Jacques, Irene and Vincent Van Ouwerkerk-Dekkers
The likable Van Ouwerkerk-Dekkers combination from Brasschaat, in the north of Antwerp, has been racing in the long distance for many years. Jacques had always been fond of the more demanding competitions, which explains why the races from Barcelona, Perpignan, St. Vincent and others have been his major goal every season.
Jacques and Irene are clearly no newcomers to this sport; you can tell from their stock breeder Mr. St-Vincent. This talented bird won a 1st Nat. St. Vincent (Irun) of 8,967 yearlings back in 2007. And that was just the beginning: his descendants would soon prove to be just as talented as him. In fact, all four provincial winners from 2019 are related to Mr. St-Vincent; he is in fact the grandfather of two of them!
Extensive inbreeding demands fresh blood
Jacques has never held back from inbreeding his best pigeons. He has been very fond of inbreeding birds for years, and it has proven to be a very successful approach as well. When Jacques and Irene's son Vincent came to join the team, he analysed the entire pigeon breed from a to z, and Vincent quickly concluded that the breed was in need of fresh blood, fresh bloodlines that could be crossbred with the existing family of inbred pigeons. That was in 2014. At the time, they did not really know where to get fresh blood. If you are racing at such a high level, it can be quite a challenge to find bloodlines that would at least match the quality of your existing family.
Jacques and Vincent eventually went for Jelle Jellema, since they felt very positive about both the fancier and his pigeons. And they were on the same page when it comes to racing pigeons as well. That is what convinced Jacques and Vincent to go to Nijverdal to obtain some crucial new bloodlines. Pigeons from the lines of Jade and Kleine Jade were introduced in the breeding lofts in Brasschaat, and they have crossbred these new bloodlines with their existing family in the next several years. It was quite a success!
Father and son also invested in the bloodline of Daan, a 2013 1st Internat. Agen Yearlings for Jos Pepping, and this was an excellent investment as well. Their provincial winner from Agen old birds is for instance a grandchild of Daan. More on that later.
Poco Barcelona: Belgium's best pigeon in Barcelona across 2 and 3 seasons
Barcelona has always been the highlight of the season for Jacques, Vincent and Irene. And this race got even more meaningful this season, with their Poco Barcelona BE15-6023299 finishing in the national top 100 of the longest long distance race of the season both in 2017 and 2018. Poco Barcelona was also in great form when he was basketed for the 2019 race, so Vincent knew that he would be in for a great result in the multi-year rankings of this Spanish long distance classic.
Poco Barcelona wins his third top result in Barcelona in three years' time.
It was a sensational moment for Poco Barcelona, who claimed a 5th National in 2019. "It gave me instant goosebumps", Vincent remembers vividly. "And on top of that, we also clocked a 6th National Barcelona of 7,031 pigeons with a half sister of Poco Barcelona.
For the full pedigree of Poco Barcelona, click here.
4 provincial wins
The Ouwerkerk-Dekkers combination claimed as many as four provincial first prizes in 2019. And they even claimed a double victory in a demanding race from Agen, one of the longest races for this team, with a first prize prize in the old birds' and the yearlings' race. We introduce you to each of these winners.
Jacques, Vincent and Irene claim a provincial first prize of 389 old birds with BE16-6037074. They also claimed a second place, and they had 6 pigeons in the top 12! So they had an excellent overall result, on top of their provincial win. And we're not done yet: they had 10 pigeons in the top 20, and they had a total of 33 provincial top results with 51 pigeons! Their provincial winner Sint-Vincent, BE16-6037074, is a grandson of Mr. St. Vincent.
(All the pictures of the provincial winners were taken during the moult)
A double win in Agen
And the team was truly unstoppable in Agen, with the Van Ouwerkerk-Dekkers family taking a double provincial win in the old birds' and yearlings' race. The winner in the old birds' race is racing cock BE16-6176617, which claimed victory of 468 old birds.
The winner of this race is a grandson of Daan of Jos Pepping, since the dam is Dochter Daan, with the unique ring number BE15-6100001. Dochter Daan is in turn a granddaughter of Mr. St. Vincent. This pigeon is a good example of a successful crossing of newly introduced bloodlines with the existing breed, especially because he is also related to the in-house Van Ouwerkerk family from his father's side.
Click here for the full pedigree of BE16-6176617, winner of a 1st Prov. Agen old birds.
The pigeon to add a victory in the yearlings' race to his palmares is racing cock Close One BE18-6026804. And this talented bird also finished in second place at national level of 4,644 pigeons, which explains his name. And coincidence or not, this race winner also stems from a successful crossing of the Daan bloodline with the existing breed.
The sire is breeding cock NL14-1837460, a son of Brother Daan and Daughter Daan.
The dam comes from their own pigeon family, and she is related to Mr. St. Vincent and the dam of Poco Barcelona. Champions breed champions, remember?
And the team from Brasschaat claimed victory in the provincial race from Perpignan as well, against 450 old birds. Racing cock BE14-6178722 finished ahead of his teammate BE14-61149972, the provincial second place winner. The winner of the race, an old bird, is another grandson of Mr. St. Vincent. He is also related to New Poco BE02-6509105 through both his parents. New Poco was the winner of a 16th Nat. Perpignan of 3,954 p. in 2003. This is in other words a racing cock that stems from the team's own Van Ouwerkerk-Dekkers bloodlines.
In the Knock Out Competition of the South Africa Million Dollar Pigeon Race (SAMDPR) Miss Maurice IHU19 S 014359 of Maurice & Martin O Donnell won the first place. This hen won $ 44.000 for O Donnell. Miss Maurice is a 100% Van Ouwerkerk-Dekkers. You see the pedigree of the mother of this Knock Out winner, Poco Barcelona 299-15, here.
With a big basket
Insiders will agree that Van Ouwerkerk-Dekkers is often associated with 'many pigeons'. That's right, Jacques and Irene have traditionally basketed large teams in their club in Sint-Job. "We have deliberately opted to race with a lot of birds. One of the reasons is that the three of us each have our own separate loft, despite racing under a single banner. We would sometimes basket a total of 150 pigeons in the club, but that is actually a combination of 60 of my pigeons, 60 pigeons of Vincent and 30 birds from Irene's loft", Jacques explains. "And we like to have a lot of options when we make our selection at the end of the season. This allows us to set high standards, even after a very demanding season."
And the fact that all three players have their own separate loft does create a certain dynamic. "That's right, there is some healthy rivalry around this team throughout the season, or is it an unhealthy rivalry? Things can get rough in the midst of the action, and I do tend to get too caught up sometimes", Jacques admits.
Medical guidance: "from 5000 euro down to 1100 euro a year"
Quite a few things have changed in Brasschaat in recent years in terms of medical guidance. "We do believe that long distance pigeons need a lot of natural resistance. You cannot get by these days without some form of medication but we have managed a considerable reduction in recent years. We used to spend around 2500 euro on veterinary surgeons and medication (that includes vaccines), whereas today we spend around 1100 euro per season", Jacques explains. "This is a major improvement, which came about with the help of Kristof Mortelmans (Ranst, BE), the veterinary surgeon who we work with today. He lives nearby and he likes to keep things simple. His approach really suits us", says Jacques.
The team welcomed a young and motivated new member a few years ago with Vincent. "But I think we experience things differently", Vincent explains. "Pigeon racing has been my father's big passion since a young age, whereas I kind of eased into it, I developed an interest along the way." And yet, both Jacques, Vincent and Irene are highly motivated and passionate about this sport. They are clearly eager to innovate, to look for improvements and to deliver great results. This mindset, combined with a large group of race winners, will inevitably lead to great successes in the future as well. And they deserve it!