Grandpa's stand-in for five months
In february 1969 a then 12 year old Philippe started to get involved in pigeon racing on a regular basis. His grandfather Jef had a heart condition and was no longer allowed to undertake any strenuous activities. Andre, Jefs' son, asked his son Philippe if he could look after his grandfather's pigeon collection for a while. Philippe enjoyed basketing pigeons for Saint Quentin from May to September, winning the first two to four prizes each time. His grandfather returned home in October and Philippe went on to spend the next six years in a boarding school, which means the pigeons could no longer stay here. Unfortunately grandfather Jef never knew how successful his pigeons had been that summer; it would have been too much for him emotionally.
New home, new pigeon loft
After his secondary education Philippe was summoned to help with the further development of shoe retailer Brantano, and he left school. He moved house a couple of times, each time building a new pigeon loft from scratch, before eventually settling in Wichelen in 1984, where he spent the next four years playing together with André De Nooze, who was not yet a fancier at the time. After 1988 the loft remained empty for fifteen years, because his professional career left him no time to run a pigeon family. Philippe and his father André eventually made a fresh start in 2003, and they obtained a round of pigeons from their good friend Norbert De Schrijver (Balegem), and from André De Nooze, a fellow villager of André and the team's current loft caretaker. In 2008 an additional 22 youngsters were purchased from Gino Clicque, which Philippe had met on his annual trip to the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race. These pigeons alone enabled Philippe to become General Champion in the Land van Aalst region from 2010 to 2012.
Philippe Brantegem (r) and loft caretaker André De Nooze
The best of the Low Countries
Today, after numerous investments over many seasons, the best bloodlines of The Netherlands and Belgium can be found in Wichelen. Let's take a look:
Kurt and Raf Platteeuw (Rumbeke, BE): provincial ace pigeons
Kurt and Philippe not only share an interest in pigeons but also in shoes: Kurt runs his own shoe store in Rumbeke. Philippe obtained 20 pigeons from the fanciers from Rumbeke, and they originate from the following bloodlines:
- Odile: 1st Prov. Ace Pigeon Long Distance Yearlings 2012 and 1st Prov. Ace Pigeon Longer Middle Distance 2012
- Roland: 3rd Prov. Ace Pigeon Long Distance Young Birds 2010
- Father Erwina: sire of Erwina (10th Prov. Ace Pigeon longer middle distance young birds 2009) and Ackroyd (7th Prov. Ace Pigeon longer middle distance Yearlings 2013)
- Ratcliffe: 2nd Int. Pau hens 2,062 p. 2014
Each of these pigeons has what it takes to win early prizes, often for many weeks in a row.
Dirk Deroose (Kruishoutem, BE): national winners
Philippe left the shoe retail business to become a project developer and went on to found his own agency called Abli. He worked together with construction company Willy Naessens for some of his retail parks, and this is how he developed a relationship with Dirk Deroose, a fellow pigeon fancier and CEO of Willy Naessens. Dirk gave Philippe a few sisters, half sisters and sons of Klarisse and Matisse, which won a 1st National Bourges and a 1st National Argenton respectively. Some grandchildren of Blauwe Prins, a top class racing and breeding bird of Wijlen Pros Roosen, were handed to Philippe as well.
Klarisse, 1st Nat. Bourges 2013 and one of Dirk Deroose's stock breeders
Casaert-Sénéchal (Russeignies, BE): national ace pigeons
Philippe obtained two descendants of one of Sébastien Casaert's renowned pigeons: a son and nephew of Nikolaas, 1st National Ace Pigeon Longer Middle Distance Old Birds 2013. His half sister Amalia became 1st National Ace Pigeon Longer Middle Distance one year ago. The pedigree of Nikolaas features such illustrious bloodlines as Blauwe Prins and his sire Topkweker Freddy (both from Pros Roosen), and Kaasboer (Gaston Van de Wouwer). In other words, this is a combination of three of the most legendary pigeon breeds from the last 20 years.
De Smeyter-Restiaen (Melden, BE): national ace pigeons
After visiting Joost De Smeyter, one of the most successful extreme long distance fanciers in recent years, Philippe decided to obtain youngsters and descendants of several national ace pigeons and renowned long distance and extreme long distance racing birds:
- Cas: 1st International Pau 2015
- Elsie: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance 2013
- Pierre Mistral: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance 2014 for Pierre Bourgeois
- Mother New Ace: the dam of New Ace, 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance 2012
- Gitan: sire Peggy, 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance 2011
Philippe's loft is home to pigeons that originate fom these four (!) national ace pigeons
Batenburg-van de Merwe (Klaaswaal, NL): New Laureaat
Philippe crossed the border to get his hands on a granddaughter and granson of New Laureaat. New Laureaat won a 1st International Barcelona for Luc Wiels in 2013.
Team Hooymans (Kerkdriel, NL): Harry
Philippe obtained pigeons from Jan Hooymans as well: four youngsters of Harry. Harry was 1st National Ace Pigeon Long Distance WHZB 2009, and he originates from two of Gaby Vandenabeele's most famous pigeons: Bliksem and Wittenbuik.
Return on investment
Philippe's investments in talented pigeons have had quite an impact in recent seasons. At international level Philippe and his friend Norbert De Schrijver are two of the best Belgian fanciers in the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race. 2016 proved a great season at national level as well, with the following championship titles in the Land van Aalst region:
1st General Champion Longer Middle Distance 2016 1st General Champion Long Distance Young Birds 2016 1st Ace Pigeon Long Distance Young Birds: BE16-4163815 (grandchild of 1st NPO and grandmother of 2 x 1st Prov. Ace Pigeon) 2nd Ace Pigeon Long Distance Young Birds: BE16-4238911 (grandchild of sire Peggy x dam New Ace) 3rd Ace Pigeon Long Distance Young Birds: BE16-4238960
Rendez-vous in 2018
Philippe's considerable investments in recent years have created high expectations towards future seasons, in which Philippe hopes to play an important role not only in the middle distance but in the extreme long distance as well. Philippe: "It takes some time to develop a team of long distance pigeons but I expect them to deliver for the first time in 2018." We will be keeping an eye on them!