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That is what they said (4 april)

If you have been racing pigeons and writing about pigeons for nearly half a century it stands to reason that you become familiar with numerous champions of all kinds. And, of course, you hear interesting statements that remain in your memory.


Due to several ‘total’ auctions Leo Heremans is controversial. Some say he is greedy, others praise him for being a good business man. Generate so much money in such a short period they find admirable. And you must also admit that selling nearly all his birds and being at the top again so soon shows he is a real good handler. ‘Furthermore the question is who else ‘made’ so many champions in this century? Well, Leo once told me the following thing: ‘A fancier that buys say 8 pigeons from me and still has them all 8 three years later is not a champion and will never become one.’ What he wants to make clear is obvious: Also if your name is Leo Heremans you breed and therefore sell junk. And when you do not get rid of junk you will breed more junk.  

The name of young Christian is not as well-known as that of his ‘boss’: Jan ‘Harry’ Hooymans. Jan is going to race youngsters in Belgium this summer, but that is off the record. Christian became National champion in 2018, the youngest in history. Christian: The less medicine and supplements I gave, the better my results were. Those could be the words of the champions Verkerk and de Bruijn. Both are very competitive, they tried out everything to boost the results but all in vain. Bas Verkerk: ‘There is little I did not try but I found nothing that had any positive effect on the health of my pigeons. Now I only give Forta Vita (herbs) and beer yeast, but also about this stuff I have my doubts.’

Roger Engelen is not that famous but believe me, he is a top-racer. Roger: ‘At shows in winter I sometimes win supplements but I mostly forget them or give them to friends. I just do not believe in them.’

Marien, Jellema en Gijsbrechts do not believe in medicine and supplements either to boost the form. And then you should know they are vets. All three ! So medicine and supplements is all B S? Hmm. It is not that simple.

 Christian v d Wetering, the youngest National champion ever advises to stay away from medicine.


Kris Cleirbout is another ‘searcher’. Once he told me: ‘One year and one year only I tried without any medicine. It was my worst year ever.’ Also take Joost de Smeyter: Concerning feed he is a real connoisseur. At least 5 days a week there is one supplement or another in the water or on the food. And who is a better racers at great long distance?


In his glory years I sometimes visited Emiel Daems who lived in the ‘pigeon mecca’ Bevel. I remember they were mainly grizzles that were responsible for his fantastic results. When I once was there I asked for babies off his best pair. You know what he said? ‘My best pair? You know, if your best pigeons are bred from your favourite pair, things do not look good for you.’

It is obvious what he wanted to make clear: You should not depend on one pair. If you have a good family all of your birds should have the potential to produce good descendants. It reminds me of Chris Hebberechts and Bart Geerinckx.

Roger Engelen and grandson. Roger may not be that famous but what an excellent racer he is.  


I first met Chris in Rumania. We were invited at a party organised by the Rumanian Homing Union. The Rumanian champions were honoured and what a fantastic event it was. A super dinner and a fantastic positive atmosphere. The average fancier was about 25 years younger than their fellow sportsmen in Holland and Belgium. I found Christ a modest sympathetic man and gladly accepted his advice to pay him a visit. So I went to Christ with W de Bruijn who told Chris ‘leave your birds alone, if we could only see your best breeding pair that would be fine.’

Christ: ‘Best breeding pair?’ Now I am afraid I have a problem. I really do not know which birds I should show. I have no pair that only produces good birds.’


I was pretty close with the late Luc Geerinckx, the father of Bart. We raced in the same club. His results were great but I was not interested in his birds. They were too big in my opinion. How stupid I was. Later I stood with Bart in his aviary that was full of young birds. I tried to count them, but failed. Too many of them. I said: ‘Will 10% of them be any good, Bart?’ ‘I wish it were true’, he said.


It reminds me of another (young) Belgian. I guess he wanted to make a good impression when, at a seminar abroad, he said: ‘Pay attention guys, I also breed more bad pigeons than good ones. Only 20% of the birds that I breed are good.’ A fancier stood up and said: ‘So if I would be 100 youngsters from you I would have 20 good ones? And if I would buy 100 babies four years on a row I would have 80 good ones? The Belgian flushed, the audience chuckled.


Stefaan is another ‘angry young man’ that races fantastic. We were talking about the mysterious losses of young birds in recent years. Stefaan: ‘These losses have nothing to do with quality. Even the best youngsters may get lost.’ And he gave some examples. I think Geert Rondag will nod approvingly if he would read this. In 2018 he had 3 fantastic youngsters that were all 3 among the National Aces. One even became 1st. Well, all these 3 birds got lost, were reported and picked up by Geert. Understandably he will pick up all lost birds that are reported. Just like Lambrechts!


My 18-704 became 1st Ace young birds. It won 1st, 1st, 2nd, 4th. It also won 6th S National Orleans 8.007 birds. Its nestbrother also did real well. This 703 won 1st and 2nd and then got lost.

I was lucky, the bird was reported. Of course I picked it up. It was not wounded and looked okay. I let it rest for two weeks. Then I entered it for a race, it missed and one week later I basketed it again and it won 1st . It was on the same day that its nestbrother 704 won 1st from Orleans. The conclusion is simple: People who claim only junk will get lost are wrong.