and so were many of her brothers and sisters. Now people are queuing for babies of ‘Miss Stupid’.

After this you may realise the importance of good luck.
As I said the difference between eternal fame and anonymity may be a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
Think about Saarloos and his ‘Wondere Peiren’.
Fall is the time of the ultimate selection in Holland and Belgium.
In fall fanciers decide which birds may survive and which may not.
For many this is the most difficult part of our sport because believe me; numerous ‘would be’ supers are eliminated then through ignorance of the fanciers.
And absolutely worthless birds survive since the fancier thinks they are good.
It may be a comfort to know that even the greatest champions will make mistakes when grading and selecting birds.
It has always been like that and it will always be.
That is inevitable and that is pigeon sport.
For me it is fascinating.
For you too?