Batenburg-Van de Merwe (Klaaswaal, NL) “New Laureaat”, a breeder like no other

I have the impression that fanciers are usually quick to describe their pigeons as super class breeders, hidden gem or something along those lines, especially in adverts. It is true that a number of pigeons have gained status over the years.

Pigeons like “De Witbuik” of Batenburg, “De Dolle” of Geel, “t Oud Doffertje” of Van der Wegen or “Zwart Goud” of Jellema will go down in history as exceptionally gifted breeders. And the same goes for “Bles” of Staf Dusarduyn, winner of a 1st National Bordeaux and a 1st National St. Vincent. And let’s not forget “De Blinde” of Albert Dusee from Tilburg, winner of a 1st National St. Vincent and 1st National Dax in one season. And many of you will consider  “Den Vale” of Adelon Demaret to be the most appealing of all. This brewer from Ottignies, Belgium claimed victory in the international classic of Barcelona both in 1962 (of 3,300 pigeons) and 1963 (of 3,599 pigeons). This powerful racing cock was obtained by Daniel Devos for his former D.D.D. breeding loft in Dikkebus near Ypres, Belgium. It was there that his superstar was crossbred to the outstanding Dusee, which had two national victories in a single season to her name. This is what you call a fabulous combination!

BE08 – 2222675 “New Laureaat”
The international winner in Barcelona 2013 was not sold to an Asian fancier later on, as opposed to many of his predecessors. It was Nikolaas Gyselbrecht who enthusiastically reminded friend and colleague Hugo Batenburg of the noble origins of this fantastic race winner.

8th National Barcelona 12,281 pigeons

323rd National Barcelona 11,590 pigeons

2013 (Winner Golden Wing Barcelona)
1st National Barcelona 10,685 pigeons
1st International Barcelona 25,382 pigeons 

Het ontstaan van …
When I delve into the origins of the legendary “New Laureaat”, Carlo Gyselbrecht is the name that springs to mind. Carlo Gyselbrecht is father of the two successful brothers Nikolaas and Thomas, and they can be regarded as the strong duo behind PIPA. Carlo had already told me that he was particularly drawn to the most demanding competition in pigeon racing. Think of pigeons that spend an entire day racing, to arrive back home in the evening or early morning. This was the type of bird that he was looking for. With that in mind, visited Andre Vanbruane from Lauwe in 1983.

Andre Vanbruaene, Lauwe
Shortly before the mid-1980s, fanciers could not stop talking about Vanbruane, who claimed his first international victory in the year 1966, racing against 4,343 opponents. He would soon become the strongest fancier in the Spanish classic, claiming his second international victory in 1984, now against 13,000 pigeons. This race was held in the blazing heat and with a strong easterly wind, and it was an unbridled success. He would continue to play a leading role in this prestigious race for years to come. Take for instance the 1987 edition, won by Cretien Vanoppen, where we saw an impressive overall performance from grandmaster Vanbruane. And many of you will remember the particularly difficult 1987 Barcelona classic. As always, the fancier from Lauwe had a great day, winning a 101, 157, 163, 217, 260, 273, 313 and 1847 of 21,545 pigeons. It was a fantastic day for him, scoring an unprecedented 8 out of 8.

Unlike the 1984 season, the winners in 1983 and 1985 were mainly related to the Vanbruane bloodlines as well. Carlo and his father and brother had an appointment for a round of youngsters, but they had to be patient. As soon as they got to visit Vanbruane, they obtained “Old Laureaat” B 83-3347257, which happened to have two eggs in his breeding bowl at the time. Father Gyselbrecht asked Vanbruane what they would be used for, and Andre Vanbruane unsuspectingly gave him the two eggs: “Take them as a gift.” To this day, Carlo Gyselbrecht is convinced that this is how it all began for him.

A pair of eggs
It was one of those two eggs that would become sire of the international winner in Barcelona 1995, “Laureaat Barcelona”. And he is in turn the grandfather of the dam of “New Laureaat”. The 1995 race from Barcelona would prove quite challenging as well. Carlo Gyselbrecht still remembers the evening before the start of the race, when his father told his wife: “I’m going to win Barcelona”. “In the club?”, she asked. “No, the international race”, he said laughing. Such a great story,  it could be interesting material for a book.

Hugo about his champion
It was only when I talked to Hugo about his “New Laureaat” that I understood what an extraordinary sportsman and fancier he really is. We love to hear him talk about his pigeons with such passion and profoundness. Hugo also told us our conversation about “New Laureaat” reminded him of the Barcelona classic that was won by Vanoppen, in hot temperatures and a headwind. Years later, he still vividly remembers how genuinely impressed he was when he first saw that pigeon: “Yes, that’s it. Wow.” Other fanciers that have already seen this pigeon have probably had a similar reaction. This pigeon is very muscular and has a soft plumage. And while we were walking around his beautiful lofts, Hugo handed his champion over to me (JH) once more. I thoroughly enjoy holding such a talented pigeon.

 “New Laureaat” causes a revolution in modern-day pigeon racing
As you can see below, his descendants have revolutionised today’s national and international pigeon racing competitions. Here is a summary (where known) of their top 20 results.

Click here to see the achievements of his descendants.

As many of you will understand, we have deliberately opted for a brief selection of references, given his enormous legacy. A summary of their top 100s would be simply too much.

GB15N01248 “Southfield Hugo” van Mark Gilbert
This champion, a grandson, deserves a special mention I think. This pigeon feels like a great racing bird, an incredibly gifted athlete. And his origins are remarkable enough on their own.

His sire is 2014 “Golden Wing” winner “Super 48” of Nouwen-Paesen from Grote Brogel, a renowned Belgian combination. He has several great results on his palmares, including:

2011 Narbonne                2012 Barcelona                2013 Barcelona                2014 Barcelona
Club       1st 146 p.            Club         1st     403 p.        Club           1st       131 p.
Prov.     2nd 919 p.            Prov.       4st  2,297 p.         Prov.       33rd   1,854 p.      Prov.      1st    1,589 p.
                                       Nat.       23rd 11,590 p.        Nat.       175th 10,542 .        Nat.        6th   8,851 p.
                                        I.nat.    52nd 25,320 p.                                                  I.nat.     25th 20,669 p.

The dam of “Southfield Hugo” has rare origins, just like his sire. She is a direct daughter of “New Laureaat” from her father’s side, while the dam is the last daughter of B 92- 4428350, or none other than “Laureaat Barcelona”. This Laureaat Barcelona, international winner in Barcelona in 1995 of 20,925 pigeons, can be rightly considered the founding father of the best breeding bird of all times, “New Laureaat”.

Achievements “Southfield Hugo”
This particularly noteworthy descendant claimed a 1st National Perpignan in 2017 and a 1st National Barcelona in 2018.

Hugo about breeding pigeons
I was told that he is now breeding youngsters the whole year round, raising a few youngsters himself every once in a while as well. He has produced several talented breeders, combined to different talented breeding hens. I do say breeders, because all of his youngsters go straight to the breeding loft. The two grandmasters Hugo Batenburg and Jelle Jellema, king of the marathon, agree that the pairing with “Kleine Jade”, 1st International Barcelona 2014, was truly an exceptional combination. When walking past his breeding lofts, Hugo proudly admits that he has 32 breeding pairs in his collection, almost all of which consist of at least one youngster of “New Laureaat”.

In my own words
I had already seen quite a number of talented pigeons over the years when I first visited the pigeon lofts of Batenburg-Van de Merwe. Although I think most readers will agree that the legacy of “New Laureaat” will be almost impossible to match, let alone exceed. I am honoured to have had this pigeon in my hands, and I’m equally honoured to be writing an article about this star.