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Willy Verbruggen (Londerzeel, BE) winner 1st National Barcelona 12.281 o.b. + ‘Gouden Vleugel’ by the Bruges Barcelonaclub!

It took more than fifteen minutes… before Willy Verbruggen could clock his Barcelona winner in the twilight, finally resulting in national victory in our country!

Winning Barcelona… It is an annual recurring syndrome in many Barcelona fanatics. Everyone knew in advance that this Barcelona 2011 would be a ‘light edition’… that the pigeons were boosted by a south east wind up to entering France, which later in the route turned to south west! And seeing as how 2 pigeons had already been reported on Friday evening from a shorter distance in France… we can imagine that many Barcelona participants experienced a restless Friday night. Because everybody knew that pigeons could and did arrive home in the early hours of the morning! The majority of the participants will have jumped out of bed early… hoping for some sort of success from Barcelona! Guy Hoppenbrouwers from Essen clearly hadn’t set his alarm (early) as at 5h33 his electronic system clocked a Barcelona pigeon… Guy didn’t clock his control ring until 5h57’30”… and that had serious consequences, as it turned out. Because, due to this, Guy didn’t only forfeit the national victory from Barcelona… but also the ‘Gouden Vleugel’! He now ended in 3rd place National, just after Luc Herbots from Zepperen who was 2nd.

Someone who was up early… was Willy Verbruggen from Londerzeel. When he went into the garden at 4h45 to open his lofts and traps and turn on his electronic clocking system… he saw a pigeon at the trap in the dusk. We will let Willy tell the story:

No… Willy says laughingly… this has happened to me twice before… and each time it was a blackbird or thrush sitting there. But as I now approached the loft I could see that it really was a pigeon, and the closer I got the more I could see his ‘white flights’… good grief, that had to be one from Barcelona, for which I had basketted 2 ‘white flights’. I quickly went into the loft… carefully opened the hatch of the trap, and the pigeon walked in straight away… my 1st nominated! Good God man… nothing was ready… firstly I had to switch on my electronic clocking system, but when I held my pigeon above the antennae it wouldn’t register. I had to go to another loft and hold the pigeon above the antennae there, and this did register. I clocked the control ring straight away, then I had to have the second control ring to report the pigeon, but I couldn’t find it in the dusk… until I saw that the 2nd control ring was on the same leg as the other control ring. Yes, I was somewhat ‘distraught’, really ‘troubled’ by all this! I reported my pigeon to the club straight away… luckily they were awake straight away!

Less than 2 hours later it turned out to be the 1st National Barcelona against 12.281 pigeons… and as it was his first nominated, Willy Verbruggen also won the ‘gouden Vleugel’ by the Bruges Barcelonaclub! Willy had a result to be framed in this Barcelona… but unfortunately for him, he couldn’t enjoy it. I didn’t see any other pigeon return from Barcelona, says Willy… there were telephone calls back and forth with a vengeance… and it was very busy in and around the lofts. Can you believe that I didn’t even know that the pigeons had been liberated from Brive? It was a real ‘madhouse’ here… a few watchers had to call me to tell me there was a pigeon home from Barcelona. 

Willy clocked his national winner at exactly 5h02’05” from a distance of 1081,077 Km, good enough for an average speed of 1393,14 m/min… the fastest of our country, the 16th fastest at international level (26.044 p.), where the Dutch demanded the largest share of the cake. Willy clocked his 10 Barcelona racers as follows:

5h02 – 7h04 – 8h32 – 8h56 – 8h58 – 9h20 – 10h47 – 13h12 – 13h14… good enough for 9 prizes in the club from his 10 pigeons (wherefrom 5 two year olds who raced their first Barcelona), this gave: 

Barcelona     225 o.b.: 1-2-8-11-12-25-41-63-64 (9/10)
National   12.281 o.b.: 1-71… etc. (prognosis national ‘top 100’) 

That this Barcelona success is anything but coincidence, is proven in the performances over the last few years, let us take a look at 2009 and 2010: 

’10 Barcelona 186 o.b.:   14-17-23-48-58-60 (6/7) ’10 Soustons  106 yl: 1-3-5-6-7-9-10-12-13-28 (10/14) ’09 Barcelona 209 o.b.:   6-10-16-19-35-44-55 (7/8) ’09 Soustons  194 yl: 5-14-31-33-44 (5/8)

(The ‘Julius Barcelona’ won here locally the 33rd prize in 2009!) 

There were 5 two year old cocks from that excellent batch of yearlings from Soustons 2010 who successfully completed their first Barcelona (respectively the 3-5-6-7-8th pigeon clocked)! The hope for the future is guaranteed!

Willy has in total 45 widowers (wherefrom 21 yearlings), which he races in the international races. He also has  16 breeding couples and every year he buys 100 rings. The lofts consist of almost 100%  F.Desbuquois from Kapelle o/d Bos. When Willy retired he added a veranda to his house which was installed by the Desbuquois family. Whilst the veranda was being placed, they naturally talked about the pigeons… at the time Willy was mainly active in the middle distance. They became friends and Willy obtained pigeons from the Desbuquois family, who he sometimes helped in taking care of the pigeons when they were on holiday… and so he was retrained as a ‘grand distance racer’… with overwhelming success, as it turns out! The national victory from Barcelona can therefore be seen as the crowning of years of racing strongly, as proved in the performances above! 

The national winner is also a 100% Desbuquois pigeon   (see pedigree).

Father: ‘Father Julius Barcelona’ B01-2010282(direct Desbuquois)

Son of the ‘Witpen Dolle 720/89’ from Eric Limbourg x ‘Sister Mika 079/00’ (also sister of ‘Aruna’). He is not only father of the 1st Nat Barcelona 2011, but also grandfather of  ‘Channel N°5’ self 1° Barcelona 481 p. ’09, 8° Nat Barcelona 13.503 p. and 18° Intnat Barcelona 27.669 p.!

Mother: ‘Mother Julius Barcelona’ BB03-2015347(direct Desbuquois)

Coming out the line of the superior Barcelonacrack, the ‘Engelsman’x ‘Tiger’ Eric Limbourg (line ‘Black Opium’).

The performances of the brand new national winner Barcelona are as follows: 

-‘Julius’ Barcelona B08-2142510

’11 Barcelona  Nat 12.281 p. 1
            Intnat 26.044 p. 16
’10 Perpignan  Nat  6.257 p. 352
            Intnat 15.756 p. 519
’10 Tarbes     Nat  4.576 p. 519
            Intnat 15.053 p. 1040
’09 Tulle      Nat  7.467 p. 63
’09 Soustons   Nat  9.442 p. 1431

System of simplicity

Willy keeps everything simple where the care of the pigeons is concerned. As he is 75 years old, taking care of the pigeons is beginning to take its toll, that’s why he had to make choices… the right ones it seems. The youngsters from the 1st round are trained well and they usually race Vierzon at the beginning of August, or until moulting starts. The 2nd round only races Noyon a few times, whilst the 3rd round is hardly trained. Although Willy often had his best pigeons from this 3rd round… although in the beginning you have to have the necessary patience, says Willy… they have to catch up with the rest in the ‘routine’! Willy tests his pigeons as yearlings from Soustons, the pigeons from the 3rd round usually race Limoges yearlings and/or Libourne. This year the calendar was altered drastically and some went to Libourne and some to Bordeaux… of these, some will be given Narbonne for yearlings as end exam (those allowed by the wing position), the yearlings from the 3rd round will be basketted on Wednesday for Limoges. It is not important whether or not they win a prize… but how ‘fresh’ they return home! One which wins a prize, but in a manner of speaking falls on his face… will be useless from Barcelona… but a pigeon that misses its prize, but arrives home very fresh, the entire better… adds Willy! What takes place as a yearling can be seen as gaining ‘experience’, and test of the ‘distance suitability’! Once they are 2 years old they can race the international races!

No breeding is done before the racing season, at the end of March/beginning of April the pigeons are coupled for the first time, and when a few couples have been brooding for 7 days everything is removed (also from any later layings), and the pigeons go into widowhood. There is no showing of birds up to Limoges… they are allowed to see their hen before they are basketted for 600 Km (read: Limoges) or further. The Barcelona team was prepared in various ways… they all raced Quiévrain-Noyon and Angerville… and some also raced Vierzon and Limoges, and then went to Barcelona… they had not raced then for 5 weeks (without in-between races), they weren’t even shown their hen during this time, adds Willy. Others raced Bourges and Montélimar, whilst a 3rd group had to make do with the nationals from Chateauroux and La Châtre! Normally the pigeons to be basketted for Barcelona are allowed to see their hens from the morning… not now, they were only given their hen in the afternoon and later in the day straw was placed in the loft so that they could build a nest! Was this the motivation which led to this ‘banging performance’ from Barcelona? 

It will certainly have helped, although the pigeons must have been in in optimal condition, that much is clear! Willy usually visits the vet prior to Barcelona to check that everything is in order. He didn’t this year… but he did give his pigeons a preventive cure against ‘tricho’ for 3 days, followed by something for the head for 3 days (product based on doxycycline). About 2 days before basketting Willy also gave his Barcelona racers a ‘spartrix’ tablet. The pigeons are usually given light food (mix from Gerry Plus, Mariman winner), and the last few days sport- or racing mixture. Willy usually uses various mixtures… he just buys what there is by the dealer, without pinning himself to one brand or the other! Where the supplements are concerned… he mainly uses ‘oils’ over the food, but also from different firms. I just take whatever is on the shelf, it’s not that important… adds Willy. He doesn’t have a fast rule for this, but he does for something else, and that is…  plenty of ‘garlic’ in the drink water… good and cheap, and especially ‘blood cleansing’!

According to Willy Verbruggen this doesn’t play a large role in races such as Barcelona… it is the law of the strongest… they can do it or they can’t… they have to have the ‘class’ and the ‘talent’! With pigeons originating from late father Fernand and the sons Michel and Didier Desbuquois, Willy Verbruggen has more than enough ‘talent’ at that level… pigeons which have for years proven that they play a leading role in the ‘marathons’ of the skies, with Barcelona as chosen field! Congratulations Willy… who definitely had a dream come true here!