The national Bourges II is the annual top classic for the fanciers of the longer middle distance, and it is a race with broad appeal. No less than 60,000 pigeons were basketed for this flight, just as we predicted a few days ago. This is actually too high a number to compete over such a short distance, which is why the race from Bourges II often has a difficult start. This is due to the many young birds that influence the race of the main pack. They tend to just follow the herd because they are inexperienced. You can tell from the flight times at national level: the old birds raced about 55 minutes, the one year olds 1 hour and 5 minutes, while the young birds needed about 1 hour and 55 minutes. These are the average times for the prizes per four only; by that time three in four pigeons are still trying to find their way back home.
This is especially the case at club level, where an increasing number of pigeons fail to arrive back home as the time passes. Many young birds follow the wrong group and end up in the wrong part of the country, unable to find their loft. About 40% of the young birds have not yet returned home, which is typical for the race from Bourges.
The release from Bourges was delayed due to an overcast sky. There was hardly any wind but that changed over the course of the day, as a wind from a northerly and north-westerly direction picked up. Yet, no one had expected the fastest pigeons to come from the lofts in the easternmost part of Belgium, in the east of the province of Limburg to be more exact. Fanciers that have been watching the cloud maps during the race will have noticed a thick line of clouds ranging from the west of Bourges to just under Paris. Possibly, the pigeons from the central and western part of Belgium have been hindered by this, or perhaps the pigeons have followed a cloudless route leading to the eastern regions of Belgium. It is hard to tell - pigeon racing can be quite a mystery.
Jean Jonkmans takes the win against 9256 old birds
The national winner in the old birds’ race comes from Diepenbeek, a town to the east of Hasselt. It was Jean Jonkmans who took a national first prize for the first time in his career, clocking his winning old bird at 15:20’28”. He completed 478.644km with an average speed of 1258.04 m/min, as the third fastest pigeon overall.
Jean used to work as a groundwork and water work contractor but he is now retired, and has been spending his days keeping pigeons and horses. His lofts are built amid the fields, in a quiet environment well suited for his pigeons and his horses. This is where he watches his pigeons arrive home from the races. He is assisted by Martin, who helps take care of the pigeon breed. Martin used to be the caretaker in the loft of the late Pros Roosen.
Jean’s national winner is a strong blue coloured two year old cock that did quite well in the sprint and shorter middle distance, including even the races from Gien and Châteauroux. He has won for instance:
-Blauwen 1. Nat Bourges BE13-5051524
1st Nat. Bourges olds 9,256 p. ’15 21st Vervins 402 p. 25th Chimay 553 p. 47th Chimay 1,156 p. 56th Vervins 1,002 p…
Jean had basketed 18 old and 12 young birds for Bourges:
Bourges 154 olds: 1-10-24-33-47 Nat 9,256 olds: 1-346-848-1098-1653 Bourges 536 YBs: 10-26-88-97 Nat 36,307 YBs: 541-1498-5213-6185
It is great to see a hobby player taking a national win in the classic from Bourges against all the big favourites. This is what makes our sport so interesting, and it should encourage everybody to keep working hard. Jean and Martin are not planning to take a step back; they are already thinking about their next first prize! Congratulations!