Verstraete Raoul & Xavier win under the gaze of 'Onze Lieve Vrouw' Oostakker-Lourdes 1° Nat Cahors 5425p with large advantage

Under the gaze of 'Onze Lieve Vrouw' of Oostakker-Lourdes win 1° Nat Cahors 5.425 p with a large advantage






The organisers of Cureghem Centre couldn't have dreamed of a better winner for their national race from Cahors…. Which didn't get the weather gods on their side until the Wednesday, when the pigeons were liberated at 8 o'clock, after 4 extra nights in the basket. It was a beautiful Long Distance classic with a smooth course, and top pigeons from all corners of the country… with the cherry on the cake being a magnificent winner. Because it was the top colony of Raoul & Xavier Verstraete from Oostakker who clocked their super pigeon "Xtra" at 17h03 from a distance of 750,681 Km, giving them a velocity of 1382 m/min… straight away the fastest speed, good for the 'National victory'. This Long Distance crack wins nationally with a large advantage (of 22 m/min) on the 2nd pigeon, that from Ivan Stockmans from the Limburg's Lummen.

Loft of miracles
Introducing Raoul & Xavier Verstraete's colony to the general public is like kicking down an open door. The Verstraete colony has been running at the top of the national pigeon sport happenings for more than 30 years, in former days mainly specialising in races from 150-700 Km, extending the last few seasons to races of 900 Km. Real all-rounders then! In the Groenstraat, in the shadow of the church tower of 'Onze Lieve Vrouw' in Oostakker-Lourdes (a well-known place of pilgrimage in the Flanders), there has through the years, been many a pigeon report put to paper! The early show of power in the Verstraete loft came in the mid 70's, when phenomenal crack pigeons so as the 'Gouden Bol', his son the 'Mirage', the 'Mitheor', the 'Zilveren' and other supers of the time included in the Verstraete colony… sowed terror in the Middle Distance… so much so, that our now deceased colleague Clement Van Keymeulen, named the Verstraete loft the 'Loft of miracles'. Over the years more supers saw the light of day in this 'golden breeding well', so as the 'Miljonair', 'Manolito', 'Solo', 'Eurostar', 'Big Boss', 'Tempo', 'Victory', 'Bravo' and other 'Thrillers'… too many to name here. A clear sign that the success train in Oostakker carried on interrupted. Sport friend Raoul always lay in wait in order to strengthen his colony where necessary… illustrious star breeders and crack pigeons so as the 'Rapido', the 'Panter' (both from the late Theo Gilbert, Zulte), the 'Elvis' (1° Nat Ace pigeon), 'Carl Lewis', 'Miljonair' (re-bought from fellow villager Tom Van Damme), 'Bolide', 'Admiral'… and not forgetting of course the 1° Nat Bourges-winner 10.992 p (in '89) and 1° Prov Ace Pigeon Middle Distance KBDB 1989: the wonder pigeon 'UNO'… who has left his mark these last 20 seasons in the current loft collection of the colony Verstraete.
For the heavier work (read: Long Distance) pigeons were bought from Robert Venus out the line of the 'Supercrack' Gruson (self 3 x 1° Nat winner) and the 'Witslager Desender' (1° Nat Ace Pigeon Long Distance).

During the last few seasons, under the impulse of son Xavier, more attention has been paid to the 'Grand Middle Distance' (read 500 Km-races') up to the one-day Long Distance (read: 900 Km). Pigeons were now bought from Chris Hebberecht in the form of 'Blauwe Kathy' and especially the 'Geschelpte Kathy' (self 1° Ace Pigeon 2001, and grandmother of "Xtra"), the "Cadillac" (who self won 1° prizes and top prizes from 300 Km to Barcelona), the "Grand Cru Uno", and 2 super hens from Cas De Graaff from the Dutch Arnemuiden with which they were very successful, as will be evident later in this report.

1° National Cahors
The national victory from Cahors is the 4° national victory that Raoul and Xavier have achieved in their own loft, other national winners (so as 'Uno', 'Dax', 'Brive-hen' and 'Bingo') who are or were active in the Verstraete breeding well, were bought by them at the time. They won self
National La Souterraine 1981 with "Manolito"
National La Souterraine 1987 with "Tempo"
National La Souterraine 1991 with "Solo"
National Cahors 5.425 p. in 2008 with "Xtra" This brand-new national winner from Cahors, named the "Xtra" with ring 4296522/06, doesn't get it from a stranger when you analyse his pedigree!
He is a summer youngster from 2006, that could only race 1 x Chateauroux last year because of the bird flu.
This year in 2008, he performed the following: Vierzon F.C. Eeklo 672 p. 94 Brive F.C. Eeklo 469 p. 2 Prov 2.586 p. 6 Nat Zone A 4.381 p. 3 National 14.521 p. 21 Cahors National 5.425 p.1

Pedigree : Click here

A new 'miracle' has occurred! He is a son of no-one less than the current top celebrity in the Verstraete breeding lofts, namely "Topstar", ring 4343129/03… who achieved the following exploits before being put to breed for definite in 2006, with overwhelming success as it happens:
Béziers Club 218 p. 1 Nat 6.191 p. 68
Montauban Club 239 p. 1 Nat 7.303 p. 77
This "Topstar" is a son of the top couple "Cadillac 617/93" (whose father is a brother of the 1° Nat Limoges and the 1° Nat Narbonne) x "Geschelpt Kathy 502/01", self 1° Ace Pigeon Long Distance youngsters 2001 and bought in the auction of Chris Hebberecht in 2001 (and daughter of the "Panda", 1° Ace Pigeon '3-year old classification Barcelona' by the BBC… and, who was a full brother of the 1° Nat Ace Pigeon 'Grand Distance' 2005: "AXL" by Chris Hebberecht).

Mother of "Xtra" is super hen "Diva" winner 1° Prov Dax 934 p, 2° Internat Dax 1.930 Hens (1° hen National), 6° Nat Dax 4.534 p and 14° Intnat 11.937 d… next to a heap of top prizes from Chateauruox, Argenton, Vierzon, La Souterraine etc…
She in turn is a daughter of "Flippo 241/96", self a phenomenal top racer (out the old stock lines Gouden Bol x Witslager Desender x Supercack Gruson x Manolito) x "Gravin 214/01", a direct Cas De Graaff (daughter of the 2° Nat Dax 2000 in the Netherlands).
This "Gravin" is also mother of the '1° Ace Pigeon Long Distance Youngsters 2007' in Long Distance club Eeklo (in the 4 national races). A pedigree to make you 'dizzy', which once more proves the saying that 'exceptional crack pigeons' descend from 'exceptional crack pigeons'… the proverbial 'apple' never falls far from the tree! The super racing hen "Belga Queen 399-06" who was crowned in 2007 as 2° Ace Pigeon from Belgium Cureghem Centre Yearlings 2007 with 71° Nat St.Vincent 6.521 p, and 72° Nat Irun 18.967 p. is a half-sister of the "Topstar".

So as mentioned above, this "Topstar" is the current pole bearer of the breeding loft, wherefrom at the moment 16 cocks already reside in the racing lofts. Of these 16, 6 went to Cahors where Raoul & Xavier basketted 8 pigeons in total… 6 were registered in the club results, beginning with 1, 7 etc… against 195 p. At the time of going to press 8 descendants of this "Topstar" are in Montauban, including the "408/06" which was nominated 2nd, after he had achieved 10° Brive 469, and 54° Nat Zone A against 4.381 p, bred out "Topstar" x his own daughter! This team of old pigeons shall now chiefly race Limoges Derby (+ old) and Souillac. The "Xtra" however, will later conjugate his father in the breeding loft!

Loft collection and care
Raoul now has 78 summers on the stopwatch, Xavier will soon have 54 (Works by Volvo-cars Gent), and because of Raoul's age, they have drastically reduced their number of pigeons this last season. Half of the breeding loft is now empty and has been reduced to 16 breeding couples. The racing team consists of 9 old pigeons (3 years old and older), 20 two-year olds and 19 yearling cocks. Then there are 28 racing hens who are raced following the principle of total widowhood with the yearling cocks. These yearlings normally go until the classic from Limoges Yearlings. Any pigeon that hasn't really proved itself there is given an ultimate chance in the provincial Angoulême. 6 yearling hens race the St.Vincent-races.
The other hens are basketted weekly for the provincial Middle Distance races from the FVOV… and therefore have to race a 500 Km race every week. In answer to our question if this is not too much 'of a good thing', Raoul answers the following… Look, I'm 78 years old, have already experienced almost everything in the pigeon sport, which has given me a lot of beautiful and glorious moments… what have I got to spare my pigeons for. I am and always will be first and foremost a 'pigeon racer', and intensely enjoy the return of the pigeons weekly. All the rest is just minor detail… Perform first, the rest will automatically follow… if you know what I mean! These hens sit in an open aviary during the day, to prevent them from pairing with each other. Their loft is situated next to that of the yearling cocks. Before basketting the sliding doors are opened and before pairing begins they are basketted one for one.
The old widow cocks are also allowed to see their hens for a few minutes before they leave. The youngsters also have a very heavy programme and starting at the beginning of July they are basketted weekly for the 'Grand Middle Distance', and also complete the 4 national races for youngsters, with a Provincial Grand Middle Distance race in-between (from Blois, Vierzon and Tours). Only the cocks from the 2° round stop earlier and/or have a lighter programme. The youngsters are raced with the sliding door system. For this purpose the sexes are separated at the middle of June. According to Raoul this has its advantages, because since they have been racing their hens a few years ago the quality of their hen team has improved greatly, especially the later breed… because only the very best hens are now given a place in the breeding loft. The quality of the racing team has then also improved greatly over the last few years! After weaning, the youngsters are given breeding mixture for a month, followed by 2 months 50% moulting mixture + 50% depurative and diet. How lighter the food, how thinner the blood… how better they train, according to Raoul. Once the races approach, the quantity of depurative diminishes and the final 2 days before basketting extra fats are given with the feed. By-products and medication are mixed with the feed. That gives a more correct dosage. When they return home they are given B.S. (firm De Weerd) over the food, and all the by-products are from the firm Klaus + brewer's yeast.
They are very cautious about giving vitamins and this is reduced to a minimum. It hasn't done them any harm, because in one of the largest and strongest Long Distance clubs in our country Raoul & Xavier Verstraete were at the end of 2007 for the 5° year in a row "General Champion" of Long Distance club Eeklo! This in addition to a series of top notations in championships from local clubs, and the championships of Curegem C. and the Entente. They don't take part in any other championships.

Uncountable are the number of fellow sportsmen that come to the Groenstraat in Oostakker-Lourdes on a pilgrimage for pigeons… and who have been marched up to top successes in the pigeon sport. Raoul & Xavier have, with their pigeon pedigree of 'top class' and 'top origin' not only written a piece of pigeon history, but also conquered a piece of the world! This 1° National Cahors victory has added a nice addition to this success story! and who knows, there may be more… to the whole of the Verstraete family, we would like to congratulate you on behalf of the whole of the PiPa-team and its readers!

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