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A view of
Guy with the
and his son
With Bourges II, which is raced the last weekend of August and from a distance for Brussels of 450km, we had, for the middle-distance racers, the race of all races on the programme. Some people call this race the sensation race of the year.
Next to the 41,783 young birds, 11,875 old birds and 16,771 year birds were also basketted for a total of 70,429 pigeons! So many pigeons…this seems to us not so an easy job to liberate and to transport this number of birds to the liberation place. To know more about this, we contacted Filip Norman, the president of the organisation “Belgische Verstandhouding.” Filip says, “Bourges is a real sensation every year, and I can guarantee you that we do everything to make the organisation perfect.”
This is probably an accurate description because although a lot of fanciers were complaining that they have lost a lot of young birds, more than 41,000 youngsters were basketted for Bourges national. This is ample proof that to win this race is a dream of every pigeon fancier. Short-, middle-, or long-distance racer … everybody wants to write this victory alongside his name. As I have already said, even long-distance racers are basketting for this big race, the main reason being that they want to give their young birds some experience.
“The pigeons were basketted on Thursday evening,” Filip continues. “On Friday, we already saw in the weather forecast that it would be very difficult to liberate on Saturday. The weather in Bourges was perfect, but in the north of France and in Belgium there was a lot of rain. Can you imagine? There were more than 70,000 pigeons that want to be liberated and this was in temperatures above 30 degrees (85 degrees Fahrenheit). Due to these warm temperatures, we had to make sure that the pigeons received enough drinking water. Talking about drinking… already on the way to Bourges I let the trucks stop to give all the pigeons enough water. Can you imagine—all the 3,500 baskets had to receive fresh water. This is a lot of work, but you should have seen how the pigeons drank! Believe it or not, but also on Sunday, liberation day, the pigeons received fresh water.”
This race was a very hard one. There was no problem for the old- and year birds but for the youngsters it was not a pleasant race. The reason was readily apparent. Already, during the whole season the youngsters had flown in south winds, and with everything except high temperatures and now, for the very first time in their lives, they had North (head) winds and high temperatures. Combine this with a release of pigeons nation-wide and then you know why it took some hours before the race could be closed.
The fastest pigeon of all 70,000 birds was the year bird of Philip Grymonprez from Kuurne (West-Flanders). His “Mauricio” (B07-3008551) was clocked at 13h.52min and 9 seconds for a distance of 423.232km or in other words, good for a velocity of 1201.84 m/m. With this velocity, “Mauricio” was the only bird that went above a speed of 1200 m/m. Before this national win, “Mauricio” won 14 prizes out of 21 races. Second in the category of year birds was Jonckers Johny and Yves (Linter – 1184.27 m/m). Third place went to Himpe Roger (Waregem – 1178.93 m/m).
In the category of old birds, it was Marcel Deman from Lauwe who was the fastest. With a velocity of 1199.31 m/m, he beat Vandeneeckhout Marc (Kalken – 1187.34 m/m) and Joris-Andriessen (Asper – 1186.43 m/m).
But, especially for our readers we went to visit the national winner in the category of young birds. There the winner was Guy Everaert from Moortsele. Moortsele is situated south of Ghent, and there Guy clocked his winner at 14h.9 min and 15 seconds for a distance of 441.448km or good for a velocity of 1195.48 m/m. Second was Vancraeynest Georges (Klerken – 1182.52 m/m), and third was Meurysse Lucien (Kruishoutem – 1178.25 m/m).
A closer look
at the head
In the category of young birds 4,453 fanciers participated, and the following fanciers could classify two or more birds in the top-100:
Vantemsche Raf from St Eloois Vijve won places 20-32-59 from 43 youngsters basketted
Devroe Johan from Moortsele won places 11-38 from 36 youngsters basketted
Dussausoit Dany from Beloeil won places 6-45-45-68 from 52 youngsters basketted
Vandevelde Robert from Semmerzake won places 14-48-52 from 18 youngsters basketted
Detroy Wim from Berlaar won places 33-51 from 47 youngsters basketted
Maroy Geert from Heestert won places 5-61 from 45 youngsters basketted
Denhaese Raf from Moortsele won places 37-69 from 40 youngsters basketted
Longlez Willy from Kain won places 7-79 from 26 youngsters basketted
Nachtergaele Dirk from Zingem won places 57-84 from 28 youngsters basketted
Dekeyzer Marcel from Messelbroek won places 64-86 from 14 youngsters basketted
Dewitte Ernest from Scheldewindeke won places 25-92 from 25 youngsters basketted
The most money, on the national result, was won by the “037/08” from Andre Roodhooft. That young bird won the 31st national and won 2,981€ in prize money.
As I've already said, we visited the national winner:
Stefan: “Great victory, Guy, congratulations!”
Guy: “Yes, this is really something unexpected. Every year you do everything that is possible to achieve a very nice result on Bourges, and every year we hope to be one of the winning fanciers. Then suddenly a blue hen enters the loft, and that one “beep” of the electronic clocking system seemed to be the winning one. Little by little, I started to realise it, but I think it will still take some nights to know that I’m not living in a dream. I still can’t believe it!”
Stefan: “Guy, be honest. Was that hen not already from the moment that the youngsters were weaned your favourite young bird?”
Guy: “Now you’re not going to believe me, but the winning hen has only been in my loft for five weeks! Yes indeed, five weeks … you heard well! I tell you the story. Do you see the house two houses further down the street, with the pigeon lofts? Well, my friend Johan De Vroe lives there. Johan is a super fancier, a guy who on a regular basis puts a top result on paper. Five weeks ago, I had to go to work and some widowers hadn’t entered the loft yet. I left the sputnik open a little bit, and those widowers could do what they wanted. When I came home from work and entered the widowers’ loft I saw that next to a widower a young hen was sitting. I took the hen and I saw that it was one of Johan’s. Two minutes later I went to Johan and I gave him his hen back. This was all work for nothing because two days later the blue hen had again entered my widowers’ loft. Johan concluded, ‘If she prefers to be with you instead of me, you can keep her. She is a hen out of my best breeding couple, so I wish you good luck.’ From one second to the next, I had one more hen in my loft and I gave her the name ‘Vroeke.’”
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Stefan: “And then you coupled her immediately to her favourite cock?”
Guy: “No, I could not stop the game with the widowers because there was one ‘crazy hen’ in my loft. No, she was put between the other young birds. She loved that place also because she never went back to her old place. But now it comes. Every year I race my young birds on the open door system but I can never keep that system for a long time. Normally, I start this system at the beginning of June and at the end of July the youngsters are together again. I find that the ‘love fire’ is not ‘hot’ enough after a few weeks. The second reason is that the racing season with the old birds is stopped and the widowers come together with the young hens. They can start a nest for the rest of the season.”
Stefan: “So, the later Bourges winner found her favourite cock back.”
Guy: “That is it! Never in my life have I seen a pigeon change like that blue hen. Sometimes people say that every national winner is super motivated. Well, this hen was more than motivated. Also her body changed. She became nice and round, felt hard like a stone and her body flesh was nice and pink. Every sign of top condition was present.” <br>
Stefan: “Ok, but the quality had to be present to win such a big race.”
Guy: “That is true, but as I have already said, the loft of Johan De Vroe is a high-quality loft. Here’s another good story. The father of ‘Vroeke’ is ‘Zoon Kleinen Schonen’ (B06-4100920) who is on his turn a son of ‘Kleine Schonen’ (B03-4151121 and won 2nd Chateauroux 526b., 5th Chateauroux 4,349b., 13th Orleans 2,749b., 3rd Arlon 259b., and so on). Mother of my national winner is ‘De Van Gaever Duivin’ (B03-4152445). This hen was bred and weaned by Tom and Marnick Van Gaever. These fanciers live a little bit further than Johan and that hen also entered Johan’s loft and didn’t want to go back to her old place. Therefore, Tom offered the hen to Johan, and there she won four prizes in the four national races and twice the 1st prize from Chateauroux. But maybe the strangest part of the whole story is that a full sister of my winning hen (from the 1st round) won the second prize local (after my hen) and the 11th prize national. Unique or not?”
Stefan: “Guy, last year the 1st national Bourges was disqualified because that youngster had been bought at the spring fair in Holland and the new owner didn’t subscribe the bird in his name. You didn’t forget to do that?”
Guy: “No, luckily not, but again I need to say thanks to Johan De Vroe. Before he gave me the identity card, he went to the KBDB (national organisation) and put the pigeon in my name. Personally, I would not have thought of this and then I would also have lost this national victory. Lucky for me that Johan thought of this!”
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With the widowers, I race the short and middle distance. The young birds go to 500km. I feed like a lot of fanciers, namely from light to heavy and from a little too much. On the medical scene, I treat every two weeks for two days against trichomoniasis; I only treat against ornithosis when it is necessary. The week before Bourges, I had some problems with the ‘one-eye-cold’ disease, and therefore I dropped every bird every day with Terramycin. After a few days, the problem was solved.
Stefan: “Can you tell something more about your loft?”
Guy: “There‘s not much that is special to note. You must understand that I’m still a working guy. So I don’t have much time for the pigeons and the pigeon sport is a pure hobby for me. Since 2000 I have lived here and raced from this address. My colony is based on pigeons from Roger Merchies (Houtem), André Decoene (Moortsele), Marnick Van Gaever (Moortsele), Kenof-Brackenier (Balegem), Willy Mertens (Gijzenzele) and Johan De Vroe (Moortsele). Every year I start with 25 widowers and around 50 young birds.
As you can see, the Bourges national race was won by a little, hard-working fancier. Also in the categories of old- and year birds, we don’t find big (commercial) names back at the top of the results. This Bourges goes down in history as a hard race won by “little” fanciers. The fact that this happens is so nice for the pigeon sport. The pigeon sport is also the only sport where people who have pigeons as a hobby can beat the “professional” guys. I don’t think this can happen in sports like basketball, cycling, soccer, baseball and so on. Pigeon sport … we love you!