Raoul & Xavier Verstraete (Oostakker, BE) continue to impress

They have been at the top for almost 50 years. They continue to perform at a top level season after season in the provincial and national longer middle distance and the international long distance, which is something not many fanciers can say.

Raoul (83) and his son Xavier Verstraete have been winning an impressive number of top prizes as well as countless victories in the past 50 years. They continue to play a key role in the most important pigeon races, which is quite spectacular. The number of titles they have won throughout their career is even more impressive. They were particularly successful in the races from 450km up to the classic from Barcelona. We cannot think of many pigeon families that have been able to match the performances of the Verstraete breed from Oostakker. In addition, they were the first to win the title of General Champion of Belgium Entente for two consecutive years (2009 and 2010). Their title of General Champion of Belgium KBDB in 2011 was a crowning achievement after a long and successful career. It was the icing on the cake. This pigeon family has been called the miracle loft ever since.

The fanciers from Oostakker did not rest on their laurels: their most important title since 2011 is that of First Long Distance Champion in Cureghem Centre in 2012 but they won quite a few important titles this season as well, including:

1st Champion Young Birds Zwalmvallei (with 1+2 nominated National races)
1st Long Distance Champion in Fondclub Lokeren
1st Middle Distance Champion in Fondclub Lokeren
1st Super championship LF
1st Champion Young Birds Club XX
1st Ploegkoers Club XX
2nd Nat. Champions League Young Birds AJD (national races)
2nd Champion FVOV Young Birds
2nd Ploegkoers Entente Belge
2nd Ace Pigeon Young Birds Fondclub Lokeren
2nd Champion Old Birds Lokeren
3rd General Champion Lokeren
6th General Champion FVOV Olds & young birds

It is fair to say that the pigeon family of Raoul & Xavier Verstraete is one of the most awarded pigeon lofts in Belgium. 
Click here for an overview of their most important titles between 2009 and 2013.

From national middle distance fanciers to national long distance champions

It is quite impressive to see how Raoul & Xavier have managed to have a group of pigeons of outstanding quality in their loft at all times. They have a collection of true stock pigeons and breeders that have all contributed to this success story. These fanciers obviously have an eye for talent. It all began in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Most of us can still remember the legendary Gouden Bol, one of the first true stars in this loft. Other iconic pigeons as Mirage, Zilveren, Rapido and Panter from Theo Gilbert and Elvis were to follow in his footsteps. Then came a new generation of excellent pigeons with Miljonair, Bolide, the bloodline of Supercrack Gruson (via Robert Venus) and of course the wonderful UNO and Cadillac. They pushed the racing team to a higher level and they performed really well in the provincial and national longer middle distance, with a top prize in the long distance from time to time as well. This was when Raoul started racing his old birds and one year old hens on widowhood. The idea was that the pigeons have to be raced until some are starting to weaken. The strongest hens that passed this selection process developed into invaluable breeding dams later on and they have played a key role in today’s successes!

Today they are capable of winning long series of top prizes in the national long distance races. The transition to the long distance competition came with the purchase of two hens from Cas De Graaff from Arnemuiden (two daughters of the 2nd nat. Dax) and two hens from Chris Hebberecht from his public auction in 2011: Blauwe Kathy (from the line of Pokemon x Herbotsduivin x 1st Nat. La Souterraine Aelbrecht) and Geschelpte Kathy (an exceptional hen as a young bird and winner of 1st Ace Pigeon Young Birds Long Distance Trophy; a daughter of Barcelona champion Panda, winner of BBC Barcelona ranking over three seasons). The introduction of Blauwe Kathy in the breeding loft was an instant success but the descendants of Geschelpte Kathy could not win many prizes in the beginning. Raoul discussed this with Chris Hebberecht, who asked him if he had already basketed them for longer distance races. The two fanciers agreed to basket Topstar, a son of her, for a longer distance race, the international Beziers for yearlings. This was an extremely difficult race but Topstar managed to win the first prize in his club in Eeklo, as well as a 68th national against 9,191 pigeons. He was also basketed for Montauban as a two year old, where he won another first prize in very difficult conditions. He also finished 77th against 7,303 pigeons at national level! This was the sign for them to move him to the breeding loft and this proved an excellent decision! We noticed that most of today’s racing pigeons in Oostakker originate from this Topstar. Raoul & Xavier are convinced that this is the best breeding pigeon they have ever had. This Topstar has bred an incredible number of long distance champions in a short period of time and the pigeons from further generations have been doing really well too. These generations have played a key role in the titles that have been won over the years.

Their pigeon Xtra took the first victory with a first nat. Cahors 5,425 pigeons in 2008, two weeks after winning a 21st nat. Brive 14,521 p. He is currently one of the most important breeding pigeons, which you can tell from the list of references with Verstraete pigeons.

We asked Xavier about his favourite breeding pigeon besides Topstar and he thinks Bijou is ready to join his select group of top class breeders. His successful career as a racing pigeon came to an end in 2013 and he deserved a spot in the breeding loft. These are his best results:

- Bijou BE06-4296367 (a full brother of Xtra):

2nd Best Pigeon from Montauban over 4 seasons 2009-2012 (PIPA ranking)
16th  Prov. Chateauroux   –  4,460 p.
45th  Nat. Tarbes 2010    -  4,576 p.
89th  Intnat. Tarbes 2010 – 15,034 p.
70th  Nat. Montauban 2009 –  7,203 p.
98th  Nat. Montauban 2011 –  9,091 p.
258th Nat. Montauban 2012 –  6,822 p.
473rd Nat. Montauban 2010 –  6,654 p.
153rd Nat. Cahors         -  5,441 p.
439th Nat. Brive          – 16,815 p.

This Bijou is a brother of the 1st Nat. Cahors (Xtra) and the 3rd semi-nat. Brive in 2008

Sire: Topstar BE03-4343129

Winner of: 1st prize club / 66th Nat. Beziers - 9,191 p. 2004
1st prize club / 77th Nat. Montauban - 7,303 p. 2005

This Topstar is the undisputed stock sire of today's generation of racing pigeons that are currently housed in the loft in Oostakker. This pigeon is the sire of:
1st Nat. Cahors 5,425 p. in 2008 (Xtra)
3rd Nat. Zone Brive 4,381 p. in 2008 (Xtra)
1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance Duivenblad 2008
1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Young Birds Belgian Fondtrophy 2011 (Best Star)
1st Int. Ace Pigeon Young Birds IFV 2011 (Best Star)
1st Prov. Blois 5,272 p.
2nd Best pigeon Montauban in four seasons 2009-2012 - PIPA ranking (Bijou)
2nd Prov. Blois 2,712 p. (Clo Clo)
2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Young Birds Belgian Fondtrophy 2010 (Bella)
6th Nat. Ace Pigeon Young Birds PIPA Ranking (4 Nationals) 2010 (Bella)

2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Yearlings Belgian Fondtrophy 2011 (nest brother Bella)
Yelena: a golden breeding dam of Etienne Meirlaen, which is the dam of:
1st Intnat. Narbonne 2010 (Monar)
4-5-10-12-13th Nat. Montauban (with three musketeers: Montauban, Montali and Monar)

Dam: Diva BE03-4343099
She is winner of:

1st Prov Dax     -   934 p.
2nd Internat Dax - 1,930 hens
6th Nat Dax      - 4,534 p.
3rd Chateauroux  -   104 p.
3rd Vierzon      -   140 p. etc…

She is the dam of the 1st Nat. Cahors, 3rd N.Zone Brive, 1st Chateauroux

Bella, a granddaughter of Topstar, is one of their favourites as well. She has won:
-‘Bella’ BE10-4210044

2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Young Birds Belgian Fondtrophy 2010
6th Nat. Ace Pigeon Young Birds PIPA Ranking (4 Nationals) 2010
2nd Limoges      -    783 p.
18th Nat Limoges - 14,686 p.
3rd Clermont     -    146 p.
5th Noyon        –  1,161 p.
7th Vierzon      -    413 p.
15th Blois       -    352 p.
19th Bourges     -    944 p.
20th La Souterraine - 662 p.
23rd Argenton    -    771 p.
Click here for the pedigree of Bella

Her nest brother 043/10 has won the title of
2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Yearlings Belgian Fondtrophy 2011

We decided to discuss no more than two of today's best breeding pigeons in Oostakker. It is thanks to these breeders that Raoul & Xavier Verstraete have been dominating their opponents. They have managed to win first prizes and top results season after season for almost fifty years! This is a matchless performance.

Some of the best results of 2013

05/5 Noyon (177 Km)  179 yearlings:
1-15-19-19-21-22-30-31-32-34-36-40-42-43-46-50

18/5 Vierzon (447 Km) 432 old birds:
1-14-15-23-32-45… (8/11)
18/5 Vierzon   242 yearlings:
5-13-15-16-19-21-25-31-33… (12/22)

25/5 Bourges (454 Km) 388 old birds:
1-14-26-33-40-51-92-104 (8/18)
25/5 Bourges  362 yearlings:
14-15-20-29-33-34-36-39-47… (14/18)

01/6 Limoges (646 Km) 320 old birds:
6-8-17-19-20-22-29-31-40-45-50-56-59… (15/23)
01/6 Chateauroux (499 Km) 343 yearlings:
17-20-23-25-28-30-31-33-44-45… (19/45)

08/6 Poitiers (558 Km) 321 old birds:
3-8-9-10-11-26-40-51-52-65… (12/14)
08/6 Poitiers  340 yearlings:
1-13-30-33-40-47-54-70… (11/25)

09/6 Noyon (177 Km) 278 young birds:
2-10-11-12-17-19-20-24-26-28…

15/6 Montluçon (533 Km) 403 yearlings:
8-23-43-44-58-62… (12/21)

16/6 Noyon (177 Km) 536 young birds:
1-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-27-31-35-40…

22/6 Gueret(564 Km) 206 yearlings:
2-3-14-33-41-48-61 (7/14)
22/6 Montauban (804 Km) 118 old birds:
13-27-38 (3/5)

28/6 Agen-Bordeaux (806 Km) 111 old birds: 7 (1/3)

06/7 Libourne (744 Km) 79 yearlings: 1-27 (2/2)
     Libourne 168 old birds: 12 (1/3)
06/7 La Souterraine (563 Km) 167 yearlings:
1-8-18-20-33-34-36-39 (8/13)

13/7 Brive (678 Km) 111 old birds: 19-26 (2/5)

20/7 Blois (456 Km) 170 young birds:
4-5-22-23… (6/9)

27/7 Bourges (454 Km) 358 young birds:
2-12-17-21-28-50-63-64 (8/24)

02/8 Perpignan (943 Km) 74 old birds: 2-10-25 (3/4)

03/8 Chateauorux (499 Km) 169 young birds:
1-2-3-5-7-8-10-12-31-37-47-49-50-53 (14/19)
N.Zone 2.797 jonge: 5-14-23-31-48-79-99-132… etc.

03/8 Tulle (632 Km) 174 yearlings:
8-13-16-29-39-43-47-54 (8/14)

10/8 Argenton (525 Km) 338 young birds:
3-14-18-21-30-32-33-37-42-43-49-50-55-58-62-67… (25/39)

17/8 Issoudun (476 Km) 254 young birds:
4-9-10-22-23-28-29-36-37… (15/47)

24/8 La Souterraine (563 Km) 230 young birds:
10-12-15-16-22-33-38-39-43-44-46-47 (12/26)

31/8 Nevers (457 Km) 179 young birds:
3-9-16-17-18-19-27-35-36-41-46… (13/30)

07/9 Gueret (564 Km) 197 young birds:
4-5-6-9-17-19-29-30-32-33-35-42… (22/43)