His first youngster
Dirk, who works as an industrial engineer, has been fascinated with the pigeon's in-built GPS device from an early age: "You can let a pigeon fly off without her ever getting lost, even if you release her from very far away." Unsurprisingly his godfather gave him a young bird when he was just five years old. "It was a seed-fed youngster", Dirk remembers. He gradually lost interest in pigeon racing but it came back in 1984, when he was 12 years old. Dirk: "I found a lost pigeon in my grandparents' farm, and this sparked my interest again. I have been keeping racing birds ever since."
Still, Dirk had to wait until 1995 to compete in his first real pigeon race. "My parents told me to wait until after I finished school", Dirk explains. He vividly recalls that very first race: "My neighbour, the late Hendrik Deneyer was a passionate fancier at the time, and he helped me basket my young birds for my maiden trip. I actually beat him with three of my youngsters, starting with the third prize in the race." Dirk did have an outstanding racing bird in his collection with 129/95: "He won ten prizes in ten races and seven prizes per ten, including a first place. This was a great starting point for a successful pigeon racing career."
Kristel De Smedt and Dirk Christiaens
Aspirations towards the extreme long distance...
Dirk competed in the shorter and longer middle distance when he was living with his parents in Alsemberg but he was already dreaming of longer distance racing: "covering thousands of kilometres in a short timespan is something very inspiring, especially if you have already covered a similar distance by car. In fact, the stress that is involved with shorter races is not really my thing. I like the idea of not knowing when your pigeons are to arrive home, instead of having to clock them before a certain point in time." Dirk's dream came true after he married Kristel De Smedt, with whom he moved to Roosdaal. His life is dedicated to their daughters Evelien (13) and Stephanie (11) and to the extreme long distance. "All other competitions are basically a learning experience, although I had some good results in the long distance as well, including a 6th National Libourne 2014 and a 20th National Valence 2015."
... and the Vanbruaene breed
In order to prepare for the extreme long distance Dirk invested mainly in pigeons of Vanbruane: "I used to read the Duifke Lacht magazine as a child, and I noticed that the name of Vanbruane came up in all of the most demanding races. I started to obtain pigeons from breeds that were based on Vanbruane, including Jan van Engelen, the Gyselbrecht family and Luc Wiels." These are the pigeons that form the basis for his current breed; they have been combined with other bloodlines as well, such as Jan and Ina Roobol, Batenburg-Van de Merwe, the Limbourg Brothers and Luc van Coppenolle.
The lofts in Roosdaal
Return on investment
His numerous investments over the years have yielded great results, also in 2016:
1st Euro Diamond Pigeon (with Zilveren Barcelona) 1st Three-year-ranking Euro Diamond Pigeon 1st Barcelona Masters (with Zilveren Barcelona) 1st Provincial Ace Pigeon extreme long distance (with BE14-2165107) 1st Danbosteph – CLUB des 100 Etoiles Colombophiles Silver Wing Barcelona Club Bruges (with Zilveren Barcelona)
The team's recent and previous achievements can be mainly attributed to three key players in this loft.
In 2016 the blue coloured BE12-2197478 Zilveren Barcelona won the most prestigious title this loft has won so far: the Silver Wing. She won this title thanks to a 4th National 7,693 p. (10th International 17,729 p.), which also resulted in the title of 1st Euro Diamond and 1st Barcelona Masters. She was very successful in the 2015 race from Barcelona as well, winning a 7th Provincial 1,101 p. (111th National 7,791 p.). Click here for the full palmares of Zilveren Barcelona.
The sire of Zilveren Barcelona is BE02-1987492, which bred several prize winners over the years, including a 4th Nat. Barcelona 2016 (Zilveren Barcelona), 7th Nat. St.-Vincent 2014, 9th Nat. Pau 2014, 27th Nat. Pau 2015, and a 62nd Nat. Pau. The 492/02 stems from Lady Laureaat (Gyselbrecht breed) from his father's side, which is a full sister of Laureaat Barcelona (1st Int. Barcelona 1995). The dam of the 492/02 is a daughter of Laureaat Barcelona himself, paired to grandmother Sampras (2nd Nat. Barcelona 14,037 p.). In other words, he is a double inbred to the bloodline of Laureaat Barcelona. The dam of Zilveren Barcelona is a 100% Vanbruane and closely inbred to that same Sampras bloodline from her father's side. Click here to learn more about the pedigree of Zilveren Barcelona.
BE11-2006416 Milon, a chequered cock, has the same sire as Zilveren Barcelona, which means he originates from Laureaat Barcelona and Sampras from his father's side. The dam of Milon comes from Piet de Vogel and she has quite a pedigree as well. Her sire comes from Euro Diamond (1st Olympiad Pigeon for H&P Brockamp) x half sister Euro Diamond, which means he is inbred to this legendary racing bird that won a 1st Nat. Carcasonne and a 3rd Nat. Perpignan. Her dam is a half sister of Susi, 1st Int. Barcelona 2007 for Menne & Daughter, and she comes from a son of Serena (1st Int. Perpignan 2001) x half sister Christine (3rd Int. Pau 2003). An overview of all international prize winners in Milon's pedigree can be found in her pedigree itself.
Milon is a successful racing bird at provincial level, having won 6 provincial top 50 places in 7 races across three seasons. He is particularly successful in Pau: ha has won a 1st Prov. 121 p. in 2014, a 3rd Prov. 138 p. in 2015 and a 4th Prov. 114 p. in 2016. This palmares led to high marks in the unofficial rankings for PIPA as well: he is 2nd best pigeon from Pau in Belgium 2014-2015 and 3rd best pigeon from Pau 2014-2016. The full palmares of Milon can be found here.
BE11-2006324 Sproet Perpignan has won several titles in the past, including that of 1st Best Pigeon Perpignan Belgium 2014-2015, 3rd Best European Hen International Races (2 prizes) 2015 and 6th National Ace Pigeon extreme long distance 2015. An overview of her best results, including a 1st Provincial Perpignan and 5th Provincial Barcelona, can be found here. Click here to reread our report on this super class racing bird (in Dutch). She was transferred to the breeding loft in 2015, where she is expected to show her worth in the near future.
A solid foundation
The talented racing birds Zilveren Barcelona and Milon were transferred to the breeding loft after the summer. "I did not have many other options, because I lost quite a few pigeons in 2016", Dirk explains. They will be providing him with new generations of prize winners, along with Sproet Perpignan, which was used for a joint breeding with the old Vanbruane breed of Carlo Gyselbrecht and Luc Wiels. We think Dirk has a bright future ahead with such a talented group of breeding birds, and we look forward to the next few seasons, when the descendants of these three breeders have reached their full potential.