Good weather was predicted for the Whitsun weekend of 30-31 May, with a wind from the north-east, so right on the nose… tough but fair! A lot of pigeons were expected to take part… the preparatory races had a smooth course everywhere, the pigeons were ready! The convoy left for Brive with 17.478 pigeons, a surplus of 2.957 pigeons compared to the previous 2008 season!
So as predicted, the Brive race was very tough for the pigeons, especially so early in the season, because it was a race of more than 10 hours with hardly 1100 metres velocity!
Liberated at 7h30, the “national winner” landed at the trap at 17h21’51” in Gits (near Roeselare) by Jean-Claude De Caestecker and Jan Ghielens from a distance of 661,958 Km… good enough for 1.118,46 m/min, directly the highest speed that was good enough for winning the 1° Nat. Brive against 17.478 old birds. Following in his footsteps in 2nd place: Andre & Patrick De Smet from Semmerzake with 1.115,34 m (with which this pigeon paid a posthumous tribute to Andre who passed away 2 weeks ago), in 3rd place: Antoine & Rudy Desaer from Ruiselede with 1.114,89 m (who also had a phenomenal series with 6 pigeons before the 57° National according to the first prognosis), and in 4th place: Patrick & Dimitri Houfflyn from Wortegem-Petegem with 1.114,86 m. After Bourges it was yet again the turn of the ‘Flanders’… as you can see there are good pigeons across the entire country… and ‘golden triangles’ ,and ‘diamond axles’… only have a commercial meaning… It is and remains ‘wind and mass’, coupled with ‘position’ and the ‘condition on the day’ that passes judgement over win or defeat at ‘national level’! There is no arguing with that!
David & Goliath
The national victory of Jean-Claude De Caestecker-Ghielens fits perfectly in the story of the dual ‘David against Goliath’! Because many top lofts were keen to take the victory in this first national long distance race of the season… and seeing the racing circumstances, it would be a nice addition to the visiting card! They didn’t bet on Jean-Claude De Caestecker and Jan Ghielens, small fanciers, say pure hobbyists with a handful of pigeons in the lofts… giving the great tenors a pigeon lesson on their own chosen field! By Jean-Claude it is pigeon sport without frills… everything as simple as possible, pigeons without a big name or endless pedigrees in the lofts. He doesn’t have breeding pigeons, and the 16 widowers that reside in the lofts are responsible for 1 round of youngsters! And every year he buys a ‘round’ of youngsters from someone, often from his friend Etienne Stroobants.
Jean-Claude works in a 2 shift system by ‘Dujardin Foods’, a wholesalers in frozen vegetables & frozen ‘ready made meals’… and sometimes has to leave home at 3.45am for the ‘early shift’. Not ideal situations for practising the pigeon sport then, that’s why he looked for help. He found it in Jan Ghielens, who was in fact a ‘fincher’, but occasionally came to feed the pigeons when Jean-Claude was away… This is how Jan slowly became involved in the pigeon sport and his interest and love for the pigeons grew… so much so that Jan now more or less takes care of the daily upkeep of the pigeons! And so the combination De Caestecker-Ghielens was born!
The youngster’s race up to the national race from Argenton or La Souterraine… but only if they have enough plumage at that moment! As yearlings they don’t go further than Limoges Yearlings, even though the accent of the pigeon game lies in the races of about 500 Km, say the races so as Tours, Chateauroux and Poitiers. The real ‘big game’ doesn’t really interest Jean-Claude… because according to him, the pigeon sport is much ‘too expensive’! It is one of the nicest hobbies that there is, says Jean-Claude, but one that is killing itself through a much too high ‘price ticket’! The pigeon sport is putting a ‘rope’ around its own throat! The more the doubles, the higher the costs… and it doesn’t only make him shudder… this is also the main reason that many sport companions will stop in the near future… because it is too expensive! Yes… write that in your report… the truth has to be told, according to Jean-Claude! He himself only races in the local doubles of the provincial and national races! In this way it is almost impossible to win my money back… but that’s how it is (Jean-Claude even made a ‘Brive-account’ for us)! The 1° Nat Brive-winner also races provincial and national for the ‘stripe’! What’s more, I didn’t even ask for or paid for the provincial or national results says Jean-Claude! The only thing that is important to us is the sportive performance… not the amount of money that is after the fancier’s name!
The 1° National Brive
Keeping in mind the pigeon strategy in the De Caestecker-Ghielens Household, the 1° National Brive-winner… ring B07-3074980… is a pigeon that Jean-Claude received free of charge from Michel Hallaert. His father won 2 x prize from Barcelona. A big and strong clapper then, with ‘power’ in the wings. On the 2nd of May he won his prize from Ablis, but he only returned home from Chateauroux (raced with a velocity of 1800 metres) as 12th from the 12 basketted pigeons! That’s why they had to think long and hard about entering this pigeon for Tours or Brive. His condition seemed to be super, so Jean-Claude & Jan decided to basket him as 1° nominated for Brive… the pigeon didn’t let them down!
The old racing team was separated into 2 halves, 6 for Brive and 6 for Tours. The performance from Tours was already good and gave hope, the confirmation came a few hours later from Brive from which they were clocked as thus:
17h21 (1° nominated), 18h08 (2° nominated that wins 28° club 391 p. and 196° Prov 2.770 p.), 18h23, 19h00 and 19h06… this was 5 prizes from the 6 raced pigeons up to national level! An excellent result! Before leaving, the pigeons were given their hen for a short time… that ensured the necessary motivation, with national victory as a result! With this national victory Jean-Claude and Jan proved that it can also be done differently by the smaller fanciers in our guild It is not ‘a lot’ that is ‘good’… but the ‘good’ is ‘a lot’! In other words one doesn’t have to have a ‘mass’ of pigeons to achieve national top successes… to put a ‘national victory ’ in the pocket! Jean-Claude and Jan… 2 pigeon fanciers in heart and soul, proved this last Saturday in the very tough Brive ‘in black and white’!
Our hearty congratulations to the tandem De Caestecker-Ghielens and their family with this beautiful victory! One to frame!