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The ultimate test

We all know that good pigeons are not enough to be a successful racer.

Something else is needed as well. It is just as important as quality, or' even more!

What I mean is condition.

I"d rather pool my money on an average bird in super shape than on a super that lacks condition.

Good condition is the answer to the question why somebody suddenly races fantastic. Or' why the champion had such a poor result in that race.



Much has been written about the phenomenon, called "condition".

How to get the birds into good or better shape is a key question in this sport and brokers of castles in the air realise that too well.

See all the junk that is advertised and that you should buy to shape up the birds and you know what I mean.

Poor results are the dream of those sellers of many additives. They can help you  they cry out loudly. The only thing you have to do is buy that shit that they sell.

How philanthropic they are. They promise to build a bridge even though there is no river. The truth is that nobody, no medicine, no additive, can enforce condition.

Condition is like a fairy. It comes and it goes and in most cases there is no explanation. Believe me, even the greatest champions sometimes frown when they watch their birds training. "What is wrong?" 

A change for the better in the loft climate is one of the very few things in which I believe.The importance of the loft climate cannot be underestimated.  

When people ask champion Verkerk what "his secret is", he claims that he does whatever he can to make his loft as agreeable as possible for his birds.



We all know the good omens:

- Shiny eyes.

- Birds that look smaller with thin necks.

- Spontaneous and fanatic training.

- Birds that lay eggs in time.

- Powdered feathers.

- Eager to take a bath.

- Swollen trembling bodies.

- Nice colour of the flesh.

- "Perfect" shit and so on.



Signs that betray lack of condition are:

- Dull eyes.

- Poor training.

- Bodies with no tension, that feel like dead.

- Reluctant to take a bath.

- No appetite.

- "Blue flesh."
- The birds sit still on the roof. This is absolutely deadly for racers.  

- Dry feathers. And again: And so on.



But you are never sure. How often does it happen that we expect a fantastic result, as we THINK the birds are fine, but then it turns out that we were wrong. And the opposite of course: We are surprised by a good result, as we did not have a high opinion about the condition, but we were mistaken.

Is there nothing then you can rely on concerning the condition?

I think there is something indeed. For a better understanding let"s go back in time.



July 1998. My young birds preformed so fantastic that I doubt if anybody in Holland did better then. In those day I went on the road with my babies once a week.  

July 21st was such a day. It was bright, warm and there was a pretty strong wind ahead. I drove with 4 baskets containing about 15 birds each 70 kilometres south.

When I got there I opened the trunk, got one basket out, released the birds and put the basket back into the car.

Then I took another basket and did the same.

When I had released all four baskets with an interval of about 20 seconds each time

I drove home and I must admit, much too fast. I was on the highway, there was little traffic and I tried to get home before the pigeons. Headwinds were my ally.

I "flew" home at a speed of 165 kms per hour (right, I am ashamed now) and I made it indeed.



I got home just before the first flock of birds arrived. They were about fifteen and got in like hell, it looked as if they attacked the loft.

About 20 seconds later another group arrived, another 20 seconds later a third group and a bit later the last. Then I suddenly realised what had happened.

The bird had arrived in the same order as they were released.

I had also released the birds with a difference of about 20 seconds and that seemed too much for those that were set free later to catch up. The birds must have left the place like hell and must have flown home in one straight line, directly to their target; the loft!!

July 25th we had a race.

From 2,573 pigeons I won 1st, 2nd, 4th and at prize 29 I had 19 birds. Never happened before in the Fed and would never happen again. At least that was what people said. Four days later I trained the birds again and the same thing happened. The birds got home in the same order than I had released them.

And the result in the race that followed, on 1st of August, was even better.

Against 2,088 birds I won 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 22, 23, 24 and so on.

Also the provincial race was destroyed. I won 1st from 11,000 plus birds.

This result was really unique. Two weeks I won from National Orleans 8th, 10th and 13th, the first fancier to clock three birds.

All club members got this letter saying I did not pool money any more. This should be encourage them 
to pool from now on.  

I must say I was more motivated than ever that year. The year before all club members got a letter in their mail box. They were encouraged to pool money from now on, because "A S had decided not to pool money any more". In fact I had not decided anything myself of my own free will. I was forced to. If I went on
pooling others would go to another club or even worse; quit.



Recently I read a report in a Belgian pigeon magazine about a champion who had the reputation of winning much money in the races. Whenever he had pooled much money his birds performed well. When he had pooled little money the results were not so good.

He was asked what his secret was. You know what he said?

"While others THINK when their birds are in good shape I KNOW it.

What I do in case I doubt is go on the road with them. I release them one by one or in little groups. When they arrive together something is wrong.

When they are unable to catch up with the birds that were released earlier, even if it is some seconds only, things are okay and I dare pool.



As mentioned before condition is not the only thing that matters to be successful. After that memorable racing season 1998 fellow fanciers comforted each other. 

"Those were only youngsters."

"All youngsters can win when they are in good shape."

Only one year later they knew better.

In 1999 I hade the five first Ace pigeons. Those were yearlings.

2000 was probably my best old bird season ever. Pigeons such as Home Alone, Big Brother, Invincible, Turbo and so on won one racer after the other.

Those birds were of my 1998 team!