It is quite hard to believe that this pigeon, the first nominated in the ZLU races and leader of the IATP ranking 2012 (International All Times Pigeon), was born in 2004 and is already eight years old! We might as well say eight years young; the name of this star is Jonge Hulk.
The Jonge Hulk (04-0422702) is a magnificent chequered cock that managed no less than eight times to finish a ZLU morning release in the evening of the release day. His pedigree shows some of his best results. This pigeon obviously stems from the same bloodlines with which Ko has composed his pigeon breed. We are familiar with such names as De Hulk, De Vermeulen Doffer and De Woeste Staaloger. It is no surprise that the dam of De Paarsborst is also included in his pedigree (more on that later).
Ko is 61 and pigeons have always been a part of his life. His father Wim was a good friend of Jan Aarden, whom he paid regular visits to, together with Jan Cools, another well known fancier. This friendship was a great advantage for Ko, even today. His stock pigeons belong to one of the (if not the) purest and most developed bloodlines of Aarden pigeons. It was a lucky coincidence that his father Wim obtained pigeons from his friend Jan Aarden, simply because he could not afford to buy top class pigeons from more expensive lofts. He unintentionally kept his pigeon breed clean and pure and it really shows. Ko can be confident that approximately 90% of his youngsters will become good quality birds. Things were quite different when he started fancying pigeons again for the first time from his house in St. Philipsland. Back then, in 1982, he had a percentage of only 10%, something a lot of fanciers will recognise in their own lofts. The great successes of Ko, in racing and in breeding, illustrates the road to success: you need to have confidence in your stock birds, you have to select regularly and you should only sporadically add pigeons from other successful lofts to your breed (pigeons with similar origins only). This is how you create a successful family of pigeons.
Ko believes pigeon racing in its present form will continue to exist for 20 or 30 years but he is worried about the lack of space for new lofts in densely populated areas and cities. He is also concerned about the number of young fanciers in the sport. These young members are very important, even when they quit the sport after a few years due to school or a busy family life. Ko noticed over the years that only a small group of people start fancying at a later stage in life. In fact a lot of these older newcomers quit the sport after a few years. If a fancier is not passionate about the sport at an early age he might want to quit the sport if things do not work out right from the start. Young fanciers will likely develop a feeling for pigeons already at an early age. This allows them to judge the quality and the health of a pigeon later on. That is why Ko introduced no less than nine children from his home town St. Philipsland to pigeon racing. The children started to share a pigeon loft; seven of them now have their own loft at home. One of them has already won a first and second provincial prize. Chances are likely that these fanciers will continue to fancy pigeons even when they are older. Ko would applaud similar initiatives from other well known fanciers but he admits that it takes a lot of time and effort. On the other hand we will all have to make an effort to safeguard the future of pigeon racing in The Netherlands.
To conclude, a good tip from the master himself: if he had to make a fresh start he would use the eggs of only one fancier, preferably from a fancier who has been successful for years with a good quality pigeon breed that suits your approach well. This would save you a lot of money. Pigeon racing has become increasingly expensive and top class pigeons cost a lot of money, especially for newcomers. It is equally important that you create a pigeon breed with pigeons that fit you and that most importantly fit each other. This will give you the best results, as Ko has already demonstrated. We asked him which fancier he would opt for and his answer was clear: Piet de Vogel, who lives a few kilometres away in the town of Oude Tonge in Zeeland. He knows why: Piet owns the bloodline of De Paarsborst, which Ko thinks is the best long distance pigeon ever.
Ko, we at PIPA congratulate you on your victories and we wish you a successful season.