This is probably the first time that the release from Barcelona was heldover for so long: the pigeons were finally released on Friday afternoon at 14 o’clock European time. It was probably the race with the fastest pigeons as well: the international winner reached a record speed of 1801,62 m/min over a distance of almost 1044km. This is almost inconceivable. We think some pigeons must have been flying at night to reach such high speeds.
Because of the high speeds and the early arrivals of the pigeons on Saturday morning we expected a flawless race from Barcelona, but it was not. In fact pigeons had to be clocked until Sunday before all the prizes could be awarded. Some insiders believed that the Dutch fanciers would take most of the prizes from Barcelona since their pigeons are better prepared for such late releases. They are also said to be more used to such higher speeds, but that was not the case this time as, strangely enough the Dutch fanciers could not take advantage of the situation. In the race from Tarbes-Albi, where the pigeons were released at 14 o’clock on Friday, the Dutch birds did manage to fly at night. However, the fastest pigeons from Barcelona in the international top 20 were divided between France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The fastest Belgian pigeon arrived in Ooigem to the lofts of Ferdy De Scheemaeker. Ferdy clocked his national winner after exactly 6 hrs 00 mins and 13 seconds over a distance of 1057.933 km. The pigeon achieved an average speed of 1792.44 m/min or more than 107.5 km/h! The early arrivals came as a surprise but most fanciers had to wait a bit longer. Many fanciers believed that their pigeons were very close to home but in fact they were not. Some Belgian fanciers had clocked their Barcelona pigeon before noon but that was already six hours after the national winner had arrived. These fanciers are likely to reach a top 100 or 150 national against 11,706 pigeons. This indicates that the pigeons were actually quite far away from home when the first pigeons arrived. It seems the pigeons did not benefit from the fairly good weather on Saturday morning; especially those races in France that had an early release that day. What could be the cause of this? No one knows, the only thing that matters now is the result of the race.
Celebrating in Ooigem
The family of Ferdy De Scheemaeker won’t be losing any sleep over this. They are the deserved national winners of the race from Barcelona, which is for sure, one of the most celebrated classics in international pigeon racing today. Ferdy’s Geschelpte Witpen Barcelona BE09-3011492 took the victory, a victory any fancier dreams of winning! Geschelpte Witpen brought Ferdy and his family fame. It was a wonderful morning for them!
Ferdy’s national victory was actually a close call. Luckily enough he got up early, at 5h55. He had bought himself a newspaper and was having breakfast and a cup of coffee when he looked at the entrance of his loft. There he saw his Barcelona pigeon waiting for him. The electronic clock showed that it was exactly 13 seconds past six. He checked his pigeon and clocked it straight in. At that time Ferdy knew this would be an early arrival. “Luckily I had not opened my loft yet”, says Ferdy. “Otherwise the pigeon might have entered the loft without me seeing it”. Then there were some exciting moments for him until the received a phone call that told him he was the national winner from Barcelona! He thinks his pigeon had been flying at night as some of his sisters and half sisters have done the same from the euro international races from San Sebastian and Biarritz. In these races Ferdy took three deserved second places with hens bred from the same pigeon that is also father of the national winner from Barcelona 2012. Let’s have a look at his pedigree:
-Sire: Kees NL01-2435311. This is a direct Doede Van der Veen from Nijbeets (Friesland - NL) and an inbred of the legendary wonder pigeon Den Dolle NL67-2052951 (himself winner of 3th Nat Dax and 3th Nat St. Vincent) of Marijn Van Geel. This is the same line with which Wim & Martin van Houten from IJsselstein have won a 1st international Barcelona a few years back. He was bred from a half brother x half sister and he is a grandson of Dochter Vlekje NL87-8793077 both from the dam's side and the sire's side (so he is bred from Autwinnaar x 2nd National Dax: Vlekje 434/81). Then he was coupled to a grandson and a great grandson of Dolle! This Kees is the the main breeding pigeon in the loft, and is the sire of some first class hens, for instance:
- Ria: 2nd Euro Internat Biarritz 2,067 p. in ’05, 1st Euro Internatational Biarritz 528 Hens
- Tia: 2nd Euro Internat San Sebastian 1,803 p. in ’07, 2nd Euro International 422 Hens
- Tania: 2nd Euro Internat San Sebastian 1,958 p. in ’08, 2nd Euro International 263 Hens
These are talented hens that can fly at night and arrive home early in the morning! “They have inherited this from their father’s side”, says Ferdy.
-Dam: Miss Stichelbaut BE07-3203627… a direct Frans Labeeuw from Bissegem and a 100% Stichelbaut pigeon. It is an inbred of Zwarte Fijnen Stichelbaut with the Titi line.
Two inbred lines crossed with each other, this was the basis for Ferdy's national win. This is in fact the first cock from Kees that was put to the test in the middle distance, says Ferdy. As a youngster he was trained just like the other pigeons. As a yearling he has won a prize from Libourne and last year he showed his strength with a 5th local in a very demanding race from Marseille against 87 pigeons (1,424th international against 10,654 old birds). He looked very fit after the race, which is always a good sign. This season he raced in the national from Montluçon, after which he raced his very first (and also his last) Barcelona, where he took this tremendous victory.
A strong family of extreme long distance pigeons
About four to five seasons ago Ferdy raced his sitting hens in the Euro international races from Biarritz, San Sebastian and St. Vincent most of the time. These are races with a release at noon. Since these races were cancelled he switched to international races three to four years ago. Barcelona is of course the most important of these international races. At the moment he has about 20 widowhood cocks (about eight old birds and about ten yearlings), as well as 20 sitting hens. However, Ferdy would like to use more widowhood cocks for the big races in the future as he says it is quite time consuming to find the perfect nest position for the hens. It also takes quite a lot of work to train them well. Ferdy says his pigeons are always having a hard time from Pau. It might have to do with a lack of training or with the fact that the pigeons are in a good shape in the second race only after having bred a youngster. He does not know, but it seems to happen every season. In the training races over 400 to 500km they sit pot eggs. After that they are prepared for the important races, where Ferdy likes to basket them with the youngsters. This means that he has to pair the hens every few weeks to have a good nest position. This needs a lot of calculation and it means extra work for the fancier.
The racing cocks are raced on classic widowhood. After the season they can breed a youngster as a reward. They do not breed any before the start of the season but they are paired around the 20th of March and after a few days of sitting they are placed in the widowhood loft. Last Sunday (the day of basketing) Ferdy had released his new Brive flyers at 17h30 and they did a training flight of about an hour. At the same time the two cocks from Barcelona could see their hen for about ten minutes just before being basketed. The winning pigeon was basketed with a full wing.
When it comes to taking care of the pigeons Ferdy likes a no nonsense approach, but he does pay a visit to the vet before the start of the season to worm his pigeons. Shortly after that he gives them a four day treatment for tricho. He adds a lot of garlic to their drinking water and he pours some dry beer yeast on the floor as well. In the evening he feeds his pigeons with Sports Extra from Versele and in the morning he adds some purifying mixture to the feed. In the last three days before basketing he adds some small seeds to the feed as well and that’s about it. Ferdy lets his pigeons rest for three to four weeks in between important middle distance races.
For the race from Barcelona he sent six pigeons, three of which took 1st, 36th and 51st locally in Meulebeke against 183 pigeons. They all belong to the Kees line. In the race from Brive they won 19th and 30th against 183 old birds with the first and second nominated of four pigeons. The yearlings had their first test in the race from Libourne where four of nine pigeons took a prize: 10-18-27-33 against 97 yearlings. For Ferdy this was an important test for the future. It is important that the pigeons arrive home fit; it shows that the pigeons are capable of covering longer distances. The eight pairs of breeding pigeons in his lofts are mainly part of the Kees line and his descendants. Ferdy has bred about 50 to 55 youngsters from these birds. These youngsters should ensure the loft of Ferdy De Scheemaeker has a good future.
We think Ferdy will not forget this Saturday morning, when he suddenly noticed the arrival of his Barcelona winner as this was a wonderful moment with a national victory and the title of Golden Vleugel! It was certainly a day for a celebration. This is a glorious victory which will be celebrated and remembered in the coming weeks and months! Ferdy, many congratulations!