Hold image Have room for more birds? You might get lucky in Siegel's Pigeon Giveaway!
Search for products or helpful info:
View my Cart How to Shop Online
Home News Catalog Ask Ed Our Loft Timers Contact Us
  News > 2009 National Winners: Bourges, Brive, Montelimar, Cahors, Pau

Click on any photo for larger version

2009 National Winners:

by Stefan Mertens


with their wives

Freddy and Jacques Vandenheede


The lofts
in Zingem




The winner's


Winner's wing


1st national

Pedigree of
1st National
Old Birds

Wing of 1st
National Bourges
Old Birds


Zingem :

What a nice opening weekend for the national races! Blue sky, light south east wind in France and coming closer to Belgium, the wind turned northeast.

All this in combined with a lot of participating pigeons.  To be exact, there were 48,882 pigeons, a record since 1991.  You can feel that we are talking about a perfect national race.

The wind defines where the future winner of a national race will be, and when we saw the dominant east wind on the weather maps, we already turned the car in an eastward direction toward East- and West-Flanders.<br>

Our feeling was right, because on the border of these two provinces, the first pigeons were noticed.

But the real winners of this race are without a doubt the brothers Freddy and Jacques Vandenheede from Zingem. Not only did they win the first prize national Bourges against 26,910 old pigeons, but also the first prize national against 21,972 yearling pigeons.
It is almost incredible, but side by side two pigeons stormed toward the landing board, and a  few seconds later, two beeps sounded in Zingem’s heaven.

Good for two times first national!


Freddy and Jacques Vandenheede are already well-known names in our sport, so it is not necessary to introduce them again. A few years ago we already published an article about Freddy Vandenheede here at the Siegel’s Web site.

In the past they each played from their own pigeon loft and under their own name, but when Freddy became director of a local school in Zingem, he did not have much time anymore for his favorite hobby.

Fortunately at that time, he could count on the support of his mother Simonne, but when she suddenly passed away in 2007, Freddy was on his own again.  The family came together, and the two brothers that were living as neighbors decided to join forces.  By the end of 2007 the partnership of Freddy and Jacques had been born.

Freddy and Jacques Vandenheede

At the lofts of Jacques, the breeders were settled and at the lofts of Freddy, the racing pigeons were settled.
At the same time it was decided to follow the whole racing program, starting with the middle distance until one day they would compete in the long distance races.
This would happen with a team of 60 widowers, for the one-day flights and a 60-hen team that will be put in on the heavy middle-distance races.

Besides that, the brothers have at their disposal over 250 young pigeons who get traditional, the nationals of the young pigeons under their wings.


This championship was achieved by “Simonne” (B07-4093286), a hen that normally goes on more heavy flights.
As a yearling she won the 149th national St. Vincent against 8,393 pigeons, but also achieved other top results such as 15th Dourdan against 346 pigeons, 2nd Etampes against 305 pigeons, 9th Etampes against 162 pigeons, 278th Vierzon against 5,076 pigeons, and 240th Chateauroux against 3,469 pigeons.

These national wins are made on breeding. Freddy explains, “All the racing hens have bred early.  After that, a sort of winter regime begins, and according to the flights they had to do during the season, the hens were coupled in different groups during the spring.
“Simonne” was in the flight crew of the long-distance (‘fond’) pigeons and the important thing was ‘picking out’ the direction national Brive.

Because of having some more distance in its wings, this pigeon was sent to Bourges.
A week before Bourges, the later national winner flew Etampes (320km).


At the same time, “Simonne”—a yearling hen with ring number 4095175-08—came to the landing board.  Freddy explains, “We don’t have at this moment a name for this national winner, but this will be no problem in the future, because those two hens have to stay in the breeding loft for the rest of their lives!”

“B08-4095175” is in a team of heavy middle-distance hens, and this team has been coupled at the end of March for the second time.

They may all come with one baby and when the males started to hunt again, the cock is sent to the aviary and the hens can bring their babies up by themselves.

So with a baby in the nest of about 20 days old, the “174/08” went to Bourges. Except the fact that she had been alone with her baby for a few days, there was nothing special for motivation.


Freddy continues, “The weekend before Bourges, my brother and I were a little disappointed. Not that the results for Etampes and Vierzon were not good, but we started too late and had too few head pigeons.  We had the impression that all pigeons went too deep, and because of that the training enthusiasm of the pigeons wasn't as strong as usual.  They trained well but not super. In spite of that, the hens didn't have any training any more.”

On the medical front, the week before Bourges, Jacques and Freddy treat for one and a half days against trichomoniasis and at the same time, they put a product from the vet against ornithosis in the drinking pots.

During this week all pigeons are dropped three times with terramycin eye gel. The food they receive, because they are still on the nest, is a breeding mixture, a mix of different products.

And then there is the arrival of the two national winners.



1st national
Bourges old

Jan Ghielens,
Michel Hallaert,
and Jean-Claude Decaestecker


Ghielens lofts

The 1st
national Brive

The wing of the
1st national Brive

The eye of the
1st national Brive

Freddy says, “We didn't expect them so soon.  We thought we would still have half an hour, before the first pigeons would arrive, and suddenly two pigeons were circling.

We looked at each other with some disbelief in our eyes, because this was something more than head pigeons.”

“Our dream became reality, a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, and 23 May 2009 was
our moment!”

Jean-Claude Decaestecker and
Jan Ghielens
-- 17,478 birds

The Brive national marked the beginning of the new long-distance season.

Again good spring weather was predicted and again as was the case the prior week for Bourges, it was an exceptionally good race for the participating pigeons.

In 2008 there were 14,521 pigeons starting for the Brive race, and now there were 17,478 pigeons competing to see who is the fastest.  And the fastest among the whole group was “ The Brive” from our cordial friends Jean-Claude Decaestecker and Jan Ghielens.


The pigeon sport can be beautiful and with that feeling we left the house of Jean Claude Decaestecker.
At 48 years old, Jean-Claude has been a pigeon man since 1976.

His father had no pigeons, but his grandfather could go on all day about the beautiful pigeon sport and in this way Jean-Claude got infected with the pigeon “virus”.

The first years were years of trial and error, with Jean-Claude hoping weekly that one pigeon would earn a prize. After three seasons, it got a little bit better with the colony Decaestecker, and Jean-Claude could already picture himself among the better pigeon men of Gits.

To Jean-Claude, the pigeon sport was and is still a pure hobby.  He is a self-described “fanatic”, and says, “I have sponsored the local pigeon association for ten years, by putting the clocks in order. I must tell you that I have made good contacts over there, and especially with the president, Etienne Strobandt, it clicked. I got many pigeons from him, and at the moment, 75% of my pigeons are from his breeding stock. Besides that, I have pigeons from Michel Hallaert (Gits-20%) , and the rest of the pigeons are from Marc D'Hayer (Hooglede), Horelbeke Michel and David (Gits), Jules Delameileur (Lichtervelde) and Soen-Van Craeynest (Moorsele).

“I married in 1982,” Jean-Claude continues, “and came to live at this address. The results were as with many pigeon men, one week good and the next week less so.  But as I’ve said before, the pigeon sport is a hobby for me, and I enjoyed every moment in full measure. But concerning my working conditions, it was very difficult to keep one fixed line in my care scheme.  Thankfully, for the last three years, I can count on the full support of Jan Ghielens. Jan, who is retired at 56, spends every day strictly taking care of the pigeons, and when I am at home, we do the work together.”<br>

“The fact is that, since Jan came to help me, the results are much better,” Jean-Claude insists.<br>

“In 2008 we could achieve up to eight victories,” he explains. “This is not so bad for such a small colony. The total pigeon line-up from the colony Decaestecker-Ghielens is made of exactly 25 widowers (12 old and 13 yearlings) and every year about 50 young pigeons.” 

I ask, “Are there no breeders?”

 “No,” Jean-Claude tells me, “our widowers are coupled in the beginning of December, may bring up a couple of youngsters, and once they are all separated, the widowhood starts.
From these youngsters, I have given away 27 pigeons for free to my friends. This gap was filled up with pigeons I received from Michel Hallaert and Etienne Stobandt. This all happened for free.”


And then the most beautiful victory that Jean-Claude and Jan could taste till now, the national victory from Brive. This was made by 3074780/07.

Released at 7:30 a.m. for a distance of 661 km, he was clocked at 17hr. 21minutes and 51 seconds (5:21:51 p.m.), for a speed of 1118.46 m/m.

“ The Brive” himself, is a well built blue cock, more from the smaller type, but with a characteristic full head on his athletic body.

How was this crack racer motivated?  “Listen,” Jean-Claude goes on, “I have to tell you, that the first races we select very strictly. This season we removed already eight widowers from the loft. Through this, different places are free in the loft, and week after week we use this as a motivation before an important race.

All empty boxes are opened, so the cocks can expand their territory, and Jan keeps an eye very strictly, so that the pigeons don't fight too much. Apparently, ‘The Brive’ got his extra motivation this way.  First we thought that this was a late pigeon from Tours, but quickly we noticed that this was a Brive flyer.”

“The Brive” was bred by Michel Hallaert and won as a young pigeon 3rd Arras against 117 pigeons, 6th Clermont against 278 pigeons, 48th Ablis against 185 pigeons and 26th  Dudelange.

Click here to return to top of page.

Click here to return to top of page.

Pedigree of the
1st national Brive

As a yearling he didn't disappoint: 31st Clermont against 235 pigeons, 66th Ablis against 215 pigeons, 5th Orleans against 380 pigeons, 29th Poitiers against 110 pigeons, 23rd Argenton against 160 pigeons, 74th Limoges against 299 pigeons, 2nd Poitiers against 240 pigeons, and 7th Argenton against 80 pigeons. This season he scored on the short distance with 113th Roye against 441 pigeons and 19th Ablis against 536 pigeons.

Fourteen days ago, on Chateauroux, he failed to win his prize, as a result of slamming hard on the Brive national.

Jan and Jean-Claude—both both normal pigeon men, who can make such big victories.  This is beautiful.  Enjoy it men!!!!


Erik Peeters

The loft of the
1st national

Westerlo : Montélimar—The 2009 race will still be in the mind for a while. Not only did the baskets stay closed during the weekend until Monday, due to the bad weather conditions, but on the other side of the race we needed to wait for a few days to know the official national winner. We are not going to retell the whole story again, this has already been done on many websites.

Montélimar, at a distance of 700 km from Brussels had 8,193 pigeons basketed, a few hundred less than last year. Released at 7:20 a.m., this long-distance race got off to an easy start, where flyers on the east side of the country saw themselves in the spotlight. The winner is Erik Peeters from the Groenstraat in Westerlo. Just like the national Brive winner (Decaestecker-Ghielens), the pigeon sport is a pure hobby for Erik. "It’s the ideal distraction after a hard day at work," this 49-year-old pigeon man tells us.


Erik explains, "I got in contact with the pigeon sport through my father, Achiel. He was a fanatic short-distance racer. When I was eight or nine years old, my father had a heart attack and when he stayed in hospital, I took care of the pigeons. Without my realizing it, the pigeon virus got me, and since that day, I have never been without pigeons. As a little kid, I raced together with my father, and every week I stood with him at the basketing of a Quievrain race. Don't ask me which kind of strains we had at that moment in our loft.  It was without any doubt a mixing of different names.”
“In 1986, my wife and I built our home here,” Erik continues. “We had a pallet of bricks that were left over, so in the backyard, we built a pigeon loft.”

“After a short time,” he explains, “my mother became seriously ill, so we rebuilt our home so that my parents could be in the neighborhood. We moved the pigeons from my parents’ home to my home, and again I played together with my father with the pigeons. Just like the old times, the pigeon game was limited to pure speed.”
Click here to return to top of page.

"De Vale" --
The 1st national

Wing of the
1st national


Head study of
the 1st national

Erik says, “My father’s health wasn't what it should be, but fortunately I could count on the support and help of my friend Jan Dierckx. If necessary I could count on him for basketing and feeding the pigeons.”

“In 2004 my father died,” Erik continues, “and in 2005 I decided to practice the pigeon sport in another way. Long-distance and extreme long-distance would be the new challenge. The goal was that within three years we would build a strong team, from which I could put two or three good pigeons in the basket.”

“But meanwhile, I have noticed,” he says, “that it is not so easy, and that the long-distance game regularly costs a feather, and at the end of the season, more than one box is empty.

Long distance  requires long-distance pigeons, and at first we got these pigeons from Smets-Van Elst (Herenthout) and August Desmedt (Westerlo). Recently I got more from Nijs Frans (Lichtaart), and honestly, I need to mention that I have a good Barcelona hen from Smolders-Vandenbroeck. This hen has won for the past two years the first local prize of Barcelona.”


The 2009 season started with 13 widowers (including five yearlings) and five hens. There was no winter- or early breeding here, and you are not even going to find a breeding loft. No, after the season, all the pigeons still present may breed a couple of youngsters, and these late summer youngsters are then the future widowers. Also "De Vale" or in other words, the national winner, was bred late in the 2007 season.
These youngsters may go outside during the whole winter, and when the weather conditions are good they may make one training toss. As yearlings, they are going very carefully in the direction of middle distance, at a maximum of 450km, and then as old pigeons in the direction long distance and extreme long distance. Before the season, around mid-March, the widowers are coupled and may brood for a few days before going on widowhood.

We follow the widowhood system in its pure form. Training two times a day, separate eating, no medication (except when it is necessary), and before the race, the cocks are motivated by putting the hen in her half of the box.

Pedigree of
"De Vale"

And then we come to the national winner.
For "De Vale" (B6181485/07), Montélimar was his first real challenge, and he hit the jackpot. Clocked at 15hr.52 min. and 12 seconds, for a distance of 730 km, he flew at a speed of 1425.28 m/m.

Erik says, "Don't ask me if I have motivated this pigeon, because honestly, I wouldn't know. The only thing I can tell you, is that my widowers were in top condition. There are other pigeon men living in this neighborhood, and they had already noticed that my widowers trained a little bit more than their pigeons. “

“ They told me that it wouldn't surprise them, if in the next few weeks, I was going to make a stunt result,” Erik continues.  “Those men predicted this, and they were right! ‘De Vale’ is a clever cock, medium build, with soft feathers, and a head with fire in his eyes.”

Click here to return to top of page.

The Vaneenoo

Head study
of "Gambrinus"


Wingene: This weekend, the middle-distance and the long-distance fanciers were very much spoiled by a change in the weather. While it had been raining a whole week prior to race day, on Saturday it was beautiful pigeon weather. Along the entire flight line, there was a very good view and a blue sky, with only a few little white clouds here and there.

What more could anyone want? As the main race, there was the national flight from Cahors on the program (distance Brussels: 730 km), and just as with Bourges and Brive, the organization noticed an increase in the number of participating pigeons. In 2008, 5,425 pigeons participated and now 7,292 pigeons, an increase of 1,867 pigeons. We have said this before: the wind defines where the national head pigeons are, and again “Flanders” was where they turned.

They made a very exciting fight of it.  As is said in cycling terms, Julien Vaneenoo (Wingene 1245.72 m/m), won it with a band thickness from De Meulemeester Gaby and Johan (Zulte – 1245.30 m/m) and Joost De Smeyter-Restiaan (Melden -1244 m/m).

Be honest now.  Even the best scriptwriter of a thriller wouldn't be able to shake something like this out of his pen!

By the way, Cahors was a battle between two ex-general champions from Belgium, because Julien Vaneenoo was champion in 2007 and De Meulemeester Gaby and Johan were general national champions in 2004.


Wing study
of "Gambrinus"


Julien (76 years old) and his son Bart Vaneenoo (50) are well known to the pigeon public, because this West-Flemish colony, is gradually entering the history books as one of the best long-distance lofts that Belgium will ever know. Beside the title of general champion K.B.D.B '07, four national victories also decorate their impressive list of racing results.

It all started in 1993, when they won National Brive young pigeons.  After that “Moore“ (B96-3037094 ) won national Cahors in 1999 against 13,092 pigeons. In 2003 there was national Beziers, where “Doren” ( 3181206/02 ) not only won the first against 4,818 yearbirds with a speed of 1280.58 m/m, but he was also faster than the 6348 old pigeons, and then now, exactly 10 years after “Moore”, top pigeon “Gambrinus” (B04-3178137), who just like his grandfather “Moore” wins national Cahors. Where is this all going to end?

In the beginning of the eighties, Julien Vaneenoo resolutely pulled the long distance card. With a lot of consideration and patience, he had already gotten himself some long-distance pigeons for breeding, and the first tests appeared to bring some satisfactory successes. In 1981, he put a maximum of two or three pigeons in the races above 500 km, and soon it came out that he was on the right way.

The top birds of those “old days” were the “Noé” (3040028/78) and the “Hinault” (3275254/81). Julien got a taste for the “long distance”, but because of his very busy occupation, Vaneenoo industrial building, he wasn't able to do this by himself.  For this reason, Pol Schoonbaert was employed.

The Vaneenoo team, with Julien at the head, flanked by son Bart and his assistant Pol, was cast in final form. Later on, Erwin Pollet also joined the team. Their commitment and their “team spirit” have ensured that the name Vaneenoo has achieved all these successes.
Click here to return to top of page.

The winner's



The season 2009 was begun with a team of 126 widowers. Just like the 35 breeding couples, the widowers may breed early. Once the young became big, everything was separated. On 20th of March the hens came again with the cocks and everybody could nest for a maximum of five days. Julien explains,  “During this nesting the training basket was taken from the ceiling, and we started with the first preparation flights.”

“For many years,” he continues, “we have the habit of starting on the first Sunday of April, this with all our widowers. Of course the weather conditions must be good, but we are more and more convinced, that the longer that the long distance pigeons have been flying, the better they will perform later in the season.  Before Cahors the widowers had flown 2X Arras, 2X Roye, 2X Ablis and then some of the cocks went to Orleans and others to Tours. ‘Gambrinus’  was entered for Tours and won a big prize.”

“After Tours,” Julien continues, “he wasn't basketted anymore. In all we have 10 widowers lofts and, coincidence or not, ‘Gambrinus’ is in the same loft as his grandfather ‘Moore’, who in 1999 won the same national flight.”

Julien adds, “Unfortunately, they are not sitting in the same box, otherwise the story of grandfather-grandson would be totally crazy!”

Was  “Gambrinus” specially motivated?  “No,” Julien responds, “not that we know of, but a pigeon that gives that result, will find his motivation somewhere!  As usual, before basketing, he was shown his hen for a few minutes. 

His arrival will be in my memory forever. From far away, I saw him coming.  Then he did something that he had never done in his life, namely, making a big tour of the loft before trapping. Fortunately, he didn't make two tours, or we could forget the national victory. Our widowers must be in top condition, because last week we also won provincial Montélimar.”

Loft of the
1st national


“Gambrinus” is surely not a “one-day-fly”, because in 2007, this vale cock was first provincial ace pigeon West-Flanders K.B.D.B. long distance. In 2005 “Gambrinus” won six prizes of which five were in the first 10% and as a topper 56th Limoges from 4,099 pigeons. In 2006 he won 4 prizes: 6th Bouillon against 118 pigeons, 7th Bouillon against 247 pigeons, 7th Tours against 287 pigeons, and then 91st national Dax against 5,188 pigeons (738 international against 11,517 pigeons).

In 2007 our eventual national winner won six prizes of which four were in the first 10%: 3rd  Brive against 216 pigeons (132 national against 16,007 pigeons), 7th Montauban against 122 pigeons (514th national against 6,187 pigeons), (514th national against 6,187 pigeons), 3rd Irun against 175 pigeons (57th national against 5,252 pigeons).

Then the season 2008: five prizes were 6th Brive against 151 pigeons (1024th national against 14,521 pigeons) and 2nd Montauban against 106 pigeons ( 33rd national against 5,438 pigeons).

For Cahors 18 cocks were put in the race, and from the first prognoses, the name Vaneenoo is already for the third time on the 47th national place.

Arrival times are: 16hr.55-18 sec (1st national), 17hr.17 (21st national); 17hr.28 (47th   national); 17hr.33, 17hr.43, 17hr.44, 17hr.53, 17hr.54, 17hr.55, 18hr.08.

Julien, Bart, Pol and Erwin—again congratulations and let more than one champagne cork fly in the air!

Click here to return to top of page.




1st national




Head study of
the 1st national


Deerlijk: Pau is traditionally the first international race of the season.  For this year’s race, the weather forecast was for a tight northwest wind, and that prediction proved true. The result for the first prize international, just like in 2008, was clocked in Germany. The well known German heavy long-distance champion, Hermes Heiko from Alterhornbach, can take all the honor.

It was no surprise that to congratulate the Belgian national winner we had only to drive to western Belgium, namely to Deerlijk, and more particularly to the living legend Roger Vereecke. Roger is 88 years young, and it was his 7th national victory.

In total 7,679 pigeons participated in the Pau international race:  (Belgium: 2,036 – Netherlands: 2,750 – France: 1,518 – Germany: 1,005 – Luxemburg: 40 – England: 330)


With Roger Vereecke, his local organization Colombe Joyeuse has a world-class fancier’s name on its list of winners. For more than 50 years, Roger has been the top in his category. Throughout the world, thousands of pigeon fanciers are successful with his birds, so an introduction is hardly necessary.
The day after the arrival of Pau we visited Roger. It was early in the morning. Roger gave us a good cup of coffee and started to tell his story.

Roger explains, “I have always been partial to the international race from Pau. Reporters used to call me ‘Mister Pau.’ Maybe not unduly, because during my career, I have won many prizes in this race.”  1st national ( 2009 ) – 1st national ( 1985 ) - 3rd national ( 1978 ) – 3rd national ( 1980 ) – 4th national ( 1978 ) – 4th national ( 1981 ) – 5th national ( 2005 ) – 7th national ( 1981 ) – 7th national ( 1998 ) – 8th national ( 1989 ) – 9th national ( 1982 ) – 11th national ( 1985 ) – 12th national ( 1988 ) – 13th national ( 1976 ) – 13th national ( 1991 ) – 14th national ( 1998 ) – 14th national ( 2002 )

Roger smiles and says, “I can go on for a while like this.  With this national victory, we got back ‘the good old days.’  I can guarantee you that for an old man like me, a victory like this gives me the courage to go for it again in the future.”

Wing of
the 1st national

Pedigree of
"The Tarbes"


Whoever mentions the name Vereecke is talking about very long-distance pigeons. His 2009 season begins with a team of 20 old birds, 17 two years and 36 yearlings.

As young pigeons, they go several times to 300 km. As yearlings, it is in the direction of heavy middle distance.  As two year pigeons, they go for their first long-distance races.

When the season ends, all widowers can have a youngster. Once the youngster is weaned, everything is separated again. At the beginning of December,  the widowers are coupled again. Every widower can again breed a youngster, and before the hen lays again, everything is separated. On March 28th the hen came back to the loft for a nesting period of five days. Afterwards, widowhood was established.


The Vereecke



The national victory was won by “The Tarbes” (B04-3000159). This cock earned his name last year because he won top honors on Tarbes, with 1st prize local Tarbes, 3rd provincial against 1,212 pigeons, 14th national against 4,660 pigeons, 26th international against 12,537 pigeons, and so on.

Roger explains, “I personally find ‘The Tarbes’ a very beautiful pigeon.  He is a quiet guy, softly feathered, simply the best pigeon I have. ‘The Tarbes’ is a known value, a guy that is there on the races that he needs to be there for, and he always puts his ring number on the result sheet. This season he won a prize from Brive.”

Was “The Tarbes” specially motivated?

Roger replies, “Not that I know of.  The same things have been done as usual before basketing. When I basket the widowers I never show them their own hen, but I put a strange hen in the loft. This lady flutters around, with the result that all cocks stay in their boxes and they start to ‘call’ the strange lady.  Because they stay in their boxes, I can take them very easily for basketing.  When ‘The Tarbes’ arrived, we first thought that it was a late pigeon from Montauban, but when we saw him diving to the loft of the two Pau flyers we had a feeling that this would be and should be a top pigeon.”

To my question of whether I expect the pigeons to perform better in the eastern part of Belgium, Roger answered, “Yes, according to the dominant west wind, we were in a manner of speaking, beaten in advance, but when I heard the first notifications from France and saw that there was a pigeon from St. Quentin, I allowed myself to hope a little bit.
On a heavy long-distance flight, you could be astonished by which line the old experienced pigeons take.”

At the basketing of Pau, Roger was there with only two pigeons. Besides the national winner, Roger also basket “The Irun.” This blue cock’s arrival was at 22h29 [almost 10:30 p.m.].  In other words, Vereecke had clocked two pigeons while in many other places the Pau flyers hadn't came home yet.  With only two in the race—“The Tarbes” and “The Irun”—Roger was able to close his loft!

Roger, thanks for the reception and again congratulations!

Click here to return to top of page.

 Entire site contents © 2000 through 2008, 2009
Charles Siegel and Son Inc.