On the Thursday our weathermen predicted beautiful weather for Saturday, and then the weather forecasts changed completely on the Friday. Suddenly there was talk of rain, especially in our country… which would be followed in the afternoon with dryer weather with clear patches, with a west to north-westerly wind. It was expected that the national toppers would be found in the eastern part of the country. Now, both Flanders weren’t only literally blown away, but also rained off. When the pigeons presented themselves from the Small Middle Distance between 12h00 and 12h30 the first downpours fell in the Flemish provinces, only to change to constant rain at 14h00, and it rained cats and dogs until 17h00. But the dry weather in the afternoon that our weather experts had predicted… wasn’t enjoyed by many! Although the weather over the whole of the route, in France to the south of our country was quite good, and so fairly favourable!
On the other side of the country they were also panicking at that moment. It wasn’t raining that much, but the pigeons from Melun didn’t come home well, so much so that it was feared for the outcome from La Souterraine. Nothing could be further form the truth… because whereas it was pouring down in the Flanders, in Brabant, Limburg and the eastern half of Antwerp it was the pigeons that were falling as hailstone out of the sky. A world of difference in such a small country as Belgium! In the end it was the Loft Smits-Mellaerts from Wezemaal who at 15h25’03” from a distance of 576,421 Km, signed for a velocity of 1388,79 m/min. This was good enough for the national victory by the 21.271 youngsters, and the fastest pigeon of the whole convoy! In 2° place nationally we find the ‘specialist to the point’ and ‘ex-national winner’ Guido Loockx from Tessenderlo (1385 m), followed closely by an unchained tandem Jespers-Vanderwegen from Holsbeek (1384 m) who possibly have 4 pigeons in the ‘top-10’ nationally, 5 in the ‘top-15’, and probably even 6 pigeons within the 30° prize nationally! Phenomenal!
Loft Smits-Mellaerts, Wezemaal
This colony is formed by Steve Smits and his wife Marijke Mellaerts. Steve is a young 29 year old fancier and is ‘product-advisor’ for Renault, and so has to travel every day for his work. Marijke on the other hand is a property expert who will later be a bachelor of public notary… and helps Steve with the pigeons when necessary in her limited free time! In short, they both have a busy professional life! That’s why the youngsters are raced with the sliding door system, to make life easier. The youngsters were first darkened until the ‘longest day’ (read: 21 June). In previous years lighting was also used, but not this year. The pigeons had plenty of training before the start of the season, even now… in the full season, they are still trained 3x per week! Before Steve has professionally visited his first garage or garage owner, he has taken his pigeons to Ittre. Weather conditions permitting, he does this 3x per week on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning. This way the youngsters are submitted to compulsory training. During the afternoon Steve calls home to separate the sexes and put them in separate lofts. When he then returns home between 16h30 à 17h00 the young hens are firstly let out for their training… just because they train the hardest and longest… followed by the young cocks. When they return home from a race the sexes stay together until the following morning. All the pigeons are then given a compulsory ‘warm’ bath, after which they are separated. The hens are only raced as youngsters and are given the toughest programme to complete. Next to the 4 nationals for youngsters they also have to race the provincial ‘Grand Middle Distance’ races! The cocks also race the 4 national races, but in addition race a Small Middle Distance race from Melun or Pithiviers, or if it is a tough race… then as an ‘extra’ maybe a Momignies! All the pigeons are basketted every week then!
And the feed? Steve normally uses the Beyers-mixture, and tries to keep things as simple as possible. When they return home from a race they are given sport mixture, and from the Sunday 60% depurative and 40% sport… up until Tuesday. Starting Wednesday they are given plenty of sport mixture with 30% extra corn added! They are also given extra cheese and peanuts. Live brewer’s yeast, Zell Oxygen, sheep fat and Optimix etc is added to the food… (Herbots-gamma), and Probac 1000 (Brockamp). On the first Monday of the month the veterinary surgeon Raf Herbots is consulted. His advice is followed and where necessary action is taken.
The pigeon mill turns at full speed for the whole of the season, and earlier this season they achieved 3° Prov Blois and 3° Prov Chateauroux with the youngsters. Only the national Bourges was a disappointment due to… problems with the eyes! The pigeons were rested for the weekend, not only to let them recuperate, but also to get them ready for the next missions. With success, as it now seems from La Souterraine where Steve & Marijke, in addition to the 1° National La Souterraine youngsters with their “Zeus”, also had 9 pigeons in the clock at 15h59, and 14 à 15 pigeons of their 30 basketted pigeons home at 16h30… who will probably all classify themselves nationally. In addition they also clocked 4 or 5 of their old pigeons in the national prizes!
The loft Smits-Mellaerts was mainly built up with pigeons from Henri & Danny Van Avondt from Haacht, and John & Jan Baeck from Brasschaat. There are also a few pigeons from his good friends Jespers-Vanderwegen (the shockers of this La Souterraine), and from Jef Vervoort-Kuypers… a small strong racing fancier from Gelrode! Steve bought 6 youngsters here, from which he still has 4 and all 4 produce good offspring! So is the “Zeus”, winner 1° National La Souterraine, also a 100% Jef Vervoort pigeon. He comes out the “Bleke Bombay 657/06” Vervoort x “Vuil Blauw Vervoort 520/06” (see pedigree). This youngster was previously a regular pigeon, without anything spectacular, who had already won:
Momignies 683 p. 188, Pithiviers 806 p. 25, Blois 759 p. 139 and Prov 2.787 p. 355, Argenton 741 p. 232… and now La Souterraine 21.271 p. 1
Steve has owned pigeons for 20 years, since he was just 10 years old… and has experienced a lot of happy times in the pigeon sport over the years… but this national victory is the absolute ‘climax’! Without doubt a memorable moment that will remain with Steve and Marijke for a long time, maybe as one of the best memories and experiences of their lives! The entire PiPa-team and its many visitors would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them with this magnificent national victory!