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'Bella' makes Gijs and Wilfred Hamstra from Harderwijk shine on Agen old

07 Jul 2021

The double race Agen (for old and yearlings) has been the largest race of the ZLU in terms of number of pigeons and participants for many decades. This year the ZLU received a total of 13,600 pigeons in the two races, as can be read from the international overview provided by the Belgian organizer. If we look at the two notification lists of the ZLU, we see that there were 6873 old pigeons at the start and 6760 yearlings. And that gives a total of 13,833 pigeons. And there were basketing centers that were offered an extraordinary number of pigeons for basketing. Hoogerheide and Hendrik Ido Ambacht each had more than 600 yearlings in the baskets with 623 and 619 pigeons and Hendrik Ido Ambacht was the largest with 563 pigeons with the old birds. Fortunately, it was possible to unload in Agen on Friday 2 July at 7 o'clock and it was cloudless and there was a north-westerly wind. For the first hundreds of kilometers the wind blew from variable directions and more to the north it became purely south-westerly. And increasing clouds were coming in from the west. As usual, Pipa has to be followed to see what the pre-flight is doing in France, Belgium and Germany. The first pigeons were reported just before 5 pm from the northern tip of France and that is purely on the west side. Soon after, the first pigeon fell in Belgium, namely in Dadizele, a village in West Flanders that is located between Ypres, Roeselare and Kortrijk. There the couple Ameel-Vanlake clocked around at 5 pm and their blue cock had to bridge 789 km as the crow flies and let 1314 m.p.m. record for themselves. While all early pigeons were clocked on the west side, the yearling of Gunther Ceulemans from Emblem was a big surprise. He clocked 853 km at 5:48 pm and his yearling also flew 1314 m.p.m. with slightly lower decimal places. Emblem is located east of Antwerp and therefore in the middle of Belgium. The village is close to places such as Nijlen, Berlaar and Kessel where well-known enthusiasts live. Emblem used to be the home of Stan Raeymaekers, who raced strongly with pigeons and was a well-known sales manager. These two pigeons turned out to have really flown loose later when we see the 3rd fastest pigeon of the release at 1263 m.p.m. is classified. The first pigeon on the east side of Belgium clocked Jean-Marc Caro in Verviers at 6.18 pm and his pigeon scored 1223 m.p.m. at 830 km.

The Netherlands

In view of the reports, the first Dutch Agen pigeon could be expected on the west side. The shortest distance in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is about 844 km. But it took a relatively long time before the first Dutch pigeon was reported. Were the extra kilometers going to be much heavier than expected? Could the pigeons at greater distances not take advantage of the south-westerly wind that they could 'use' for longer? On Pipa, the red dots for the Dutch border seemed to be stopped! And the first Dutch reports did not come from the west side but from the east side and then of course South Limburg where the shortest flight distance is also around 845 km. The 1st and 3rd pigeon in time were clocked at 6:45 pm and 6:49 pm on 855 km by Winkens-Rothenburg in Itteren. And that turned out to be two yearlings, as well as the pigeon that Nico Haesen clocked at 848 km in Maastricht at 6.47 pm. At 1213 m.p.m. the pigeon of grandfather Jacques and grandson Joeri remained the fastest pigeon of the competition. The first old pigeon was clocked at 6.50 pm by W. Kicken and sons in Simpelveld, but this was soon beaten in speed by a pigeon from J. Marten from Stein, which was raced at 6.52 pm. And very quickly H. Martens in Geleen skipped over it with a observation at 6.54 pm at 867 km. At 1213 m.p.m. Harrie Martens seemed to be the winner for a long time. And at one point it seemed unlikely that the overflight would come as a surprise. Although the yearlings Daan Besseling in Tiburg and Frank Zwiers in Terheijden still came close with a speed of 1210 m.p.m. But that surprise did come and how! In the Hamstra house in Harderwijk it was calculated that one would have to clock around 8.45 pm to go for the national gold. Given the reports, father Gijs and son Wilfred did not really expect this to happen. After all, they are at almost 1000 km on Agen, which gives an overflight of 130 km on Geleen and 145 km on Itteren. At a speed of 1200 m.p.m. (72 km per hour) that is two hours or less extra flying. The Hamstra family was not paying attention around 8.30 pm but was watching the match Switzerland against Spain. The decision in that match ultimately fell on penalties. Spaniard Busquets took the first penalty and after Wilfred saw it hit the post, he glanced at the loft and was surprised to see a pigeon sitting on the roof. "What is this!" ran through his head. Would it be a young pigeon n or a pigeon from Agen? Wilfred flew out and let the hen in. Yes, it must be a pigeon from Agen but that means a super early pigeon. Wilfred began to doubt himself if that was really possible. He took the basketing list and saw the ring number of the pigeon really on it. At 8.36 pm the three-year-old hen was clocked and at 1223 m.p.m. she proudly led the notification list and she never gave it up! The Fondunie 2000 reporting list hadn't kept an eye on Wilfred to see who had the earliest reports above the rivers. And there he saw two pigeons that had been clocked about 10 minutes earlier in Kerkdriel and Geldermalsen, but their flight distance was 65 and 55 km shorter and their pigeon came well above that.


Father Gijs and son Wilfred Hamstra have been racing purely in the extreme long distance since 1996 and that has been the case for 25 years now. Father Gijs has been active in the pigeon sport since the 1960s and in his son Wilfred he has a young, active and ambitious partner. And in 1996 when the switch took place Wilfred (born 1979) was 17 years old. They had basketed 10 nest pigeons on this Agen, four whole couples and two hens. NL18-1594130 went on a journey as 4th nominated and with youngsters of 5 days. After her glorious victory, they gave her the name 'Bella' and the Italian name was also inspired by the fact that Italy managed to reach the quarter-finals of the European Championship that night. It was beautiful, it is and will remain natural. Last weekend Gijs and Wilfred also had pigeons in the afternoon release from Cahors and yearlings in the one day long distance race from Issoudun. In the evening she won a handsome prize pigeon from Agen and a few more prize pigeons the next morning. From Cahors they also took the pure lead and in the province 8 they started with the 2nd prize against 1170 pigeons and on the reporting list they are furthermore in places 29, 64 and 79 and that with 7! The yearlings are not raced in the extreme long distance in Harderwijk, but are allowed to race one or two one or two one-day long distance races. Gijs and Wilfred race the extreme long distance with 25 pairs of old pigeons and thus have 50 racing pigeons. The racers were coupled at the beginning of February and they are allowed to raise the eggs of the breeders. When the young are 12 to 14 days old, the sexes are separated. And the pigeons are raced separately in April and until the third week of May. And depending on the race on which the pigeons will be basketed, they are recoupled. They prefer to basket their pigeons on small youngsters in the extreme long distance. The racers are well trained and this year they also basketed their pigeons in Oosterhout for a training flight on Sunday. In the weekend before basketing, the pigeons usually get a lap flight, but that is done less often and seriously this year than in other years. This year, father and son Hamstra took part in three extreme long distance races last weekend. They skipped Limoges and went to St. Vincent with 5 pigeons, scoring 2 prizes. They basketed 7 pigeons from Perigueux and clocked three pigeons in the neutralization time, which won prizes 13, 28 and 31 in department 8 against 2585 pigeons. With a total of 4 out of 7 as prize pigeons, they became second grandmaster in sector 3 from Perigueux. They had basketed 11 pigeons from Pau and they have 2 prize pigeons nationally and one more regionally.

National champion

A true highlight for Gijs and Wilfred was winning the national marathon championship in 2013. In that year it was based on a combination of a designated and an undesignated competition. A number of extraordinary results ensured the national victory! From Orange they won the prizes 3 and 45 against 1980 pigeons with the 2nd and 1st pigeon of the list and that with 3 prizes. That year they won the prizes 28 and 31 against 3703 pigeons from Bergerac with the 3rd and 2nd pigeon on the list and again with 3 prizes. In Cahors they had already scored strongly that year with the nominated with the prizes 18 and 289 against 2602 pigeons with the 2nd and 1st pigeon on the list and then 26 had entered with a total of 4 prizes. And over the years Gijs and Wilfred have often managed to peak in the afternoon and morning releases and it is mainly the top pigeons that count for them. If we look at the pedigree of 'Bella' we see that her father is from 2007. He was therefore 11 years old when 'Bella' was born and in 2021 he is still fertilizing at the age of 14. This pale cock comes directly from the comb. Reedijk-Jonge Krijg from Puttershoek. In 2007 Gijs and Wilfred knocked on the door of the couple Gerard and Elly to obtain something from their Theelen pigeons. Three pairs of young were bought and a seventh they got for free. And Wilfred said that they had success in breeding with five of those youngsters. The mother of 'Bella' is a hen from 2015 and she was bred from a hen from 2007 from Reedijk-Jonge Krijg. The father of 'Bella' is by the way also the father of the 1st national Pau 2015 and the winning cock gave the 'Vale' when he was a yearling. So 'Bella' is three-quarters Reedijk-Jonge Krijg and the father of the mother comes from a cock from Jaap van der Velden (South Beijerland) and a hen from First Prize Pigeons. And that last hen is a daughter of the 'Fenomeen' who won national Bordeaux old birds in 2009. And she did that at the Gebr. Helsdingen in Nijkerkerveen and that village between Amersfoort and Nijkerk is in the same region as Harderwijk. 'Bella' is therefore a great-granddaughter of the 'Fenomeen' and they both won the same race in 2009 and 2021. The mother of 'Bella' was removed from the breeding loft last year and she no longer has her daughter's victory to experience it to be dramatic. In 2019 'Bella' was flown in as a yearling and in 2020 she flew a prize from Periqueux against 348 against 3389 pigeons in the province 8. And on that flight she was the 6th pigeon from Gijs and Wilfred Hamstra from Harderwijk and with 7 out of 10 in the prizes and starting with prizes 12, 18 and 72 they had a very strong result with the two-year-olds. She was no longer raced in 2020 and in her second long distance race from Agen old she managed to amaze and delight her bosses in an incredible way.


Wilfred Hamstra has been collaborating with Wulfert ter Beek from Biddinghuizen for quite some time and the men turned out to have the same vision of the pigeon sport and they have joint breeding pigeons. They have their own website under the name 'racing pigeons' and there we read that their motto within the pigeon sport is: breeding, playing, selecting but above all enjoying. Wulfert ter Beek plays together with his further Peter under the name comb. ter Beek. Father and son ter Beek won national Bergerac in sector 3 in 2020. Wilfred and Wulfert are both members of the p.v. the Eendracht in Hardewijk. And this club has the necessary members who know how to excel in the afternoon releases. For the ZLU flights you can basket in the neighboring Putten and the p.v. Woudvliegers there has been a well-known basketing room for (most) ZLU flights for a long time. Yes, 'Bella' managed to 'donate' the best pigeon sport success in their long distance career on Agen old Gijs and Wilfred Hamstra. What a pleasure it must be to have such a hen in your loft and then the thought goes through your head: "You managed to pull that off nicely for us". You didn't think it was possible, but then it suddenly becomes reality! Then the pigeon sport is wonderful.

Ad van Gils