The year 2016 was a difficult pigeon year. When you have a chat at the different pigeon gatherings you can always hear the same story, many empty boxes had to be closed during the season. ‘Another one that didn’t make it back to the loft’. ’Another one that searched for a better loft’. Also the selection for 2017 is easy for many fanciers, the ones who made it in 2016 can stay. The pigeons weren’t spared from difficulties if we have an overview of the season. A cold and capricious spring, thunderstorms and rain with the first national races and many races with a difficult course. The second part of the season was luckily something else and we could enjoy some nice races although for many this came too late. 2016 wasn’t an easy season. You hear that many pigeons went to the bitter end, the pigeons were pushed to the limit…But every year you have your champions. Pigeons who could perform just a bit better than the rest of the pack. Pigeons who didn’t care about the difficulties along the road, but raced home like if they were possessed. These rulers of the airspace deserve all our respect and appreciation. They are the ones that make for us, the fanciers, the game worthwhile to aim for the highest possible. They are the ones that write history …
Tiegem at the top
This is how they could write history in Tiegem this year. It is the harbour of one of the most wanted titles in a pigeon season: national champion long distance KBDB 2016. Martin Ravelingien drove his platoon to some marvellous results with this title as honour. Next to very strong pigeons, it asked a lot of knowledge and insight of the fancier to have these kind of results up to the long distance races this season. So this is a title that is being cherished by Martin and Arlette. And this with every right and reason, many would like to switch places with them.
A phenomenal 2016
Our visit to this couple was one with a common thread through a very clear pigeon philosophy, punctuated with a lot of passion. Note that this isn’t the first time that they score in Tiegem. They already won the 1st national Pau in ’89 and in 2007 they had the 1st national ace bird extreme long distance with their ‘U2’. But to mention only these two wouldn’t give any honour to Martin and Arlette. We can notice in their well-filled pigeon career provincial titles and victories, chain results on Perpignan, but also a colony that nest within the top of the Belgian extreme long distance tenors every single year again. This title can be called a crowning of many years of patience to build a strain of pigeons that is getting stronger each year again. But back to this phenomenal season in 2016. Please read was won in Tiegem this year:
- 1st national champion extreme long distance old KBDB 2016
- 1st national ace bird Perpignan 2015-2016
- 1st national ace bird Perpignan 2014-2016
- 2nd Belgica de Weerd-award. 2016
- 2nd Barcelona Masters (1+2) 2016
- 3rd provincial ace bird extreme long distance KBDB 2016
- 12th, 20th, 23rd classified ace bird extreme long distance KBDB 2016
- 4th European ace bird extreme long distance (3 internationals)
- 5th end ranking Europe award ‘La Colombe Joyeuse’ 2016
- 3rd pigeon champion extreme long distance ‘La Colombe Joyeuse’ 2016
And then the results for the ‘West European Super Marathon’ were send in too late due to circumstances. This would have taken care of, both in the categories with the 1st designated as the 2nd designated, a victory. Beside this there’s also a candidate ‘Olympic Marathon bird’ at the loft in Tiegem. A phenomenal year if you’d ask me. Let us walk through the season looking for anchor points that coloured 2016.
A very strong base of pigeons
Normally we should start in 2015. Martin is coupling, since about 20 years now, the breeders between July and November. No fuzz in Winter and less losses. The late born ones follow the season of the youngsters. They are being trained from April and go foot by foot towards the middle distance races even a national for some. From this team about 20 pigeons get a widower-box as a two-year old, the others race as single pigeons between the youngsters up to Narbonne. A system that especially shows its use at a later age. The pigeons have the possibility to grow out slowly and are able to make top results at a higher age. Martin and Arlette do have a very decent pigeon strain to breed from. Their base is mainly build up with pigeons from Vandendriessche-Benoit (Catrysse, Bostijn, Marcel Desmet, Jozef Huysentruyt and Noël Peiren). These were accomplished with pigeons from Jozef Huysentruyt (Delbar, Julien Matthysen strain 1st national Montauban) and Marcel Demeyere (strain 1st national Sint-Vincent). These three are also the base of their colony. Along the way some crossing were tried out. The most successful crossings until know are :
- Co-breeding André Verhoest (mainly strain Noël Peiren)
- Dr. Antoon Lenaert (mainly strain Vanbruaene, Emiel Denys, Gyselbrecht)
- Loft Haerinck-Poelmans: a few pigeons in loan)
- Jozef Vandenberghe (hen)
- Menne und Tochter (hen)
- Van Pamel-Demulder (sister ‘Armstrong’, 1st international San Sebastian and 1st national Bordeaux)
- Co-breeding Sylvere Toye (daughter ‘Zatopek’, 2nd national ace bird extreme long distance 2007 after ‘U2’)
A slow preperation
After this plea we land in February 2016, when the racing pigeons are being coupled and can breed for about 5 days. End of March the pigeons are set together for a second time and this for about three days. In Tiegem they only race cocks and the focus is on the big international races. The training starts second half of April. After 2 times driving themselves it goes from 1x Arras (75km), 2x Clermont (175km), 1 x Fontenay (300km) and then direction Tours with 430km. From that distance on the pigeons go direction the more heavy duty. The pigeons get the entire racing period a light mixture with few legumes. Feeding heavier towards the big races isn’t a thing they do as they will in the basket for several days anyway. The pigeons always eat together. An important thing is that they get fresh grit every day. Beside this they make use of brewers ‘yeast (not with warm weather), apple vinegar, naturaline and vitamins. Maybe also important to point out is that the pigeons only train once a day. They are being looked at closely during the training and some intensity is being demanded.
As every year the pigeons get a cure of about 4 days, something that is being repeated before the race from Perpignan. Since about two years Martin started also giving ‘yellow drops’ and they are very satisfied with it. Nothing is left to the coincidence and the racing team gets a week before basketing a coccidiosis pill and a tricho pill. As you can read the birds are being prepared without a lot of fuzz for their first big appointment. This year was also the first time that their hen wasn’t shown before basketing. Also at homecoming the pigeons need to recuperate a bit before they get their partner.
Pau as a barometer
But how did they win in Tiegem? Traditionally the international season starts of by Pau. A first barometer for what’s coming. And here they can show whether the form is on track. ‘B-UFO’ (3170401/12) took care of a 10th national. Unfortunately his companion was only good enough for a place at the end of the result otherwise it would have been a first nice result for the championship. This ‘B-UFO’ doesn’t get it from any stranger as if we have a look at his pedigree we can find the national Pau winner ‘UFO’ and the national ace bird extreme long distance ‘U2’. Accomplished with the strong lines from Vanbruaene, Peiren and Emiel Denys we can see a pedigree from a very strong long distance strain. You might want to remember this one as you can read later on that this ‘B-UFO’ has delivered a big contribution to this title.
Survive Barcelona …
Anyway, the right tone was set and they could go to Barcelona with confidence. But this would change very quickly into big concern the day of the release and the days of homecoming. The pigeons had a really tough race. Wind, clouds and rain made this journey a true hell. One by one they arrived slowly at their loft and also in Tiegem the boxes didn’t stay empty. At 13h their first assigned ‘White Deus’ (3173782/11) arrived home. This was good for a 171st national. This pigeon had shown himself already as a very strong long distance racer in the past and has as origin Vanderespt, Huysentruyt, Peiren and Vandenberghe. This way we land again in the middle of the strain of the colony of Martin. Now they had to wait for their second assigned, ‘Red Pino’ (3173714/11). And yes, half an hour after their ‘White Deus’ this one also arrived. Good to know that his father is also the grandfather of ‘B-UFO’. Or how the saying of the chip and the old block is being put in extra daylight like this.
Invasion on Sint-Vincent
A week later the next big meeting was on the agenda with St. Vincent. At the contrary of Barcelona it was raining cats and dogs on Friday night. It was seldom seen that an international race of 900km was divided almost completely the same day. Martin and Arlette were focussed. ‘Urbi’ (3170330/12) went into the basket as first and didn’t disappoint them. As 162te national he was the 4th pigeon that came home. Yes, you read it correctly, they came down hard in Tiegem. In a matter of 1 hour he got 10 of the 29 pigeons home. ‘Urbi’ is another product straight from the heart of the colony of Martin. Father is a half-brother ‘Pino’. His grandmother ‘680/00’ is also the grandmother of ‘B-UFO’. The ‘680/00’ can also be found on the mothers’ side. And yes, also ‘U2’, the national ace bird from Martin, has a place in the pedigree. We can’t point out much more clear that we are talking about a strain that has been worked on for several years. But to become national champion also the second assigned had to be clocked on time and the ‘B-UFO’ took care of that, he came in as the 209th national.
Perpignan the icing on the cake
The sign to go a bit further was set. Before Perpignan the entire racing team was purified again as mentioned before and also the intensity of training was being increased. Bram took care of a satisfying result despite the difficult course and the elite troops were being basket with a lot of confidence. Knowing that Martin peaks on this race, the best could be hoped for. And the leaders didn’t disappoint ! ‘Urbi’ took care of a 37th national as first assigned. With this result he showed himself as a true Perpignan-phenomenon. In Belgium he clocked as the best Perpignan pigeon over 2 and 3 years. Internationally he pulverized the competitors with a very low coefficient on the two-year ranking. Ending up three time within the top 100 national and twice within the top 50 national he showed his rare sort. ‘B-UFO’ was as second assigned the guy who took care of the last point with a 90th national. With this result the pigeon could crown himself as the 4th best European pigeon over 3 international races. Martin Ravelingien clocked that evening 4 pigeons within the top 100 national which points out how well this colony was prepared for this race. A pigeon we surely may not forget is ‘Black Spirit’ (3163012/13), a lad who managed to enter the top 100 twice at the age of 3 at Sint-Vincent and Perpignan. Something like this makes us hope for the best in the future.
Focus on 2017
The corks could pop in Tiegem as the pupils from Martin and Arlette took care of one of their most appreciated moments in live. You can’t wish for much more being a pigeon fancier. Nevertheless the focus is already been set on 2017. A few top birds moved to the breeding loft, but there’s enough left to come in with a bang again. At our visit we also could have a peak preview at their youngsters in their way to success. Also they will have to overcome a lot of obstacles to get the results that ‘Urbi’, ‘B-UFO’ or ‘Black Spirit’ had. The first obstacle that afternoon was a bird of prey that tried to catch one without luck. But they will succeed, Martin and Arlette will make sure of it. A decent strain of pigeons coupled to a lot of ‘pigeon-sense’ and an environment where no effort is too much to make our winged friends better are the key. The futures lays ahead, the competitors are warned.
A lot of success in 2017 from the entire Herbots-team and a well-meant congratulations for your fantastic season 2016!