The season is well under way now. For the international races we had Barcelona and then St. Vincent. In The Netherlands there was also a long distance race per region. For region I we had the race form Bordeaux; the pigeons were released on Sunday morning. It was a trouble free race and most prizes were awarded on the same day as the release! In St. Vincent they hesitated to release the pigeons and it was decided to postpone the release until Monday morning at 7 o’clock. In The Netherlands there was justified criticism about this decision: heavy rain was expected by the end of the afternoon and in the evening. It was soon clear that the weatherman was right: the rain came pouring down. But that did not seem to bother the pigeons: most of them arrived home without a problem. But 2012 is destined to be a season with little sun and lots of rain.
Martin is 34 years old and lives in Sluis in Zeeland. It was one of his uncles who brought him into contact with pigeons for the first time. He started breeding show pigeons and in 1993 he switched to racing pigeons with some pigeons from other fanciers. Martin is still looking for talented pigeons and his latest reinforcements come from Sj. Van de Velde & son from Breskens. He has always been looking after his pigeons on his own but his father and father-in-law are there to support him. They take care of the technical side, for instance the construction of the loft itself. From 2006 to 2011 Martin has won the first prize in district Zeeland six times: he has won a one day middle distance race, two middle distance and three sprint races. In the 2012 season he was winner of 2nd Gien, 7th Pithiviers (both with teletext notations), an 8th national Bordeaux old birds and a 76th national Bordeaux yearlings. (Click here for the teletext notations of Gien, Pithiviers, Chateaudun en Bordeaux)
He began the season with 25 couples on total widowhood. The cocks are divided over three sections; the hens are housed in two sections. In addition he has 20 breeding pairs and 90 youngsters. The pigeons were paired on 2 January. The first round of these breeders is sat and raised by the racing pigeons. When the youngsters are two weeks old the hens are moved to their own sector. From then on, the cocks raise the youngsters on their own. The cocks were on widowhood by the end of February; the hens ten days earlier. The birds are trained once a day. First the youngsters have to fly for an hour. Then it’s time for the hens to take a flight of an hour up to an hour and a quarter; the cocks have the same training regime. Both the cocks and the hens are trained with the flag so these are obligatory training flights. The pigeons take part in the district races as much as possible. They can only stay home if they have had a bad race or in case of bad weather conditions. In that case Martin releases the pigeons himself as far as the weather allows..
When the pigeons arrive home they are given a full feeding tray with Sport (Versele and Beijers), Nutri Power and some Patagoon. After that there is some Gerry Plus and Super winner on the menu. By the end of the week they are given a mixture of 1/3 Sport, 1/3 low protein mixture and 1/3 energy mix (MDP Mix, composed by Martin himself) and some cheese and peanuts. In addition the pigeons get a regular portion of Prange-Suppe and Belgasol. For medical help Martin consults Piet Blancke and Jan van Wanrooy of Belgica de Weerd. There is one checkup before the season; during the season the pigeons are treated with BS for one and a half day after races over more than two nights. He also adds some Belgasol to that. If it is necessary Martin gives his pigeons a tricho pill.
The winner of this race is a yearling which he bought from Piet Blancke. It is a 100% Desaer. In March 2011 he purchased ten youngsters, two of which were real top-class birds! Later that season he added six more, which were reserved for the breeding loft. Two of them were sisters of the winner from St. Vincent. Monty is a full brother of Rainman and he has won an 11th national Montauban, a 34th national Souillac, a 150th Brive and a 244th national Limoges. The winner comes from a family of natural born racers.
Two weeks before his triumph from St. Vincent, BE11-4245800 (aka Rainman) was already winner of 76th national Bordeaux against 4,226 pigeons. Earlier on he had also won a 37th against 6,328 pigeons from Mantes La Jolie. That same pigeon has now won a deserved 1st national against 3,161 birds last weekend. At international level he took a 3rd against 13,085 pigeons.
Rainman is raced as a widower just like his loft mates. He was actually scheduled to race from Narbonne, but considering his fitness and the condition of his feathers Martin decided to basket him for St. Vincent. It was a good decision... The bird was wet from the rain when he arrived but that did not prevent him from covering 920 kilometers at a speed of 1409 mpm, taking home a great national victory!