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Pigeons of Frans Bungeneers (Ranst, BE) have had some brilliant results in Barcelona over the past two decades

Most fanciers tend to associate the classic from Barcelona with such champions as Etienne Meirlaen, Batenburg-Van de Merwe or Jelle Jellema, but we should not forget Frans Bungeneers, a marathon champion who repeatedly dominated the number one classic in the 21st century.

Frans's long distance career reads like a book. It was quite a success story, which came to a sudden halt in 2016, when 57 pigeons were stolen (from a total of 117 pigeons), including 20 breeders and 37 old racing birds (an a few yearlings). In other words, he lost the majority of his racing team for Barcelona.

However, one of the pigeons that was not stolen, 'Elena', was able to strike back, winning a 2nd National Barcelona 2017. It also resulted in a Silver Wing title, and she also won the PIPA Rankings for Best pigeon from Barcelona over two (2016-2017) and three seasons (2015-2017)! It was a memorable achievement, as well as an emotional moment for Frans.


Frans showing his Elena...


... and her beautiful wing. 

Laura, bringer of new hope

For the 2018 Barcelona classic, Frans had to rely on an improvised team again. He basketed just two pigeons for his favourite race but that did not keep him from getting a great result. Frans claimed a two out of two, winning a 249th and 1386th national of 7438 pigeons. "My first pigeon in Barcelona this year was Laura (BE14-6193296). She is a daughter of Lily, winner of 5 prizes in 5 Barcelona classics, including a 7th and 81st National", Frans explains. "Besides her national top prize in 2018, Laura also wins a 46th national St. Vincent 2016. She arrived home injured from the 2017 race from Barcelona but she did manage to get back on her feet! This hen marks the start of a new chapter for us, after the unfortunate theft", says Frans.

The most notable achievements of Frans Bungeneers in Barcelona between 2005 and 2017

2005: 1st National of 13,066 pigeons
2009: 2nd National of 13,503 pigeons
2009: 4th National of 13,503 pigeons
2015: 7th National of 7,791 pigeons
2016: 6th National of 7,693 pigeons
2017: 2nd National of 7,874 pigeons

Click here for the full overview of the top 100 prizes that Frans Bungeneers won in Barcelona from 2005 to 2017.

Approach: racing from the nest, diet and training

Frans believes in racing from the nest. However, combining racing from the nest with adequate training and with keeping your pigeons slim can be a challenge. Frans always keeps an eye on his team, and he developed his very own aproach that set him up for national and international success in long distance races.

Frans uses the grain mixtures of Van Camp from the nearby town of Boechout. "I always find what I look for: good mixtures with healthy grains. I use the 'Rui Super 4 mixture' as our primary mixture throughout the season (it has four types of corn). Depending on the time of season, I mix in some 'Energy' (a mixture high in fat), 'Grand Prix' (a mixture low in protein with cribbs maize), a purifying mixture, a diet mixture or white barley", Frans explains.

"When the racing season starts, I use for instance one part diet, two parts Grand Prix and five parts Rui Super 4", he says. "As soon as the pigeons are racing from the nest and the competition has started, they are fed three times a day instead of two, although they should not get overfed. I want my pigeons to be slim, because they tend to train better like that. As such, the breeding pairs with big youngsters have plenty to eat, while the brooding pairs will often skip a meal, or they just peck a few seeds before they resume the brooding."

"I often increase the percentage of corn after an extreme long distance race, based on feel. Two weeks before an extreme long distance race I might add one part 'Energy mixture' to their diet as well, and some electrolytes are added to the drinking water upon arrival. They also get some purifying mixture and some gresh grit. The next day I switch back to our regular mixture."

Frans has his own take on training as well: "Our pigeons can fly out from the early morning until 5:30 in the evening. Afterwards, the young birds have their training flight as well, which means the old birds stay inside. We have the same training schedule every day, no matter the weather." The pigeons are only kept inside from late January until after they completed their first training flights. The reason is that the sexes are kept apart at that time of the year; they are kept in widowhood. The hens are then temporarily kept in the young birds' lofts, and they train in the evenings. Meanwhile, the racing cocks are left on their own in the nest loft, and they have their training in the morning.

References

Like we said, the theft forced Frans to go back to basics and to start working on a new team for Barcelona. Before the theft, the successful long distance pigeons of team Bungeneers had found their way to several other pigeon lofts as well. Over the years, many ambitious long distance fanciers turned to Frans to look for new investments. With the Bungeneers pigeons finding a new home in so many other lofts, it did not take long before a steady number of references started to come in: they got great results in Barcelona as well as in other prestigious national and international long distance races.

Click here for the impressive number of references from the past four seasons, including top 100 prizes in Barcelona, Narbonne, Pau, St. Vincent, Bergerac, Orange, Agen, Perigueux and Cahors - these were won in Belgium, The Netherlands and France. Among these references are several national ace pigeon titles as well.

References in a demanding 2018 season

The 2018 long distance season will long be remembered as being very hot, dry and hence very demanding. Unsurprisingly, several descendants of Frans Bungeneers's best marathon pigeons have in turn excelled over the course of the 2018 season. Here is an overview of some of the most remarkable results in 2018 that we are currently aware of:

'Orange Oil' of Gerard Schalkwijk

The 6th International Ace Pigeon Barcelona 2017-2018 is a 100% Bungeneers pigeon. Gerard Schalkwijk from Lopik (The Netherlands) won two international top prizes from Barcelona in two consecutive seasons with racing hen Orange Oil, BE13-1019603:

76th International Barcelona 2018 of 15,700 pigeons
158th International Barcelona 2017 of 17,026 pigeons

Click here for Orange Oil's pedigree.

This talented bird of Gerard Schalkwijk stems from the bloodlines of Frans's Queen Tonny, 1st National Barcelona 2005 from his father's side, and he is related to this line through her mother's side as well: Orange Oil's grandmother is a half sister of Queen Tonny.

The Hagens brothers (Achthuizen, NL)

The Hagens Brothers have managed to win the following top results at national level with descendants of the Frans Bungeneers breed:

- 5th National Bergerac sector 2 of 3090 pigeons
  (The sire is a son of Saartje, a nest sister of Laika Queen)

- 9th National Dax sector 2 of 2171 p. and a 96th National St-Vincent sector 2 of 2819 p. 
  (The dam is a daughter of Penelope)

Piet de Vogel (Oude Tonge, NL) has a fantastic breeder in his loft with Max

The breeding loft of Piet de Vogel saw the introduction of another talented breeder: Max (BE11-6047946), a grandson of Queen Tonny.
Click here for Max's pedigree, in which 'De Witpen' features three times. De Witpen (Cor de Heijde from Made, NL) is the sire of Queen Tonny, and he is an invaluable stock breeder for team Bungeneers.

The following top prizes were won with youngsters of Max in 2018 alone:

- 1st National Ace Pigeon ZLU (3 years) Perpignan ‘16-’18. 
  (Barcelona-duivin NL12-1576236 wins 4 x Barcelona and 4 x Perpignan during her career)
- 40th National Barcelona 2018 (Deltamax NL15-1672886)
- 93rd National Narbonne 2018 (Deltamax NL15-1672886)
- 23rd National Narbonne 2018 (raced by Carlo Dominicus, Goes, NL)

Vertelman and sons (Hoogkarspel, NL)

Team Vertelman and sons had reason to celebrate in 2018 as well. They win a 5th National Perigieux in Sector 2 of 4257 pigeons with a granddaughter of Queen Tonny

Jo Van Schijndel & sons (Geffen, NL)

The Van Schijndel family from Geffen in The Netherlands has the 1st National Ace Pigeon Narbonne over four seasons ('15-'18) in their collection. The dam of this pigeon stems from a pairing of Icarus and Penelope.

The 3rd National Perigieux sector 1 of 4921 pigeons of Jo Van Schijndel & Sons is related to Bungeneers as well. This bird is another grandchild of Queen Tonny, now paired to Icarus. This is a combination of two golden wings!

Team Van Schijndel also won last year's title of Best Extreme Long Distance Pigeon in The Netherlands with Skyfall NL14-3447448. Skyfall happens to be a grandchild of Icarus and Penelope. Click here to reread our report.

We are quite impressed with the achievements of the Bungeneers racing birds in the extreme long distance recently. With so many great results at home and so many remarkable references in other lofts, we are confident that Frans will deliver another noteworthy result in Barcelona sooner or later.

To know more about Frans Bungeneers and his pigeon breed, make sure to check his website www.fransbungeneers.be.