Roger Vereecke - Deerlijk (BE) - ‘Pigeon sport monument’ and now also 1° Nat. Pau-winner!

The international top classic from Pau is the annual overture of the international ‘grand distance’-happenings. With 7.679 basketted pigeons at international level (just less than 800 more than last year 2008 with 6.894 p.), including 2.036 Belgian pigeons, the convoy left for the South of France.

Where Belgium is concerned there could have been considerably more, if they finally abandon the completely outdated rule with only a limited number of basketting centres per province. With the continually aging pigeon public, and the accompanying ‘decreasing mobility’ of the fanciers… more and more fanciers spare themselves the effort of travelling a further 30 or 40 Km to basket a few pigeons for Pau… because there are enough alternatives, with Montauban (the same weekend) and other classics on the calendar over the next few weeks! Maybe it is time to bring a change to the old rusted traditions… because a monument such as Pau on the calendar deserves better than 2.036 Belgian pigeons! A skilled organiser so as Danny Van Bael knows this better than anybody, high time then to convince the national high flyers in the sport committee of this!

Danny Van Bael proved that he is a skilled person last Friday by postponing the liberation early… with a clear explanation as to why, a perfect analysis of the weather charts at hand! Good work from Danny… there is also something like positive criticism! On Saturday morning Danny kept his word with an early liberation at 6h50 in ideal conditions. The NW-wind made the race difficult, but fair. That the international victory was for Heiko Hermes in Germany, was somewhat expected and normal, taking the conditions into consideration, but what about on the national front where pigeon specialist Roger Vereecke from St-Lodewijk-Deerlijk signed for national victory (the 7° national victory in his career) with a pigeon, clocked at 20h20’18” from a distance of 878,598 Km, which gave a velocity of 1084,27 m/min. Roger only had 2 pigeons in the competition… his 2° pigeon (called the ‘Irun’, which won 1° Irun 2 years ago with a 2 hour lead, and already this year 10° Brive 177 p., and 389° Nat Brive 17.446 p.) was clocked at 22h28’49”, and made the party complete!
Pau (in Gistel)     438 p.   1-69 (2)
     Nat             2.036 p.   1…  and also here 2/2!

At national level Roger beat Dieter Ballmann from Amel with 1080,77 m, Jules Delameilleure from Lichtervelde with 1079,44m in 3rd, and Georges Carteus from Ronse in 4th… in the provisional prognosis!
The ‘TARBES’ as national winner!
The brand new national winner from Pau answers to the name ‘TARBES’ ring B04-3000159, after he was the ‘clear’ winner from Tarbes at club level last year. He won:
’08 Tarbes Club      193 p.   1
                 Prov   1.212 p.  3
                 Nat     4.660 p. 14
                 I.Nat 12.537 p. 26
’09 Pau        Club     438 p. 1
                  Nat     2.036 p. 1

He comes out a brother of the ‘Super Dax 199/02’ Verhellen who won 1° Intnat Dax 11.898 p. in ’05, namely the ‘Blauwe Vader Tarbes 168/01’ (coming out the ‘Narbonneke 273/94 x ‘Geschelpt 497/98 daughter of the ‘Kleine Barcelona ’94) x ‘Geschelpt 276/00 (daughter of the wonder pigeon ‘Medaille d’Or 667/90’ x ‘Daughter Kleine Barcelona 282/98’). So the ‘Tarbes’ is then an inbreed coupling of ‘grandson x granddaughter’ of the ‘Kleine Barcelona’, who in ’96-’97-’98 was crowned ‘Best European Barcelona pigeon’ with 3 consecutive years on the international scene 79th of 20.129, 51st of 24.908 and 16th of 24.139…  whilst the ‘Médaille D’Or’ was winner 1° Internat. Perpignan 17.331 p. in ’92 by Leon Henry (who had completed his 20° race as a 2-year old)! A pedigree to make one ‘lick one’s lips’ with the lines 1° Intnat Dax x 1° Intnat Perpignan x ‘Kleine Barcelona’ coupled with each other… or a coupling ‘super x super’ where out this 1° Nat Pau-winner 2009 is bred! A pigeon that doesn’t belie its pedigree!

‘Mister Pau’
The pigeon media which wrote that the now 88-year old Roger Vereecke had put the crown on his pigeon career with the title of ‘General Champion Belgian Verstandhouding 2004’ … will now have to add another chapter! After his 1° National Pau in 1985 with the ‘JONGE FELIX’ the ‘flandrian’ from Deerlijk sure enough managed his 2° national victory from this Pyrenees city! Roger Vereecke is not called ‘Mister Pau’ by the insiders for nothing, because he has classified in the ‘top 14’ at national level for the 17th time… in addition to 2 x 1° Nat Pau in ’85 and ’09, he further won 3° Nat Pau in ’78 + ’80, 4° Nat in ’78 + ’81, 5° Nat Pau in ’05, 7° Nat Pau in ’81 + ’98, 8° Nat Pau in ’89, 9° Nat Pau in ’82 etc…  try to repeat it! Roger was, together with Gerard & Michel Vanhee one of the symbols of our national pigeon sport for years… and at the moment he is possibly the last of the ‘flandrians’ who is still active in our sport! He inherited the pigeon bug from father Jerome with whom he took the lead for years, and bred together a colony of long distance clappers that knows no bounders! For the building up of his stock, Roger concentrated on pigeons ‘with performances’… no, not on brother and sister of… but on the ‘crack pigeon’ in question! Names of famous stock pigeons that were bought or raced by father Jerome and Roger Vereecke and who played an important role in the stock building are the ‘Jonge Yzeren’ (winner 1° Nat Libourne, 3° Nat Bordeaux, 11° Nat Dax…), the famous ‘90’ (1° Nat Angoulême), the ‘Figaro’ (1° Nat Bordeaux), the ‘Roste Tanghe’ (1° Angoulême Beker des Konings, 4° Nat Limoges, 12° Nat Périgueux), the ‘Felix’ (1° Nat Tulle)… pigeons for which they often had to dig deep into their pockets… and at a later stage he bred pigeons from these lines of the calibre  ‘Jonge Felix’ (1° Nat Pau), the ‘Para’, the ‘Dax’, the ‘Ijskop’, the ‘Tulle’ (1° Nat Tulle), the ‘Kleine Barcelona’... and there came pigeons so as the ‘Médaille D’Or’ (which was from Jef Vandenbroucke, but Roger was allowed to breed from it for 1 year) to reinforce the colony! Roger was extremely successful in crossing with pigeons from the late Jozef Vandenbroucke, the line of his stock father the ‘Zieken’ (also grandfather of the ‘Kleine Didi’)… also gave excellent descendants in crossing with own old stock by Roger Vereecke!
Preferably pigeons with good results, say…  than a ‘nice pedigree’ without performances! His performances prove him right! He does however admit that with long distance pigeons you sometimes must have, and dare to, exercise some patience… pigeons for 800 Km or further are not always ‘ripe’ for the tough work at an early age! Fanciers that achieve success (or have achieved success) in the grand middle distance… don’t always have the necessary patience with their pigeons, to let them become 2 or 3 years old. They expect them to perform straight away as a youngster or as a  yearling like their middle distance pigeons… but it doesn’t work like that in the long distance! Roger can give numerous examples of pigeons that as a youngster or yearling (sometimes even 2-year olds) didn’t do anything in the races up to say 600 km, and then suddenly ‘explode’ when they are given races of 800 Km or more… even more, performances as yearlings don’t offer any guarantee for a good ‘long distance career’! Long distance pigeons are pigeons of ‘hard labour’, that are capable of carrying on when the weather is against them… and this is exactly where the 600 Km-pigeons fall short… they don’t have any reserves of energy at that moment for going that bit further! Experienced long distance fanciers so as Roger Vereecke know this… but it is often difficult to be this patient.

Long Distance oriented approach
The Roger Vereecke household has enough room and lofts for the pigeons. Once the youngsters have been put in a separate loft, they usually remain in the same loft for the rest of their racing career. Thus when the pigeons are ‘long distance ripe’, and according to Roger that is always at the age of 2 or 3 years… the pigeons have a surplus of room and oxygen. They then have 21 living boxes where scarcely 10 or 12 pigeons reside, lofts with 12 living boxes for 5 or 7 pigeons! Definitely an advantage… but of course not feasible for a modal fancier, because not everybody has the luxury of such space and loft accommodation available.

They started the 2009 season with 73 racing pigeons… subdivided into 37 old birds (wherefrom 20 older birds from 3 years old and older, and 17 two-year olds) + 36 yearlings… that take part in early breeding (coupling at the beginning of December), and raise 1 youngster. At the end of March there is a new coupling and after five days of brooding the racing pigeons go into widowhood and start the season. Up to the small middle distance (read: Ablis) they work the entire training programme together, then they are split up and complete a programme according to the races that they have to race further. Roger likes to enter ‘experienced clappers’ (2 to 3 pigeons) for the national races… they offer the best guarantee of success. As youngsters the pigeons are raced up to the small middle distance, as yearlings they used to race the provincial ‘grand middle distance’, as 2-year olds they were then entered for the long distance. Up to a few years ago Roger sometimes dared to enter a few yearlings for Narbonne (morning liberation), then you discovered which were the ‘really good’ pigeons… that later enjoyed a good career in the Extreme long distance, that made it in races so as Barcelona or Perpignan, according to Roger. Now he only enters a few yearlings for St.Vincent ( now renamed Soustons) to teach them how to ‘sleep in’ as a yearling. Because of the afternoon liberation Roger doesn’t attach as much importance on the result as he used to by the morning liberation… it is more a ‘learning process’, meant for gaining experience!
Leading such a colony at 88-years old seems no easy task, but Roger can depend on his faithful carer Filip Putman, whose son Mathias is also making a name for himself at the moment in the long distance! The racers never get to see their hens before being basketted, they do however get to see their dish. Because Roger is getting older it is often difficult to catch the pigeons and put them in the basket, so he uses the following ’trick’… he brings  1 strange hen into the loft so that the cocks that have to be basketted lie in their dish in order to lure this lady to them. Roger can then easily get hold of them to put them in the basket. It was also so with the ‘TARBES’ who immediately started running round his dish in order to lure the ‘strange hen’ into his dish… something which seemingly gave the necessary motivation. A nice anecdote to this is that the ‘TARBES’ is housed in a loft that faces north. Father Jerome claimed that they would never win a prize with this loft… but Roger put enough glass in the roof so that it was pleasant to reside there… and won many top prizes up to national level… now even 1° National Pau 2009! Races like this Pau, have Roger’s preference… pigeons that after playing knucklebones with the wind and weather for 13-14 hours… achieve a top performance! That is real pigeon sport for him… that’s why Roger was extremely satisfied when the organisers of Pau decided to go back to the ‘early liberation’… because later of afternoon liberations are not for Roger. That was the story of a pigeon crack with a treasure of experience in the long distance and grand distance, and who can be counted as one of our most reputable and winning colonies of our national pigeon sport history! The organisers of the Colombe Joyeuse couldn’t have wished for a better winner than ‘pigeon monument’ Roger Vereecke!
Congratulations Roger!