Martin Dhooge (Ursel, BE) claims 1st National Pau with his favourite pigeon

He had had to settle for second place national in Bourges in 2013, and he finished in second place in the Nat. Championship Extreme Long Distance KBDB in 2016. But this time Martin got what he deserved, claiming a national first prize from Pau in 2019.

Third time's a charm

This proverb pretty much summarises Martin Dhooge's long awaited national victory from Pau. It was a well deserved win indeed! Martin started racing from his current home in Ursel in 2007, close to the airport of the local Aero Club. His racing lofts from before 2007 were located next to his firm in Eeklo, and his stock breeder at the time was Golden Loobuyck (full brother of 1st Nat. Perigueux 1998) of Jos & Jan Loobyck. His first big star in the long distance was Monlimo, a grandson of Golden Loobuyck. Martin Dhooge wanted to develop a pigeon breed around these bloodlines, combining them with pigeons of fellow fanciers Frans Waerniers, Frans Bungeneers, Eddy Dheedene, etc., and by getting involved in joint breedings with nearby lofts.

As the co-manager of a graphics company he often has to work long hours, which means he can only spend a limited amount of time in his loft. That is why he focuses exclusively on the national and international races of the long distance and the extreme long distance. Martin learned over the years that the sheer quality of your pigeons is a bigger factor especially in these races, while the fancier has less of an influence (when compared to shorter distance racing). The pigeons are being prepared for longer distance racing from an early age. The young birds are not trained or raced, whereas the yearlings cover increasingly longer distances, usually up until the longer middle distance. The birds then have to race in the long distance at the age of two, to switch to the extreme long distance as three year olds. As such, these pigeons can easily deliver until the age of 6 or 7.

This approach was borne out of necessity (due to a lack of time) but it has paid dividends in Ursel. The results speak for themselves; Martin Dhooge has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. He has really come to the fore in the international scene in recent years, and he is all set to become one of the leading names in this competition. He had already won a silver medal as 2nd National Champion Extreme Long Distance KBDB in 2016. His palmares includes several national top results, such as:

 1. National Pau       2,797 p. ’19 
 2. National Bourges   9,639 p. ’13
 4. International Narbonne 12,605 p. ’11
 4. National Montauban 3,990 p. ’15
15. National Libourne  5,024 p. ’15
17. National Montauban 6,187 p. ’07
18. National Cahors    6,576 p. ’15
19. National Pau       1,980 p. ’15
20. National Cahors    8,651 p. ’10
26. National St-Vincent 
40. National Chateauroux
41. National Cahors  
42. National Cahors
48. National Pau
49. National Cahors 
50. National Tulle

This is an impressive list of achievements indeed, especially because Martin will usually basket only two or three pigeons for each race. Martin already had Belgium's 3rd best pigeon from Pau over two seasons (PIPA Ranking) 2016 in his collection: Patience. This is one of the reasons why he grew particularly fond of this classic.

1st National Pau with his favourite bird Silent King

Does it get any better? He claimed a long-awaited national first prize with none other than his personal favourite. One other pigeon had arrived home in Belgium by sunset (at 11:35pm - a pigeon of Frans Boudry from Binkom). As a fancier, you know that you are still in for a good result. His alarm clock went off just before 5am, and Martin went ahead and opened up the entrances to his loft. He had gone back inside to freshen up when the electronic clocking device went off. Martin thought one of his birds from Montauban had just arrived home but he quickly found out that it was racing bird Silent King instead, his first nominated from Pau. He got clocked at 5:07'32", after completing 917.282km with a velocity of 1025.8571 m/min. He noticed his heart rate increasing. He rushed outside to clock the control ring and to officially announce the arrival of his bird. Martin saw on his screen that he was holding a preliminary first place national. The following two hours were rather nerve-wrecking for him, right until he received the first phone calls from fellow fanciers, who wanted to congratulate him on a national win. He breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, we have!

It was a well-deserved win for both the fancier and the pigeon. Silent King is really one of a kind; he showed his potential repeatedly over the years. You can tell that this is a highly talented bird and a gifted athlete just by holding him. And that explains why he is Martin Dhooge's favourite bird in the team. We take a look at his list of achievements:

-Silent King BE14-4217300

 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

12th Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017

Sire: Zwarte Johan 2011 BE10-2181721
An inbred pigeon to the fantastic Joost (1st Intnat. Perpignan YLs 2003) of Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen (and E. Limbourg later on): both his parents are grandchildren of this incredible breeder. Zwarte Johan 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, bred from Mooie Witpen Bungeneers BE06-6374780 (the sire of a 26th Nat. Barcelona ’11 and inbred to the line of Queen Tony: 1st Nat. Barcelona) x Moeder Vincent BE05-2232552 (the dam of super class bird Vincent of Edmond Leemans).
Click here for the pedigree of Silent King

Martin Dhooge clocked his second pigeon from Pau at 8:24'04", which finished in 253rd place national of 2,757 pigeons, which is another prize per 10. This star has quite a reputation as well. His name is Marino, and he comes from the loft of Marino Martens in Ruiselede:

-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 top class pair Marseille x Fijn Blauw) x Granddaughter Bak 17 BE06-4044513 (from Half Brother 1st Nat. Perpignan x Daughter Bak 17 Aelbrecht).
Moeder: Fleur BE05-3215371
The dam of an 11th Nat. and 14th Intnat. Bordeaux 11,444 p. etc. She is herself a daughter of Witten BE98-3106339 (15th Nat. Souillac, 45th Nat. Bourges…) x Josephine BE00-3222193 (dam 35th Nat. Montauban etc.).
Click here for Marino's pedigree

Martin Dhooge started the season with 40 old birds and 40 yearlings. The old birds are spread across the different national races in the long distance and the extreme long distance, whereas the yearlings are still in full training. Before the start of the season, the pigeons are paired for a brooding period of about 10 days. The eggs of the team's best racing birds are then brooded by other breeding pairs. The pigeons see each other again briefly for some joint training flights afterwards.
The pigeons cannot see their hens before the start of a race, and not immediately after the race either. If the pigeons have been racing for an entire day, they usually get to see their partner only the next day, when they are slightly recovered. At the same time, the racing birds that stay at home can usually see their hen for one to two hours as well. Martin thinks the pigeons should not be without their hens for three weeks on end (which is the usual time frame between two races of the long distance or the extreme long distance), which is why he uses his own method. He does not use any medication if there is no need for it. Fellow fancier Alex Dauwe inspects the pigeons with his own microscope, or he has them checked by the local vet.

A dream come true

Like we said, Silent King is Martin's favourite pigeon by far. That is why he got the opportunity to brood the eggs of two different hens: one in his upper brooding box, and one in the lower-most box. Meanwhile, the box in between was home to a red cock. This racing bird was perhaps what motivated Silent King to claim a national first prize. A bit of jealousy and two pigeons battling for a single brooding box can really push your pigeons forward, besides of course the level of talent and the fitness of the pigeon in question. Congratulations Martin on a well deserved victory!