De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke, an outstanding all-rounder from Nieuwpoort
In pigeon racing, Bert has gained recognition both as a writer and as an auctioneer but first of all he is known for his outstanding pigeon fancying skills. He has won good results in 17 national championships, he also won two second international prizes from Perpignan, two first Olympiad pigeon titles and he won the National Marathon. He has also won the title of General Champion of Belgium, he won a national first prize from Montauban and he won national and provincial ace pigeons. There is basically too much to list here.
The De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke partnership from Nieuwpoort was formed 43 years ago by Bert De Ceuninck (66) and his wife Erna Vanhoucke (61). Until last year there was nothing to worry about. Bert did sprint races, middle distance races and long and extreme distance races from the first until the last Sunday of the season, with great success. It seemed his pigeons could take it all. Over the last five seasons he has won no less than 71 clear first prizes over all distances and he has also won eight first ace pigeon titles. He is indeed the Allrounder from Nieuwpoort.
On 1 July 2011, five days after the national win from Montauban there was tragic news: Bert suffered two strokes, which occurred as the result of a cerebral thrombosis. He miraculously survived the two strokes. In the first weeks after that he was blind and driving a car is now out of the question. He underwent a difficult rehabilitation programme. Up until now he has not been using a computer and he cannot concentrate for more than 10 or 15 minutes. The good news is that he is gradually regaining his sight and he is managing to take care of the pigeons together with his wife and his daughters now. Bert used to race all five distances, which involved basketing pigeons for five days in a row. This is no longer possible; he only raced about five long distance races this season. That is why he has decided to only take part in the national and international races in the future. He is forced to leave out the middle distance and the shorter long distance competitions. He will be selling all his breeding pigeons of the middle and shorter long distance by the end of the year.
The Günter Prange pigeons gave a boost
Bert started his career at the age of twenty. He had no relatives involved in pigeon racing and it all happened by accident. He had saved the life of some young pigeons that were captured by a bird of prey. He raised them and took care of them and before he knew it he was on his way to becoming a very successful pigeon fancier. He purchased his first reinforcements from Kamiel Devos in Vlissegem. Kamiel had pigeons of Delbar and Stichelbaut origins and he was considered one of the best long distance fanciers in Belgium at that time. We often hear the phrase - give top quality pigeons to someone who can handle them and he will be successful, and so it happened. His first race was an immediate success: he won a first prize. Bert managed to win thirteen first prizes and even a first provincial and second national from Angoulême in his first season as a fancier. He became a champion both in the area below and above Paris in the club where he basketed his pigeons on a weekly basis. He won this club's championship title several times throughout his career. In the early days he visited a lot of pigeon auctions together with his father. He did not hesitate to buy first rate pigeons whenever he had the opportunity, whatever the cost. He saw a gradual increase in performance but it was especially the introduction of the top quality pigeons of Günter Prange that took the De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke loft to new heights.
Günter and Bert, friends for life
Günter Prange is a phenomenal flyer in Germany, especially thanks to his Koopman pigeons. Thanks to their close friendship Bert could always count on Günter to obtain some of his best pigeons. It happened the other way around as well: Günter Prange moved some youngsters from Nieuwpoort to his loft in Germany in 1993. Two of these youngsters won a first and second ace pigeon at provincial level in 1994. Next season it was also a direct De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke pigeon, the 402, that won the title of first National Ace Pigeon in Germany. Günter won an 8th prize at the World Championships in 1998, again with a direct De Ceunick pigeon from Nieuwpoort. The 402 was paired with Zus Branco, a 100% Koopman pigeon. This pair bred the Superdochter 402, which became an excellent breeding hen for De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke. After that some Ringlose pigeons were brought to Nieuwpoort as well. The Ringlose is one of the big stars of Prange, who has been breeding a lot of first prize winners. Several international magazines have already suggested that Ringlose is the best breeding pigeon worldwide. He is father and grandfather of several first National Ace Pigeons and countless provincial and regional Ace Pigeons all over the world. Günter paired Ringlose with its own daughter to breed a youngster for Bert. This youngster, Son Ringlose, was paired with Olympia 992 (again a Ringlose inbred) and this pair has been one of the stock pairs for De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke. It has bred several generations of exceptional pigeons. The descendants of this stock pair, along with the pigeons of his own breed allowed Bert to create a close knit all-round team that excels in everything between the sprint and the long distance competitions. Last year he demonstrated once more that his team is indeed very versatile: he won first prizes in the sprint and the middle distance, as well as a first national prize from Montauban. The breeding loft of De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke has a lot of inbred pairs to maintain the pure bloodlines. When grandmasters Günter Prange and Gerard Koopman visited Bert’s loft they were impressed by his breeding loft: they had never seen so many top class pigeons gathered in one single loft. That was a huge compliment for Bert.
Bert has won an impressive number of victories and titles in his career and it would be impossible to list them all here. That is why we asked him what he thought were his most important achievements:
Olympiad pigeon Sportklasse Fond Dortmund (1987) Olympiad pigeon Sportklasse Fond Verona (1991) 1st General Champion Belgium (1983) Winner of Western European 1st Ace Pigeon (2001) 1st National Long Distance Champion Cureghem-Centre 2nd and 4th National Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB 1st Provincial Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB Winner International Cerafin-Trophy 1st National Montauban (2011) 2 x 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 8th International from Perpignan 3rd National St.-Vincent 6th and 7th National Brive 6th and 7th National Narbonne 4th International Lourdes 5th National Libourne 1st Ace pigeon Western European Supermarathon 2nd Primus Inter Pares Brugse Barcelona Club 3 x Best All Round loft A.D.S. 6 x 1st general Champion Per-Lo verbond (in 2011 and 2012 as well / 300 – 600 km) 71 first prizes and 8 x first Ace Pigeon over the last 5 years!
Bert and Erna, aka the Ceuninck-Vanhoucke combination
The Ceuninck-Vanhoucke pigeons are successful in other lofts as well
Günter Prange, Meppen/Duitsland:
1st and 2nd Ace Pigeon Bezirk (provincial) 1st National Ace Pigeon Germany (De 402) 8th 1998 World Champs. Prizes won with 100% De Ceuninck-Vanhouckes
Gaby Vandenabeele, Dentergem/Belgium:
1st Provincial Chateauroux 1st Provincial Cahors 6th National Cahors from a daughter of 402
André Lietaer, Rekkem/Belgium:
22nd National Barcelona, with direct De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke birds 8th National Pau against 2,157 pigeons 37th International against van 7,218 pigeons 88th National Irun against 5,252 pigeons 4th Provincial Ace Pigeon Grand Distance KBDB West-Flanders from a 'Sister 402'
Robert Van Eycken, Erps-Kwerps/Belgium:
1st International Marseille, grandson of 'Erna' De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke 1st National Bourges Winner of several provincial first prizes with De Ceunick-Vanhoucke pigeons
The winner of the Golden Wing of the Barcelona Club Bruges, the first national Cahors and the first international Narbonne all have the origins of De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke.
Noël Peiren, Zedelgem/Belgium:
1st National Limoges; the grandfather is a direct De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke
The late Eddy Vermeulen-Desmet, Bottelare/Belgium:
1st Provincial Ace Pigeon Long Distance East-Flanders 2nd National Ace Pigeon, the sire is a De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke
Mister Asaki, Japan:
Winner of a first national with a son of 'Argenton'
John Rimmelzwaan, Alphen a/d Rijn/The Netherlands:
From Prange 540 x Ringlose 600 a top ranking in NPO North Netherlands.
Team Sylt, Germany:
2nd One Million Dollar Race South Africa with a grandchild of '402'
Jo Claeskens from Willebroek obtained a youngster from ‘Zoon Ringlose’ x ‘Olympia 992’ in 2010. One of the children of this youngster won a 3rd Prov. Ace Pigeon Middle Distance Limburg for Tom Cartuyfels (St.-Truiden) with the following results:
Sezanne: 6th/788 Prov. and 132th/9,694 Nat.
Bourges: 1st/62 Prov. & 20th/3,430 & 98th/33,524
In Serbia two Olympiad Pigeons (Poznan 2011) as well as three national Ace Pigeons were pure De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke pigeons. Etc.
An overview of the results in the last two years
To illustrate that the De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke loft performs in every competition and every distance we have included some of the best results of the last two seasons. This list is not complete but it should give you an idea of the versatility of this loft:
Arras (92 km) 224 pigeons: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 14th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 21st, etc. Clermont (195km) 269 pigeons: 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 11th, 17th, 21st, 22nd, etc. Brionne (260km) local 401 pigeons: 1st, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th, etc. Provincial 3,510 pigeons: 10th, 22nd, 45th, 51st, etc. Ablis (285km) 288 pigeons: 1st, 2nd, 5th, 14th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, etc. Orleans (360km) 324 pigeons: 1st, 8th, 11th, 12th, 19th, etc. Tours (435km) 473 pigeons: 9th, 12th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, etc. Argenton (513km) Zone A 2,005 pigeons: 91st and 113th. National 7,046 pigeons 178th and 226th Limoges (600km) 8,120 pigeons 157th, 210th, 214th, 248th, etc. Narbonne (880km) national 7,027 pigeons: 267th and 290th Libourne B.Vl. 1,753 pigeons: 1st National 7,289 pigeons: 5th Montauban (800km) national 9,091 pigeons: 1st, 426th and 797th St-Junien (600km) local 96 pigeons: 1st (43 minute lead) and 2nd Interprovincial 1,364 pigeons: 5th and 57th
The team of De Ceuninck-Vanhoucke has won no less than 71 first prizes (over all distances) in the last five years; eight pigeons won the title of first Ace Pigeon!