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  News > 2006 National Winners - Part 1
  2006 National Winners
Part 1

by Stefan Mertens

Part 1 of Three Parts. For Part 2, click here.
For Part 3, click here.

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Peter Houben







Paul Verbeke and
his wife

In this Part 1 of three installments, Stefan Mertens reports on the winners of the 2006 season. Parts 2 and 3 will appear in the next months.

For your enjoyment, archived reports on National Winners from several prior years are kept available on

05.27.06 BOURGES

The national race from Bourges had 19,083 old and 11,215 yearbirds in the basket. Due to the very difficult start of the racing season because of bird-flu, there were about 4,500 fewer birds than in 2005. On Saturday, the weather was too bad so the pigeons stayed one day longer in the basket. Released on Sunday in not the best of weather conditions, this race became a hard one. Winner in the old birds was Peter Houben - Dilsen and was also the quickest one of the 30,000 birds. In the yearbirds, we have a world-known name in first place, namely Gommaire Verbruggen - Scherpenheuvel.

19,083 OLD BIRDS

1. Houben Peter - Dilsen (1275.56 m/m)
2. De Bruyn Wynand - Balen (1274.36 m/m)
3. Kessen Jean - Lanaken (1273.47 m/m)

Peter built his first loft in 1993. Before that time he was the right hand of the partnership Ramakers-Salden (Eisden), where he learned everything about the pigeon sport. When he started in his own name, he was lucky to come in contact with Giel Conings of the partnership Conings-Smeets (Kotem). Giel Conings gave not only a lot of good advice, but also a lot of birds. Peter says that nowadays 90 percent of his colony exists from pigeons from Conings-Smeets. The other 10 percent comes from Ramakers.

Peter says, "I only race with hens on widowhood, and every year I start with a team of 24 hens. The cocks of those hens are only raced at the end of the year. The hens' team is basketted 15 times in one season, from March until the beginning of July. After their last race, they go to an aviary and stay there until they're coupled at the end of November. They do an early breeding and are separated again, and in February they're coupled a second time. They brood for five days and then they're on widowhood.

It's important for the hen-system that the hens are tossed three times a week at 97 km, with these tosses in all weather conditions. The man who trains the birds is Giel Conings, and in 13 weeks he goes about 40 times to that distance.

The winning hen is "Angèle" 5033912/03. She is a granddaughter of the famous "Paula 5000" from Remi De Mey (Booischot). Before winning Bourges, this hen won 5th Dizzy 1005b. - 9th La Ferté 619b. - 12th Dizzy 302b. - 12th Melun 320b. - 33rd Dizzy 436b. - 35th Macquenoise 567b. - 36th Toury 377b. - 47th Macquenoise 504b. - 77th La Ferté 896b.


1. Gommaire Verbruggen - Scherpenheuvel (1267.56 m/m)
2. Thone Jos - As (1264.11 m/m)
3. Van Gestel Gebroeders - Bevel (1260.73 m/m)

A very happy Gommaire Verbruggen met us when we congratulated him on his national victory. "At last" was his first reaction, saying "I've been a pigeon fancier for 35 years, and I won eight times the 1st semi-national [semi national means that one province doesn't participate so it is not a real national] - 3 times the second national and now it is bingo with the first 1st national."

Verbruggen continued, "Last winter I sold my total old widowers team in China, so in 2006 I could only start with a year bird team. This team was 95 birds strong and was raced on total widowhood. For the national race from Bourges, I basketted 93 birds.

Something new to note? Gommaire answers, "Yes, just like a lot of top lofts, I train and feed my birds a lot. Now I feed my birds three times a day, and every two weeks I toss them two times from 100km."

"When they arrive I add some protein powder to the mixture, to let the birds recuperate quickly."

The national winner is called the "Gil" 2143154-05. "Gil" is a late summer bird and named after Verbruggen's grandson. His father is "Jonge Bliksem" (3241937-03), a direct Gaby Vandenabeele cock (out of "Bliksem" [3158062-98] X "Kaatje" [3192099-00]). Mother is "2036308-99," on her father's side a granddaughter of the "231" from Engels Jos and Jules, and on her mother's side a granddaughter of Gommaire's top breeder "Blauwe 020" (2350020-88).

03.03.06 LIMOGES

The national race from Limoges (Limoges replaced Brive) had 9,672 old birds in the baskets, and they were released on Saturday at 8 o'clock. It became a very nice race and the fanciers from the East-Flanders province clocked four birds in the top five. The winner is the combination De Graeve-Van Geert, after the disqualification of the combination Verscheure-Van Den Berghe from Beveren-Leie. They had clocked at 16:04 o'clock (4:04 p.m.), and their bird's speed was 1188 m/m. But in Belgium, all the fanciers have to clock the countermark of their first arrived bird within five minutes' time, even when the bird is clocked electronically. And when they opened the clock at the club to check, there was no countermark found. The rules say that disqualification is mandatory, and so this happened.



1. De Graeve Van Geert - Smetlede (1173.40 m/m)
2. Raf Luyckx - Belsele (1170.49 m/m)
3. Roger De Geyter - Belsele (1169.37 m/m)

The combination De Graeve-Van Geert are certainly very good fanciers. For years they have focused themselves on the long distance races. After already winning a 6th nat. Perpignan, 7th national Perpignan, 7th national Barcelona, 10th national Dax, 12th national Cahors and 13th national Perpignan, they now won the first national. But also the 6th national ace-pigeon long distance (1999), 11th national champion very long distance (2000), 7th national champion long distance (2001), 3rd Olympiad pigeon long distance South-Africa, 3rd national Champion very long distance (2003), 10th national champion very long distance (2004), and 6th national ace-pigeon long distance are on their impressive result list.

Every year they start with a team of 75 widowers. Count also the 25 pairs of breeders and the 80 youngsters, and then you know how many pigeons there are in their lofts. In 1986 they bought 44 youngsters from Serge and Noel Decroix (Rumbeke), and the base for their success was established. Later the blood of these Decroix pigeons was enriched with birds from Etienne and Frank Devos (Deerlijk - 13 children and grandchildren of the "Kleine Didi" are on the breeding loft), Ludwig Van De Casteele (Oekene), Marc Pollin (Zwevegem), Sierens-VD Broucke (Zwevegem) and De Rauw-Sablon (Lebbeke).

The winning bird is called "Ronaldinho" (4295602-04), and he also won the 714th national Limoges against 17,456b. - 69th provincial Vierzon 3,027b.

His father is the "4432376-02" (received as an egg from De Rauw-Sablon), and his mother is "Dorien" (3310983-97). "Dorien " has as father the "Didi Junior II" (full brother of "Kleine Didi") and as mother "Wouter Duivin" (daughter of the "Wouter" from Gaston De Vooght who won the 1st national Dax). "Dorien" is already mother of "Scherpen" (45th national Barcelona) - "Zidane" (10th nat. Dax) and "Figo" (53rd nat. Barcelona and 48th nat. Beziers)


06.10.06 AURILLAC

The national race from Aurillac (this in the place from Montélimar) had 6,609 birds at the basketting table. (Last year for Montelimar it was 10,197 old birds.) On Saturday at 6:50 a.m. the birds were released and the top birds had a velocity of 1350 m/m.

6,609 Old Birds

1. Paul Verbeke - Gits (1384.24 m/m)
2. Bernard Favart - Baregnies (1363.75 m/m)
3. Willy and Jean-Luc Ampe - Aartrijke (1360.88 m/m)


"De Roden"

The Bourlards


Rutz and Sons

It is still possible that a "little" fancier can beat the top lofts. Paul Verbeke (69 years old) has only nine widowers and 23 youngbirds. The pigeon sport can be beautiful! For the national race from Aurillac, Paul had only basketted one cock, and that red cock won this national race in an impressive way. Paul has been a fancier since 1963, without outstanding results. In 1997 Paul considered quitting the pigeon sport, but on a certain day he met Noël Van Slambroeck (Poelkapelle), who had bought a lot of good birds but due to work circumstances had given them all away to Michel Vereecke. Noël said to Paul, "Bring me 15 rings and I will ask Michel to band you some youngsters." He did as he promised, and a new base for the Verbeke loft was established. Later these birds got company from pigeons from Odiel Vanneste (Rumbeke), André Brouckaert (Gits) and Charles Coopman (Gits).

The winning bird is "De Roden" (3122276-03). When we asked about his pedigree, Paul couldn't give a detailed one. His father is a son of "Zoon Goeie Rosten" (strain Decroix - Rumbeke), and his mother goes by the name "Blauwe Kouse."


06.17.06 CAHORS

In the case of Cahors, we have a famous race on the program. Released at 7 o'clock, 6,665 old birds participated. It became a very hard race, and the top birds made a velocity of only 1130 m/m! National winners were René and Etienne Bourlard from Harveng.


1. Rene + Etienne Bourlard - Harveng (1139.93 m/m)
2. Boudewijn Jonckheere - Torhout (1122.15 m/m)
3. Van Hoecke Luc - Oedelem (1116.36 m/m)

When the wind blows from the east, then we think that we can go to West-Flanders to congratulate the national winner, but this time we were wrong. There were a lot of fanciers from West-Flanders in the top ten, but the victory went to Bourlard (Harveng), whose loft is in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

Do you still know them? In 2005 they had a real top season with the national victory from Limoges as top result. And now one season later, they're again there with the 1st national Cahors.

Since 1983 Rene (66 years) and Etienne (41 years) have formed a "pigeon-combination." First they raced weekly on the short distance, but after some clubs closed the doors to those fanciers, they decided to try it a little bit further. The base is made up of 80 percent pigeons from Yvon Deneufbourg (Estinnes) and some birds from Ghijsselbrecht (Knesselare), Marc Roosens (Leernes), Pochet Eugene (Quaregnon), Delbruyère (Solre Sur Sambre), Roger Depetter (Fontaine l'Eveque).

Every year they have about 55 widowers and 20 hens on nest position. These pigeons are basketted for races from 600 to 1000km.

The national winner is named "Lucky" 9003254-04. "Lucky" is just like a lot of other Bourlard pigeons-at his best when it is a very hard race. Before going to Cahors, he was also basketted for Bourges, and in that race he won 17th against 1009 old birds.

The father of "Lucky" is 9051600-00 (received as an egg from Marc Roosens). Mother is 9003354-97 (strain Deneufbourg X Ghijsselbrecht).



With Pau we have traditionally the first international race of the season. Organiser Colombe Joyeuse got in a total 6,544 old birds. There were 2,061 from Belgium, 2,412 from The Netherlands, 1,108 from France and 963 from Germany.

International 6,544 Old Birds

1. Rutz and Sons - Blieskastel (D) (1089.04 m/m)
2. Friedh Menne und daughters - Hamminkeln (D) (1044.04 m/m)
3. Patrice Pautler - Mertzwiller (F) (1043.32 m/m)

In Germany they're in the big names if it concerns the very long distance. Karl Heinz Rutz and his twin sons Sven and Jens thought they had their best season ever in 2005, because in that year they won the "Europa Beker" and were in the top three of the very difficult very long distance championship named the "Europese Marathon."

Everything started with the purchase of the hen "Angelina" (09788-93-567 strain Descamps-Van Hasten + Catrysse) by Helmut Grun (Lahr). That hen was a real top breeder, and certainly the name of her son "Beloki" (also a good flyer on the very long distance) can be found in 80 percent of the pedigrees of the Rutz pigeons.

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"Zoon Rocco"

Jean Moens

"De Pau"

Hans and
Armand Claus

In 2000 father and son decided to focus only on the very long distance, and therefore they bought birds from Houben (Epen - NL), Jan Lijnders (Reuver), Kipp and Sons (Althornbach), Bernd Morsnowki (Krefeld), Ben Hendriks (Appeldoorn), Etienne Van Hecke (B) Wilfried Stiel (Acren), Heinz Seegmuller (Grossteinhausen), Jan Dons (Kapelle Op Den Bos) and H and R Wijnands (Maastricht).

In total they have a racing team of 98 birds, which are raced on total widowhood.

The international winner is "Zoon Rocco" 0709-03-886. His father is "Rocco" (0709-02-299, a son of the previously mentioned "Angelina"). His mother is a pure Kipp and Son hen, (4900-98-1390) and comes from "4900-96-222" (78th nat. Barcelona, 16th national Marseille, 58th national Perpignan) X "4900-96-221" (80th national Dax, 57th national Pau, 31st national Dax).


There was a laugh and a tear when we met Jean Moens. A laugh for the national victory but a tear because his lovely wife Christiane (who helps a lot on the pigeon loft) was in the hospital for a serious operation. Jean said, "The operation went well, but I have to wait a few days to tell her the good news because she is still in intensive care."

Jean has been a fancier his whole life, in the beginning together with his father and since 1966 in his own name. In 1971 he decided to make the step to the long distance and bought birds from Remi Ghijsselbrecht (Knesselare), Herman Brinkman (Tuk), Kees de Jong and Eric Limbourg (Brussegem). Every year there are 40 old and 20 year bird widowers. Sometimes some old hens are coupled to some year cocks, and those hens are then raced from Barcelona. On the medical scene, Jean has everything under good control because his son Dirk is a specialized pigeon vet.

The national winner is "De Pau" 2037076-03. His father is the 2017678/99 (directly from Eric Limbourg and son of the 1st national Narbonne and grandson of the 1st national Perpignan). Mother is "4483308/96" and is a daughter of "De Laureaat," or in other words the 1st international Barcelona against 20,935 b. from Remi Ghijsselbrecht.

06.23.06 BRIVE

9,786 Old Birds
1. Claus Armand and Hans - Wortegem-Petegem (1227.70 m/m)
2. Mitchell Martyn - Hulste (1224.38 m/m)
3. Demeester Decraene - Nokere (1219.66 m/m)

History repeats itself. They like to hear that at the home of Armand and son Hans Claus from Wortegem-Petegem. Just 11 years ago, our father-son combination also won a national race. Then it was Narbonne, which was noted on the race results. Armand has been a pigeon fancier his whole life. His parents were the owners of a pigeon club. When he married in 1958 he began in his own name. His first birds came mostly from Octaaf Van Herpen (Ronse). A few years later his son Hans was also infected with the pigeon virus, and together they decided to go to the long distance. Hans, who is a good friend of Georges Carteus, bought some pigeons from Georges, and one hen (B92-4025298) became the top breeder in Claus' loft. Since then, every year some Carteus pigeons come to Wortegem-Petegem. Also, birds come from Onijn Germain (Ronse), Gerard and Michel Vanhee (Wervik), Frans Van Wildemeersch (Brugge) and Albert Devriese (Maarkedal), and last but not least pigeons from Norbert Ally (Aarsele).

Regarding Claus' loft, we have a big name but not a big colony within the pigeon sport. With 30 widowers, 10 pairs of stockbirds, and 40 youngsters, this is classified as a small loft.

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"De Crack"

Georges Bolle and
his wife


The national winner is a real topbird and is named "De Crack" (B02-4069331). Before his national victory, he won the 20th national Limoges against 21,409 b. - 22nd national Cahors against 9,275b. and was the 8th provincial ace-pigeon East Flanders on the long distance.

His father is the "4439067-00" (a son of top breeding hen 298/92). Mother is "4439076-00".

07.01.06 ALBI

The national race from Albi was totally new. Normally, we have the national race from Orange that weekend, but due to some restrictions from the French government, the organizers had to go to Albi. With a very strong northeast wind, we can count Albi among the very hard races. Only a few top birds had a velocity above 1000 m/m, and only 450 birds of the 5,063 could reach their loft on release day.


1. Bolle Georges - Kortemark (1068.29 m/m)
2. Devos Etienne - Deerlijk (1042.83 m/m)
3. Lefebre-Dhaenens - Zulte (1040.65 m/m)

Do I still have to introduce him? I don't think so. Georges Bolle is more than a name known world wide! Georges already clocked 1st national Limoges against 8,784 b. (1982) - 1st national Dax against 7,810 old birds (1986) - 1st national Limoges against 22,506 year birds - 1st national Cahors against 9,043 birds (1996) - 1st national Dax against 4,170 birds (1998) and now first national Albi.

The base of the Bolle colony are pigeons from Jozef Vandenbroucke (Wielsbeke) and Gerard and Michel Vanhee (Wervik). In 1993 Georges Bolle sold his whole colony, but a few years later he started again. One of his top birds "Den Adjudant" (3002050/91) was bought by Adhemar Lerno (Lokeren), and when this bird became available again in a total auction Georges bought this pigeon back. "Den Adjudant" became the top breeder for Bolle, and now around 80 percent of all Bolle birds have the name "De Adjudant" in their pedigree. When Georges buys pigeons, he likes to buy them from "unknown, little fanciers." So he bought three topbirds from Gilbert Finaut, two superb yearbirds from Simoen (Zedelgem) and topbirds from Gerard Baert (Torhout).

A few pigeons in a lot of lofts-this is the key to create top condition. Every winter there are around 160 pigeons in lofts where you have places for 600 birds. Widower lofts with 12 boxes where only three widowers have places is more a rule than an exception.

The national winner is called "Arthur" (3053076-03). Before winning the first national, he won in 2006 also the 20th national Aurillac against 6,611 birds. His father is the "Pisa" (3003333-01 - a son of the 1st national Dax 1998). His mother is "Elsie" (3037213-02 - directly from Noel Lippens from Aarsele and granddaughter of his famous "Vital").


Unbelievable but true. One day after winning the 1st national Albi , 13 top widowers were stolen from Georges, among them "Arthur" the 1st national Albi. Georges and his lovely wife were not home because they were basketting pigeons for Barcelona International. When they came home around 11 p.m., they didn't notice anything different, but when they entered the lofts on Monday morning, they saw immediately that there were no droppings in some boxes, and when they checked everything they saw that all the pigeons which had already classified them at the top in national races had been stolen. Not only "Arthur" but also the 2nd national Bourges were gone.

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Look for Part 2 of 2006 National Winners next month...

[Note: This is the first part of a three-part article. For Part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here.]

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