Meirlaen E. - St.Martens-Latem

A new grandmaster of 'Long Distance' and 'Grand Distance' has arisen!<br> Etienne MEIRLAEN, St.Martens-Latem<br> 1° National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance ' KBDB 2008<br> 3° National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008<br> 1° Prov + 2° Internat. Tarbes 12.537 pigeons 2008


On the west south westerly edge of the city Ghent, on the borders of the Leie, lies the municipality Sint-Martens-Latem… a rural and residential culture municipality of just over 8.300 inhabitants, divided over 2 Leie villages, Latem and Deurle. Green villages that have been transformed over the years from agricultural villages to… the ideal operating base for the richer industries of Ghent that established themselves along the quiet borders of the Leie, resulting in both villages obtaining a more residential character. Various artists also came to reside or take lessons at the 'Latemse School'… the most well-known being Gustaaf Permeke, Gustaaf and Leon De Smet who all have their own museums, Hugo Van den Abeele and playwright Gaston Martens (his most well-known play is without doubt the 'Paradijsvogels' (birds-of-paradise))!
It's not for nothing that St.Martens-Latem has been known for years as the 'richest' municipality of our country! Also where the pigeon sport is concerned we can now say that this area belongs to the 'richest' of our country, because a wealth of pigeons live in Deurle, including the 1° + 3° National Ace pigeon. The very least that we can say is that Etienne Meirlaen performed magnificently once again in 2008.
What we predicted in the year 2003 has now totally come out of its 'shell'. We then printed in capital letters that Etienne Meirlaen was the 'coming man' in the 'Grand Distance'… we are now writing in 2008, and these words are a 'fact'. The name 'Meirlaen' reverberates far outside our borders, has grown to be a 'concept' in the international pigeon sport… as one of the authoritative colonies of our country in the 'Grand Distance', say the 'international' races! About the best that Belgium has to offer at the moment for the Long Distance and in particular the 'Grand Distance'!

That resulted in 2008 in the following titles:
National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008
3° National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008
Prov Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance prize' KBDB East-Fl 2008
Ace pigeon Belgian National Long Distance trophy 2008
Champion 'Extreme Long Distance' Club der XX
Steeple Cup 2008 1° Prov + 2° Internat Tarbes 12.549 p. 2008
Provincial Poitiers 2.568 p. 3° National Perpignan 7.603 p.
10° Prov Ace pigeon Long Distance Old KBDB 2008
Ace pigeon Long Distance + Ace pigeon Marathon 'Fond club Eeklo' 2008 etc…

Take in addition the top performances in his favourite races from Barcelona and Perpignan, and supers from Montauban etc… with:
Barcelona Club 257 p. 2,3,7,9,14,15,17,19,24,25… and 22/38 (per 3) Nat 11.484 p. 25,44,155,177,337,354,451,530,634,655,730…
Perpignan Club 189 p. 1,3,4,10,12,13,18… 12/26 Nat 7.603 p. 3,13,54,187,201,204,360…
Montauban Nat 5.438 p. 21,44,45,289 (5)

The provincial victories with Prov Poitiers 2.568 p, Prov Tarbes 838 p (where the international victory was lost by a hair's breadth, after a one-and-a-half minute delay), in addition to the regional victories from Orange, 2 x St.Vincent etc… only confirm that we aren't writing 'hollow words', but delivering 'rock-hard proof' that Etienne Meirlaen anno 2008 belongs to the absolute 'top', has possibly grown to be the greatest 'Grand Distance racer' of Belgium at the moment!

The new start
Etienne started his own business when he was 20 years old, specialising in zinc, lead, sanitary products and roofing. The business thrived, the order books were overflowing… and because of this the pigeon game took a back seat. Seeing that Etienne doesn't like 'half measures' he decided in the middle of the nineties (1994), to auction his entire pigeon stock (mainly Extreme Middle Distance pigeons, even though there was also a fine Barcelona racer amongst them) and say farewell to the pigeon sport. In the meantime Etienne bought an old farmstead in Deurle on the edge of St.Martens-Latem, which he began renovating. Etienne visited daily to take care of his horses that were stabled in the large barn by the old farmstead.
Once his renovations were finished after 4 years, Etienne suddenly thought that the barn would be a beautiful accommodation for a pigeon loft, so that when he retired he could once again take up his old hobby. But in the end it didn't take that long, because as you know, once you are bitten by the pigeon bug… you can probably guess… there were very soon pigeons in the barn. In the year 2000 a start was made once again, and the basis was laid for the current top successes. This time he strived for the Long Distance and especially the 'Grand Distance', and so pigeons were bought for the 'heavy work'. The first pigeons were obtained from Van Damme-Boddaert in Oostkamp, about 120 to 130 in total, all of which had firstly to prove themselves one for one in the races before they were given a place in the breeding loft. Directly Bull's eye, as it turned out… because the following clappers have this blood flowing through their veins:

- the 'Kleine Raket' 280/00, a direct Van Damme-Boddaert, and son of the 'Blauwen Raket 252/99' (self 1° Nat Souillac 7.306 p. in 2002 by Van Damme-Boddaert).
He directly displayed his enormous class in Deurle with:
La Souterraine 753 p. (86° Intprov 5.551 p.)
75° Nat. Brive 7.446 p. 77° Nat. Brive 19.477 p.
99° Nat Souillac 7.358 p. etc…
Won in total 13 top prizes up to the National races before being reserved for breeding in 2005!

- the 'Marseille' 720/01, powerful top racer… now grown to be just as big a super breeder… he won:
Reg & 72° Nat Marseille 5.738 p. '04
Reg & 46° Nat Marseille 4.398 p. '05
Reg & 38° Intnat Carcassonne 10.444 p. '06 (in substitution for Marseille due to the bird flu).
Both his father and mother are direct Van Damme-Boddaert!

- the 'Marathonlady' 386/04 : daughter of the 'Mont Ventoux 297/00', and possibly the best 'Extreme Long Distance pigeon' of Belgium in 2005, with wins including the Grand Marathon prize KBDB East-Fl 2005
St.Vincent 282 p,
2° Nat Zone A 3.885 p.,
6° Nat Hens 3.320 p.,
12° Nat 10.020 p.
Perpignan 100 p., and 25° Nat 3.796 Yearlings.

- the 'Lady Perpignan' 670/05 (full sister of the Marathonlady), won:
1° Perpignan 155 p.,
1° PROV 703 p, 2° Intnat Hens 3.131 p.,
7° Nat 5.547 p., 15° Intnat 15.087 p. '07
152° Prov Barcelona 2.036 p., 634° Nat 11.484 p. and 1673° Intnat 23.708 p. '08

Through his involvement in the governing board of the Bruges Barcelona club, Etienne didn't only get to know Herman Van Damme (Van Damme-Boddaert), but also the current chairman and Club Brugge- leader Antoine Van Hove, owner of a wealth of 'Extreme Long Distance pigeons' mainly answering to the names so as 'line Laureaat Barcelona Gyselbrecht' , Roger Florizoone and Andre Vermote.
He also visited here in 2000 when he restarted and bought 50 pigeons, including a few supers so as:

- the 'Gouden Vleugel' 245/00 : Winner of the 'Gouden Vleugel' (Golden Wing) 2006 by the BBC from Barcelona. '04
Barcelona Nat 12.245 p. 17 '05
Barcelona Nat 12.998 p. 495 '06
Barcelona Nat 11.802 p. 13
He was then a direct Antoine Van Hove, Loppem!

- the 'Luka' 582/02:
'04 Biarritz Loc 108 p. 1
Intprov 2.343 p. 30 '05
Barcelona Loc 402 p. 10 Nat 12.998 p. 450 '06
Barcelona Prov 2.075 p. 344 Nat 11.802 p. 2241 '07
Barcelona Loc 355 p. 4 Prov 2.229 p. 32 Nat 12.612 p. 230
The 'Luka' has in the meantime developed into one of the main breeding pigeons in Deurle!

Further reinforcements for the breeding loft, including the top breeder, were obtained from Sylvere Toye: a son out the 'Invincible Montauban' Caesaert… a Gubbelmans (read: Jan Theelen), a Gebr F.Desbuquois, 2 pigeons out the very best of Robert Buysse, the noble Long Distance blood of Harrie & Roger Wynands, and of course the not to be scorned at 'golden marathon blood' from Cor de Heijde from Made, which directed the Meirlaen colony towards the national podium!

Widowers and nest hens
From the beginning Etienne made it his business to form an exceptional team for the heavy work, say his favourite race from Barcelona. The only direct way of finding out in the shortest space of time what for breeding material there is in the lofts, is to put 'everything' in the basket and enter them for the races. Even though his preference is for racing with the widowers, a team of nest hens is also prepared. Such a large team of pigeons and the large amount of work it brings with it, means that the 'Meirlaen-team' have their hands full. Wife Yvette (allergic for pigeon dust) takes care of the administration, and the training… and jumps in where necessary… while the pigeon carer 'Aline' mainly takes care of cleaning the lofts and the care of the pigeons, whilst her husband 'Michel' also helps when necessary… or takes care of the 'barbecue' when the pigeons have to come home from the 'Grand Distance'… a speciality it seems!?
The old widowers are in fact divided into 3 groups. The first group is reserved for the races from Brive, Limoges and Souillac and remain reserved for these 'national races'. A 2° group takes part in the races starting from 750 Km (Cahors, Montauban etc…) up to Perpignan. And then there is the team that is especially reserved for Barcelona. They are only given a couple of races from Chateauroux (with sometimes the exception of a Brive) and then go to Barcelona. Normally this is the end of their work… although for the last few seasons Etienne noticed that his fellow fanciers also sent their Barcelona team to Perpignan. Something that Etienne is principally against… still, in 2008 he took the risk and entered 1 Barcelona topper (25° Nat Barcelona 11.484 p., and 1° pigeon from Barcelona) for Perpignan!

The result is now well-known… this clapper, named 'COR', excelled once again from Perpignan with a 3° Prize National 7.603 p… which directly gave him the title of 1° National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008! But if this fact will change Etienne Meirlaen's strategy or ideas for the future… only time will tell. Normally for this Etienne uses his team of hens that race both Barcelona and Perpignan, or San Sebastian and Perpignan. Up until now the hens were given 2 races from St.Vincent as a yearling. Any pigeon that didn't make the national result in the 1° St.Vincent was disposed of straight away… it was then the elite group that was entered for the 2° St.Vincent (sometimes supplemented with a few 'late yearling hens', and once again the tough selection method was used, sometimes even tougher… because also 'freshness' when they returned home played a deciding role… so much so that only the strongest and cleverest remain! A strategy that he has done well by, because once they are 2 years old, these selected hens now go to Barcelona and Perpignan (sometimes a few go to San Sebastian), with overwhelming success!

The 'ASDUIVIN' is the perfect example of this. She raced 6 x overnight Long Distance, won 6 prizes, and was crowned as 3° National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008! The nails have very big heads… Initially the hens sit alone (old + yearlings) together in 1 large loft (the former loft for youngsters in the large barn. They don't breed before the start of the season. The hens for the Barcelona team are brought to a fitting nest position for the day of basketting, so that they are basketted with a 'small youngster' (read: milk youngster).
When they return home they are allowed to brood their young for a short time, before it is removed the following day. The hens then directly start with a new nest and are entered for Perpignan with '14-days breeding time'. Various systems are tried out with the widowers. From coupling early + brooding once more, coupling early and then not re-coupling, to only brooding before the season… there was not any noticeable differences in the performances. Only the discarding of the feathers can happen earlier or later, depending on the system used. For the last few seasons the pigeons have usually been coupled on the 2nd of February, according to the old system from the earlier days when everybody coupled their racing pigeons around this time.
The widowers raise 1 youngster and then go directly into widowhood… the hens are removed in time so that no more eggs are laid! Then the game can begin, and weather permitting, the training starts, at around the end of March! Usually the 'proven' racing pigeons are given a new young hen every year, with the intention of discovering the breeding results quite quickly… which is beneficial when their racing career is coming to an end. Pigeons without breeding results up until then, are not given a place in the breeding loft… with the exception of a clapper that has proved that it has the breeding 'in it', can be stopped a year earlier!

A loft full of 'top pigeons
Etienne has plenty of top racers for nearly all the races, from Middle Distance to Extreme Distance… even though all the attention is paid to the 'international races', with a preference for Barcelona and Perpignan! Etienne sees races so as Tarbes and Narbonne as an ideal training school for the majority of his 2-year old cocks, candidate Barcelona racers! Although of course he has a few very strong old pigeons which he reserves for these races… still, all the pigeons which he thinks can manage Barcelona, are placed in the Barcelona team… the result is sufficiently well-known.

Here a few of these inimitable 'Cracks' which the Meirlaen colony is so rich with:
"COR" 4344528/05
National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008 (coeff 0,25%, the smallest ever)
Internat. Ace pigeon Barcelona/Perpignan 2008
'08 Barcelona Reg 257 p. 2 Nat 11.484 p. 25 Int 23.695 p. 71
'08 Perpignan Reg 189 p. 1 Prov 1.076 p. 2 Nat 7.603 p. 3 Int 17.624 p. 4
He is a son of the 'SON DON MICHEL 632/01', a direct Cor de Heijde from Made-NL (out the 1° Ace pigeon Perpignan ZLU 1999-2001 and 1° Ace pigeon Dax ZLU 2000-2002: Don Michel, self grandson of the 'Klamper') x 'GRANDDAUGHTER LAUREAAT BARCELONA 201/00' (an Antoine Van Hove, Loppem)


"COR" 4344528/05 : Pedigree Click here

"ASDUIVIN" (Ace Hen) 4391334/04
3° National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008
5° Internat. Ace pigeon Barcelona/Perpignan 2008
'08 Barcelona Reg 257 p. 3 Prov 2.036 p. 12 Nat 11.484 p. 44 Int 23.708 p. 129
'08 Perpignan Reg 189 p. 4 Prov 1.070 p. 13 Nat 7.603 p. 54 Int 17.624 p. 81 Hens Int 3.803 p. 23
'07 Perpignan Nat 5.547 p. 287
'07 Barcelona Nat 12.612 p. 1048 Hens 2.229 p. 165
She is a daughter of the 'FATHER ASDUIVIN 247/03' (out the 'Gubbelmans 106/00 x 'THE 661/01 Cor de Heijde, inbred to the Perpignan and the Klamper) x ' MOTHER ASDUIVIN 134/03' (half-sister Marathonlady and also mother of 'Starlight').

"ASDUIVIN" 4391334/04 : Pedigree Click here

"STARLIGHT" 4288140/06
'08 Montauban Reg 182 p. 1 Prov 1.033 p. 2 Nat 5.434 p. 21
'08 Tarbes Reg 177 p. 1 Prov 838 p. 1 Nat 4.660 p. 2 Intnat 12.537 p. 2
'08 Chateauroux Prov 3.709 p. 265
Son of the 'BLUE 553/05' (crossing Cor de Heijde x old sort) x 'MOTHER ASDUIVIN 134/03'! Without doubt the 'top promise' for 2009, which will be followed with Eagle eyes! Etienne could resist the temptation to enter him for Perpignan. After his exploit from Tarbes, where he (through his own fault says Etienne) lost 2 minutes and so the 1° prize international… he was given complete rest, so that he could prepare for 2009, with the knowledge at the back of his mind that 2-year old pigeons sometimes go deep in the 'Grand Distance', due to their inexperience, sometimes too deep!

"STARLIGHT" 4288140/06 : Pedigree Click here

"LADY PERPIGNAN" 4344670/05 (full sister of "Marathon Lady"):
'07 Perpignan Prov 703 p. 1 Nat 5.547 p. 7 Int 15.087 p. 15 Hens Int 3.131 p. 2
'08 Barcelona Prov 2.036 p. 152 Nat 11.484 p. 634 Intnat 23.708 p. 1673 Hens Int 6.520 p. 478

"PERPIGNAN QUEEN" 4344752/05, half-sister of "Rob", who won when she was 18 months old :
'06 Narbonne Intnat 9.634 p. 5 '06 Irun-Tarbes Nat 5.252 p. 24 etc...
The "Perpignan Queen" won self :
'07 Perpignan Prov 703 p. 2 Nat 5.547 p. 10 Int 15.087 p. 21 Hens Int 3.131 p. 3
'07 San Sebastian 422 p. 10 Euro Int 1.803 p. 41
'08 Barcelona Nat 11.484 p. 1621 Intnat 23.708 p. 3640
'08 Perpignan Nat 7.603 p. 6 Intnat 17.624 p. 19 Hens Intnat 3.803 p. 5

"DEN TEEK" 4431105/02
3° Primus Inter Pares 2008 B.B.C. '04 Barcelona Nat 12.275 p. 197
'05 Barcelona Nat 12.998 p. 125
'06 Barcelona Nat 11.802 p. 1981
'07 Barcelona Nat 12.612 p. 376
'08 Barcelona Nat 11.484 p. 730
Comes out a crossing Gebr Desbuquois x Antoine Van Hove.

Pedigree "Den Teek" : Click here

Where will it end…?
With this team of 'super pigeons' the Etienne Meirlaen-team is not only 'sitting pretty' where the pigeon happenings are concerned, but it is really 'weaponed' for the future! There is a beautiful selection of top pigeons, and also the basis that has now been extended is, qualitatively seen, rather broad! From there that the future doesn't only look rosy, but we can safely say that the Meirlaen-colony could possibly be 'THE' colony of the future. He has only been active for 5 or 6 years in the 'Grand Distance', and in this short time he can produce results that many top colonies haven't been able to manage after 30 years of racing.
Normally you would tend to say that the best is yet to come… but with a 1° + 3° National Ace pigeon 'Grand Distance' KBDB 2008 in the honours list is it possible to improve or equal it? Unless Etienne later orders a subscription to 'national title victories' in other championships, or takes a chance at a 1° National victory (from Barcelona?). But as long as he hasn't got a 'patent' on this, then there is hope for the rest of us… so it's a question of waiting to see what 2009 brings. But his National Ace pigeons 2008… he's already got them in his pocket!
Congratulations to the whole of the Meirlaen-team!

Results 2008
Poitiers Reg 111 p. 1,8,11,13… and 6/12 Prov 2.568 p. 1,86… 6/12
Cahors Nat 5.441 p. 49,1127,1335 (5)
Montauban Reg 182 p. 1,3,4… and 9/17 Prov 1.033 p. 2,8,9… etc. Nat 5.438 p. 21,44,45,289…
Orange Reg 84 p. 1,7,23 (5) Nat 4.587 p. 82… etc
San Sebastian Eureg 1.958 p. 4,8,19,47,64…
St.Vincent Reg 199 p. 1,5,9,10,13,17,20… 18/39 Nat 8.393 p. 53,367… etc.
Barcelona Reg 257 p. 2,3,7,9,14,15,17,19,24,25… 22/38 Nat 11484 p. 25,44,155,177,337,354,4551,530,634,655,730… 21/38 Intnat 6.520 Hens 37,151,173… 15/22
Limoges YL Reg 801 p. 2,7,61,81,92,98… 15/22
Tarbes Reg 177 p. 1,16,23… 6/19 Prov 838 p. 1… Nat 4.660 p. 2… Intnat 12.537 p. 2… etc. 6/19
Marseille Reg 66 p. 2,17 (3) Nat 4.000 p. 95… Intnat 13.939 p. 335,2166 (3)
Perpignan Reg 189 p. 1,3,4,10,12,13,18… 12/26 Nat 7.603 p. 3,13,54,187,201,204,360… Intnat 17.624 p. 4,19,81… Intnat 3.803 hens 5,23,67,69,70,108,241…
St.Vincent Prov 204 p. 1,4,5,8,9,14,16… 13/28 Eur.Nat 1.973 p. 7,18,27,39,41,83,95… 14/28