National legend on extreme long distance
The status of Etienne Meirlaen is recognized world-wide. With icons such as Yelena, Monar, Montali and the Marseille dynasty he is a force to be reckoned with on International classics. Noteworthy is that his top performers on the national and international level from Marseille, later also prove their worth as breeders. This came to our attention through another extreme long distance legend, Hugo Batenburg, who experienced this on his own lofts. This applies to Etienne Meirlaens loft also, the success bloodline of Marseille (paired to Yelena or not) is pivotal. The brothers Montali and Monar underline this. The extent of winners and ace pigeons from the Meirlaen colony which were bred, have Marseille blood running through their veins. The two newly crowned National Ace Pigeons - 1st National Ace Pigeon Rhône Valley KBDB '23 and 15th National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance Yearlings KBDB '23 - are no exception, they descend from Montali and/or Monar. Let's take a closer look at these ace pigeons.
1st National Ace Pigeon KBDB Rhône Valley 2023
The number of 1st (Inter)national Ace Pigeons that Etienne Meirlaen has brought forth is impressive. One would almost lose count.
Etienne Meirlaen continued his phenomenal achievements in 2023, this time winning the 1st National Ace Pigeon KBDB from the Rhône Valley. These certainly aren't the easiest races on the national program, especially for fanciers in the West of the country due the the Easterly liberation sites. That Etienne his Rhône King managed to win this title, underlines the quality of this crack. Especially the way he won this title makes it even more impressive; with a provincial victory on Marseille good for the 5th National Marseille. On the day of liberation the wind was not in his favor and still managing this feat therefore deserves a lot of respect. Hats off! With the above mentioned experiences surrounding Marseille stars in our back head, the question arises whether Rhône King could also become a super breeder? Likely so.
-Rhône King BE20-4118139
1st Nat. Asduif KBDB Rhône Valley 2023
1st Prov & 5th Nat. Marseille – 2,590 p. / 16th Int. 9,887 p.
49th Nat. St Vincent – 2,899 p.
102nd Nat. Valence I – 6,689 p.
106th Nat. Limoges – 9,218 p.
116th Nat. Valence II – 3.,655 p.
Father: Son Montali BE18-4216363
From super crack and top breeder Montali BE08-4298110, he himself won 4th Nat. Montauban, 12th Nat. Montauban (and full brother Monar: 1st Int. Narbonne) x Granddaughter Marathon Lady BE13-4077107 (Marthon Lady is the mother of stock hen Yelena).
Mother: Granddaughter Superbreeder BE16-4235492
Is bred from Fenomeen Yelena BE14-4261294 (son 1st Prov. & 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB – J. Meurysse x daughter Fenomeen: 1st Beste pigeon in Belgium across 5 National long distance races) x Nest-sister Provincial Pau BE12-4278313, Provincial Pau won 1st Prov. Pau, 1st Prov. St.Vincent and became 3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB ’17, 10th Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB ’16 (daughter of stock breeder Superbreeder x Daughter Euro Diamond - Brockamp).
Another pigeon from the Meirlaen colony which was amongst the National KBDB Ace Pigeons in 2023 was a yearling hen from the same Monar bloodlines. Note, Monar was also grandfather of Diamond Anita: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017. Right, it is in their genes.
-Granddaughter Superbreeder BE22-4094095
2nd Prov. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance Yearlings KBDB 2023
15th Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance Yearlings KBDB 2023
122nd Int. Agen 6,879 Hens ’23
153rd Nat. Agen 6,667 YL ’23
195th Nat. Narbonne 6,100 YL – 52nd Nat. Zone 2,156 YL ’23
This beautiful yearling hen is a daughter of Ace Mix 99 BE14-201299 (also father of 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance YL '18 - PIPA Ranking) paired to an Inbred Daughter Superbreeder BE16-4247677 (from stock pigeon Superbreeder 214/11- he himself is bred from a son of Monar x Daughter Marathonlady 777/10, a half-sister to Yelena).
One of Etienne's favorites within the current widowhood cock team is a direct son of 1st Olympiad pigeon Marathon 2019 in Poznan, who in turn is a direct son of Monar. The same bloodlines as Marseille and Yelena. In this case, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
-Son 1st Olympiad BE18-4216171
31st Nat. Pau 3,734 p. ’22
54th Nat. St.Vincent 3,080 p. ’21
238th Nat. Zone Chateauroux 6,645 p. ’19
239th Nat. St.Vincent 2,853 p. ’23 – 735th Int. 9,516 p.
250th Nat. St.Vincent 3,038 p. ’20
374th Nat. Perpignan 3,901 p. ’21
599th Nat. Brive 8,807 p. ’21
647th Nat. Perpignan 5,722 p. ’23
He is another son of Son Monar 031 BE13-4077031, who became 1st Olympiad pigeon Marathon 2019 Poznan, 1st Prov. & 2nd Nat. St. Vincent 2,977 p. (son of Monar: 1st Int. Narbonne 12,605 p. '11 x Granddaughter Queen Tonny, bloodline of 1st Nat. Barcelona - Frans Bungeneers) x Granddaughter Perpignan Lady BE12-4278020 (Perpignan Lady: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2009, and Cor: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2008).
Shine on Barcelona
Etienne Meirlaen still carries the mythical race from Barcelona in his heart. A characteristic of every true extreme long distance fancier. In Deurle, Etienne prepares a separate team for this specific task. This team (mostly hens) has been crossed with other pigeons, more specific Barcelona bloodlines. The results have shown that these crosses perfectly match the Meirlaen colony. We will introduce two Barcelona stars from 2023, starting with the hen Black Freck. She is possible the greatest discovery looking at the future. This 1st Prize winner performed sensationally on Barcelona 2023:
-Black Freck BE20-4118155
8th Nat. Barcelona 6,533 p. ’23 - 1st Club 231 p.
96th Int. Barcelona 17,832 p. ’23
39th Int. Barcelona 2,080 Hens ’23
257th Nat. Barcelona 6,560 p. ’22
She is a granddaughter of both Provincial Pau: 3rd & 10th Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB '16-'17 and Monar: 1st Int. Narbonne 12, 605 p. Her father is a result of co-breeding with Batenburg-Van de Merwe, with Provincial King BE18-4216495 (from Provincial Pau 314/12 - Meirlaen x Marseille Queen 350/10-Batenburg, winner 4th Nat. Marseille 2,916 p.) x Black Monar BE11-4312927 (daughter Monar x Black Silk, daughter 1st Nat. Barcelona).
The hen which won prizes on Barcelona for the sixth consecutive year has the appropriate name, Miss Barcelona. She took place within the Top 5 best Barcelona racers of the past 5 editions, also known as the Primus-inter-Pares competition.
-Miss Barcelona BE16-4237191
4th Ace Pigeon Primus-inter-Pares BBC 2023 – across 5 years Barcelona
5th Ace Pigeon Primus-inter-Pares BBC 2022 – across 5 years Barcelona
72nd Nat. Barcelona 6,913 p. ’21
265th Nat Barcelona 6,178 p. ’20
330th Nat Barcelona 7,301 p. ’19
567th Nat Barcelona 6,560 p. ’22
718th Nat Barcelona 6,533 p. ’23
1184th Nat Barcelona 7,438 p. ’18
Half-sister Yelena’s Ace: 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2020
Miss Barcelona has the same father as Yelena's Ace: Father Yelena’s Ace NL11-1911801 (from co-breeding between Cor de Heijde-Jan Hooymans, a grandson of the world famous Don Michel- Cor de Heijde, 1st Nat. Barcelona - Caas Brok, 1st Int. Perpignan - Gebr Saya) x Granddaughter Cor BE10-4284754 (Cor: 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB ’08).
Top One Loft Race results
Meirlaen pigeons are versatile, a characteristic that comes forward on One Loft Races. Etienne has only entered a very limited number of pigeons on this discipline within our sport, with success we must add.
25th Final Thailand Masters OLR 2,306 p. in 2022 with BE22-4094194: bred from Montali Laureaat BE18-4216493 (co-breeding with Batenburg-Van de Merwe, from Ace Montali 958/17 x Daughter New Laureaat 539/13) x Daughter Provincial Pau BE18-4216325 (from Provincial Pau: 3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB ’17, 10th Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB ’16, 1st Prov. Pau and 1st Prov. St.Vincent… x Daughter Ace Pair Cor - Perpignan Lady: both 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB in 2008 and 2009).
12th Final Derby Del Mediterraneo OLR 2022 with BE22-4094184: bred from Grandson Monar BE17-4214190 (from Son Monar x Granddaughter Perpignan Lady) x Full Sister Best of Belgium BE19-4113098, and thus a full sister of the 1st. Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance YL 2017 and 1st Prov. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017 (from Father Ace Pigeon 600/12 x Sister Cor 220/11)
Not only ‘good news’
Despite another super season in 2023, it was not all roses at the Meirlaen household. Etienne’s trusted helper – silent force behind many successes thanks to her help in taking care of the pigeons – is advised by her doctor to no longer enter the lofts. To handle the caretaking, Etienne decided to only race extreme long distance on the natural system in the future and no longer race widowers. He therefore decided to offer all his widowhood cocks from 2021 and older in auction on PIPA; a team that guaranteed top results in the past two years. There is no other option, Etienne is very clear about the matter:
" I am no longer the youngest, the number of widowers and pigeons on the natural system is becoming too much for me alone. Therefore, choices have to be made. I have asked for advice from the best extreme long distance fanciers, and Hugo Batenburg managed to convince me to only race the natural system from now on. He has done so for years, just like his befriended fancier Jelle Jellema and many other top fanciers. We therefore also take the chance of adopting this method in the future. Our hens have always raced on the natural system. For the first time in 2024, our cocks (from 2022 and 2023, those from 2021 and older will all be auctioned) will also be raced on the natural system. It will demand a different preparation, especially because we will try and basket the pigeons per pair. It is a new challenge which we are looking forward to. We'll see where it takes us. A huge benefit is that I can race just as many pigeons with half as many pigeons on the lofts. Similar to the fanciers which race total widowhood, but here we will race them on a nest."
It will take some time to get used to, possibly some adapting and slight changes have to be made. The natural system is a different game than widowhood racing. Not only in terms of method (feed and training), but also in the way the pigeons are prepared for the races with possibly fewer long distance races before the extreme long distance classics. "Those decisions have to be made at a later date", Etienne says. We bet that he will succeed! Quality always comes first, and there is an abundance of quality on the Meirlaen lofts. More than 20 years of top performances at the top of International pigeon sport prove it. Time will tell...