BDS/Blancke (Ruiselede, BE) triumphant from Agen national olds and international hens

The 2017 race from Agen sees Dr. Piet Blancke finish in first place at national level against 4,408 olds and at international level in the hens' race with a late hen of 2015. This hen is also the fastest of 9,818 pigeons in the whole of Belgium.

Dr. Piet Blancke shows his winning hen: 1st Nat. Agen olds and 1st Int. Agen Hens

A top results after 8 days in the basket

The weather did not make things easier for the organisers of Bordeaux Télévie, which hosted the race from Agen. The pigeons could leave their baskets only on Tuesday morning 4th of July at 7am, after spending eight nights in the basket. The organisers did have the patience to await more favourable weather conditions along the course, which we can only applaud.

There was an almost clear sky in France on Tuesday, and there was almost no wind, which varied between north-west and east. This was not an easy day for the pigeons after spending several days in the basket. It was a race for pigeons with great potential and with some excellent fitness. The national first prize in the old birds' race was won in Ruiselede in West Flanders, in the lofts of veterinary surgeon Piet Blancke, who races under the banner of BDS/Blancke. Piet had only just started to await his pigeons along with a few friends as two racing birds reached their home base. One arrived home like an experienced widower, heading straight for the board with its wings upright. The other pigeon intended to land on the board as well but eventually decided to continue its flight instead. Apparently the national winner had been accompanied by a pigeon from somewhere else. In the loft one cock was still sitting in the nest, as Piet had forgotten to basket him. This cock initially prevented the hen from entering the loft, and this cost her over one and a half minutes, before she eventually got clocked at 18:25'39". She had completed 787.972km with an average speed of 1149.1870 m/min. It was the highest speed of all the Belgian pigeons in the race, and it resulted in a national victory in the old birds' race (2nd International), as well as an international victory in the hens' race.

BDS/Blancke triumphant

This is a first big victory in the extreme long distance for Team BDS, which as you know consists of Piet Blancke, Dirk Speybroeck and Bart Declerck. Dirk (based in Vinkt) competes in the national one day long distance races with a team of cocks, Bart (from Meulebeke) runs a team of hens for the longer middle distance, and Piet (Ruiselede) took a fresh start in 2014, focusing on the extreme long distance. Several years ago Piet used to dominate the longer middle distance together with Rik Cools, who were running a team of hens under the name of Cools-Blancke. However, his veterinary practice got in the way of his pigeon racing career, forcing him to take a step back for a while. But Piet was still the mastermind behind Team BDS, as he provided the racing lofts in Vinkt and Meulebeke (or Tielt at the time) with great racing birds from his own breeding loft. In 2014 he decided to get back in the game, racing pigeons from his own loft, with a focus on the extreme long distance.

A lack of time and a busy veterinary practice are still keeping him from looking after his pigeons on a regular basis, hence his bias towards the extreme long distance. In this discipline the sheer talent of your pigeons has a much bigger impact than the fancier himself will ever have.

The pigeons of BDS/Blancke are raced from the nest, and the preparatory races are done in total widowhood up until Bourges. Afterwards they are put in the nest at the exact right time to enable them to be basketed for the extreme long distance races with a youngster in the basket. The old birds (of 2014) that were basketed for last week's race from Pau (with 3 top prizes at national level) did Tours, Vierzon and Bourges consecutively in widowhood. They are now getting ready for Narbonne and/or Perpignan. The team that was basketed for Agen were put in the nest with two instead of three races (Vierzon and Bourges). This was a team of late youngsters of 2015 (trained in 2016 along with the youngsters) and yearlings, most of which did a few training flights from Arras as young birds. Some of them did not have any racing experience at all.

Once the pigeons are in the nest the fancier from Ruiselede wakes up at 6:30am to release the cocks. If all goes well Piet calls them back in and feeds them just before he heads to his practice. After his lunch break he returns home to train the nest hens. There is no time to take the nest pigeons away or to organise an additional training flight, even though Piet thinks this could be of great value to his team. But would it really make a difference? This is hard to tell, but we tend to say no, given the fact that he can still win a 1st national without them apparently. He released his pigeons one by one just once, in Koolskamp on Sunday, the day before they were basketed.

Wonder Pigeon

It is no surprise that the medical guidance in the racing loft of a veterinary surgeon is well put together. Piet Blancke has come up with a perfect sceme for his clients, based around quick recovery and a proper buildup to the next race, if necessary with some minor adjustments in terms of medical guidance after a planned check-up. That same scheme is obviously in use in the different BDS racing lofts as well, where it was in fact tested and further refined.

What did the preparation for the team for Agen look like? The pigeons were put in the nest after Bourges, to make sure they had youngsters in their bowls by the time they were basketed for Agen. The pigeons were vaccinated for tricho, followed by a three day cure for the respiratory tracts. A treatment is always followed by an antifingual treatment, combined with freeze dried intestinal flora,which they administer once every week in the three weeks before Agen. The pigeons were also given 5ml of Wonder Pigeon per litre in the final days before the race. Some additional energetic powder was added to the feed in the last three days as well.
Piet Blancke is particularly fond of Wonder Pigeon, which he thinks is an excellent product year round. During the racing season he only uses it in the final few days before the race, just to boost their fitness. It is used daily in the breeding season and for the youngsters (2 ml/l).

Winning hen with a great pedigree

Talent breeds talent. The national winner from Agen is called Joëlle, and she was one of the late youngsters of 2015 that did her first major race in Agen. Impressively enough she managed to claim a national first prize old birds and an international first prize hens in the very first extreme long distance race of her career.

Joëlla is a rather small racing hen with a sharp edge, a remarkably strong skeleton, a supple set of wings, and her muscles feel very good as well. She appears to be very restless when you pick her up, or perhaps she just tries to get herself loose to return to her youngster (now 12 to 13 days old after 8 days in the basket) as quickly as possible. Giving birth to her descendants did take a lot from this small racing bird. Joëlle has some excellent origins:

Sire: Grandson Kaasboer BE14-4215738
A cock from a joint breedindg with the PIPA Elite Center (PEC). His sire was one of the stock breeders of the PEC: New Kaasboer BE09-6111600, a direct Gaston Vd Wouwer, being a half brother of Laura, 1st Nat. Bourges 17,138 p. (a direct son of legendary breeder Kaasboer BE98-6335690) x Bliksem Donna BE09-3097539, a super class breedindg hen for Team BDS. She is the dam of a 1st Nat. Zone Chateauroux, and she comes from Fryda’s Bliksem BE04-3001595 x Donna BE00-3280289, a granddaughter Wittenbuik. Fryda’s Bliksem comes from a joint breeding with Gaby Vandenabeele through Bliksem x stock dam Fryda Cools-Blancke.
Dam: Daughter Rainman BE13-3076200
An inbred hen from the winner of a 1st Nat. St.Vincent 3,161 p. in 2012 (in the lofts of Martin De Poorter, Sluis-NL): Rainman BE11-4245800 (a Rudi De Saer pigeon and a 100% Vandenabeele) paired to his own dam: top class breeding hen Blue Angel BE08-3190061 (from stock pair De Saer Perigueux x Corry). Blue Angel is the dam of Rainman.
Click here for the full pedigree of Joëlla.

Both her parents have already been sold to a foreign loft, since both her sire and dam were sold in a PIPA internet auction.

This pedigree clearly illustrates the breeding strategy of Team BDS: Joëlla comes from a combination of their old breed (based on first prize winners in the longer middle distance) and the bloodlines of successful long distance pigeons. The idea is to breed long distance pigeons that can carry a lot of speed or to create shorter distance pigeons with enhanced natural resistance. This was an excellent result in a sun-drenched race with a slight headwind, which took off after 8 days in the basket. An impressive performance indeed. Many congratulations to Piet Blancke and the entire BDS team.