Dirk with his son Matisse and his daughter Klarisse in front of his old lofts
From grandfather to father to son
Dirk's passion for pigeon racing comes from his grandfather Maurice; it was a passion that stayed with him all through his life. Dirk: "I remember one day being missing when I was one and a half years old; my parents eventually found me in the pigeon loft. My mother told me I could not walk but I had still managed to get my way up the ladder of the pigeon loft". After a 10 year hiatus, shortly after leaving his parents' house, he decided to make a comeback in the sprint competition together with his father. In 2005 he decided to start racing on his own in the longer races. Dirk: "I see it as a hobby, as a relaxing pastime." This is one of the reasons why there are so few articles about him and his career. Dirk explains: "I usually turn down these interviews; people can always read the results if they want to know how my team is doing."
Looking for an assistant
Dirk has been competing mainly on the longer middle distance and the long distance due to lack of time - he is the CEO of construction group Willy Naessens. "I would really like to focus only on the extreme long distance, which I think is the best our sport has to offer. To make sure my pigeons get home in time I have been racing mainly in the long distance and the middle distance, and up until two years ago even in the middle distance alone." Dirk has been fortunate to enjoy the support of fulltime caretaker Jeroen. He explains: "I used to work with Joost De Smeyter but we put an end to our collaboration simply because both our pigeon families had become too big". It would not be possible for Dirk to run a pigeon loft without a fulltime caretaker: "I look after my pigeons during the weekends but on weekdays I can only spend about 30 minutes in my loft."
The entire pigeon accommodation in Lozer
In his first few years as an independent fancier Dirk obtained pigeons from a different number of fanciers, and these introductions eventually gave way to three stock breeders that enabled him to step up his game: Picsou, Andre, and Matisse.
Picsou, sire of 11 x national top 100 including 1st national ace pigeon
As you can tell from the pedigree, BE06-4378467 Picsou is a 100% Chris Hebberecht bred from Costello x Bolleke. Costello is the nest brother of Champion, 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB 2005 for Hebberecht. It appears Picsou has passed on his racing abilities to future generations, judging by the results of his youngsters in recent seasons:
1st Zone Argenton (6th National) 2nd Provincial Vierzon 2nd National Narbonne 3rd National Pau 5th National Narbonne
Picsou also started a new tradition in 2015: he gave way to a title of 8th National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance YLs KBDB both in 2015 and 2016. Last year he was the grandfather of the prize winner, this year he was the sire. These are just a few of many references that underline Picsou's breeding qualities. You can take a look at all the achievements of Picsou's descendants here. Picsou's descendants have developed into invaluable breeders as well. His direct son BE01-4234385 Niels, winner of a 1st Zone (6th National) Argenton and a 2nd Provincial Vierzon, is now the sire and grandfather of a 1st, 2nd, 2nd and 3rd Provincial.
Picsou, the sire of several national top 10 prize winners
Andre, sire of 9 x national top 100 including 1st national winner
The black chequered BE07-4145554 Andre became 1s National Argenton 2009 and he is named after his breeder Andre Van Herzeele, whom Dirk obtained this pigeon from. Andre showed his talents as a breeder already in his first season with his son Matisse, 1st National Argenton Yearlings 2010. His youngsters continued to win numerous top results in the following years, including most notably:
1st Zone Argenton 609 p. 2016 (de 916/13) 9th National Châteauroux 17,250 p. 2015 (de 372/15) 20th Zonaal Tulle 2,432 p. 2015 (de 125/13) 21st Nationaal Jarnac 3,741 p. 2014 (de 125/13) 32nd Zonaal Châteauroux 3,661 p. 2015 (de 342/15) 44th Nationaal Brive 5,929 p. 2016 (de 372/15) 47th Nationaal La Souterraine 9,760 p. 2015 (de 378/15)
Most of these results were won in the last three seasons, which shows that Andre's descendants tend to get stronger with each new generation. Click here for all the references of Andre's youngsters.
Andre, sire of a 1st National Argenton YLs and many other prize winners
Klarisse, a future top breeder and winner of 2 x top 50 in the zone
Picsou and Andre continue to breed talented youngsters, despite their age. BE11-4234312 Klarisse is yet another talented pigeon eagerly waiting to follow in the footsteps of the team's current breeding birds. This blue coloured hen is a daughter of Martino x Isabello. Her sire Martin comes from I&G Delrue and his parents are a brother of a multiple prize winner and a sister of a 1st Provincial Tours. Her dam Isabelle comes from Lefebre-Dhaenens and was bred from a grandson of a 1st National Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB 1995 paired to a hen that managed to win quite a few early prizes. Click here for the full pedigree of Klarisse.
Winning early prizes is clearly a family trait, as you can tell from the results of Klarisse and her sisters. Klarisse won an 80th Zone Guéret 2,435 p. and a 392nd National Bourges 16,859 p. but her most notable achievement was a 1st National Bourges 9,639 p. in 2013. One of her sisters has won the following prizes: a 5th Zone Argenton 436 p., an 8th Zone Issoudun 671 p. and a 127th National Montluçon 14,230 p. Klarisse joined the breeding loft only in August 2013, where she has a fairly limited number of references mainly because Dirk races only one youngster per season. These are the most important achievements of her descendants so far:
30th Zone Argenton 456 p. 2016 (130th Nat. 2,418 p.) 33rd Zone Argenton 4.983 p. 2016 (98th Nat. 13,629 p.)
Klarisse, 1st National Bourges 2013 and a new star in the breeding loft
Achieving a dream
We can tell from their results that the descendants of Andre, Picsou and Klarisse are particularly suited for both the longer middle distance and the long distance. However, the team will be competing only in the long distance and in longer races in future seasons. Dirk is planning to abandon the longer middle distance in the future in order to achieve his dream: creating a racing team for the extreme long distance. Dirk: "The long distance and the races from Limoges all the way to Agen will be my main focus from 2017 onwards. I got rid of the majority of my middle distance pigeons and I will no longer breed any either. Over the last two years I have only selected pigeons that can cover at least 750km. I look at the extreme long distance as a hobby within my hobby, with 24 racing birds this season, compared to 8 in 2016." With his future goals in mind Dirk and a few other fanciers obtained Gregory, 1st national Montluçon 2016 for Mathias Dewitte. Dirk: "Given his origins his descendants should be more than capable of covering 750km and more." We look forward to next season!