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Sprint phenomenon Best Kittel: The evolution of the best sprint family of the last decade

One of the most talked about pigeons in recent years is Best Kittel, 1st National Ace pigeon KBDB sprint in 2017. However, the story starts much earlier than in 2017.

In all silence, Dehon-Demonseau have been working on a unique family of sprint pigeons for the past 20 years, which results in a provisional apotheosis with the title 1st National Ace Sprint KBDB 4 times, over the last 6 years. Never before has 1 family of sprint pigeons manifested itself in such a dominant way. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the background and recent evolution of this family.

Daniel Dehon & Mee Hae Demonseau started with the pigeon sport in the 1990s. The pigeon sport was experienced as a couple from day 1. An important fact because for Daniel the support of wife Mee-Hae is crucial in the success of the tandem. Daniel sets out the lines, but Mee-Hae helps with cleaning the lofts every day, regularly baskets when Daniel is at work and is intensely involved during the racing season.

In order to be at the top, it was realized that they had to invest in the best possible genetic material. In the 1990s there was a father & son tandem that was storming the Belgian pigeon sport: Maurice & Gregory Casaert from Néchin. At that time, there were no better fanciers than Maurice & Gregory in the French-speaking part of Belgium. In 1992 they won one of the most historical long distance races in Belgium. Their “Invincible Montauban” won 1st National Montauban 20 minutes ahead of the 2nd national prize. These and many other top performances of M&G Casaert during that period convinced Daniel & Mee-Hae to obtain a full round of eggs from their best pigeons there in 1997. A decision that would change the lives of Daniel and Mee-Hae many years later.

The first success was achieved with these pigeons in 1998, by winning the 1st National Championship Sprint ​​KBDB. With this title, the passion for sprint racing was also born. During the years Daniel & Mee-Hae regularly raced the middle distance, with success. They won a.o. 8th National Ace pigeon KBDB Middle Distance in 2014 with “Nico”. However, the real passion was and still is with the sprint, which fits well with the restless character of Daniel. He does not want to wait longer than a few minutes for the pigeons, it makes him too nervous, it all takes too long.

Another reason to keep focusing on sprint racing is because in the region around Thulin, sprint is by far the most popular discipline. On a relatively small radius, there are more than 100 fanciers who only focus on sprint every week. This makes for a lively and exciting sprint game, with strong competition, week after week.

For the next highlight in their career we have to make a leap to 2007. With “Le Méchant”, the 1st Provincial Ace pigeon sprint KBDB, was won. "Le Méchant", born in 2005, was a checkered cock, descending from the Casaert pigeons that were bought in 1997. He had a special character, his name “Le Méchant” means “the angry one”. At that time it was the best pigeon Dehon-Demonseau ever had. The real beginning of the fairytale ...

Since the early years Dehon-Demonseau have been racing pigeons with the small basket, 6 breeding couples and a maximum of about 20 racing pigeons, old and yearlings. In that period, selling pigeons was not a topic and the only interest was racing their pigeons. Which of course ensured that never more than a handful of pigeons were bred from the best pigeons, per year. This is also the case with “Le Méchant”. As a racer, 1 couple of youngsters from “Le Méchant” was bred in 2006, namely the 720 and 721. The 721, named 'L'As' became 6th National Ace pigeon sprint KBDB in 2007, his nestbrother the 720 later became father of “National Ace 2015 ”, the 1st National Ace Sprint KBDB 2015. It was that year, for the first time, Dehon-Demonseau really came into the spotlight and had the chance of a lifetime to sell their “National Ace 2015” to China in the spring of 2016. An offer that was financially impossible to refuse ... With a heavy heart they had to let “National Ace 2015” go…

However, by then “Le Méchant” was already infertile, since he was six years old, in 2011. A disappointment, because only a handful of children of “Le Méchant” were bred. Fortunately, those few children turned out to be more than enough to work towards the next peak in their career… “Best Kittel”….

After the title in 2015, another success was not long in coming, a pigeon with ring number BE15-1029362 succeeded in the 2016 season to again stun Daniel & Mee-Hae and class them with the national ace pigeons. This time just not on the podium, it became 4th place in the national ace pigeons KBDB sprint in 2016. Soon the podium would follow, and how ...

The sprint season in Belgium traditionally starts at the beginning of April, also in 2017, when Dehon-Demonseau experienced the most wonderful weeks of their pigeon career. They decided not to put their 362-15 in the breeding loft and to continue racing him in 2017 ... We write at the beginning of June, after half a season of sprint racing with weekly very hot and though races, their 362-15 had flown a record that gave him the coefficient of best sprint pigeon ever raced in Belgium. Never before in Belgium has a pigeon achieved such a low coefficient for national ace pigeon sprint KBDB, and that after only half a season of racing. He did not need the rest of the season to complete his list of achievements and was stopped racing in mid-June. At the end of the season he was deservedly awarded as the very best pigeon in Belgium with the title 1st National Ace pigeon sprint KBDB… The “362 of 2015” was renamed “Best Kittel”.

We wrote earlier that “Le Méchant” only gave birth to a handful of children, a shame of course. But it turned out to be enough to create a new icon, because “Best Kittel” was born from those handful of children. His father is a son of "Le Méchant", coupled with a gr.daughter - from a son - "Le Méchant".

A closely inbred product that became 1st and 4th national ace pigeon KBDB, 2 years in a row, which broke the record of lowest coefficient ever in only half a racing season, which was also a cousin of the 1st national ace pigeon sprint in 2015 “National Ace 2015 ”. Unseen, but this achievement still remained under the radar of the general public, Dehon-Demonseau never sought publicity himself.

It was PIPA agent Adrien Mirabelle who informed Thomas Gyselbrecht about “a unique pigeon from a unique family, in French-speaking part of Belgium”. Thomas Gyselbrecht explains: “We are offered different top pigeons every season, sometimes interesting, sometimes not. However, when the information about this pigeon was sent to me somewhere at the end of July 2017, I became silent for a moment. It was not just any - at that time still a candidate - 1st national ace pigeon KBDB, it was a pigeon from a close family of ace pigeons KBDB that would win one of the most prestigious titles in the Belgian pigeon sport in half a season. I could hardly believe that no one had discovered this family of pigeons before. ”

During that period, Thomas & Adrien contacted Daniel & his wife Mee-Hae, even before Best Kittel was officially 1st national ace pigeon, it was an immediate cordial contact that reflected the passion and love for the pigeon sport in both. Pigeon sport was practiced in the old-fashioned way, little importance was attached to the young pigeons, the old pigeons in classic widowhood and a handful of breeders. The standard things stood out, a very healthy group of pigeons in a good loft, where Daniel attaches great importance to the bond with his pigeons, he feels the pigeons very well and can motivate his top pigeons very well. That is why, now that the commercial success is increasing, he will in principle not race with more pigeons, he wants to do it his way, the bond with his pigeons is the most important thing ... He is sick of it when a pigeon is lost.

A small anecdote that perfectly shows how Daniel deals with his pigeons ... During that first visit by Thomas & Adrien to Daniel & Mee-Hae at the end of July 2017, it was already clear that Best Kittel would 99% sure win the 1st national ace pigeon KBDB and that he was a very valuable pigeon that moment. However, Best Kittel continued to fly out daily during that period, Daniel could not get it in his heart not to let the pigeon fly outside anymore, realizing that the pigeon would not be able to fly out for the rest of its life, once the title became official, therefore Best Kittel could still take advantage of the summer weather every day and make his daily flight. So the pigeon was happy, and so Daniel was happy.

It was during that visit that an agreement was reached between Thomas & Daniel. Thomas would start a separate breeding project around Best Kittel, so the pigeon would not move to China and Daniel would still be able to get the pigeons' descendants back for racing, and come and see the pigeon if he wanted to. It was an easy choice for Daniel & Mee-Hae, they themselves had no commercial ambition, so they could outsource it, but at the same time they can still have children from Best Kittel every year to race with. The idea was a win-win for both parties and so an agreement was reached very quickly.

The breeding project would be called “PIPA Breeding”, a simple name, with the intention not to draw attention away from Best Kittel itself, that would be what the future of this project would be all about. Not only Best Kittel moved to Knesselare, but also the father and the mother, 2 sisters Best Kittel, the super hen Shakira and her son Milan, 6th national Ace pigeon KBDB 2017. The father of Milan is by the way “National Ace 2015”. Milan was bred just before the pigeon left for China in early 2016.

A few months after the start of the new project, in February 2018 it became clear that PIPA Breeding could use 1 or 2 special hens, Daniel had just finished breeding and therefore sold the nest sister of the 1st national Ace pigeon KBDB 2015 to PIPA Breeding ... It wouldn't be the last we hear from this hen.

Again a few months later, spring 2018 and Daniel is once again working on an exceptional racing season, series of top prizes against +1,000 pigeons are achieved almost every week. There is 1 pigeon that really stands out, a pigeon bred from the racers in the spring 2017, a direct son from the 362-15, from Best Kittel ... He won no less than 5 first prizes and 2 times second in May, June and July. It is immediately clear that Best Kittel also has enormous potential as a breeder, the first youngster ever bred from Best Kittel is on its way to also become top 3 national ace pigeon KBDB. He ended up as 2nd national Ace pigeon KBDB Sprint 2018 and is renamed Junior, this checkered cock also moves to PIPA Breeding.

We jump to the summer of 2019, at the end of June / beginning of July there are 5-6 consecutive racing weekends with exceptional weather conditions, with very tough races, head wind and warm weather every week. Again it is mainly the yearlings that perform best, the “020” and “025” excel. They arrive together weekly or very shortly after each other. Almost every week one of them wins the first prize. The 020 succeeds in being the first to arrive just a little more often, in the end he wins 4 times a 1st and 2 times a 2nd prize against an average of more than 1,000 pigeons and wins in a very tough season with many top pigeons at sprint level in Belgium, eventually the 1st national ace pigeon KBDB sprint. The name of “020” changed into “Daniel”. His “companion de route”, the 025, became 4th national ace pigeon KBDB sprint and is called “Espoir”. Pigeon “Daniel” is a direct son from… the nest sister “National Ace 2015”, who moved to PIPA Breeding in February 2018 and who produced a 1st national ace pigeon just before she moved from Dehon-Demonseau to PIPA Breeding. She is a niece of Best Kittel, bred from a full brother of the sire Best Kittel, so a son of Méchant. “Daniel” also moves to PIPA, another checkered cock that strengthens the breeding loft.

At that time, the Best Kittel family was no longer an “under the radar” family, the international interest in the BK family reached a preliminary peak, partly due to the many top references in other lofts that have emerged in the meantime. Within a few months, Petrus Van Eeden wins the 1st prize in Hot Spot 3 in the Million Dollar Race 2019, Derek Rooney in the UK races one of the best youngsters in England in 2019 with “BK's Best” (bred by Velghe Pigeons), Yousef & Ali Alkandari win the 18th in the final in Pattaya OLR 2019, Gordon Brothers win 1st prizes in Ireland against thousands of pigeons…. All grandchildren of Best Kittel… Anyone who was one of the first to take the step to the Best Kittel line in 2018, could submit several 1st prize winners and top pigeons within a period of 1 year.

And the fairytale continues… Because as agreed, a couple of youngsters from Best Kittel move to Dehon-Demonseau every year to race with. In 2019 Daniel got 2 young cocks from Best Kittel, since Daniel only races with cocks as a yearling, they would both get their chance in 2020, until Covid-19 came… It was by no means clear whether pigeons would be raced in Belgium in 2020. Eventually the season could start with a first race on June 13, this is 2.5 months later than normal.

Despite the short racing season 2020, both yearling sons of Best Kittel managed to fly an impressive list of results, the “059” flew 9 races and each time won in the best 10%, his nest mate, the 060, did even better . He also participated in 9 races and won 6 times in the best 1% including 3 times a 1st prize. An exceptional performance, knowing that in addition to a short season, it was also a very irregular season in terms of weather. Almost every week a strong tailwind or an unfavorable side wind, very difficult for pigeons to distinguish themselves week after week.

With a coefficient of 1.33%, there was a chance that Dehon-Demonseau would succeed himself as winner of 1st National Ace Pigeon Sprint ​​KBDB. Only at the end of September, 2 months after the last race, the KBDB published its national ace pigeons, but the long wait was rewarded with the title of 1st national ace pigeon sprint KBDB, AGAIN. As a direct son of Best Kittel, the name “Best Kittel II” was appropriately chosen, because he also wins the same title as his father. After the season he moved back to his hometown in Knesselare, to the lofts of PIPA Breeding. Coincidence or not, but again a checkered cock as reinforcement.

Dehon-Demonseau's achievements are unique in the Belgian pigeon sport. Over a period of 6 years, 4 X 1st national ace pigeon sprint was won. In the years where Dehon-Demonseau did not win 1st, he won 2nd and 4th national ace pigeon. All descendants from 1 and the same basic breeder “Le Méchant”, of which “Best Kittel”, as an inbred grandchild, has become the exponent.

The first youngsters from Best Kittel were only born in January 2018 in the lofts of PIPA Breeding. Since then, at least 50 different 1st prizes have been won with children or grandchildren Best Kittel in at least 20 (!) different lofts.

PIPA Breeding also has the ambition to compete with the Best Kittel family at the international One Loft Races. In 2020, only 1 race was entered, the Victoria Falls World Challenge Pigeon Race in Zimbabwe. It was a very tough edition in which of the original 4,000 pigeons, only 859 pigeons made it to the start of the final. PIPA Breeding started the final with 7 pigeons and ended up with 4 top pigeons after the final:
13th place in the tough 544 km final with a grandchild Best Kittel
3rd Grand Average Ace (over 39 races) with a direct daughter of Best Kittel
5th Grand Average Ace (over 39 races) with a direct child of Milan (son National Ace 2015 X Shakira)
15th Super Ace (ace pigeon over Hotspot 3-4-5 and final) with a direct child of Junior, who also won 3rd prize in Hot Spot 5 over 450 km.

To conclude, back to Dehon-Demonseau, one would think that it couldn't get any better, but the motivation has only increased. The taste of victory tastes sweet, Daniel & Mee-Hae are preparing for the 2021 season with great determination. With “Espoir”, 4th national ace pigeon KBDB in 2019 and the nest brother of Best Kittel II, Daniel already has 2 top racers in his old bird team. There was also a lot of up-and-coming talent among the youngsters in 2020 who have now the chance to prove it in 2021 as yearlings.

However it goes on, it is already clear that the Best Kittel family of Dehon-Demonseau has left its mark on the international sprint racing in an unprecedented short time.