During the first weekend of July the 'classic' of all 'classics' invariably stands on the pigeon programme, the 'Queen's piece' of the 'Grand Distance', namely the international race from 'Barcelona'! Described by many as the 'Tour de France' of the pigeon sport, not only because both events take place around the same time but also because the Barcelona race can endure the comparison with the 'Tour' as being the toughest 'course' of the season! How many people have dreamt about winning this 'top classic' and adding it to their honours list. It is only reserved for one person every year, for whom the gates to 'eternal fame' are immediately opened! This year the honour fell to the Belgian Danny Vagenende out the East Flemish Smetlede, municipality of Lede which lies between Wetteren and Aalst. On Friday the 4th of July at about 9h45 the pigeons from the international Barcelona race were liberated, in beautiful say 'ideal racing weather'.
There was a weak South-easterly wind in France, so that it looked like the pigeons could go 'a long way', and so be near to home not only through the favourable tailwind, but also the 'clear skies' meant that it was 'daylight' for a long time, allowing the pigeons to race for a longer period! Yet the story about the 'international victory' 2008 from Danny Vagenende is definitely not for 'heart patients' On Friday evening there hadn't been any pigeons reported to the organisers, something which had hardly or never happened before, we can only remember the Barcelona-victory of Eugène Pochet, from 10 years ago. When Danny Vagenende did his rounds at 23h15 before going to bed, he noticed a pigeon on top of the aviary diagonally opposite the loft where the Barcelona pigeons are housed. Danny was still missing 2 pigeons from Toury from the previous week and thought that one of these Toury racers had returned home. Danny couldn't get to sleep the idea that imagine if it was a 'Barcelona pigeon' kept playing through his mind. At 2 o'clock in the morning he got out of bed, and went back into the garden in the dark Danny could just see the head and body of the pigeon because she was still sitting there. After a couple of hours 'trying' to get to sleep Danny once again went into the garden at 4h45. At the first signs of daybreak he saw a 'white rubber ring' Danny straight away thought of a Barcelona pigeon, what followed is the ideal scenario for a real 'thriller'. Just imagine if it happened to you an 'alleged Barcelona pigeon' sitting at a stone's throw away from the trap but you can't get near her, because she's 'too high', 'too far' and it's still dark Danny took a long stick which had a net attached to it and tried to catch her. This attempt failed and the pigeon flew higher up to an adjacent roof.
After making a din and a racket with the stick he managed to make the pigeon take flight, and after flying a couple of rounds she landed in front of the trap my God, it is indeed a Barcelona pigeon! In all the fuss and consternation Danny had forgotten to connect his electronic clock so he ran into the kitchen whilst still holding the pigeon to activate his clock, and then back to the loft to register his pigeon. All this cost Danny about 15 minutes before he could finally electronically clock his winning 'hen' at 5h02'25" from a distance of 1.076,684 km, with a velocity of 1357 m/min.
When Danny telephoned the club in Leeuwergem-Zottegem to report his pigeon, he was met with unbelief a Barcelona pigeon, at that hour? Danny can still feel his heart pounding when he thinks back to those frightening and stressful moments. It was the first reported pigeon at international level an hour later the 'national victory' was certain, because no-one else out of the area had reported an early pigeon they still had to wait for the Netherlands but it soon became clear that no-one here could match the 'performance' that the superior 'Barcelona hen' from Danny Vagenende had realised immediately good for 'international victory'! Jean-Pol Van Kerckvoorde from Lovendegem, the same province, came closest with a pigeon at 5h33, earning him an honourable and deserving 2nd place, 20 minutes after the 'winner' from Danny Vagenende! Old faithful Robert Ben from the French Calais signed for 3rd place, which gave him national victory in France! It was a very smooth Barcelona whereby the majority of clubs were finished with the race at 13h30.
In the footsteps of father Adolf
Danny Vagenende is a 46-year old pigeon fancier, and self-employed road worker by trade. He was given the pigeon microbe from home, because his late father Adolf Vagenende was a real top champion, a true 'Barcelona specialist'. His World famous 'Briveman' was one of the best Barcelona racers ever, and without doubt one of the best Long Distance pigeons that ever flew in our Belgian country. In the almost 150 pigeons (old + young together), the total of the Danny Vagenende colony at the moment, 90% still contains the blood of this superior 'Briveman'! However not in the 'international winner', now christened the "Barcelona hen" a rather 'small chequered hen' with ring B06-4359609, a summer youngster from 2006.
Danny bought her father from a Walpot sale, this "Red cock' ring NL95-1682051 stems from father's side out pigeons from Piet Lazaroms, whilst the mother has the noble Jan Theelen-blood flowing through her veins. The mother is a H&R Wynands-pigeon from Maastricht, which Danny was given by pigeon friend Adri-Jan Hoes from Maaseik she stems from and inbreeding of 'grandson' x 'granddaughter' of the world-famous stock father "Blauwe Vanoppen" by Wynands! The international winner doesn't get it from a stranger, and was entered for Barcelona for the first time when she was 18 months old where she directly hit 'bull's eye'! She was basketted with 12 days of brooding and so as you can see in the photo her 1st feather was nearly grown half back.
Parents "Barcelona hen"
Pedigree : Click here
Pedigree : Click here
For Danny the Barcelona race is a real passion, and since he doesn't have hardly any free time because of his work he calls himself a pigeon fancier from Brive to Barcelona. Everything is kept as simple as possible, and so the pigeons are raced with a nest. As youngsters they are trained up to Noyon, the first serious test follows as yearlings with St.Vincent. Whoever endures this test is given a chance as an old pigeon. For the season the racing pigeons are coupled around the 15th of March and raise 1 youngster. Afterwards they are trained well, even though Danny doesn't use the clock with the races up to 500 km because time isn't decisive by the eventual selection. After Brive the pigeons stay together, and then have a nest and are in the position of brooding for 14 days before being basketted. Where other nest racers swear by 'small youngsters' on the day of basketting for Barcelona, Danny has had the best results with 14 days of brooding; maybe it would be better for the cocks if they were basketted with younger youngsters, says Danny. I don't know that's why I stick to the fixed plan of 2 weeks brood. This 'timing' means that all the old pigeons can be basketted for Barcelona, and the yearlings for St.Vincent during the same weekend. The hens are given Toury and Chateauroux for preparation, the cocks go to Brive National. Since the nest pigeons don't train at home so as Danny would like he takes them every 2 days himself to the French border, so that they are forced to train an adequate amount. 3 to 4 days before the day of basketting the pigeons are taken to Lessen where they are liberated at 21h45, with the objective of letting them race as long as possible in the evening. Danny sets up the electronic clocking system so that he can see which pigeons and how long his pigeons have carried on racing in the darkness. Multiple pigeons returned home in the darkness Danny clearly remembers that his 'Barcelona-hen' was clocked at 1h30 in the morning in the trainings race from Lessen. A stunt that she has seemingly repeated from Barcelona. Danny basketted 22 pigeons (8 cocks + 14 hens) for this Barcelona and won locally 8 prizes (per 3), and will nationally in all probability win 9 or 10 prizes. His winning hen was nominated 15th. This was normal, seeing that she was 'new' to the job. By the way, only my 1st nominated, the "Barcelona 833/05" was a proven chap, Danny told us. He didn't let the side down, because he was clocked 2nd at 9h35, giving him the 13th prize in the club, and will probably classify within the top 150 Nationally! In the club in Zottegem the result is as follows:
Barcelona 325 pigeons 1,13,24,33,43,71,83,84 (22) Intnat 23.695 pigeons 1 etc.
The Danny Vagenende family experienced the best day of their pigeon career!
This is one of the last exploits that will be booked in the Kerkhofstraat because Danny has been having health problems recently been having a bit of trouble with the old 'ticker', so that he has to start orientating his life differently. Because of this Danny will probably be forced to give up his business. The plans which had been made a while ago, will then be carried out in the near future the current Barcelona success can't change anything. Danny and his wife Jenny plan to move to the house of his in-laws in Schellebelle, where in the meantime youngsters have already been housed. The garden is smaller, which means less maintenance. Danny hopes to be able to enjoy his pigeons in a more relaxed manner. He would also then like to take part in the 500 à 600 km races. He found suitable pigeons for these races by Ludo Claessens, Gerrit Lahuis and Gerard Koopman.
With his current stock based on the olden sort of the 'Briveman' crossed with pigeons from Batenburg-Vd Merwe, Theelen, Wynnands and Gebr Hagens he wants to carry on with his beloved Long Distance tasks. We want to congratulate Danny and Jenny with what can be described as their 'most beautiful victory' up until now in their pigeon career and we wish them the very best with their new start and challenge in the lofts in Schellebelle!