Gommaire VERBRUGGEN, Kaggevinne-Scherpenheuvel
In the 15 years I have been practicing pigeon journalism, I have met many national winners and have written many reports but if one of my very best pigeon sport friends is the interviewee, the person who is in fact at the very origin of my own colony, than I am even more pleased to write such a piece. The national victory at the first ‘national confrontation’ of 2006, yearlings category, from BOURGES went to the ‘maestro’ of the ‘Hageland’ region: Gommaire Verbruggen from Kaggevinne, formerly independent municipality of Scherpenheuvel. He has been very close many times and has ended in a 2nd position National Bourges for three times but now, ultimately, he succeeded... luck was on his side this time. Gommaire will maybe go and lit a candle in the basilica later-on, who knows. He lives at the base of the basilica of Scherpenheuvel, or ‘in the shadow of the basilica’ if you want, together with his lovely wife Annie. Through the years, a piece of ‘history’ was written on that spot, ‘pigeon history’ which has made the Verbruggen pigeon famous.
An unequalled self-made story
The things this dapper man from Brabant has achieved in his lifetime together with his wife Annie (who used to take care of the young pigeons when Gommaire went to work in Brussels every day) is in fact pretty amazing and admirable. He was born as the only son of a pigeon fancier so Gommaire already has a passion for pigeons at an early age. When he got married to Annie and bought a building lot, the first thing he put together was a pigeon loft before starting the construction of the house... This was the foundation of the ‘success story’.
The first pigeons came from eggs of Moons-Bries in Tessenderlo (who possess a rich strain of Janssen pigeons) and Frans Van Dijck from Ramsel. Right away, Gommaire Verbruggen was a star in speed and short middle distance racing.
He made the second good deal of his life -the first one was getting married to his wife Annie- in 1976. At the sale of his fellow countryman Maurice Vandevelde, Gommaire bought the 1st National Ace Pigeon Speed KBDB 1974, who is know famous as the legendary progenitor ‘den AS’! Gommaire had to struggle against this super bird every week so he knew the pigeon for what he was... this ‘AS’ has won the 1st prize no less than 16 times and he often flew ahead several minutes in headwind! Gommaire was very excited when he eventually had the last word and in exchange for a small fortune, this ‘wonder pigeon’ moved to the young Verbruggen family. And it appeared to be a very good gamble.
Gommaire’s colony was performing at a higher level right away and even to the extent that he wiped away the competition several times. ‘Den AS’ was a progenitor of one in a thousand and through his daughters of the 2nd generation he had some phenomenal ‘crack pigeons’. He is the grandfather of the world famous standard bearers of the Verbruggen colony such as ‘de KLETSKOP’, ‘de TEEN’, ‘de Blauwe 020’, ‘de MASSIS’, ‘de KADET 002/86’… etc. Later-on there was ‘de SEMI’, ‘de WITTE’, ‘de WITPEN BARON’, ‘de BLAUWE KADET 110/93’, ‘de ADONIS’… too many to mention.
‘ De AS’ was a pigeon which could be crossbred very easily because he coupled perfectly with -often very expensive- pigeons such as ‘de WITNEUS’, ‘de SCHILDERIJ’, ‘de KADET’ (son Kadet-Meulemans), the 2 supers of Ranne Goris, ‘de 680’ and ‘den DIKKE’.
Gommaire Verbruggen’s success story in pigeon sport is one that commands everyone’s admiration. It truly is the self-made story of a man who took the right decisions (i.e.: the purchase of super pigeons) at the right moments. A man who has a perfect instinct for pigeon sport and thanks to that instinct, he succeeded in achieving a top position at the international top. Just take a look at the leading part of the Verbruggen pigeon among the provincial and national winners over the years.
To us, this is the living proof that Gommaire disposes of exceptional ‘breeding knowledge’. That is undoubtedly the strength and the power of his extraordinary performances. Apparently, he has a certain ‘feeling’ to buy the right pigeons at the right time but he also succeeds in creating good couplings. And that’s a knack, something you probably cannot learn... but this is nonetheless the difference between average fancier and top racers such as Verbruggen. Each time, Gommaire manages to breed new top racers and every time they go all the way back to the ‘base pigeons’ which are often grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) of those famous ‘cracks’. Gommaire often coughed up a ‘small fortune’ to acquire one particular pigeon and he often took big financial risks but his golden ‘breeding hands’ made it all flourish and pay.
1st National Bourges 11.215 Yearlings 2006
As we wrote above, this is a ‘national victory’ which is largely deserved all the more because Gommaire has been so close so many times. Several ‘semi national’ victories already fell to his share but a real ‘national victory’ was a long time coming. Now, finally, the time has come. Below you will find a summary of the performances of the Verbruggen colony on a Semi-National and a National level.
1986 Chateauroux 10.417 1
1989 Chateauroux 9.295 1
1991 Chateauroux 13.333 1
1997 Chateauroux 8.686 1
1993 Argenton 8.095 1
1982 Clermont-Ferrand 1.168 1
2003 Argenton Yearlings 4.448 1
2003 Limoges C Yearlings 4.275 1
2004 La Souterraine Yearlings 7.682 1
2005 Argenton nat C Youngsters 6.553 1
2006 Bourges Nat Yearlings 11.215 1
2003 Montauban C 2.810 2
1986 Chateauroux 10.417 2
1984 Bourges 23.346 2
1988 Bourges 10.689 2
1988 Bourges 13.154 2
And so now we can add the 1st National Bourges Yearlings to that list. The pigeon is a summer youngster of 2005. He was taken away several times to train on middle distance races. The bird had a chip ring (for electronic clocking) for just one month. In Dudelange he already was the first pigeon in the loft, in Sens 490 yearlings he won the 104th prize and this time it was bingo. The National Bourges winner, ring 2143154/05, is a son of ‘JONGE BLIKSEM’ 937/03, a direct Gaby Vandenabeele from Dentergem (who spent some time in the breeding lofts of Verbruggen), as the son of the meanwhile famous ‘BLIKSEM’ 062/98 (the moral 1st Nat Ace Pigeon Middle Distance) which is the present standard bearer of the Vandenabeele colony in succession to his grandfather, the legendary ‘WITTENBUIK’. ‘BLIKSEM’ was coupled with ‘KAATJE’ 099/00 who has herself won top in the Chartres and Blois races. The mother of the national winner belongs to Gommaire, namely: ‘SEPTEMBERJONG’ 308/99, daughter of ‘BLAUWE WITPENDER’ 276/94 (a direct Flor Engels that descended from ‘DEN 231’ ring 231/86, a super breeder which descended from progenitor ‘WITPENDER 304/81’) x ‘SCHOON KLEIN ‘020’’ 091/94 (the very last daughter of wonder pigeon ‘DE 020’ 020/83 x ‘HUFKENS-DUIVIN’ 627/86 (first sister of several Ace pigeons at Karel Hufkens’s in Geel).
His passion: middle distance
As everybody probably knows, Gommaire is a middle distance racer in heart and soul. Although some would suspect otherwise when taking a look at the performances with respect to Barcelona in the past couple of seasons. Long distance racing (i.e. Barcelona) is more of a hobby to him, it’s just a matter of watching the pigeons return from big marathon races. These tactics are more considered to be a hobby but Gommaire certainly does not want to play a second-class role with respect to this, on the contrary... which explains the purchase of the loft of the late Rene Bruggen and the purchase of the 1st National Barcelona winner of Roger Florizoone last year. He does not leave anything to chance and an effort of a full 100% is required.
The long distance pigeons are by the way right up the street of Andre Clygnet who is taking care of these birds, under the ‘maestro’s’ watchful eye. Gommaire remains a very passionate middle distance fan, as he has always been. But lately, he tends to handle things slightly different than before. He met the Dutch top champion Marcel Sangers on a trip to America during spring of this year. Marcel informed Gommaire about the new trend in feeding and racing pigeons, a trend which already helped many top racers in Holland to achieve excellent results. Gommaire now feeds his pigeons three times a day; pigeons that are not hungry have to train. The drawback of this method however, is that pigeons tend to come in less smoothly after their training. The birds now train twice a day for one obligatory hour, with flag, and they are taken away several times a week up to 70 kilometres.
Gommaire also switched to total widowhood since 2006 (racing cocks and hens at the same time). All of the old racers left during winter so he took a new start as from 2006 with only yearlings populating the loft. This way of playing has two advantages: all the pigeons are basketed (the selection in the end is complete) and second, you do not have to drag along widow hens to put with the cocks and vice versa. Upon their arrival the pigeons receive breeding mixture during three days, afterwards they get some low-protein feed until they go back into the baskets. During the last day some oily grain is added to make sure that the pigeons eat as much as possible. Another thing that Gommaire think is important is to make the pigeons eat maize as much as possible during the last day prior to basketing. And prior to basketing it’s party time in the loft because the birds are allowed to spend some time together before they go into the basket. And this method works as was proven by the results of the first national confrontation of 2006. The aim for the rest of the season of 2006 is to be perfectly prepared for Semi-National and National races and to perform. Half of the team will soon leave for Limoges yearlings and some of them will race St.Vincent (late afternoon release) to prepare for Barcelona next year.
Gommaire is barely interested by championships but he is interested in Ace pigeons (although he does not really concentrate on that). Nonetheless, he achieved the 7th National Ace Pigeon Long Middle Distance KBDB 2005, and he climbed on stage in Ostend with this performance. This national victory in the Bourges Yearlings race certainly was a dashing start of the 2006 season. Who knows what this team of super birds will have in store later-on, and... maybe the Barcelona team will also perform top? We will have a definite answer within a few weeks... but one thing is for sure: the season of 2006 in Scherpenheuvel already is a success. Warmest congratulations to Gommaire and Annie on behalf of the Pipa team.