Bart Van Oeckel, Oud-Turnhout (BE)
It wasn’t really a complete surprise to see the national victory in the category of old pigeons go to Bart Van Oeckel in Oud-Turnhout. We learnt in the preview that Mr Van Oeckel ended in a third position last year (that pigeon was by the way a first brother of the winner!) and he also managed to have six pigeons in the top 100. If you can get that close with so many pigeons, winning seems to be perfectly possible. That’s theory of course but still, Bart succeeded to put it into practice.
6128470/04 "Jeff" was the fastest pigeon in the category of old pigeons and yearlings. This muscleman carried off the palm by a large margin. "Jeff" (Van Hove-Uytterhoeven X Ad Schaerlaeckens) is a typical middle distance racer with soft feathers, a streamlined body and fantastic eyes.
Bart Van Oeckel is running a bakery in which about 30 people are working. Because of these busy circumstances Bart had to find a system that would fit his life style. He started to look out for some assistance. With Nancy and Jef, his helper, Bart created an excellent team. Team spirit can most certainly be considered as the most important basic principle of his success. They talk about what must be done with respect to care and the team player who is in charge will carry out the plans very strictly.
On April 23, 44 pigeons started the season with Quiévrain in a system of double widowhood. Their friends and acquaintances had had several bad experiences with eastern races so they decided not to participate in such races. The team was divided over multiple assignments after their fourth Quiévrain. In fact, this decision was made because of the dubious weather forecast. The teams went to Vierzon, Dourdan and Quiévrain once again. Jeff was part of the last team.
It was the first time they started off this soon in the season. When Bart started pigeon racing in 2001, it was his intention to achieve good results in the autumn classics. But the opposition motivated Bart and he decided to give it a try during the high season when there were more participants.
As the season moved on, they noticed that the double widowhood racers were getting tired. That’s why it was decided to continue racing on the nest. They prefer the position: “end of brooding, hatching eggs, little youngsters”. But Jeff managed to achieve good results with a youngster of eight days old. By the way, every pigeon goes into the basket every week and only a pigeon who is about to lay an egg gets off scot-free.
The winged athletes of Van Oeckel proved to be in excellent top shape one weekend earlier when they flew a provincial race from Salbris. Bart will always remember that day. Barely two minutes after the first pigeon had returned, a second one arrived. The next moment, no less than 12 pigeons arrived all at once. Let’s take a look at the local results: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 ànd 16/22.
Bart Van Oeckel is relying on Dr Mariën as a vet. Mariën is checking the pigeons regularly but the birds do not receive anything when nothing is found. Assistant Jef confides to us that according to him, there is no other loft where pigeons receive less medication! The pigeons are also treated for paratyphus apart from the obligatory vaccination. Bart explains that he has acquired pigeons from many different places and he does not want to take any chances. He adds that Dr Mariën does not believe in a treatment for paratyphus.
Every fancier has to look for a system that suits him best. The team of Van Oeckel found such a system and its method resulted in real top performances on a national level during the past few seasons. They had several pigeons in the national top 100 in the autumn classics, they obtained a third position and now their efforts have been rewarded for the first time by racer Jeff with a national victory. These three pigeon caretakers make an excellent team and we’ll certainly hear from them again in the near future.