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Antwerp champion Dirk Van Dyck (Zandhoven, Be) claims his first national victory from Bourges II

The fancier from Zandhoven took a national first prize against 10,141 yearlings on Saturday 2nd August. He had been very close to a national victory a few times, and eventually he was able to claim a well deserved win. He could not be happier!

The winner's origins

Good pigeons breed good pigeons. It has been said before, and many fanciers have already experienced this, including Dirk Van Dyck, whose winning hen from Bourges II was bred from top quality bloodlines (Click here for the pedigree of Natalia BE13-6122204). The dam of this pigeon is a full sister of the sire of Acy, one of the main candidates for the upcoming Olympiad, from the loft of Bart and Jurgen Geerinckx (Wommelgem, BE). Dirk added this dam to his pigeon family as a late youngster, and he is very grateful to the Geerinckx family for having obtained this pigeon. Natalia originates from sprint champion Di Caprio of Leo Heremans from her father’s side. This has been an invaluable addition to the breed. She is also related to no other than the world famous Kannibaal, breeder of numerous prize winners. Dirk could not tell if his hen was particularly motivated to get home. However, when she was basketed, he saw a few drops of blood near the pigeon’s nose, which might suggest that she had been fighting with another hen shortly before being basketed. All we know is that she was the first pigeon to arrive home, and there was no other pigeon she had to fight with when she came back from Bourges.

This intelligent hen has proved its value

Dirk has started racing the hens only since 2013, on the advice of Bart Geerinckx and Gaston Van de Wouwer. He did not regret the decision. This hen did not breed pigeons in winter, and she was paired on 1st March. The cock was then taken away together with the youngster, but she was allowed to raise one youngster first. One week before the start of the middle distance competition, the youngsters are taken away while the cock returns to the hens’ loft. Widowhood starts from the first middle distance race. However, the pigeons are raced from the nest for the preparatory flights as well. The hens have a recovery loft and a breeding loft. They go to the recovery loft after a flight to eat and drink, but they can only see their cocks in the breeding loft. They can never see their cock shortly before basketing, and neither can the widowers see their hens. That way, Dirk can basket them more easily because they are quiet, and he does not have to move too many pigeons either.

Natalia and her cock

Natalia, named after Dirk’s daughter, had had a few excellent results, but Dirk did not really expect her to claim a national victory (Click here for the list of achievements of Natalia). She is now part of the breeding loft in Zandhoven, joining a team of highly renowned breeders that have bred numerous of successful descendants.

The season

The widowers’ season has come to an end, which means Dirk can now start focusing on the young birds’ races, his favourite competition. The widowers do not longer go outside until 10th December, when they are paired again, but they have access to the aviary until then. Dirk thinks his young birds are not in great shape yet, even though he already won a first prize in the young birds’ race from Noyon last week. What he is saying, is that they have only had one middle distance race this season, because of the bad weather. He did not want to risk losing several young birds. The releases of the past weeks show that it was a good decision not to basket his pigeons too often. The idea is now to basket them for Pont-St-Maxence twice, and to hope that they can successfully complete the first national race. First of all, they should have a chance to prove themselves in decent weather conditions. Dirk does not consider the race from Noyon to be a good reference, because pigeons had two hours’ time to arrive home. The pigeons should have a fair chance of showing their potential.

A new generation

A lot has been going on in our sport lately, including the debatable releases, the KBDB’s flexibility, the modernising of our sport, etc. Dirk has over 40 years of experience in the sport, and he has his own take on the recent developments. He thinks it is time for a younger generation of fanciers to step up. He wants the young and motivated fanciers to be involved in the decision making in pigeon racing. Unsurprisingly, he is looking towards the names of Bart Geerinckx, Ulrich Lemmens, Lars Vercammen, David Baeten, Bart Van Oeckel and others. You can find these younger fanciers in every Belgian province, and this new generation should be cherished. Dirk thinks they are capable of getting things done, as long as they take the chance.

The future of pigeon racing: Dirk's daughter Natalia and top class racing hen Natalia

Many congratulations to the Van Dyck family for their national victory from Bourges!