From photo editor to pigeon photographer
Dominique Velghe from Ingelmunster, married and father of three, started his career at publishing group Roularta, where he digitally edited photographs for magazines and newspapers. It was thanks to a neighbour that he got involved in pigeon racing in 2011, as a photographer. He did some pioneering work, using digital photographs in an era where printed media were still prevalent. Over the years an increasing number of fanciers were interested in his services, and Dominique decided in 2008 to become a fulltime pigeon photographer. It was a job that enabled him to get in contact with some of the top tier teams in Belgium.
A foundation from one loft specialist André Verbesselt
One of those Belgian top players at the time was the late André Verbesselt, whom he met in 2011. Verbesselt had some of the very best Marcel Aelbrecht bloodlines in his collection, which enabled him to win numerous top prizes in One Loft Races in the Far East. Dominique began to photograph André's pigeons for the first time, and the two would soon become close friends, talking to each other on a daily basis. And guess what happened next: youngsters of some of André's very best pigeons were transferred to the lofts of Dominique in Ingelmunster, including descendants of André's top pair BE07-4373754 Son Bak 17 x BE05-4130439 Miss Joyce. It was with these descendants that Dominique started to compete in one loft races across the globe, encouraged by his good friend André.
A golden tip from a friend on his deathbed
André lost his battle with cancer in May 2013 but not before giving his pupil one last tip: "you should breed youngsters from my Italian hen", he said. This hen was in fact a great-grandchild of Son Bak 17 x Miss Joyce through his sire Il Ragno, 1st National Ace Pigeon Long Distance 2011 in Italy for Stella Rossa. The dam was a Flanders Collection hen. Dominique did as he was told, and in 2014 he sent a youngster of this hen, along with some other Verbesselt pigeons, to his very first Million Dollar Race in South Africa. This youngster managed to win a few top prizes, and so Dominique came up with a name for her: Golden Eggs. He also had a good result with a youngster that he bred from two Verbesselt pigeons, which finished in 32nd place in the closing race, as the first Begian pigeon. "This result motivated me to try and follow in the footsteps of my good friend André", Dominique told us.
Golden Eggs, a stock hen for Dominique Velghe and a daughter of a 1st National Ace Pigeon Long Distance 2011 in Italy
Great results in his favourite one loft races
We are now three years later, and all we can say is that Dominique is really making the most of André's legacy. He managed to win top 100 prizes in all the finals of his favourite one loft races in South Africa (four races) and Portugal (two races):
South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race (final)
2014: 32nd of 3,478 p. (1st Belgian pigeon) 2015: 17th, 28th, 49th and 95th of 2,453 p. (1st, 2nd and 3rd Belgian pigeon) 2016: 84th of 2,161 p. 2017: 75th of 2,434 p.
In 2015 three of his four top 100 finishers were youngsters of his new stock hen Golden Eggs. And the fourth top 100 finisher, which took a 28th in the final, is a grandchild of Golden Eggs. His Verbesselt descendants were again among his best performing birds in the finals of 2014 and 2016. In 2017 however he did particularly well with the bloodlines of the late Etienne Devos. A son of his BE13-3163341 Mister Dollar claimed a 75th place in the final two months ago. And that is not a surprise: another son won a 65th prize in that same Million Dollar Race final back in 2015.
Mister Dollar, the sire of two top 100 finishers in the Million Dollar Race
Algarve Golden Race (final)
2015: 28th (2nd Belgian pigeon) 2016: 6th 3,644 p. (2nd Belgian pigeon) 2017: 49th & 93rd final (2nd & 6th Belgian pigeon) 14th Hot Spot 1 of 2,937 p. 24th Hot Spot 2 of 2,812 p.
It was again the Verbesselt breed that dominated the 2015 race from Algarve. In 2016 however, Dominique saw his earlier investments in pigeons of Etienne Devos and Gaby Vandenabeele pay off. "The best pigeons can be found in the best teams. That is why I purchased a son of Vandenabeele's Rudy in 2015. I paired him to a hen of the Devos breed, and it was a youngster of this pair that was able to claim a 6th prize in the final of the Algarve Golden Race 2016. On top of that, I bred a youngster from a son of Super Romeo that won a title of Best Yearling Long Distance/Extreme Long Distance (4 prizes) in the PIPA rankings, raced by PEC Racing Team ADK. This shows that talent breeds talent", a happy Dominique said.
Perfect Rudy, son of the iconic breeder Rudy (Vandenabeele) and sire of a 6th final Algarve Golden Race 2016
Sevilla Pigeons Race (Spain) 2017
1st prize 819 p. (Hot Spot 2) 1st ace pigeon (4 hot spot races) 7th prize 545 p. (final) 8th ace pigeon 1,186 p. 10th prize 869 p. (Hot Spot 1) 15th prize 819 p. (Hot Spot 2)
Continue to improve to achieve his dream
Last year dominique purchased a few pigeons of Leo Heremans (full brothers and sisters of an 8th National Ace Pigeons), Antony Maes (line of 1st Provincial Ace Pigeon Papillon), Marc Van den Eeckhout (youngsters of Inteelt Prins, sire of 1st National Cahors & 2 x 1st National Zone) and Gunther Smet. He also managed to obtain seven direct youngsters of Marcel Aelbrecht's Bak 17. These investements were made with one goal in mind: winning the Million Dollar Race. Dominique: "What better way to honour André, the man I owe everything to."