Etienne Meirlaen (Deurle, BE) closes the racing season in spectacular fashion

A provincial first prize from Narbonne Yearlings and an overwhelming result from Perpignan are the last feats from the extreme long distance champion, who ends the season in style. He is without doubt the leading name in the extreme long distance in Belgium this season.

The Meirlaen pigeon breed can look back on a memorable 2017 season. The team managed to claim no less than three provincial first prizes across seven international races this season, along with two provincial second places. They put the icing on the cake in Perpignan, with a 3-4-5th Provincial from Perpignan.

A while ago we also reported about their 1st, 2nd, 2nd, and 1st Provincial in four consecutive weeks (click here to reread our report). A few more top results have now been won in Narbonne and Perpignan, making for an excellent list of achievements this season:

1st Prov. St.Vincent 581 olds
1st Prov. Pau (Mont-de-Marsan) 363 olds
1st Prov. Narbonne 656 yearlings
2nd Prov. Agen 1.018 olds
2nd Prov. Barcelona 1.606 olds
3rd-4th-5th Prov. Perpignan 795 olds

This is quite an exceptional palmares - difficult to match, let alone to improve upon.

1st Provincial Narbonne yearlings

The team of one year old hens that completed the international race from Agen earlier this season was now in preparation for their final exam in Narbonne, for which a team of 23 pigeons were basketed. Four yearlings were back home by the end of the day, led by the first and second nominated. The team's first nominated in fact claimed the provincial first prize; here is a look at the overall results:

Narbonne Club 108 YLs: 1-3-5-6-13-15-17-21-25-26-35 (11/23)
       Prov   656 YLs: 1-4-22-26-59-68-93… (10/23)
       Nat  3,424 YLs: 7-37-125-157-363-384-469-647-745-792 (10/23)

The provincial winner from Narbonne was also the first pigeon to get clocked from Agen, and these two achievements made her the best yearling of Belgium in the extreme long distance in 2017. Just until last year this feat would have resulted in the title of 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB YLs. We honestly don't onderstand why the long distance and the extreme long distance have been merged together into a single national ace pigeon championships KBDB yearlings. There are just two extreme long distance races, compared to four long distance flights. On top of that, the long distance pigeons can choose between national, zonal and provincial results, whereas in the extreme long distance only the national results are taken into account. Etienne thinks the two disciplines are impossible to compare, and his opinion is shared by his colleagues of the extreme long distance.

It does not make the achievement of this highly explosive hen any less impressive:

-Best of Belgium ELD BE16-4237076

 1st Best YL of Belgium Extreme Long Distance 2017 – 2 races (PIPA ranking)
 4th Nat. Ace Pigeon YLs Long Distance & Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017
 1st Prov Narbonne  656 p. ’17 (1st Club 108 p.)
 7th Nat Narbonne 3,424 p. ’17
 3rd Prov Agen    1,007 p. ’17 (2nd Club 125 p.)
16th Nat Agen     5,335 p. ’17

Again, the apple did not fall far from the tree.
Sire: Zwart DC/V BE12-2101600
A direct De Clercq-Vervaeren. He is a son of top breeder Persufon BE06-4190189, the sire of 8 top 100 (inter)national winners (with a 21-50-54-61-61-65-79-80-87-93 National or International) x Sister Peggy BE09-2048850 (a full sister of Peggy: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2011).
Dam: Sister Cor BE11-4312220
A full sister of Cor, 1st National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB '08. She is a daughter of Father Father Cor NL01-0127632, a direct Cor de Heijde (from superstar Don Michel 671/96 x Daughter St.Vincentduif 573/97) x Mother Cor BE00-3274201, straight from the late Antoine Van Hove (granddaughter of Laureaat Barcelona Gyselbrecht: 1st Intnat. Barcelona 20,525 p. ’95).
Click here for the full pedigree of Best of Belgium

Superbreeder BE11-4312214, himself a son of Monar (1st Intnat. Narbonne), and the sire of Provincial Pau:
3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017
10th Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017
1st Prov. Pau in 2016, and 1st Prov. St.Vincent in 2017

3rd-4th-5th Provincial Perpignan olds

And then came the overwhelming result from Perpignan, the most exciting moment of the season for most fanciers. Etienne had a few pigeongs in the race that were still in contention for the title of 'National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB', and he was himself a candidate for the title of 'National Champion Extreme Long Distance KBDB' as well. It was a tense time for the team, not just during the race itself but in the days leading up to the big day. Failure was not an option. Etienne struggled to pick a team, since he had many options and several pigeons that were still in the running for a championship title.

Still, if there is one thing that characterises the greatest champions, it is the ability to deliver when it matters the most. Look at what Peter Sagan did just a week ago, winning his third consecutive world championship title in cycling. The Meirlaen pigeons did just the same, with a great performance in the most important race. They put grandmaster Etienne Meirlaen in the spotlight at international level.

A total of five pigeons arrived home on the day of the release, four of which came from Meirlaen. They were the stars of the team! And things got even better the following day, as the Meirlaen pigeons continued to win early prizes:

Perpignan Club 154 olds: 1-2-3-5-7-10-11-14-16-20-22-25… (15/26)
   Prov  795 olds: 3-4-5-11-23-28-29-37-69-80-89… (14/26)
   Nat 4,620 olds: 7-10-14-45-107-119-120-144-270-332-408… (14/26)

The first pigeon to arrive home in Deurle was also the first nominated, supercrack Provincial Pau BE12-4278314. As his name suggests, he has won a 1st Prov. Pau in 2016 and a 10th Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2016, as well as a 1st Prov. St. vincent 514 p. earlier this year (11th Nat. 3,053 p.). This champion now wins a 1st in the club, a 3rd Prov. of 795 p. and a 7th Nat. Perpignan 4,620 p., making him one of the main favourites for the title of National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance. Click here for the pedigree of Provincial Pau.

His ace pigeon ambitions were shattered when a second pigeon arrived home from Perpignan about six minutes later: Diamond Anita NL 14-1040453. This hen had already won a 1st club Barcelona 244 p., a 2nd Prov. 1,606 p., a 7th Nat. Barcelona 7,738 p. and a 29th Intnat. 17,094 p. in 2017. She is a great looking hen that comes from a joint breeding of Etienne Meirlaen (with daughter Monar) and Hugo Batenburg-Van de Merwe (a son of Diamantje). She has now won a 2nd Club Perpignan 154 p., a 4th Prov. 795 p. and a 10th National 4,620 p., which means Diamond Anita will be finishing before Provincial Pau in the championship National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance. Click here for the pedigree of Diamond Anita. Both Provincial Pau and Diamond Anita are direct descendants of the invaluable stock dam Yelena, and they are both grandchildren of Monar, winner of a 1st Internat. Narbonne and a direct son of Yelena.

It goes without saying that the team was already celebrating their win before their second nominated (a racing cock, and again a direct son to Monar) arrived home from Perpignan just over half an hour later, claiming the highly coveted title of 1st National Champion Extreme Long Distance (he finished in 5th club, 11th Prov. and 45th Nat. Perpignan 4,620 p.). It was the icing on the cake, the highlight of an already impressive overall result from Perpignan!

As it turned out, a racing bird of Leon Van Den Bergh eventually settled in between the two Meirlaen pigeons in the ace pigeon championships, which means Etienn Meirlaen will be winning the following national championship prizes KBDB, according to the preliminary results:

1st National Champion Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017
1st National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance Olds KBDB 2017
3rd National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance olds KBDB 2017
4th National Ace Pigeon Long Distance & Extreme Long Distance YLs KBDB 2017
5th National Champion Long Distance Olds KBDB 2017

Later this year, when all the official titles and championships have been officially awarded, we will return to Etienne's outstanding season, talking you through the main actors in this success story. Etienne is about to repeat his stunt of 2008, when his racing birds Cor and Asduivin won a 1st and 3rd National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB as well. We are nine years later and he is again the absolute number one in the extreme long distance in Belgium! This is quite phenomenal.