De Bruycker-De Craene (Eeklo, BE) wins 1st National La Souterraine olds

They also managed to achieve an impressive overall result, a result with a golden edge: they had basketed five pigeons, four of which were clocked within the national top 13! This is quite phenomenal!

There has been a lot of discussion about last week's heat wave and the tropical temperatures (> 35°) forecast for Saturday. Friday eventually turned out to be the hottest day, and temperatures were somewhat lower on Saturday, even though they were still well over 30°C. The weather along the course was good on Saturday, and yet it was decided before 8 o'clock to postpone the race to Sunday. Many fanciers still don't quite understand why. Perhaps the organisers were afraid of rising temperatures or a heat storm later in the day, and the influence this might have on the outcome of the race. Another reason could be that the Ministry for Animal Welfare had forbidden any races for young birds in the middle distance, and was likely to keep an eye on the races from Montauban and La Souterraine as well. 

Storms and heavy clouds along the course prevented the pigeons from being released on Sunday. The release eventually took place on Monday, at 6:30 in the morning. The sun was shining along the entire route, and the wind was coming from either southerly or easterly direction. This means the earliest pigeons were found in Flanders. After all, the wind often determines who wins the earliest prizes at national level, especially in the longer middle distance. La Souterraine proved a fairly easy race, especially for the old birds. The yearlings had to work harder, and the last one year olds arrived about 20 minutes later than the old birds.

The miracle from Eeklo

The miracle happened in the city of Eeklo, where the man and wife combination of Antoine De Bruycker-Yvonne De Craene took the win of their life. Antoine and Yvonne clocked their national winner, which was also their first nominated, at 13:24'13". It had covered 571.305km with an average speed of 1379.24 m/min.

The next six or seven minutes were quite spectacular: the next three pigeons landed at 13:28'07", 13:30'51" and 13:31'04", which means they had clocked four out of five pigeons from La Souterraine by then. They all managed to finish in the national top 13 in the preliminary results. Their fifth pigeon arrived back home at 14:12'42", which was more than enough for a fifth top result. This is their impressive overall result from La Souterraine:

La Souterraine club 140 olds: 1-2-4-5-48 (5/5)
         National 4,129 olds: 1-3-12-13… (expected top 100 result)

This is a result with a golden edge, and a day to remember.
The national winner is called Alex. This talented racing bird knows what it means to take the lead: he had already won a 1st prov. Blois as a one year old. He did even better this time, taking a national first prize. We take a look at his impressive list of achievements:

-Alex BE12-4165554

 1st  Nat La Souterraine 4,129 p. ’15
 1st  Prov Blois         1,854 p. ’13 
30th  Prov Orleans       1,874 p.
 4th  Chateauroux          425 p. ’15
37th  Zone Chateauroux   5,418 p. ’15
257th Nat Chateauroux   18,604 p. ’15
23rd  Zone Argenton      1,630 p. ’14
22nd  Montluçon            219 p. ’15

Click here for his full pedigree

Sire: Geschelpt Vader Nationaal BE07-4329013
A proven racing bird, especially in the sprint and the shorter middle distance:
3-3-3rd Arras, 3-10th Clermont, 2-2-7-7-8-9-9th Ablis, 5th Blois, 9th Orleans etc…
His pedigree shows that he is an invaluable bird. His sire is a grandson of Semi BE01-4471758 of the late Antoine Benoot (Semi won a 1st Intprov. Chateauroux 9.609 d.), combined with the lines of Limoges-Carteus (Limoges won a 1st Nat. Limoges, 5th Intnat Perpignan and 15th Intnat Perpignan). His dam is also based on the lines of Carteus (via Gevaert-Van Schoorisse), being a granddaughter of Plekke 174/93 (Plekke won a 1st Intprov 5,862 p.) and originating from a combination with a daughter Dochter Limoges-Carteus. Click here for the fulll pedigree of the sire.

Dam: Schoors-De Waele-duivin BE11-4087900
A direct Schoors De Waele from Adegem, and a sister of some excellent racing birds. She was bred in Adegem from Donkere Meyvaert BE06-4377828 (from the late Roger Meyvaert from Ertvelde) x Witpluimke Gueret BE06-4130441, winner of a 49th Nat. Gueret 10,670 p., and a full sister of the 1st Ace Pigeon Middle Distance Meetjesland 2007. Click here for the full pedigree of the dam.

Passionate about the old birds from middle distance to light long distace

Antoine De Bruycker (73) and his wife Yvonne are familiar names in pigeon racing, having run the pigeon club Eiktak in Eeklo, the former home of Long Distance Club Eeklo, which they helped to develop into what is now one of Belgium's most important long distance clubs. When they were about to retire they decided to leave the club and to move to a new place just 300 metres away, where they began a successful career in pigeon racing. They still basket their pigeons and return the clocks together. At home, the two fanciers have different tasks. Yvonne likes to make sure that the lofts are clean, and she also looks after the breeding pigeons and widowers. Antoine is responsible for the pigeons' diet, and he also responsible for a training and racing plan during the season. They compliment each other well in the day to day running, and they enjoy their success together. This is a perfect team.

They mainly focus on the middle distance and the longer middle distance, while sporadically testing their luck in the light long distance as well (Limoges, Brives, Tulle). Their pigeon family is based on pigeons of Antoine Benoot from Nazareth, Schoors-De Waele from Adegem, Gevaert-Van Schoorisse from Ronse, Dr. Carlo Gyselbrecht from Knesselare, Georges Carteus from Ronse, their good friend Astere Vergotte from Aalter, Roger Vereecke from Deerlijk, Gilbert Meire from Huise, and others.

Antoine is not really interested in the young birds' game, he thinks a few training flights will do. On the other hand, he is really passionate about the old and one year old widowers. They are only put to the test as yearlings, at which age they compete in different training flights from Clermont and Fontenay. They are only basketed for the longer middle distance races at the age of two. They are then divided into two teams that are basketed every two weeks. In addition, there is also a team of old birds that continues to race the shorter middle distance, together with the one year olds.

This loft is home to about 60 to 70 racing birds each year, as well as 25 breeding pairs and about 100 young birds. This is the group of pigeons that has managed to achieve excellent results from the middle distance to the light long distance for years.
Antoine and Yvonne were clearly overwhelmed, at first by their impressive overall result, then by everything that comes with it: stress, countless phone calls, media attention, and fanciers who wanted to congratulate them. This is not just their first national first prize; it is an outstanding overall performance, a historic and unforgettable achievement.
Many congratulations Antoine and Yvonne!