Narbonne: 1 week in the basket after four days of tropical heat
The pigeons were basketed for Narbonne on Monday 22nd of July, right before we had four days of tropical heat, with temperatures reaching more than 40°C on Wednesday and Thursday. This was unprecedented in Belgium. And it was even warmer in France. The KBDB was forced to take measures for the other races that took place on 27th and 28th of July. They were basketed at a later stage, with good effect. We were pleased with the way things were taken care of. All races in The Netherlands were cancelled altogether. Many were afraid of the impact of these conditions on the pigeons from Narbonne, who had to spend an additional 3 days in the basket, due to the thunderstorms on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, on top of the heat.
How would the pigeons react to these extreme conditions in the basket, and to the extreme heat in the trucks? Thumbs up to the race organisers of the Indépendante de Liège, who moved heaven and earth to make sure the pigeons received optimal care. And it was a successful undertaking, judging from the course of events in this international extreme long distance classic. We could conclude that pigeons are incredibly resilient, and that they can adapt to extreme temperatures, provided they are taken well care of. The race from Narbonne was in fact the most hassle-free extreme long distance classic so far this season, with the weather conditions being close to ideal. The birds were released on Monday 29th of July at 7:15am in beautiful racing weather, in normal temperatures and a slight tailwind. This is one of the reasons why more than 10% of the pigeons at national level reached their loft on the day of the release. Pigeons were battling for the last few top prizes on Tuesday morning, and all went smoothly, with the race officially closing at 7:30am for the old birds and around 9:30am for the yearlings. Many fanciers were hoping for such an outcome but few actually expected this to happen.
The fastest pigeons came home in the province of West Flanders: the national winner old birds of Maurits Lewyllie comes from Poelkapelle (1225 m/min), and the national victory in the yearlings' race was won by Dr. Piet Blancke from Ruiselede. He was clocked at 19:19'33" (after 12 hours and 4 minutes of racing), covering 875.204 km with an average speed of 1210.1359 m/min.
Piet Blancke and loft caretaker Joël Clarisse (who races pigeons himself as BDS/Clarisse)
Dr. Piet Blancke wins 1st Nat. Narbonne YLs, his second national victory in just two years' time
Hardly one week after the incredible results of the ever-dominant Team BDS in the race from Libourne, it was Dr. Piet Blancke himself who put the icing on the cake, winning a national first prize from Narbonne yearlings. He took the win on Monday 29th of July, after a full week in the basket in tropical temperatures of 40 degrees and more. This is already his second national victory in two seasons' time, after the 2017 old birds' race from Agen.
Veterinary surgeon Piet Blancke is the strategic mind behind the pigeon family of Team BDS, especially when it comes to planning, breeding strategy and the development of the breed itself. He does have a busy veterinary practice, which he combines with a part-time job in a slaughterhouse. Still, he does occasionally find the time to do a few races from his own loft. His own team focuses mainly on the extreme long distance, racing mostly from the nest. He basketed a team of 48 yearlings for this year's race from Narbonne, which proved an overwhelming success at national level.
Besides his national first prize yearlings, Piet has won an additional 27 prizes, including 15 prizes per 10, and as many as 8 pigeons in the national top 100. 11 yearlings had made it back home by the end of the day. We take a look at the overall results from Narbonne:
Narbonne National 3,580 yearlings: 1-16-22-27-28-54-69-89-189-217-250-276-288-307-322-361-378… (27/48)
According to the preliminary results, the national winner is expected to finish in 3rd place international, with a total of five pigeons finishing in the international top 50. A terrific result!
His achievement was remarkable not only because of the conditions but also because these prizes were won with a team of birds that were born in the month of May of 2018. These pigeons had hardly been basketed as young birds, and look what they have achieved this weekend. They had completed the provincial races from Issoudun and Poitiers, and the idea was to then basket them for Agen. But plans were changed because of the heat, a lack of experience and a difficult preparation. They did a flight from Chevrainvilliers and they were even taken away a few times by car. This in a final effort to get ready for Narbonne.
The entire team was basketed with a 2 to 4 days old youngster in the bowl. What was particularly striking was the fact that his national winner was a hen. A group of eight racing cocks arrived home in her wake, including the first two nominated birds. They won a 16th (2nd nominated) and 22nd (1st nominated) national! A total of 8 cocks and 3 racing hens had made it back home by the end of the day. It does raise an interesting question: what are the ideal nest positions for cocks and hens in the extreme long distance? This can definitely play a role in terms of motivation, although we tend to believe that the individual qualities and the current form of the pigeon are still the deciding factor.
Nafi wins 1st National Narbonne 3,580 yearlings
The winner of a 1st National Narbonne is a hen from Piet's own breed. However, of the 48 pigeons basketed for Narbonne, about three thirds were direct Hugo Batenburg-Vd Merwe birds. And the majority of pigeons that arrived home in the slipstream of the national winner were in fact these direct Batenburg-Vd Merwe birds. It might be sheer coincidence but when Piet Blancke won his 1st National Agen in Belgium in 2017, Hugo Batenburg-Vd Merwe simultaneously won a 1st National Agen in The Netherlands. And we see the exact same scenario in 2019, with Piet Blancke taking a national first prize from Narbonne in Belgium, and fellow fancier Hugo Batenburg taking the win in The Netherlands. A form of telepathy in pigeon racing?
1st National Narbonne 3,580 YLs ’19 3rd Internat. Narbonne (preliminary)
Sire: Cees 996 BE17-3074996
A direct Joël Verschoot – Ingelmunster. He is a son of Cees BE11-3048658 (winner of a 1st Nat. Brive 8,337 old birds and a 2nd Prov. Argenton 2,650 p., and himself a grandson of golden stock breeder As for Joël Verschoot) x Alonne BE14-3004583, which is a full sister of Moeder JIP. And Moeder JIP is a 3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon long distance YLs, bred from a son of Apollo (a grandson of Bliksem Gaby Vandenabeele) x Saerke 138 BE12-3120138 (a granddaughter of stock dam ’t Goedje for Rudi De Saer).
Dam: Bonga 995 BE12-6195995
A direct Jos Joosen - Brecht. She is a daughter of Den Brive BE05-6306269 (from the lines of stock sire Bonga x 2nd and 7th Nat. Dax) x Inbred 3rd Intnat. Perpignan BE11-6289796 (a double grandchild of a 3rd Internat. Perpignan in 2000).
Click here for Nafi's pedigree
World class in the long distance and the extreme long distance
In our report about the level of dominance of Team BDS in the race from Libourne, one week before Piet's national win from Narbonne, we had already talked about their ambition to aim for the long distance from 2017 onwards. They made a number of investments with this goal in mind, obtaining several top class pigeons. And this breed clearly has a lot of potential, judging from their recent results in the national long distance and their two potential national ace pigeon titles KBDB 2019 (the final results will appear after this weekend's race from Tulle). And it turns out that Dr. Piet Blancke has plenty of top quality birds in his collection as well, able to excel in the extreme long distance. After all, one does not win two national first prizes in two seasons just like that. Keep in mind his national first prize winner old birds in Agen 2017 is already the dam of a 3rd Nat. Libourne YLs in 2019. Among his recent reinforcements are several natural born winners, with direct descendants of national first prize winners and ace pigeons. And these have in turn enabled Team BDS and Piet Blancke to claim prestigious victories and national ace pigeon titles. This is promising to be the start of another success story. The future will tell.
The big barn, home to the pigeon lofts were two national first prizes have been won