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Martin Dhooge (Ursel-Aalter, BE), the ‘Silent King’ in the extreme long distance

Martin Dhooge was close to an international breakthrough in 2016, as 2nd National Champion extreme long distance KBDB. And he saw a lifelong dream come true in 2019, claiming a 1st National Pau with Silent King, his favourite pigeon.

He has always been very modest but Martin Dhooge has every reason to boast about his achievements in recent years. His first prominent result came in 2011, with a 4th International Narbonne of 12,605 pigeons, and next up was a 2nd Nat. Bourges of 9,639 p. in 2013, followed by a 4th Nat. Montauban of 3,990 p. in 2015. And he had a tremendous 2016 season, although he had to settle for second place as 2nd National Champion extreme long distance KBDB.

He eventually took the top spot in the 2019 race from Pau. It was the crowning achievement after a long series of great results, which eventually led to this well-deserved national victory.

1st National Pau with Silent King, his favourite bird

Who would not dream of claiming a national victory with your personal favourite? Just one single pigeon from Pau had been registered in Belgium in the early evening at dusk (at 11:35pm, a pigeon of Frans Boudry from Binkom). A fancier knows what that means: your pigeons could be very close, so you have to get up early. Martin woke up shortly before 5am to open the doors to his loft. He heard the beep of his electronic clocking device right as he was about to go back inside. It gave him an adrenaline rush, and he felt his heart rate skyrocket, as the display on his clock showed the ring number of Silent King, his first nominated for Pau. He was clocked at 5:07'32", after completing 917.282km with a velocity of 1025.8571 m/min. He quickly clocked the control ring and he registered the arrival. Martin saw on his computer screen that he was currently in first place at national level. After two exciting and nerve-wrecking hours, the news came in: Yes, we have!

This was a well-deserved win for both the fancier and his pigeon. Silver King is one of a kind, a fantastic bird that had already demonstrated his potential. He does look like a great athlete, a dream pigeon. This is martin Dhooge's favourite bird, and with good reason. He has the following top results on his palmares:

Silent King BE14-4217300

 1. Belgium's best pigeon in Pau 2018-2019 (PIPA ranking)
 1. Nat Pau        2,797 p. ’19 
12. Nat St.Vincent 3,053 p. ’17 – 24. Intnat 11,515 p.
27. Nat Pau        2,581 p. ’18
103 Nat Perpignan  4,620 p. ’17 – 331 Intnat 14,851 p.
295 Nat St.Vincent 2,758 p. ’18
532 Nat Cahors     5,639 p. ’17

Winner of ‘Silver Wing’ Euro Diamond 2019
12. Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2017

Sire: Zwarte Johan 2011 BE10-2181721
A pigeon inbred to the fantastic Joost (1st Internat. Perpignan YLs 2003) of Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen (and E. Limbourg later on), since both his parents are grandchildren of this wonder boy. He stems from Persufon BE06-4190189 x Beauty Queen BE10-4281954 (a crossing of Son Joost x Inbred 090, from the line of Perpignan King of Kurvers-De Weerd).
Dam: Casa Barca 091 BE13-3147091
She comes from Eddy Dheedene, from Mooie Witpen Bungeneers BE06-6374780 (the sire of a 26th Nat. Barcelona '11 and inbred to the line of 1st Nat. Barcelona Queen Tony) x Moeder Vincent BE05-2232552 (the dam of Edmond Leemans's super class bird Vincent).
For the pedigree of Silent King, click here.

This makes it rather obvious that this national first prize from Pau was won with a genuine marathon champion, a true star in the extreme long distance.

Outstanding with a small team

Martin Dhooge is not the type of fancier who races with a large group of birds. Quite the contrary. He usually baskets no more than two or three pigeons for an international race. It does make his national and international achievements all the more impressive.

The race from Pau was no different: Martin Dhooge took to the basketing table with two of his best racing birds, with Silent King being joined by his other superstar Marino. Marino was clocked just over 3 hours and 20 minutes after Silent King, at 8:28'04" in the morning, finishing in 253rd place national of 2,797 pigeons, easily taking a prize per ten. And Marino (from Marino Martens from Ruiselede) is a rather special pigeon as well; he was co-winner of the title of 2nd National Champion extreme long distance KBDB 2016, having won an 80th National Narbonne. He continued to deliver in subsequent seasons as well, with several great results at national level:

-Marino BE13-3147718

 2. Prov Libourne   1,234 p. ’15 – 15. Nat 5,024 p.
 2. Prov Marseille    179 p. ’18 – 77. Nat 2,336 p.
10. Prov Narbonne     810 p. ’16 – 80. Nat 4,113 p.
28. Nat Zone Bourges  889 p. ’14
158 Nat Perpignan   4,620 p. ’17 – 505 Int 14,851 p.
192 Nat Pau         2,581 p. ’18
253 Nat Pau         2,797 p. ’19
486 Nat Limoges I  13,569 p. ’19
491 Nat Cahors      6,164 p. ’16

Sire: 570 Aelbrecht BE09-3149570
A direct Marcel Aelbrecht. A son of top bird Béziers BE00-4270015 (24th Nat. Béziers, and a son of world class pair Marseille x Fijn Blauw) x Granddaughter Bak 17 BE06-4044513 (from Half Brother 1st Nat. Perpignan x Daughter Bak 17 Aelbrecht).
Dam: Fleur BE05-3215371
The dam of an 11th Nat. and 14th Internat. Bordeaux of 11,444 p. etc., and herself a daughter of Witten BE98-3106339 (15. Nat Souillac, 45. Nat Bourges…) x Josephine BE00-3222193 (the dam of a 35th Nat. Montauban etc.).
Click here for Marino's pedigree.

Breeding from proven super class breeders - the true road to success

Due to his demanding job in the printing business, he does not have a lot of spare time. And that is one of the reasons why Martin has been increasingly aiming for the long distance and especially the extreme long distance. The longer the distance, the more your pigeons' genuine talents will play a role, whereas the fancier will be less of a factor. You really begin to respect the efforts that a pigeon puts in when it claims a top results after spending many hours in the sky, and their long-awaited arrival can be quite a thrilling experience for the fancier as well. This made him even more fond of the long distance and extreme long distance.

Martin Dhooge's young birds rarely get to see a basket from up close. This is due to lack of time, and also because he does not find it very useful. Martin explains why. Pigeons suited for the long distance and extreme long distance tend to mature a bit slower. By letting them quietly develop as young birds, they get all the time they need to grow stronger. Since they only start training as yearlings they do tend to lag behind, which is not really an issue. They will make up for it very quickly. Martin believes his long distance birds are ready for the big races by the age of two, and ready to excel in the extreme long distance at the age of three or four. He knows his pigeons will deliver in the long run. By this age, his pigeons are at their very best, ready to deliver in the marathon competition. And they are often race-worthy up until the age of six or even seven.

Martin will go into retirement in a few years' time, and he would like to take the opportunity to race a few hens from the nest in the extreme long distance as well. It would be an interesting challenge for him.

Breeding from pigeons with a proven record, from racing birds with impressive national results to their name - or their direct youngsters. This has been the key to success in this loft, as in many other lofts. Stock breeder Monlimo is a good example; he has a 17th and 38th National to his name, and he became the sire of a 2nd Nat. Bourges (Be Sure) and a 4th Nat. Montauban (Mon CB), and he is the grandfather of an 18th Nat. Cahors (Mon Zizi). He is a good example of this team's successful breeding strategy. It is a matter of getting the most from your high value bloodlines as well as their breeding potential.
This is the strategy that allowed him to be such a successful player in recent years, and that will enable him to excel in future seasons as well. Martin Dhooge now knows what it feels like to win a national first prize; we reckon he is now looking for more!