The outstanding pigeons from Dentergem take a break in mid-August. This is traditionally the end of the racing season for Gaby Vandenabeele’s old birds, which close the season with the national Argenton II. 2013 was a magnificent season and the Vandenabeele racing pigeons are enjoying a moment of rest now; a calm before the storm. The pigeons will be fired up for a new season in early May, fully prepared for a flying start. They will be ready for another glorious racing season, searching for new triumphs and spectacular victories.
Memorable list of achievements and an endless number of references worldwide
It is hard to imagine and difficult to describe the achievements of the Gaby Vandenabeele pigeons over the last 30 years. Almost 100 provincial victories have been won in his own loft (94 to be exact), as well as six national wins. Keep in mind that this does not include the endless list of top results that were achieved with Vandenabeele pigeons in other lofts.
It looked for a while as if Gaby would not claim an important victory in 2013. He had to be satisfied with a great number of top results, including several provincial top 10 prizes (from second to tenth). He had quite a few first prizes in the club but he had not been able to win an important prize in 2013. Then, his Super Romeo performed outstandingly well in the final national long distance race from Tulle. He had quite a lot of headwind and a disadvantageous flight route but he had an exceptionally strong day, winning the first prize in the club, a second provincial prize and a fourth Nat. in Zone A against 2,209 yearlings. This resulted in the title of First National Ace Pigeon Long Distance Yearlings KBDB 2013! One week later, in the closing race from Argenton for yearlings, the season was ended with a splendid provincial victory in the yearlings’ category. It was a crowning achievement after a very strong 2013 season.
But that was not all: as we said, the Vandenabeele pigeons have been winning countless important prizes and national victories in other fanciers’ lofts as well. These are some of the national victories that were won with Vandenabeele based pigeons in 2013:
- Nicolas Bascourt :
1st Nat Limoges 14,271 old birds
-Bert Van Den Berghe:
1st Nat Agen (Bordeaux) 5,507 olds bird
2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB old birds
12th Nat. Ace Pigeon Longer Middle Distance old birds
1st Nat Agen 5,283 yearlings
1st Nat Brive 8,331 old birds (ex aequo)
2nd General Champion of Belgium KBDB 2013
1st Nat La Souterraine 11,236 yearlings
1st Nat Brive 8,331 old birds (ex aequo)
1st Nat Bourges 13,588 yearlings (May 2013)
1st Nat Bourges 11,883 yearlings (July 2013)
No less than 13 national winners of 2013 originate to a certain extent from the bloodline of Vandenabeele, including J. & G. Mispelaere (1st Nat Poitiers), Franky Appelmans (1st Nat Gueret), Ivan Vanvuchelen (1st Nat Tulle), Matthias Coel (1st Nat Argenton) and Albert Derwa (1st Nat Issousun). This is quite something! These achievements perfectly illustrate that 2013 was a spectacular racing season for the pigeons of Gaby Vandenabeele.
1976: the start of a success story
Having the chance to learn everything about pigeon fancying at an early age is an undeniable advantage. Gaby learned a lot from his father Gentiel, who was a great champion as well. When starting out on his own in 1976, Gaby already had a lot of knowledge about the sport and he could always turn to his father for advice. This allowed him to reach a high level of performance fairly quickly, initially in the sprint and middle distance competition.
His impressive career started when Gaby borrowed the renowned Zitterke pigeon from Jozef Delodder. Gaby could not find a good partner for Zitterke right away so it was paired to the phenomenal breeding hen Ameyke from his good friend Gilbert Van Parijs (Aarsele, BE) first. Gilbert had been particularly successful in the region with descendants of this invaluable stock dam, which was often paired to his Angoulême. In his total auction in late 1983 his stock dam was transferred to the Norman pigeon family, where she laid the foundation for a number of national first prizes!
This hen was paired to Zitterke and they bred Gaby Vandenabeele’s outstanding number one stock sire Kleinen BE81-3238253, whose direct descendants have really rocketed the Vandenabeele pigeon family to the top nationally. They were so successful that the neighbouring clubs did not want to basket the Vandenabeele pigeons; they were simply too strong! This means Gaby had no choice but to shift his focus to the provincial and national classics. Such champions as Picanol, Fideel, Turbo and of course the amazing mister Wittenbuik were all direct sons of Kleinen and they really overpowered their opponents in quite a number of races!
Fideel (2nd nat. Limoges 6,991 p. in 1985) was very close to winning a national first prize but Gaby’s very first national victory was won by his pigeon Rambo, which won a 1st Nat. Bourges against 13,116 old birds in 1988, the season in which his now world famous Wittenbuik was born. The Vandenabeele pigeon family then started to develop quickly and Gaby soon became an internationally acknowledged fancier. Wittenbuik was outstanding both as a breeder and a racing bird! His success story has been extensively reported in the press. He was the second leading figure of the Vandenabeele pigeon family after his father and he is the grandfather of the third iconic pigeon in this loft, the equally legendary Bliksem. These are highly talented and invaluable pigeons whose direct descendants have played a key role in many pigeon lofts worldwide, making the Vandenabeele breed one of the most successful pigeon families worldwide.
Rudy and Super Romeo
It took a while before Gaby could find a new leading man in his loft. He had several excellent breeding pairs but it was Rudy BE06-3008003, a direct son of Bliksem, who turned out to be a top class stock pigeon. He joined the breeding team after a successful career as a racing bird, winning the following prizes:
Argenton 2,401 p. 18 Bourges 1,279 p. 19 Argenton 5,134 p. 28 Tours 2,791 p. 76
Rudy, the new stock sire
He quickly developed into a new stock pigeon ready to follow in the footsteps of his sire De Bliksem. One of his first great descendants is his son Super Romeo, winner of the title of a First Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance Yearlings KBDB in 2013.
Super Romeo, 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance Yearlings KBDB 2013
In the meantime Super Romeo joined the breeding team as well. In addition to Rudy and his son Super Romeo, the lofts in Dentergem house several other outstanding breeding pigeons and highly successful racing birds. It would take us too long to discuss every single one of them; Benji and Lion King are just two of many world class pigeons in this loft. You can take a look at their list of achievements by clicking their name.
Counting on your own breed, crossed with talented pigeons
When creating a new breed, Gaby has always focused on his own champions (the stock lines of Kleinen, Wittenbuik, Bliksem, Rudy, Super Romeo and several others) to come up with a new team. He managed to get the most out of his own successful bloodline, which has managed to excel in many races over the past 30 years. His greatest breeders are used for artificial insemination to fertilize his best hens, allowing Gaby to breed a great number of descendants in a short period of time.
Gaby is a fancier who never sits still; he is always looking for improvements to strengthen his breed and to stay ahead of his opponents, for instance by introducing the following pigeons:
- Rita (dam of Bliksem) and Kathy, two daughters of the outstanding breeder Vital of Noël Lippens, a neighbouring fancier
- Florke of Jos & Jules Engels (the dam of Miche Nat., 12th Nat. Ace Pigeon Longer Middle Distance KBDB 2013 for Bert Van Den Berghe)
- Super As, 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Middle Distance KBDB 2004 of Serré-Lapporte
- Maurice, a son of Nasdaq (1st Nat Souillac for Maurice Casaert)
- Mr. Bergerac, 1st Nat Ace Pigeon France
- Some youngsters of Champion, 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB 2005 for Chris Hebberecht (including Dochter Champion 085/07, which is the dam of Spy: 2nd One Million Dollar Race Sun City and the dam of Goliath: sire of the 1st Nat. Agen Bordeaux 5,507 old birds in 2013 for Bert Van Den Berghe)
- Luna of Norbert Ally
- Broer Ballon of Kristiaan Hennes (the sire of Benji)
- Falco, a top class racer and breeder in Dentergem (from the breed of Eric Vermander)
He also brought back some of his own bloodlines, often with joint breedings. This was the case with the lines of Jan Hooymans (line of Bliksem via Harry: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance WHZB The Netherlands and a grandson of Bliksem), Jules Dhuyvetter (Alfred, 1st Nat Brive), Nicolas Bascourt (1st Nat Limoges 2013), Rik Cools (from the line of Cools-Blancke, from which Rudy originates. He was bred from Bliksem x Kaatje, a full sister of the outstanding hen Bieke of Cools-Blancke), Rudi Desaer, Geert Van Renterghem (Nicky, the dam of Super Romeo), Koen Minderhout etc.
No nonsense approach
Many fanciers will be disappointed to hear that Gaby Vandenabeele does not have any real secrets to his impressive achievements over the years. The only thing that really makes a difference for Gaby is his pigeon collection, which is basically a lot stronger compared to many of his opponents.
The Vandenabeele mixture of the Beyers company (Beduco) is still used as the everyday feed but the feed consists of 10% of sunflower seeds andof 10% of hemp seeds on the last two days before basketing. That’s it. Some B vitamins are added to the drinking water on the final day before basketing, as well as some electrolytes on the day of basketing. This is provided on the day of arrival as well, in combination with a breeding mixture after a particularly hard race. After that, the usual Vandenabeele mixture is provided, as well as some Cédé eggfood for the next two days. The drinking water is supplemented with Avidress, Naturalin and Caris bath salts, as well as Blitzform. Some tea is provided from time to time as well.
The racing pigeons are trained twice a day and Gaby pays particular importance to the training intensity, rather than to the duration. Two solid 30 minute training flights per day is more than enough for the Vandenabeele racing pigeons. Gaby thinks it would a waste of energy to have them train any longer. The pigeons will only see their nest bowl before they are being basketed, to make sure they are relaxed. Their hens are waiting for them after the race and their time together depends on the difficulty of the race but they usually cannot spend a lot of time together (approximately one hour).
Gaby tries to keep medical treatments to a strict minimum, which means he will only provide the necessary cures (including vaccinations against respiratory diseases). He consults a vet only if the pigeons do not perform as they should and if he thinks something is wrong. He sours the drinking water to prevent respiratory diseases and there is a treatment with a Koudijs dry disinfector approximately three times a year, to purify the pigeons’ respiratory system. The pigeons are also treated against paratyphoid just before the season. He used to vaccinate the pigeons as well but not this year. Pigeons that require a lot of medical attention will not have a bright future in Dentergem. Gaby thinks a solid breed is based on careful selection, not on medical treatments and vaccinations. This is something he learned from his father Gentiel. Gaby Vandenabeele has been a successful fancier for 30 years and his career is based on a solid pigeon breed in great health. These pigeons perform really well in the most demanding weather conditions with a velocity of 1200 m/min or less.
He has a total of 50 widowers that are ready to start the season. These are mainly yearlings, because his young birds (usually the third round) are only trained for the middle distance. This means he does not adopt a strict selection procedure for his young birds. In fact, the Vandenabeele pigeons are at their best as old birds, which explains the high number of yearlings in his team. His old birds are trained for the national one day long distance (600-800km with races between Limoges, Brive, Cahors, Souillac, Tulle and Montauban). The yearlings are basketed for the national longer middle distance first, before completing one or two long distance races later in the year. Most racing pigeons from Dentergem will be basketed for three seasons, some will have a fourth season as well. Only the best racing pigeons will then get a place in the breeding loft. With this approach Gaby has a fairly young group of breeding pigeons available.
The Vandenabeele family has had a lot of great moments in pigeon racing. Gaby turns 65 in early May and he had once promised his wife Christine to put an end to his career at the age of 65. However, it would be hard to imagine Gaby Vandenabeele without pigeons. He has decided to take the seasons as they come. He has had to deal with a few health issues recently so he does not want to make big plans or look too far ahead. He takes it as it comes without making long term commitments. He wants to keep his future in his own hands.
Still, it goes without saying that Gaby will be ready for yet another great season in 2014, aiming to match his achievements of 2013 or to do even better. He will be prepared to defend his national ace pigeon title. We have a lot of respect for Gaby, who has been a great fancier for almost 40 years. Congratulations maestro!