Louis Van Riet and Kris Cleirbaut
It was soon clear that Kris and Louis had a similar approach when it came to running a modern day pigeon family. Both Kris and Louis were convinced that quality is more important than quantity. The two fanciers soon agreed to start working together, and they founded the Cleirbaut-Van Riet combination. They were going to use the pigeon breed which Kris had been really successful with; Kris dominated for instance the national race from Argenton against 25,583 pigeons in 2008: 2-3-20-23-29-56-58-66-73-83-84-87-… (45/57).
Kris's pigeon breed was mainly founded on pigeons of Gaston Van De Wouwer (Berlaar, BE), from the line of his renowned Kaasboer line, "Old Blue" of Victor De Belder's (Itegem, BE), "Schone Genopte", "Schone Lichte", "Blauwe Scheers" and "Den 26" of Emiel Dillens (Itegem, BE), "Seppe", "Stammoeder", "Grootvader Lady Delores" and "Blue Thunder" of the Dierickx brothers (Rijmenam, BE) and "Oude Marcel" of Marcel Dillens (Ranst, BE). These are all no nonsense pigeons of excellent quality.
Kris has a busy job running a bakery, and from 2011 Louis offered a helping hand in the loft when needed. He was mostly responsible for training and basketing. A few months after they first met, their collaboration resulted in a top prize: they won a national first prize yearlings from Argenton with Miss Blue. Kris suggested to make their collaboration official by the end of the season, and this was the start of the Cleirbaut-Van Riet combination. A number of pigeons were introduced in their team: they obtained pigeons from the late Constant Nuyts (Beerse, BE) and from 'Kaiser' Willy Vanhoutte from Wevelgem. Willy won the title of 1st Provincial General Champion West Flanders three consecutive times, with a very small team of pigeons. In 2012 and 2014 the combination also obtained 20 young birds of the first round from Constant Nuyts, who really dominated the renowned Tienverbond competition, where the strongest sprint fanciers from the Kempen region compete against each other. Several more bloodlines were introduced but Kris knew that every pigeon that fails to deliver should be dropped from the team.
The hens come first
The hens are the strongest team in this loft; only the hens get a chance to prove their worth as yearlings and old birds. The cocks stay at home to welcome back the hens after the race. Kris and Louis agree that this is the most suitable approach for the longer middle distance. "You cannot expect a team raced in classic widowhood to peform at the highest level for seven consecutive weeks", they said.
Miss Blue (BE10-6027008)
As we said, the first highlight for this combination was the national first prize yearlings from Argenton with Miss Blue. Miss Blue not only claimed victory against 19,781 other yearlings, she was also the fastest pigeon in the entire field of 30,690 pigeons. She was also the first pigeon in the basket, based on the following top results:
3rd prov. Blois (450 km) 2,755 p. 290th nat. Bourges (470 km) 20,544 p. 3rd prov. Chateauroux (520 km) 3,042 p. – 33rd nat. 25,263p. 734th interprov. Chateauroux 8,092 p. 254th La Châtre 7,806 p.
Her national win from Argenton would eventually give way to an impressive career in the breeding loft.
In 2012 the fanciers only raced a team of young birds. Malika showed that this was a team with great potential. This pigeon won the following prizes:
1st interprov. Bourges 5,156 p. (fastest of 9,716 p.) 2nd Dourdan 359 p. 10th Pithiviers 1,176 p. 48th Blois 2,077 p. 20th Melun 513 p.
Malika gave a hint of this team's true potential
Malika is a daughter of Siddharta, 6th Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB Middle Distance 2002:
1st Dourdan 1,035 p. 1st Dourdan 970 p. 1st Quievrain 900 p. 2nd Orleans 748 p. 2nd Toury 799 p.
Siddharta is based on the best bloodlines of Hofkens from her father's side, and she originates from the best Soontjens pigeons via her dam. The dam of Malika is Serena (BE08-6315628), whose brothers and sisters have won more top 100 prizes than many pigeon breeds have won in their entire lifetime. Click here for the full pedigree of Malika. Malika is quite a special pigeon. It is often said that people with red hair are passionate lovers, and this applies to Malika as well. She did not quite find her place in the tema of widower hens. This is partly the reason why she was no longer basketed after her victory from Bourges.
In 2013 the fanciers decided to go all out. They only raced a team of yearlings and young birds, and yet Louis & Kris managed to win 11 first prizes and 8 second prizes. Their most important results were a 1st Interprov. Blois and a 1st Angerville (fastest of 25,000 p.). They also won the title of 5th Nat. Champion KBDB Longer Middle Distance Yearlings, 5th Nat. Champion first nominated in the national races yearlings (PITTS-Van Robaeysranking), and 12th Nat. Ace Pigeon in seven national longer middle distance races (PITTS-Van Robaeysranking). In 2014 they did even better, winning an impressive 12 first prizes, including:
1st Soissons 256 p. (BE12-6218674) 1st Sourdun 990 p. (BE12-6210636) 1st Sourdun 376 p. (BE12-6210636) 1st Sourdun 1,186 p. (BE13-6233730) 1st Sourdun 495 p. (BE13-6233730) 1st Souppes-sur-Loing 253 p. (BE13-6233886) 1st Argenton 176 p. (BE12-6218674) 1st Pont 40 p. (BE12-6210636)
The combination was also 3rd Nat. Champion KBDB Young Birds National Races, and they won the title of 5th Nat. Ace Pigeon in five national races yearlings (PITTS-Van Robaeys ranking) and 5th Nat. Ace Pigeon in six national races young birds (PIPA ranking). Prima Donna was without doubt the star of the team:
1st Sourdun 990 p. 1st Pont-St.-Maxence 440 p. 1st Sourdun 367 p. 1st Angerville 218 p. 1st Argenton 142 p. 2nd Pont St.-Maxence 282 p. 2nd Noyon 182 p.
Prima Donna: winner of five first prizes
Yuka was another highly successful pigeon, and winner of six first prizes (no doubles) in 2013-2014:
1st Angerville 1,818 p. (fastest of 25,000 p. interprov. release) 1st Noyon 503 p. 1st Dourdan 429 p. 1st Soissons 256 p. (fastest of 2,918 p. prov. release) 1st Argenton 176 p. 1st Gueret 122 p.
Yuka's palmares at provincial and national level can be found here. Yuka is a daughter of Blue Armando (BE08-6116750), winner of a 1st Blois 3,600 p. and a 56th Nat. Argenton 21,092 p. Her dam is Dream Girl (BE09-3099922), a pure Willy Vanhoutte pigeon and a sister of De Groten, winner of a 1st Clermont 471 p. and a 2nd Arras 717 p. Click here for the full pedigree of Yuka.
Yuka: 6 x 1st
In 2015 the two fanciers were equally successful, winning nine first prizes. They also won the title of 2nd Ace Pigeon Yearlings Longer Middle Distance in club Long Distance 2001 Padvinders Sint-Job, where they compete against such champions as Geerinckx, Hok Vercammen and André Roodhooft. Their best results include:
Vierzon (462 km): 313 olds: 1-28-77 (3/3) 110 yearlings: 1-2-4-5-6-9-11-12-13…(15/32) Bourges (465 km): 496 yearlings: 1-5-9-16-17-20-23-35-36-40-49-54-55…(21/30) La Souterraine (579 km): 81 yearlings: 1-8-11-14…(7/19) Souppes (343 km): 503 young birds: 1-5-8-10-18-21-24-25-31-32-36-37-40-43-51…(39/61) Pont-St.-Max. (238 km): 702 young birds: 2-5-6-9-15-16-17-18-20-29-30-37-38-42-43-46-47-55-66-67…(34/65)
Super 524 (BE14-6046524)
One of the top class pigeons of 2015 and also 2014 is Super 524. She originates from pure sprint pigeons - her grandfather from her father's side won 7 first prizes in Noyon, and her great-grandfather won ten first prizes from her mother's side - his sire in turn won 11 prizes, including Noyon. Super 524 won an impressive number of top prizes in the national longer middle distance races:
3rd nat. z. Gueret 3,593 p. 9th nat. Gueret 16,619 p. 5th nat. z. Bourges 7,739 p. 5th nat. z. Argenton 6,099 p. 24th nat. Argenton 19,925 p. 88th nat. Chateauroux 7,877 p. 1st Bourges 496 p. 2nd Souppes 355 p.
Sprint racer Super 524 excels in the longer middle distance races
We asked them why the Cleirbaut-Van Riet Combination has been so successful, and they were very honest about it. Louis: "Kris is one of the, if not the best pigeon fancier in Belgium. Kris Cleirbaut really knows how to motivate and how to race his pigeons." Kris in turn said that Louis is great at selecting pigeons and creating pigeon breeds. The two fanciers really complement each other, and together they have every skill they need to run a top class loft.
The 2016 season is right around the corner. They did move their racing team from Bonheiden to Putte but that should not give any problems. Kris Cleirbaut and Louis Van Riet are ready for a new chapter with their combination. Their goal will be to add another successful young birds's season to their palmares. The future looks bright.