Tony Martens and his friend Geert
Lummen - The Limburg's Lummen is well-known to many Belgians because it is here that the busy motorways E313 and E314 cross. The daily traffic jams are of great annoyance to many motorists. In the pigeon world this place is talked about because Tony Martens lives here and he made the steep climb to the international top. The organisation Cureghem Centre organises the international races Barcelona, Narbonne (through Indépendante de Liège but with co-operation of Cureghem Centre) and St-Vincent II (with co-operation of Indépendante de Liège) and the national races Cahors, St-Vincent I, Gueret and Argenton.
The team of the chairman notary Jan Dons has ensured a perfect course for years. The championships linked to this are free, no membership money or registration fees. No, they calculate this all out at national or international level. I think this is how it should be. This year nearly ALL the championships were won by my host today, Tony Martens. On the championship day from Cureghem Centre in the stadium of Anderlecht chairman Dons talked about this unique fact in his opening speech. Never before has anybody won so many championships!
My title 'Mister Cureghem Centre' is not grabbed out of thin air.
Tony won the following championships in Cureghem Centre:
1st General Champion (first 3 nominated from Cahors, Barcelona, Irun, St-Vincent II ,Narbonne, Argenton (Yo) and Gueret (Yo) and 1st nominated from Argenton (O + YL) and Gueret (O))
1st Champion Yearlings (first 3 nominated from Irun, St-Vincent II and Argenton)
1st Champion Old pigeons (first 3 nominated from Cahors, Barcelona, Narbonne, Argenton and Gueret)
1st Champion Grand Distance (first 3 nominated from Cahors, Barcelona, Narbonne, Irun and St-Vincent)
1st Champion Hens international (first 3 nominated from Barcelona, Narbonne and St-Vincent II)
1st Champion Barcelona and Irun (first 3 nominated from Barcelona and Irun)
In these Championships Tony beat the established toppers such as Erik Limbourg, J. Van Olmen, P & S Saeytijdt, E. Meirlaen, Hubert Jongen, M. Bourguet and many more. At provincial level ( KBDB Limburg) 2007 was good for a 1st place by the old pigeons and a 3rd place by the yearlings. Tony also won the Limburg's Long Distance marathon Championship and the General Championship. In addition, another 1st General Champion Limburg IFC 4000. This is only possible with really good pigeons that can manage any distance. On a calm Sunday afternoon in January I left for the Limburg's Lummen. Because it is only a 20 minute drive, I soon arrived at the front door of the Martens household. Wife Carine was ready with the coffee and biscuits and Tony told me his story. Their 4 children came one-for-one out of bed (I did say Sunday afternoon didn't I!) and then we went to look at the pigeons. When I left it was clear that this was the home of a real top fancier with fantastic results as well as really nice pigeons.
From zebra finches to pigeons
Tony was a bird lover. He bred zebra finches and proudly showed off his most prestigious trophies.
In 1990 and 1991 he was General Champion of Belgium. Because the busiest time with this hobby is in the autumn and Tony was then very busy at his work (at a pharmaceutical company) he stopped with the birds. He wanted (just like his father Armand who was a good Middle Distance racer) to start racing pigeons. His bird lofts and the chicken coop were used as pigeon loft. The first loft list was filled in in 1993. Seeing that Tony had bred pigeons the previous year, and had been given a round of late youngsters by his father, he could start directly in 1993 with a few old pigeons (summer youngsters with an old ring), yearlings and youngsters. That first year he was 2nd in the Championship youngsters in Lummen and won a 1st prize from Orleans.
This cock 5022725/92 would later become one of the stock pigeons. He was bred out two direct Soontjes-pigeons (Wommelgem) from father Armand. The second year Tony won various honours prizes and the third year he managed to become Club Champion in Lummen. The best results resulted in an 11th place national Champion KBDB beginners. The fourth year was even better with the national victory from Bourges against 12.529 pigeons.
This cock 'De Slimme' was also from the fast pedigree Soontjes. A few of his youngsters ended up in the breeding loft and jointly form the basis of the current Long Distance success. Round about that period, Tony took a course to become a pigeon inspector by the KBDB and passed with flying colours. He now travels a few times a year to judge pigeons on their beauty. Tony changed jobs and became a representative. This meant that he had less time for the pigeons and decided to change his objectives.
He wanted to concentrate more on the Long Distance (1998/1999). He visited Herbots Gebr for Long Distance pigeons (mainly the line Pau Torro, King Barcelona and Jac vd Wegen perform really well), Willy Steenaerts (with a son 2nd nat. Barcelona and daughter 1st nat. Limoges Noël Peiren), Ivan Stockmans (Lummen) and Emiel Matterne.
Tony also built up a good friendship with these people. These pigeons were crossed with the fast Soontjes pedigree and so pigeons were born who perform excellently in the races starting from 700 km. The modern Long Distance pigeon as it is sometimes called. So won a hen (crossing Soontjes x Long Distance) from Barcelona in 2000. The results were very good but after a few tough Long Distance races some pigeons didn't return home.
Tony wanted more endurance in his pigeons and for this he visited F. Steketee (NL), AP Overwater (Strijen, NL) and Wijnands & zoon (Maastricht, NL). At the moment he owns a pedigree that can take on any distance because it is very rare for a pigeon not to return home. On the contrary, they race a very high prize percentage. Since 2002 they have raced at the top in the Long Distance.
In 2002 Tony was 8th in the European Cup with a point's total of 9/10 in the international races. The following year 1st provincial St-Vincent. 2004 was a real top year because next to the provincial title in the Long Distance, Tony unexpectedly won the General Championship in Cureghem Centre. "Mister Cureghen Centre" repeated this in 2007. Last season he won two provincial victories from St-Vincent (with the old and the yearlings). The counter for provincial victories remains 6 even after a few years.
Cureghem Centre 2007
In answer to my question as to whether he 'consciously' raced towards this Championship this year, my host answers : "No, and yes". In the first race from Cahors I clocked my 1st and 3rd nominated pigeons very early and my 2nd nominated was good per ten. Then Barcelona and Irun followed and from here I won 6/6 with my nominated pigeons. Then of course you start to think and 'consciously' send your best pigeons for the other races from Cureghem. St-Vincent II was also marvellous. I knew that I wouldn't score in the races for youngsters, but foresaw my best hens for the races Argenton and Gueret. I intentionally sent my best hen '566/04' to Gueret. She never missed her prize, but she did from this Gueret for the first time. Luckily I didn't need the point. So as you see, you can never be sure." The chicken coop for the youngsters
The lofts of this fancier are quite special. The widowers reside in the earlier loft of the zebra finches. It is a stone loft with plastic golf plates for roofing. This loft also houses the breeding loft. The breeding pigeons reside in the earlier aviaries. The yearlings and the hens live in simple wooden garden lofts. Tony has recently added a small (5 metre) loft to these wooden garden lofts for the yearlings because they were like sardines in a tin. (especially because the yearlings were raced with a nest). The youngsters haven't been lucky. They live in the chicken coop (see photo). This stone 'loft' only has one window at the front . The pigeons actually enter the loft through the door. The roof is plastic and in the summer the temperature inside can easily reach 50°. All the bred youngsters are put together in this loft. Tony only cleans this loft once a year. The youngsters are only trained a couple of times before they go with the rest of society. Now you will understand why Ton didn't win any points for this championship.
During my visit (January) the youngsters (now yearlings) still had to move to their new accommodation in order to make room for the first round of youngsters. The yearlings are now separated, but train in the weekend. In April they are put together so that they can be raced with a nest for the rest of the season.
The yearlings go to St-Vincent I while they have young from 7-10 days old. The yearling cocks then race Jarnac and are not raced anymore. Their partners are given another St-Vincent to race. After the season the best cocks are moved to the other loft (the former bird loft) to race there as a widower. The best yearling hens move to another compartment in the wooden garden loft. From here he races the old hens with a nest from Barcelona. At the beginning of the year they are raced loss so that they can go to Brive when they have been brooding for 10 days. The nests are then destroyed so that they can leave for Barca with small young. A third and last nest is used for St-Vincent and Gueret in the autumn. Then the season is complete. So as you can see, Tony places the races from Cureghem Centre in a predominant place. He makes plans for the season and sticks to them. "If I come across a bad race, I carry on with the pigeons that have returned home.
The plans remain the same." Tony has 24 breeding couples. A lot of youngsters from the racing pigeons are also ringed. The old widowers (40 pigeons) are allowed to brood before the beginning of the season (April) and thereafter follow the traditional widowhood. The cocks have to race the smaller races every week. There's no chance of the pigeons being allowed to sit still for a long time. The pigeons have to keep in motion. Old cocks are entered for the Grand Distance, but mainly hens are entered for Barcelona (14 of the 19 in 2007).
After the season the cocks remain by their hens until November. They are then separated and are given open loft. There are always pigeons flying in the Patter Jacobstraat. There is not much chance that they will be affected by winter fat. As a biologist Tony knows how a microscope works and occasionally inspects his own loft.
He cures blind for tricho before the start of the season and then again if the whole loft is contaminated. "When I looked through my microscope during the season to check my widowers, I found that only 3 pigeons from the 40 had tricho. I didn't give them a cure because I didn't think it was necessary. I don't only check them myself, my Barcelona-pigeons are checked by Raf Herbots before they are basketted. I follow his advice. He is my best advice-giver.
Tony is fortunate enough to have the help of his wife Carine. If he has to go to work he writes down in detail which pigeons have to train and the correct amount of food that they have to be given. Carine follows this to the letter. His pigeons are looked after perfectly.
Toppers and stock pigeons
Brive '07 443p-10
Barcelona '07 598p-18
Barcelona '07 national 12.612p-366
She was first nominated from Barca 2007 Perpignan '07 185p-30
Brive '07 443p-22
Barcelona '07 598p-3
Barcelona '07 national 12.612p-136
Perpignan '07 185p-24
These hens are full sisters.
They are also sisters of 'Leentje 016/01' who won 98th national Barcelona hens in 2003, 6th intern. Perpignan hens in 2002 en 27th national Barcelona hens in 2004.
All this beautiful pigeon work comes from the 'Schone 5160654/97'. He is a son of the basis pigeon of the loft; the 'Super Kweker 2476734/96'.
He is a golden breeder for Tony. This chequered cock comes directly from Herbots Gebr as son of 'Pau-Torro' x 'daughter Hero 19'.
This cock produced top descendants with various hens.
His son 'Schone' even became an important breeding pigeon. 'Super kweker' was at the time paired with a hen via Herbots from van der Wegen(NL).
The 'Super kweker' is woven into the majority of pigeons in this loft. If I look at the Barcelona result from 2007 (national 136-309-366-407 and 11/19), I see enough.
The first (136th nat.) and the third pigeon (366th nat.) are two granddaughters. The second (309th nat.) and fourth pigeon (407th nat.) are also half-sisters and great-grandchildren of the 'Super Kweker'.
They are daughters of the 'Dubbele As 526/98'.
In 2001 AND 2002 he was 1st Ace pigeon Limburgse Fondvrienden (Long Distance friends) '95 overnight.
His top prizes were
32nd intern. Marseille 19.682p, 668th intern. Pau 7.867p and 847th intern. Dax 11.807p. He was bred from a cock from Herbots x Soontjes and a hen from 'Super Kweker' x ' Ivan Stockmans' (from Lummen).
Many toppers were produced from the coupling of the hen from Ivan Stockmans with the 'Super Kweker': 'Poot 467/00' (1st Ace pigeon yl Limburgse Fondvrienden with 136th intern. Perpignan 4625p and 169th intern. Bordeaux 7671p),
'De Beer 275/99' (6th intern. St-Vincent 1705p),
'Ijzersterke 628/97' (79th nat. Pau, 87th semi-nat. Bordeaux 3022p, 632nd nat. Narbonne 9104p), 'St-Vincent-hen 442/00' (5th St-Vincent 710p). This couple also produced the mother of the super hen 'Zwart Ivan 566/04'. She is now in the breeding loft because in all the years she only missed one race.
The top prizes in the other races included
11th international Narbonne 5870p,
9th provincial Limoges 749p,
1st provincial St-Vincent 686p
Her father is 100% Stockmans, a son 1st provincial Bordeaux. The black gold from Ivan Stockmans is definitely present.
The line of his 'Zwart Gueretje' (1st nat. Argenton and 1st provincial Gueret) does well in many places. The hen '073/05' is also a grandchild of 'Super Kweker'.
In 2007 her wins included Brive 443p-58, Irun 121p-2 and St-Vincent 115p-2.
Because the breeding hen from Ivan Stockmans died quite young, the 'Super kweker' was paired with other hens. He was paired with a hen from H. Van Herck (Borgloon) and so was ' El Torro duivin 270/02' born. She won, amongst other things, 1st provincial St-Vincent II 2003 and 180th nat. St-Vincent I against 5101p. Out the same couple came the mother of 'Kleine Blauwe 932/05' who achieved another provincial victory in 2006 from St-Vincent.(St-Vincent III 1st prov. 551p (nat. 7th from 1408p) and St-Vincent I national 7525p-27).
The father of this cock was also a 100% Jac van der Wegen. The 'Super kweker' x hen from W. Steenaerts (line 4th intern. Barcelona Noël Peiren) produced the cock that won 4th semi-national Jarnac in 2004 against 6273p. 'Super Kweker' is probably one of the best breeding pigeons in Limburg.
Top 10 (inter)national and semi-national
1st national Bourges 1996
1st St-Vincent 2006 national east
1st Gueret national 2002 east
2nd St-Vincent 2006 national east
3rd St-Vincent 2006 national
3rd St-Vincent 2007 national
4th Jarnac 2004 semi-national
5th St-Vincent 2001 semi-national
5th St-Vincent 2005 semi-national hens
6th Perpignan 2002 inter national hens
6th St-Vincent 2001 semi-national
6th Narbonne 2005 intern. Hens
6th St-Vincent 2003 semi-national
6th St-Vincent 2005 semi-national
6th St-Vincent 2003 semi- national
7th St-Vincent 2006 national
9th Bourges 2006 national east
9th Perpignan 2002 National
9th St- Vincent 2005 Semi-national Prominent
1st National General Champion Cureghem Centre 2004
1st National General Champion Cureghem Centre 2007
1st National Grand Distance Cureghem Centre 2007
1st National Old Cureghem Centre 2007
1st National Yearlings Cureghem Centre 2007
1st National Hens Cureghem Centre 2007
1st National Barcelona-St. Vincent Cureghem Centre 2007
1st Provincial General Champion Limburgse Long Distance Marathon 2007
1st Provincial Champion Limburgse Long Distance Marathon 2007
1st Provincial Champion Long Distance Limburgse Fondclub 2004
2nd Euregio Championship Belgium-Netherlands-Germany 2007
2nd National Champion Entente Belgium Zone East 2007
20th Beaker from Flanders 2007 3rd Beaker from Wallonië 2007
1st Provincial Champion KBDB Limburg Long Distance Old 2007
2nd Provincial Champion KBDB Limburg Long Distance Old 2004
3rd Provincial Champion KBDB Limburg Long Distance Old 2005
4th Provincial Champion KBDB Limburg Long Distance Old 2006
3rd Provincial Champion KBDB Long Distance Yearlings 2007
5th Provincial Champion KBDB Long Distance yearlings 2004
9th General Provincial Champion KBDB Limburg 2004
6 X 1st Provincial 2004 1st Nominated hen Barcelona Gouden Vleugel 2000
1st General Provincial Champion IFC 4000 2007 8th Europabeker
1st nominated "La Colombe Joyeuse" Pau-Barcelona-Marseille-Perpignan 2002
1st General Champion Limburgse Fondvrienden Extreme Long Distance 2007
1st General Champion Limburgse Fondvrienden Extreme Long Distance 2006
1st General Champion Limburgse Fondvrienden Extreme Long Distance 2005
1st General Champion Limburgse Fondvrienden Extreme Long Distance 2004
1st General Champion Limburgse Fondvrienden Extreme Long Distance 2003
1st General Champion Limburgse Fondvrienden Extreme Long Distance 2002
Emperor of the Long Distance Limburgse Fondvrienden 2007