The fantastic performances of his top-hen, Elena, and several good friends from the pigeon world helped Frans make his way back much more smoothly and successfully than one would have expected at the time.
Elena took over right away and the colony rose again!
Elena (BE11-6047958) was the first pigeon to achieve a new top result after the theft. Fortunately, she was not stolen, and, after her amazing performances in 2015, 2016, and also 2017, it was a really great thing for Frans to be able to see a brighter future with her in the breeding loft.
In 2017, Elena won 1st Provincial, 2nd National, 5th International hens, and 9th International Barcelona. She also won the Silver Wing and the title of 1st Ace Pigeon Barcelona in the PIPA ranking over 2 years (2016 - 2017) and 3 years (2015-2016-2017). Moreover, she won the title of 1st International Ace Pigeon Euro Diamond Club over both 2 years (2016-2017) and 3 years (2015-2016-2017). A list of achievements to make your jaw drop.
After the theft of his other top-birds, Frans saw no other option but to bring Elena to the breeding loft, but then, of course, that meant that the last star of the "old colony" disappeared from the racing team. Certainly, breeding a team for the extreme long distance is a task that can take several years. Yet, sure enough, in the meantime, with every new season fresh talents turn up.
In 2019, Frans won 20th Nat. Agen 3,935 old birds, and then, at his most important appointment of the season, Barcelona, with the 45th and 63rd Nat. Barcelona 7,301 p. he made, for sure, his appearance again.
So, it looks like the time has come for Frans to make the following impressive list even longer in the coming years – a list with national top-10 victories on the one and only queen’s race from Barcelona:
In 2020, Frans managed to grab the Provincial victory on one of the furthest races on the calendar. Frans won the 1st Prov. against 406 old pigeons with the pigeon BE18-6218347. Frans also excelled with one of his top-birds in 14th and 17th place: 14th Prov. (BE18-6218380) and 17th Prov. (BE-18-6218319). That was absolutely no coincidence. At temperatures of +35 degrees, and after 947 km of flying, Frans' mile-eaters feel completely in their element. More of the wonderful story of this 1st Prov. St-Vincent you can find below.
If you have followed closely the extreme long distance in recent years, you will have surely spotted the bloodlines of the Bungeneers birds appearing again and again in the pedigrees of the top pigeons in this very specific race.
Frans Bungeneers is a name that comes up repeatedly in the (inter) national results of the extreme long distance for many years. But also in terms of references, Frans has been able to add great performances to his now long and impressive list, year after year.
At the beginning of last year, one could read the following overview with a selection of Frans’ amazing references.
In the meanwhile, the 2020 corona season came, and the number of references even during that year only kept growing!
A list of the latest references right below:
Carlo Dominicus (Goes, NL) won the 5th National Perpignan. The sire of this top pigeon is a grandson of Queen Tonny.
The ever-present Piet de Vogel won the 5th Internat. Ace pigeon Barcelona. The father of his top-class bird is a grandson of Queen Tonny.
Frank Zwiers won the 8th International Narbonne in the yearlings. The father of this international top pigeon is a son of Elena who was sold on PIPA in 2018!
Galle-Wynants from Veldegem in West Flanders won the 8th National Barcelona. The mother of his winning bird is a daughter of Saartje.
And, like an annual tradition, Gerard Schalkwijk (Lopik, NL) appears again in Frans’ list of fresh references. Gerard's 20th National Barcelona is even a 100% Bungeneers pigeon from a half-brother of Elena.
Jaap Mazee (Ens, NL) wins the 1st Sector 4 and 28th National Barcelona from a distance of 1,310 km. The mother of this winner is a granddaughter of Queen Tonny.
Brothers Hagens (Achthuizen, NL) have been also successful with the Bungeneers pigeons. Last season, they won with the same pigeon, in a row, the 15th Nat. Pau and 22nd Nat. Perpignan 2020.
The grandson of an inbred pigeon to Penelope won the title of the 5th best long distance pigeon in the Netherlands 2020!
Brothers Hagens, once more, got the 101st Nat. Barcelona 2020, with a granddaughter of the inbred bird Penelope. And it still keeps going on:
7th Nat. Bordeaux 2020 of Brothers Hagens has the excellent Bungeneers blood running in his veins: the mother of this bird is a granddaughter of Queen Tonny.
The mother of the 2nd Ace pigeon Province 3 in the Netherlands of van Schijndel & sons (Geffen, NL) is a half-sister of Elena. Another achievement for the van Schijndel family was the 49th Nat. Bergerac against 25,321 pigeons. The grandmother of their winning bird is a half-sister of Queen Tonny and the grandfather is a half-brother of Penelope.
3rd top reference for Van Schijndel & sons is the winner of the 46th NPO Bordeaux and 179th Nat. Bergerac. This top-bird comes from "Donkere Dordogne" who is a grandson of Queen Tonny x Icarus, and is himself 1st Afd. 3rd, and 3rd Nat. Perigieux Sector 1, in 2018… Downright impressive!
Friends in the pigeon sport
A friend in need is a friend indeed, the saying goes. After the theft in 2016, Frans could rely on many friends from the pigeon sport for support. Frans would like to thank some of these fanciers from Belgium and the Netherlands for their sympathy and for making some of their pigeons available to him.
“Tony Duchateau from Velm gave back to me a brother of "Iron Lady Ellie”. From Jean Kubben, a colleague, I got a half-sister of Penelope back that he had bought as a voucher for KiKa cancer patients (the Dutch Foundation for Children Against Cancer). Moreover, in 2017, Karl Vanthingen from Nieuwerkerken gave me a number of youngsters, and my friend, Gunther Ceulemans, from the neighboring village, Emblem, gave me back some of my own breed. And my friends Jo and Gerard Van Schijndel from Geffen let me choose some pigeons from their best”, says Frans.
“In 2017, I got also a number of youngsters from Appie Pas (Denekamp, NL). And the one that remained from these youngsters won the 63rd Nat. Barcelona 2019. This bird is a grandson of the "New Laureaat", Frans points out.
But here’s what’s perhaps the most beautiful story of friendship in the pigeon sport: "After the theft in 2016, Jelle Jellema also contacted me, saying: You’re always welcome here if I can do anything for you – you can just drop by my loft and pick a bird."
“Because it was mostly cocks - especially breeding cocks – that had been stolen, I would prefer to get myself a cock from Jelle. When I visited Nijverdal in September 2017 I was offered to choose from 15 cocks (late youngsters). I picked one without even looking at the family trees”, Frans still remembers as if it were yesterday.
“Afterwards, I saw the pedigree and I had chosen a half-brother of Silke, Silvie, and Dafne, all three absolute top hens of Jelle. Moreover, Jelle loaned me a son of "Romee". As a thank you, I gave back to Jelle a son of this cock in 2018, whom I had in the meanwhile named "de Kleine Jelle", and coupled with 'Elena' ".
“Now, it just so happened that my BE18-6218347, 1st Prov. St-Vincent 2020 - which was also the only pigeon that came back home in the province of Antwerp, in the evening of the very same day - was bred from this cock. Afterwards, he was coupled with a daughter of Penelope (2nd Nat. Barcelona 2009). Penelope is also a full sister of the father of the 4th Prov. and 10th Nat. Barcelona '14 by Gunter Ceulemans (Emblem) who was also the only pigeon in the province of Antwerp in 2014 to reach her loft on the same day of release from Barcelona! She arrived at 22:58:24. But she lost the 1st prize Provincial and the 2nd prize National because she was registered only 24 seconds after the neutralization period had started.”
Time heals… many wounds
The impressive number of references that are recorded every year proves how strong the breed of Frans Bungeneers had been in the period before the theft. Many of the stolen pigeons’ descendants achieve high-level performances in several other lofts. In recent years, and mostly thanks to Frans’ good pigeon friends, some of the blood of the old top-birds (including Iron Lady Ellie, Lily or Petra) got back to his loft in Ranst. The moral is: time does not heal all wounds, but absolutely some of them. Time, dedication, and especially friendship are central to this.
It is crystal clear that Frans is building patiently yet persistently a new top-team for Barcelona. This task, of course, is strongly supported by: top-hen Elena and her descendants, the help of friends, and the class of Frans himself. Sure enough, it is only a matter of time before Frans hits another (inter) national top-result in the extreme long distance.