Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen (Melden, BE) is the extreme long distance wonder boy

If there had been an award for best long distance fancier of Belgium in 2015, Joost De Smeyter would have been one of the big favorites. He is the winner of the international Pau 9,052 pigeons, and the winner of Euro Diamond, 1st Western-European Marathon, 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB, and he had the best pigeon of Belgium over 3 international races. Impressive!

Joost De Smeyter is in his early fourties and he sets a great example for other fanciers. He is a national champion with a straightforward approach. Joost is an allrounder, competing in all competitions from middle distance to extreme long distance. He breeds, baskets and selects a large number of pigeons, and this is how he managed to become a national champion. It is a simple yet effective approach. We can learn a lot from such champions, simply because he can get more out of a pigeon than many other pigeon fanciers. We will take a closer look at his career and his approach. 

From cycling to pigeon racing champion

Joost was born with many talents, and he developed an interest in pigeons through his grandfather. However, he did not appear to be destined to become a fancier himself. He had a passion for cycling as well, and he appeared to be more into cycling than into pigeon racing at the time. His father, himself a passionate cyclist, was a fan of his neighbour Andre Dierickx, two-time winner of the Belgian Classic Waalse Pijl. Joost joined them on their training rides, and he would soon start to compete in races as well. He was a talented cyclist: he won about 30 junior races, he became vice champion of Belgium in the U21 and three time provincial champion, and went on to win the Omloop Het Volk as an U23. He was well on his way to becoming a successful professional cyclist. Unfortunately for him, his dreams were cruched when he got involved in a serious accident in which he injured his hip and tigh bone. He managed to fully recover but he would never become as strong as he had been. He would no longer be able to become a professional athlete. Joost stayed involved in the sport for a long time, as a teacher in the cycling school in Ronse (BE).

He made a (forced) career switch and he decided to focus on his second youth passion, which was pigeon racing. Joost is now involved in pigeon racing on a professional level day in day out. He runs his own loft but he also the caretaker for Dirk De Roose in Kruishoutem.
His dream as a young cyclist was to win a cycling classic, a stage in the Tour de France or a championship title. It explains why he was also fascinated with the classics in pigeon racing: the national and international races in the long distance and the extreme long distance in particular. He fairly quickly managed to win his first major race with his yearling Joost BE02-4051564. This pigeon had already won a 21st Nat. St. Vincent against 5,101 YL, and he really excelled in the race from Perpignan, winning a 1st International Perpignan against 4,534 yearlings in late 2003. Nobody had expected this pigeon to play such an important role in the international extreme long distance competition, as a top class breeding bird. His descendants are currently among the main contenders in the international long distance, especially in their home loft, the racing loft of Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen. Joost is a pigeon with a proven record: he is at the basis of several national and international victories and prominent titles, and he has enabled the De Smeyter-Restiaen family to perform at an exceptional level.

The world famous Joost (click here for his pedigree)

2005: It began in Melden

About 60 youngsters of Joost (which Joost De Smeyter had bred before moving to the lofts of Erik Limbourg) moved to Melden, home of the famous Koppenberg climb, where the young family of Joost and his wife Elsie moved in 2005. He also took with him his proven breeders and racing pigeons with at least one first prize or ace pigeon title on their palmares. They provided the basis for an impressive career, in which the De Smeyter-Restiaen combination developed into a nationally renowned team. They are currently considered to be one of the lofts at international level.

The loft had a few teething problems in its first season, which had to do with humidity. In other words, the brand new loft was not yet dry enough. This changed fairly quickly: the racing team of De Smeyter-Restiaen had a great long distance season the following year, winning for instance a spectacular 1-7-22-26-39-42 International Bordeaux against 6,223 pigeons. It was the start of an impressive career with many top results, and he gained a solid reputation over the past ten years.

A splendid 2015

The 2015 racing season was a year to remember for the De smeyter-Restiaen combination. They have won no less than 23 first prizes at club level, and the first international race of the season was a great success too: Cas was the strongest pigeon in the race from Pau. He was basketed as first nominated, which shows that Joost had great confidence in this pigeon. Cas managed to meet the expectations, winning the national and international first pruze from Pau! He was also the only Belgian pigeon to arrive home on the day of the release.

This loft continued to excel in the international races, which resulted in an impressive list of achievements:

-Pau Nat  1,980 p.: 1-9-178-199-318-384-442… (7/15)
-Barcelona  151 p.: 1-2-4-5-8-9-10-11-12-14-18…
     Nat  7,791 p.: 5-19-60-68-115-173-181-194-206-242-323-427-465-653… (21/33)
-St.Vincent  68 p.: 1-3-4-5-6-8-12-13-14…
     Nat  3,037 p.: 11-17-37-49-55-71-160-179-196-232… (17/23)
-Marseille   20 p.: 1-4-5 (3/5)
     Nat  2,165 p.: 126-352-369 (3/5)
-Narbonne  77 olds: 2-10-13-15-23 (5/6)
    Nat 4,047 olds: 292-600-737-747 (4/6)
-Narbonne   54 YL.: 1-3-4-5…
     Nat 3,366 YL.: 34-89-114-163-224-338-365… (11/27)
-Perpignan  146 p.: 2-3-4-5-7-9-14-15-17-19-20-21-22-23-24-25-26-27-28…
      Nat 5,254 p.: 8-13-44-48-62-98-135-138-152-189-196-198-199… (30/62)

It also resulted in several national and international championship titles, the most prominent of which are listed below:

International Championships 2015:

1st Western European Marathon Z.L.U.
1st International Barcelona Bony Cup of Long Distance Club Midden Limburg Foundation
1st International Cup SGR Long Distance Club midden Limburg Foundation
1st Coupe de Wallonië (10 first nominated Barcelona International hens)
1st Euro Diamond with "Cas"
3rd European Ace Pigeon extreme long distance
National championships

Best Belgian old birds over all international races - 3 prizes 2010-2015 PIPA Ranking
1st National Ace Pigeon championship extreme long distance Duivenkrant, Pitts
2nd National Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2015
2nd National championship first nominated extreme long distance Duivenkrant, Pitts

The level of dominance of the Joost bloodline

The Joost bloodline, an exceptional stock breeder, continues to be the invaluable breeder which most of the current successes of De Smeyter-Restiaen are founded on. The two stars of this year's racing team, Cas and Laval, are the perfect proof:

-Cas BE10-4281712

 1st  Euro Diamond 2015
 1st  Intnat Pau         9,052 p. ’15 
40th  Nat St.Vincent     3,272 p. ’14
98th  Intnat St.Vincent 11,388 p. ’14
13th  I.Prov Montauban     794 p. ’12
178th Nat Montauban      6,822 p. ’12
19th  I.Prov Libourne      734 p. ’13
175th Nat Libourne       8,269 p. ’13
237th Nat Perpignan      5,613 p. ’13
476th Intnat Perpignan  15,106 p. ’13
207th Nat St.Vincent     3,738 p. ’13
602th Intnat St.Vincent 10,907 p. ’13
1229th Nat Limoges I    18,390 p. ’14

Sire: Son Joost BE03-4456329
A son of the invaluable pigeon Joost BE02-4051564 (1st Intnat. Perpignan YL 2003) x Aske 2001 BE01-4376104 (1st Ace pigeon long distance young birds D.H. 2001).
Dam: Janderke NL03-1344459
Comes from First Prize Pigeons, being a daughter of Jander NL99-4008802 (winner of 1st Nat. Dax 18,323 p. in 2001) x Granddaughter Boudewijn NL02-1801794 (Boudewijn won a 1st Nat. and a 4th Intnat. Barcelona 1997).
Click here for the full pedigree of Cas
Cas is a full brother of a 5th Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2014 (winner of 1st Prov. Libourne 551 p., 18th Nat. Jarnac 3,741 p., 40th Nat St. Vincent etc.).

-Laval BE13-4285904

2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2015
Best Belgian old birds in all international races - 3 prizes (PIPA ranking)
 8th  Nat Perpignan      5,254 p. ’15
36th  Intnat Perpignan  15,924 p. ’15
 9th  Nat Pau            1,980 p. ’15
60th  Intnat Pau         9,052 p. ’15
49th  Nat St.Vincent     3,037 p. ’15
168th Intnat St.Vincent 10,737 p. ’15
48th  Zone St.Vincent    1,122 p. ’14
142th Nat St.Vincent     3,132 p. ’14  

Sire: Brother Joost BE01-4376168
A full brother of Joost (1st Intnat. Perpignan 2003), which makes him a son of ‘De 95 Vervisch’ BE92-4412895 (line of 1st Intnat. Barcelona J. Vervisch) x Super 23 Ernest BE99-4535423 (a Jan Ernest).
Dam: Daughter Grand Cru BE07-4241464
From super class pigeon Grand Cru BE05-4285531 (1st Intnat. Bordeaux YL 2006) x Lady Vince BE05-4286264 (granddaughter of Joost).
Click here for the full pedigree of Laval

Laval originates from a crossing of two of this loft's international winners: Joost x Grand Cru, or 1st Intnat. Perpignan x 1st Intnat. Bordeaux! These pigeons will never be offered for sale, and Joost explains why:
"I am always looking for winners, because I am convinced that winners breed winners. Prize winner Joost (1st International Perpignan) became the grandfather of Cas (1st International Pau 2015) and Elsie (1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2013). Grand Cru (1st International Bordeaux YL 2006) is the grandfather of Nuna (1st International Perpignan hens for Yvan Haelters) and grandfather of Laval (the best Belgian pigeon in all international races of 2015 with 3 prizes, and 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2015). I learned my lesson. I would never sell any of these pigeons!"

In fact, Joost De Smeyter will take every opportunity to introduce additional prize winners and national ace pigeons in his pigeon breed.
We take a quick look at the breeding references of Grand Cru, just to give you an idea:

-Grand Cru BE05-4285531

1st Intnat. Bordeaux YL 2006
Sire of 2nd Ace Pigeon Europa Cup 2011
Grandfather 1st Intnat. Perpignan 3,049 hens 2013 (Nuna for Yvan Haelters)
Grandfather 2nd Intnat. Perpignan 2013
Grandfather 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2015
Grandfather Best Belgian old birds 2015 in all Internat. races - 3 prizes
Grandfahter 3rd European Ace Pigeon extreme long distance 2015

Click here for the pedigree of Grand Cru

The De Smeyter-Restiaen combination has won an impressive number of top prizes. Elsie BE11-4274336 won the title of 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2013 (granddaughter of Joost) for De Smeyter-Restiaen, while Peggy won the title of 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance for Jo De Clercq-Vervaeren (she is a direct De Smeyter-Restiaen).

The pigeon loft in Melden is currently home to the 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB of 2011 (Peggy), 2013 (Witpen Rivaldo of Etienne Devos) and 2014 (Pierre Mistral of Pierre Bourgeois), as well as the 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance YL KBDB 2014 (of Nico Jaspers). They also added the outstanding Invictus (best extreme long distance pigeon of Europe in 2015 in the international races with both 2 and 3 prizes) to their breeding collection. It shows that Joost De Smeyter is a highly ambitious fancier with a world class pigeon family, in which his own successful lines (mainly the golden Joost bloodline) are paired to proven ace pigeons at national and international level. His impressive palmares shows that he knows what he's doing!

Elsie became 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon extreme long distance KBDB 2013, and she is a granddaughter of Joost  (click here for her pedigree)

Peggy won her national ace pigeon title for Jo De Clercq-Vervaeren, where she was repurchased (click here for her pedigree)