The likeable brothers Marc (80) and Gerard Santens (81) are running a pigeon loft with a long standing tradition, especially in the most demanding international extreme long distance classics. Their list of achievements is quite impressive, including several provincial and national first prizes. This outstanding pigeon family managed to maintain its position as a top level breed, achieving great results season after season.
Santens, an international name
The name of SANTENS is a household name at international level, a name that stands for pigeon racing at the highest level. The two brothers Marc and Gerard Santens have been running this loft over the past 38 years. Their breed is in fact a continuation of the world famous Santens breed created by their father, the late Paul Santens. He passed away in 1977.
Their father Paul Santens created his pigeon breed with pigeons of De Gandt, Commines, De Keyzer and Janssens Arendonk. It proved a top class pigeon collection that enabled his sons Marc & Gerard to form an internationally renowned team. The Santens breed was particularly successful in the regional middle distance and light long distance competition but they have now started to achieve great results in the national and international long distance as well. Their excellent results are based on a solid basis, an invaluable group of breeders.
The cannoneers from Oudenaarde
The two brothers Marc & Gerard Santens were often referred to as the Cannoneers from Oudenaarde, for their spectacular achievements in pigeon racing, including most notably their exceptional results in the yearlings' race from Narbonne. Some say this has been the most spectacular performance of the century. Let's refresh our memory:
Narbonne National 2.546 p.:
1,2,4,8,11,12,13,20,23,26,27,28,29,70,86,124,144,161,259… or 25 prizes of 35 per 10.
13 pigeons managed to arrive home on the day of the release, no less than 7 of which came from the loft of Marc & Gerard. Impressive!
This has been a historic performance in pigeon racing. They added several more top results to their palmares:
- 4 x 1st National
- 3 x 1st National Belgian Entente
- 42 x 1st Provincial or Interprovincial
Countless top results both at national and international level have been won with pigeons based on the Santens bloodline, both at home and in the lofts of many other fanciers.
Pigeons that can win top results in national and international races even at the age of 5 or 7 are particularly hard to find. The Santens pigeon is clearly capable of this; the modern day Santens breed is characterised by great determination and willpower.
Generation after generation of top quality pigeons
It is remarkable that the future generations of prize winners are all bred from this loft's own cracks and national winners; they basically become the new stock breeders. These fanciers have never sold any of their own champions. "Why would we", Gerard explains. Why would you sell your own pigeons to then try and find the same level of quality in other lofts? You might end up with newly obtained pigeons from other lofts that actually turn out to be less useful than the pigeons you just sold. The two brothers clearly agree on that. The Santens fanciers have managed to develop their very own breed that perfectly suits their way of working. The Santens pigeons have made big steps forward both at home and in other lofts, going on to win an impressive number of top prizes, including several provincial and national first prizes!
The pigeon breed of Marc and Gerard Santens is clearly worth taking a closer look at. A successful career that spans 75 years is truly remarkable. This doesn't happen overnight. Their success story is founded on the modern day Santens pigeon, as well as the experience and expertise of the fanciers. This loft stands for a collection of strong long distance pigeons with great potential and great health combined with two fanciers who know how to get the most out of their breed. It sounds simple but few lofts have actually managed to maintain their positition as a top level player for an impressive 75 years. It deserves the utmost respect!
Let's take a closer look at the origins of some of today's champions in the Santens racing loft.
We start with Supercrack 685 BE03-4031685, a son of Supercrack BE91-4237148, the invaluable stock breeder and racing bird of the early 1990s (you can find his palmares here). He is in turn the sire of Geschelpte Crack, an excellent long distance racing bird:
-Geschelpte Crack BE09-4220423
17th Nat Cahors 6,576 p. ’15 (1st club 190 p.) 19th Prov Qouillac 1,296 p. ’11 27th Nat Soustons 8,443 p. ’10 29th Int Soustons 10,190 p. ’10
Jonge Supercrack is one of the leading names in this team, along with Vechter and Ballon.
He is a grandson of supercrack Rubex BE84-4564484 (winner of a 5th Nat. Cahors 5,330 p., a 14th Nat. Cahors 7,081 p., an 18th Nat. Perpignan 6,812 p., a 41st Nat. Narbonne 3,992 p., a 93rd Nat. Narbonne 4,184 p.). His dam is the Ballonduivin BE98-4270808, a daughter of Ballon 157/90 (a grandson of Narbonne, 1st Nat. Narbonne 1986) x Paola 516/91 (a daughter of Schonen, 1st Nat. Narbonne 1988).
That same Ballonduivin BE98-4270808, paired to Narbonne III (1st Nat. Narbonne 8,204 p. in ’99), is also the dam of Son Narbonne BE05-4113132, a top class breeder for Marc Pollin, where he is the grandfather of supercrack New, the best yearling in the extreme long distance in Belgium in 2015:
1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance yearlings KBDB 2015 1st Nat. Libourne YL 5,890 p. (the fastest of 10,890 p.) 1st Prov Agen 619 p. 3rd Nat Agen 2,767 p. 3rd Int Agen 4,485 p.
De Ballon is an outstanding breeding cock, having bred the following prize winners:
-New Crack BE04-4201317
20th Nat Narbonne 6,801 p. ’08 58th Int Narbonne 12,201 p. ’08 114th Nat Narbonne 4,664 p. ’05 149th Int Narbonne 5,870 p. ’05 132nd Nat Narbonne 6,033 p. ’06 145th Int Natbonne 9,634 p. ’06 138th Nat Montauban 5,438 p. ’08 171st Nat Narbonne 5,051 p. '07
-Jonge Ballon BE09-4220454
1st Angerville 115 p. 14th Nat Brive 3,995 p. ’11 (1st club 161 p.) 32nd Nat Brive 10,089 p. ’11 63rd Nat Montauban 5,935 p. ’14 73rd Nat Montauban 6,822 p. ’12 (1st club 121 p.)
De Ballon is also the sire of Marco BE05-4113088 (winner of 43rd Nat. Agen 4,818 p. and 145th Intnat. Agen 10,695 p., a 126th Nat. Brive 16,007 p.), a pigeon that is in turn the sire of the talented Roden BE13-4204015 (90th Nat. Narbonne 2,835 p., 6th Argenton 228 p. and 120th Prov. Argenton 4,379 p., 6th La Souterraine 214 p. and 357th Nat. La Souterraine 13,089 p., 10th Angerville 331 p. etc.).
A half brother of Ballon is Sturen BE06-4368065 (the same sire), which is in turn the sire of several top class marathon races, including the two brothers Bijter I and Bijter II. Their dam is Vuile BE3003282, a pigeon of Marc Pollin (inbred to Pollin, 1st intnat. Perpignan, being a daughter of long distance champion Gerardje 196/99, a direct Santens pigeon - click here for the palmares of Gerardje)
-Bijter II BE09-4220461
6th Nat Narbonne 6,428 p. ’11 7th Int Narbonne 12,605 p. ’11 26th I.Prov Vierzon 8,336 p. ’11 27th Nat Perpignan 5,613 p. ’13 54th Int Perpignan 15,106 p. ’13 55th Nat Brive 8,331 p. ’13
-Bijter I BE07-4025486
89th Nat Perpignan 6,661 p. ’12 97th Nat Narbonne 6,330 p. ’10
Click here for the full palmares of these talented extreme long distance cracks.
(Bijter I got lost in the difficult race from Pau 2015)
Vechter BE04-4241477 is another son of super breeder Invalied 98 BE98-4270829 (a son of supercrack Blauwe Marathon 401/89: 6th Nat. Ace Pigeon long distance and extreme long distance, 28th Nat. Narbonne 2,546 p., 37th Nat. Perpignan 5,390 p., 44th Nat. Cahors 7,528 p.). Vechter is in turn the sire of several long distance prize winners, including:
-Magic Fyther BE08-4020071
1st Prov Montauban 1,738 p. ’11 3rd Nat Montauban 9,091 p. ’11 45th Nat Poitiers 13,813 p. ’13 (1st club 114 p.) 72nd Prov La Souterraine 1,123 p. ’08
-Blauwe Vechter BE11-4218193
51st Nat Souillac 5,282 p. ’13 58th Prov Brive 1,228 p. ’13 207th Nat Brive 5,286 p. ’14 225th Nat Cahors 7,140 p. ’14 56th Prov Agen 1,005 p. ’13 223rd Nat Agen 5,507 p. ’13 66th Prov Tulle 1,605 p. ’13 427th Nat Tulle 7,350 p. ’13
A different bloodline is introduced into the existing Santens breed from time to time as well, often coming from lofts that have been successful with Santens based pigeons. These bloodlines are usually a combination of their own Santens breed and the breed of the fancier in question. This proved the most successful approach for them. One of these introductions was Diplomaat BE05-3054830 of Sierens-Vandenbroucke. He is an inbred pigeon to Asduif 038/92 (1st Nat. Ace Pigeon long distance KBDB ’95) and his half brother Driebander 072/94, two outstanding long distance birds with Santens origins. Diplomaat was paired to Yasmine BE03-403855 (from grandson Narbonne: 1st Nat. Narbonne ’86 x daughter Schonen: 1st Nat. Narbonne ’88), and together they bred a top class racing bird:
-Diplomaat Junior BE10-4267002
33rd Nat Perpignan 6,248 p. ’14 59th Int Perpignan 17,965 p. ’14 42nd Nat Libourne 4,589 p. ’14 99th Nat Libourne 8,269 p. ’11 34th Prov Limoges 3,466 p. ’11 39th Prov La Souterraine 1,594 p. ’13
We should not forget one of the current best bloodlines in this loft: that of Narbonne III BE98-4270739 (winner of 1st Nat. Narbonne 8,204 p. ’99). Together with Ballonduivin 808/98 he bred Son Narbonne 132/05, which is the grandfather of New, 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB YL 2015 (see earlier) for Marc Pollin.
Marc and Gerard Santens have several top quality birds originating from Narbonne III as well. He was paired to Polline 04 BE04-4201428 (a full sister of Gerardje), with which he bred Weerlicht BE08-4020127, in turn the sire of long distance star Flash:
10th Nat Libourne 6,767 p. ’10 207th Nat Brive 11,130 p. ’12 304th Nat Narbonne 4,571 p. ’14 305th Nat Limoges 7,221 p. ’14 340th Nat Narbonne 6,428 p. ’11 746th Nat Cahors 8,105 p. ’11
Breeding pigeons from winners
It has been, and will always be the key to success. The Santens brothers are a perfect example. The fanciers from Oudenaarde are fond of breeding new generations of pigeons from their own champions, from prize winners at national level. This is why their national stars were never offered for sale.
These prize winners were actually the pillars of this pigeon collection, a pigeon breed that has been able to compete in the most renowned international marathon classics for over 75 years. They were highly successful both in their home loft and for other fanciers at home and abroad. This breed continues to breed new generations of national prize winners and ace pigeons, even in 2015. This is quite phenomenal!
An impressive trophy collection