Eric Vermander (Oekene, BE) wins 1st National Montauban against 5,933 old birds

Finally! After numerous top prizes at national level, Eric Vermander has finally won his first and well deserved national victory, from Montauban. One of his favourite pigeons called Napoleon won the race. It doesn't get any better than this!

The national race from Montauban was once again a hard one for the long distance racers participating. It will take the participants some time to recover. The north to north-east head wind made the conditions even more difficult. A leg killer but perfectly suited for long distance pigeons strong as an ox such as Eric Vermander's national winner.

Eric clocked his winning bird at 17:53:35 CEST after a distance of 776.432 km with an average velocity of 1152.69 mpm. The pigeon was underway for about 11 hours and 15 minutes, facing head wind. It was also his first nominated of the three pigeons basketed. After exactly 30 minutes, his second bird arrived home from Montauban. It was his second nominated which won the 2nd prize at club level and a top prize at national level.

Montauban club     185 o.b.: 1-2  (with 1st & 2nd nominated of 3 pigeons)
          prov.  1.003 o.b.: 1-14 (2/3)
          nat.   5.933 o.b.: 1-32 (preliminary result)

A couple of hours before his national victory from Montauban, Eric also won two national prizes with the two pigeons he sent to Pau, viz. the 288th and 366th national against 1,910 old birds.

True all-round pigeons

Eric Vermander owns true all-round pigeons. Aces which perform well from 100 to 1000 km. This is exceptional in our sport, in which everyone specialises in certain distances. Eric doesn't believe in middle or long distance pigeons. "I only know two types of pigeons: good ones and bad ones." This implies a hard line, a tough selection process: pigeons have to win top prizes, from sprint to extreme long distance.

Eric Vermander is not just anyone. He's a fancier with a long list of achievements. As a young chap, he already passed his time on dad Albert's lofts. When Albert passed away far too early, Eric continued the family tradition. In 1975, he took up his residence in Oekene and started to focus more and more on long distance racing. His first real long distance ace was ‘Blauwe Witpen’, a cock which finished no fewer than 8 times in the national top 100. He soon turned out to be an excellent breeder as well. He became the father of for example 'Camille' (European Ace Pigeon Pau over 5 years and 2nd National Pau) and the grandfather of the legendary 'Vital' of Eric's friend Noël Lippens. 'Vital' would later on play the leading role in the strain build-up of Eric Vermander.

His strain is primarily based on pigeons from his dad Albert, along with pigeons from Gaby Vandenabeele and Noël Lippens. Eric and Noël often participated in joint breeding or exchanged pigeons. It is therefore not surprising that the stock consists of 50 per cent Lippens pigeons up to this very day. Noël is the phenomenal stock cock of the golden stock pair Noël x Mathilde. In addition, the Bijter bloodline (Vandenabeele) plays an important role via 'Romario' (winner of 102 prizes in four years' time and descending from the Bijter line paired to Zus Camille). These are the two most important bloodlines running down the pigeon family. Over the years, these were crossed with pigeons from Lionel Vermander, Jozef Devriendt (Aartrijke), Filip and Nicolas Norman (Knokke), Andre Dierick (Rumbeke) and Rik Cools (Ruiselede).

This enable Eric Vermander to build a strain which is unequalled. A loft containing few pigeons but many aces. As a successful businessman - he managed a few butcher shops - Eric knows that the best meals can only be served using the best ingredients. In Oekene, breeders are therefore retired racers. Proven long distance aces. Pigeons that won top prizes on all distances, ranging from sprint over long to extreme long distance! That is why the number of breeders stays limited to about 6 pairs, depending on the number of old birds still racing but who deserve to be put in the breeding loft. Pedigrees are of no importance, performances are. The racing team consists of 38 racers which are split up and each have their own long distance programme. This means Eric always baskets a small number of pigeons for the national long distance races but there are top-class racers among them!

Fantastic list of achievements

Eric focuses solely on racing old birds on the long and extreme long distance races. This implies that the lofts are only populated by pigeons who already have a long list of achievements, from sprint to long distance. Eric Vermander's pigeons might therefore be called 'speedy long distance pigeons'. Eric himself has won many top prizes, including performances up to national level such as:

-2 x 2nd National Pau
-3rd National Perigueux
-4th National Bourges
-5th National Souillac yearlings 2013
-5th Nationaal Aurillac
-6th Internat. San Sebastian
-8th National Barcelona 2013
-8th Internat. St.-Vincent
-10the National Brive 2013
-11the National Dax
-13the National Souillac old birds 2013

In addition, he has also won numerous prestigious titles. The icing on the cake, a national victory, was missing so far. Eric has now completed his cake by winning the national race from Montauban. Napoleon did it. He also descends from a crossing to the two main bloodlines, i.e. Noël x Mathilde on his father's side and Romario on his mother's.

-Napoleon BE3054196

’14 Montauban  Prov.   1.003 p. 1
               Nat.    5.933 p. 1
’13 Brive      Local     154 p. 1
               Prov.   1.235 p. 3
               Zone    2.906 p. 7
               Nat.    6.841 p. 10
’13 Montluçon  Local     491 p. 7
’14 Limoges    Local     729 p. 17
               Prov.   3.434 p. 121
               Nat.   18.390 p. 273

Father: Brother Falco BE05-3224796
A full brother of the legendary ace pigeon Falco, raced at Gaby Vandenabeele's lofts (Falco won for example a 2nd Interprov. Souillac 1.291 p., 2nd Prov. Orleans 1.021 p., 7th Nat. Brive 16.007 p., 72th Nat. Limoges 6.617 p, etc. and turned out to be a true breeding ace in Dentergem). He is a son of the superior stock pair Noël BE97-3229754 x BE99-3023909 Mathilde.
Mother: Sister Anita BE10-3137504
She is not only mother of Napoleon but also of Leo (5th Nat. Souillac), Tours, 291 Jaarling (3rd Prov.), 292 Jaarling (54th Nat. Gueret); etc. Furthermore, she is a full sister of Sagan BE10-3137482 (1st Prov. Tours 4.390 p.). She descends from Zoon Romario BE06-3002690 (son of ace bird Romario 928/99) x Granddaughter Barcelona BE07-3207505.
Check out the pedigree of Napoleon here.

The wing picture in the gallery below shows that Napoleon already cast his second primary. According to Eric, the reason for this is that his racers rear two rounds of youngsters. They are paired at the end of November and directly after rear a second round. Afterwards, they are put on widowhood. Eric feels comfortable with this, even though this results in pigeons moulting quicker, as a result of which for most pigeons Perpignan comes too late. "Each fancier has to make a choice," Eric says.

A very qualitative family of pigeons populates Eric's lofts in Oekene, that's for sure. Youngers are only trained well but old birds are tested thoroughly. Only the pigeons which can present a long list of excellent achievements, with top prizes from sprint over middle distance to long distance, can count on a spot in Eric's stock loft. This briefly summarises Eric's strict regime. Yet, it is the only key to success.
He finally got his long-awaited and well deserved natoinal victory. A relief which makes a fancier extremely happy. The path has been cleared, who knows what more will come? Congratulations, Eric!