The two leading ladies of Francine and Berke were able to withstand the demanding 2017 season with ease. If anything, it seems their strength and stamina have increased in the off season. Mon Amie excelled with a 1st of 496 p. Soissons (as second nominated but with the same speed per minute as Izaura, the eventual winner), and a 1st of 867 p. Chevrainvilliers. She also claimed a 120th/2,650 p. from Melun and a 118th/1,666 p. from Chevrain.
Izaura ended the 2017 season with a first prize from Bourges interprovincial of 498 pigeons. We were just two weeks into the 2018 season when she claimed another first prize: a 1st Soissons of 496 pigeons. She went on to win a 4th of 1065 pigeons from Soissons the following week. She had struggled a bit with her transition to the midle distance but Izaura appears to be in great form now:
Melun: 410th/2,675 p. Chevrain: 46th/1,666 p. Chevrain: 4th/867 p.
Some talented newcomers have made their first appearance in the slipstream of Mon Amia and Izaura: Verona (BE16-2060083), Zorina (BE16-2060093), and the 131/17. Zorina had some impressive results in particular:
1st Soissons 1,065 p. 1st Chevrain 642 p. (2nd/1,666 p.) 11th Chevrain 867 p. 34th Melun 2,675 p.
Zorina is a granddaughter of De Zoon (030/10) paired to his own dam Paulien (139-06), which means she is heavily inbred to this super class hen. The dam of Zorina is a granddaughter of another outstanding pigeon: Harry of Jan Hooymans. We extensively discussed this joint breeding, and the story behind Mon Amie and Isaura in a previous article. The dam of Zorina is BE14-2308091, winner of a 1st Argenton of 218 pigeons. Albert forgot to include her parents in her pedigree, which means we have no further details about her origins. All we can say is that Albert bred Zorina in his own breeding loft. Click here for Zorina's incomplete pedigree.
Zorina: 1st Soissons 1,065 p., 1st Chevrainvilliers 642 p.
Verona is the runner-up in Albert's racing team. She wins a 2nd Chevrain of 460 p. and a 21st Soissons of 496 p. in 2018. Her sire Verona is a son of Paulette (133/07), a full sister of Paulien. The 131/17 made her first steps towards a career like that of her illustrious grandfather Primo (from her mother's side), winning a first prize from Chevrainvilliers of 945 yearlings. As you can tell, the 131/17 is closely related to Paulien as well.
Verona: 2nd Chevrainvilliers 460 p.
If we take a look at the overall achievements of these racing birds, you get an idea of how strong the Derwa-Luxem combination has been recently:
Soissons: 45 contestants - 496 olds: 1-1-15-21-37-39-42-50-63 (9/9) 99 contestants - 1,065 olds: 1-2-4-13-17-27-41-130-170 (9/9) 87 contestants - 1,156 YLs: 2-3-5-7-9-10-18-13-25-131 (10/11) Melun: 123 contestants - 1,282 olds: 21-26-29-64-78-80-117-226 (8/9) 121 contestants - 1,534 YLs: 1-29-95-109-119-237-290-326 Chevrain: 76 contestants - 460 olds: 1-2-3-5-19-22-33 (7/9) 89 contestants – 642 olds: 1-5-24-25-28-29-63-122 (8/9) 103 contestants – 963 olds: 15-22-60-68-152-160-162 93 contestants – 945 YLs: 1-4-6-8-76-140-221-247 (8/9) 115 contestants – 1,330 YLs: 5-6-25-76-127-166-232-344
As you can see, Albert has already won 19 first prizes this season (including doubles), with a racing team of no more than 9 old birds and 9 yearlings (he started the season with 11). Click here for the team's palmares of 2018 so far.
These top results were all won in the weeks leading up to the first wekeend of June, the weekend of the first provincial race from Blois in Brabant. Despite the weather conditions not being in their favour, the Derwa-Luxem racing team had a fantastic result that day, winning the first three prizes in the 'Tussen Demer en Dijle' Union, as well as the first two prizes with the yearlings. And the entire team was outstanding at provincial level. The BE17-2090111 was not only the fastest of 2,953 yearlings, he was also the fastest of 4,435 pigeons overall in Blois:
Blois: Demer & Dijle: 50 contestants - 295 olds: 1-2-3-12-24-32-38-54-59 (9/9)
B.U.: 234 contestants - 1,482 olds: 12-14-20-59-126-189-214-286-317 (9/9)
Demer & Dijle: 56 contestants: 681 yearlings: 1-2-5-9-33-43 (6/9)
B.U.: 248 contestants - 2.953 yearlings: 1-30-57-79-223-268 (6/9)
Verona was the first to arrive home in the old birds' race, followed closely by Mon Amie. The big star in Blois was racing hen BE17-2090111, which is also related to Paulien, from her father's side. The sire is Invictus (BE13-2110100), winner of a 1st National Issoudun 16,587 pigeons. Invictus is a grandson of Paulien from his father's side, and a great-grandson of De Zoon from his mother's side, arguably one of the most renowned descendants of Paulien. The dam of the 111/17 is BE11-2070106, a 100% Gaby Vandenabeele and a granddaughter of his Bliksem, winner of a 1st prize from Poitiers of 1,448 p. Click here for the full pedigree of the 111/17.
111/17: 1st prize B.U. Blois 2,953 yearlings, fastest of 4,435 overall in Blois
The many top results and championship titles that Albert and Francine claim every season illustrates how skilled they are. On top of that, they rely on a group of high quality pigeons that enables team Derwa-Luxem to achieve fantastic results. The late Eric Wauters put it this way: a rider is only as good as its horse.