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Dennis and Sandra Verhagen Buyl from Westkapelle (Zeeland) win 1st National Agen ZLU yearlings

05 Jul 2022

Because of the multiple postponement and release of Pau (Bordeaux) on Monday, the basketing of the pigeons for Agen was moved to Wednesday and with a release on Saturday. The last weekend of June and the first weekend of July are always very busy on the pigeon calendar.   
On the racing programmes the national long distance race with morning release from Bordeaux/Ruffec is planned for Friday. On Saturday the release of International Agen ZLU. And on Saturday also a Grand Prix Train Grande Vitesse middle distance race. And a weekend when in many departments the training flights for the youngsters start. Then on Monday we will basket again for the next international marathon flight, Barcelona. Pffff, hats off to the employees in the boxes or baskets.
On Saturday morning, the weather situation at the release point of Agen was good. There were no clouds and almost no wind and the temperature was about 19°. In the beginning the wind on the flight line was weak and mainly from Eastern direction. On the flight line it turned to Southeast to South and gradually increased. The temperature would be maxima 21-24°. 
At 6.30 the signal to unload the pigeons was given at the trotting- and race track, the Hippodrome de Beau at the Avenue du Quercy in Beaumont de Lomagne.
The founder, Les Amis du Bordeaux Télévie, unfortunately saw the number of internationally entered old and yearling pigeons fall to 33,615, which was 2,110 fewer than in 2021.  Also in the Netherlands there were fewer pigeons basketed. Now there were 12,211 in total and in 2021 there were 13,700.
For the yearlings there were 6162 in the basket and this is 642 less than last year when there were 6804. For many yearlings Agen ZLU meant the long distance baptism in a possible beautiful career. 
As usual, on Saturday afternoon, many PCs, laptops, I-pads and I-phones were brought out to see the first registration from France on the site . It is hard to imagine life without social media on these international flights. What time and where would the first notification appear on the screen in France? 
The clock pointed 15.41 hours when Pascal Pourchaux in Bouvigny, in the west of France, reported the first yearling at a distance of 736 km. Speed 1335 m/min. Very soon it became clear that the pigeons had followed the coastline due to the easterly and southerly wind. The reports shown via "Radar" indicated this clearly. All were reported from the north-west of France and later also in the west of Belgium. 
The first yearling in Belgium was reported by the well-known top fancier Gino Clicque from Wevelgem. He clocked his first signed yearling at 16.12 at a distance of 787 km. This would give a speed of 1350 m/min. He would become an international winner. 
In the Netherlands the tension started to rise. They would have to wait another hour. And as expected, the first report came from a yearling from Zeeland, from Westkapelle. It was the combination Dennis Verhagen and wife Sandra Buyl who reported at 17.17 the first yearling. Their distance was 868 km and this would give a speed of 1341 m/min. They were soon on top of the ZLU reporting list. The gate was broken. Who was going to win the national prize with the yearlings? In the end it was Dennis and Sandra Verhagen-Buyl.

An incredible experience
Dennis and his wife Sandra, together with Dennis' brother Alex and his wife Jessica, were waiting in the courtyard for the pigeons to arrive from Agen ZLU. Brother Alex is his neighbour and also an active pigeon fancier. With Alex he raced together for many years under the name Gebr. Verhagen. Dennis and Sandra had 24 yearlings in their loft, 7 of them as widowers and 17 which were played on a nest. The nestlings all breed on eggs of about 10 days. Dennis had already phoned Aart Jan Maljaars from Zoutelande about a possible time of arrival. What time should they clock to be early after they followed the arrival on the site of the KBDB-RFCB. "If you can catch around 17.30 hours you are early" was the opinion of Aart Jan. And then it happened. At 17.17 their fawn, later on named "De Kogel" (The Bullet) came like a bullet from the south. That was a bit of a shock. After reporting in NIC Kruiningen, he came on top of the reporting list of the ZLU. And then there are exciting hours to come. How would they do on further distances. It stayed quiet on the site before a second pigeon was reported. Only Gero Dijk from Alblasserdam came close. When no faster pigeons were clocked that evening on the further distances, the national victory was a fact. Afterwards there was a party in the house of the Verhagen family until the small hours. The telephone kept ringing and congratulations came from everywhere. Sunday morning the ZLU control came and the photographer Falco Ebben came to take pictures of everything. A weekend to remember. Something you don't experience that quickly anymore, says a happy Dennis.

Further they clocked at 18.23 (2x), 18.25, 18.39, 18.43, 18.47 (2x) and had 15 at home in the evening. This resulted in the places 1-13-138-148-225-249-287-598-829-830 etc. Internationally they are on a provisional 4th place with the yearlings.


The "Kogel" 

The mealy cock which became national winner of Agen ZLU yearlings, carries ring number Nl21-1236823 and was played on widowhood. Sandra gave him the name "Kogel". 

In his year of birth he went in the basket to Chateaudun and as a yearling he was trained to Chateauroux. Because he always arrived with the first pigeons on the training flights, he got the confidence of the bosses on Agen to go into the basket as the second signed pigeon. And he succeeded with verve. Before basketing, he was allowed to be with his hen for 1.5 hours.

His father is the "Vale 336" of '18 and is from Aart Jan Maljaars from Zoutelande.
Gr. father is the "954" from '12 and has on his palmares a.o. 3rd St. Vincent (239 d), 16th Perpignan (336 d) and 47th Barcelona (240 d).
Gr. mother is the "953" of '12 with a/o 50th Bordeaux ZLU, 6th Pau (251 b), 4th Pau 241 b) etc. 

His mother is the "Blauw 690" from Bart van Olmen from Broechem in Belgium. Purchased on a sale of a 'charity' project. 
Gr. father is the "736" of '17 with a/o 3rd Limoges (590 b) and 6th Cahors (629 b)
Gr. mother is the "Blauw Belg 751" of '14. 

See also the pedigree card.

Basis of the colony.
Dennis and Sandra were looking for a place not far from home to buy pigeons for the fast work and the marathon races. For the fast pigeons they knocked on the door of Koen Minderhout, now also living in Westkapelle. Pigeons from the line of the "Geeloger" became a basic line. Through the competition "Ladies League" they came into contact with the brothers Frederik and Jan-Willem Dekkers from Terneuzen and of course also pigeons from their best. And last but not least pigeons from the Gebr. Scheele from Terneuzen. Out of this, 5 couples were composed which will take care of the offspring for the program races. To form the 15 long distance couples came pigeons from Aart-Jan Maljaars from Zoutelande, Cas and Klaas van de Graaff from Arnemuiden and Bart van Olmen from Broechem Belgium (is mother winner Agen).

A top pigeon with the "Gold nugget".
With the above-mentioned basic pigeons they obtained, among other things, the 3rd National Ace-pigeon Long distance in 2018. Furthermore they possess a top pigeon in the name of the "Golden Nugget" of 2018. As a yearling she flew 21st Nat. Agen Jrl. (3,940 d) and 33rd Intern. (10.616 d). Then she went to Narbonne and flew 3rd Nat. (3829 d) and became 26th Int. (8284 d). She then became Best European Yearling ZLU. This season she flew again the 188th Nat. Bordeaux (Pau) (4891 d). Now they can add the 1st Nat. Agen ZLU Yearlings against 6,162 pigeons to their list of honour. In IFC (International Fondcentrum Centrum) Zeeland they were already several times on the honorary podium. They are already working hard on the road to success. 

Dennis, 44 years old, was already interested in the pigeons of neighbour Van Alfen as a 5 year old boy. In 1989 he became an independent pigeon fancier. From 2000 to 2016 he raced together with his brother in a combination.  Sandra, who had no relation to pigeon racing from home, found it quite fun and certainly the handling of the pigeons. Since 2016 they started to fly in combination and especially started to focus on the ZLU flights. Dennis who has to go out early in the morning and is only back home in the late afternoon, is happy that Sandra has taken almost the entire care of the pigeons on her shoulders. Dennis helps out in the evening. In the morning at 7 o'clock the pigeons are released in groups and sometimes it is around 14 o'clock when everything is taken care of. In the afternoon, around 16.30 hours, this job is repeated until around 20 hours when the lofts are closed. 
In the yard there is a garden loft of 13 metres length which is divided into 6 departments. In three departments there are 30 widowers and in one department about 10 couples of nestlings, mainly yearlings. In addition, two departments for about 80 to 90 young pigeons. In a separate loft are 20 breeding couples. 
Both breeders and racers are coupled around Christmas and the racers all raise a youngster. When this youngster is about 14 days old, the hen is taken away and the cock takes care of the youngsters until they are weaned. Between the widowers are 14 cocks which are only basketed on the programmed flights and mainly on the day long distance flights. 
The other 16 widowers are entered for the ZLU races. The nestlings, which are mainly yearlings, are after their training period till the second middle distance race (Chateauroux) raced on Agen Yearlings ZLU. They are breeding on eggs of about 10 days. If they come well home from Agen ZLU, then some of them will go along to Narbonne, says Dennis. 
Among the yearlings are also 3 couples of old pigeons that will be used for the next Barcelona. They are brooding about 10 days. 
All old pigeons are raced until the second middle distance race and then they are raced on a ZLU race. In between the races, Dennis sometimes drives up to 30 km to keep the rhythm going. He also darkened, or better said made the loft a bit darker, to keep them calm. 

The youngsters are darkened and after the longest day they get more light. They go to the basket in all flights and so they get a thorough training. 

Simplicity in the care
The care of the pigeons is quite simple. This way you cannot make many mistakes, Dennis believes. During the racing season the pigeons get as basis the NPO and Championmix of Embregts-Theunis (proportion 4:1) and Sandra feeds them in the pots in their nest box. A full scoop, which comes with Prestatvit (Embregts-Theunis), serves as a measure. The program pigeons get 3 to 4 feedings before they go into the basket, the All-In-One mixture of Koopman. The pigeons that go to the long distance races are given this last mixture one to one and a half week before they are basketed. 
After the pigeons have returned home, the next morning they are given the products Origanium Red with Octavit over the feed and two days before basketing they are given Origanium Red with Prestavit over the feed. These are the supplements of Embregts-Theunis.

Medical control

Also medically it is very simple with the combination. Before the breeding season starts, he visits the vet Diender in Vlissingen to check the manure and the pigeons. During the season he checks the manure and pigeons every three weeks. Only on his advice something is administered. Only after the race, they put BS in the water for one and a half day. 


For Dennis and Sandra it was a weekend they always dreamt of. To win a 1st National one day. Now their dream has come true and they can experience what they often read about other fanciers. The flush of a national victory will not be easily forgotten. Experiencing it is something unique, they both agree.

Dennis and Sandra congratulations.


Marcel Görtzen