The combination Ponlot-Lalande from Longvilly, winner of the national race from Montélimar... ahead of the opponents.

The first of the three races from the Rhône line were for Dominique Ponlot who at the same time took sweet revenge on life.

The races from the Rhône line are decidedly apart from the rest. Whilst the races this weekend were going smoothly with an average speed of 1.500 m/min for the first pigeons, the first ‘Rhodanienne race’ of the season, Montélimar, was won by a  pigeon who flew the entire distance with an average speed of 1.222 metres per minute… the only pigeon of the 8.031 others who crossed the 1.200 m/min !!!
As stated above, the Rhône line is nothing like the usual races. The ‘fault’ of the montainous relief, rugged, in which the pigeons don’t like to fly and this famous mistral, headwind which blows like nowhere else. If you want to take part in these races, you need pigeons made of iron. Therefore, it is useless to basket your ‘dead weights’ for the battle, because you will be throwing your money out of the window. Moreover, this famous line has built up many followers over the years, the kind of specialists who are expecting to shine as much as they can for the entire year. They principally live in the provinces Liège, Namur, Hainaut… and Luxembourg. These fanciers see the right opportunity to put themselves at the front of the stage at national level.
Our neighbors from the north of the country also basket, but, when you take a look at the effectiveness, it is clear that they are not really mad about it. Anyway…
The winners of the last edition were the Bourlard father & son  from Harveng. They managed to win the 1st & 2nd national places. The winner of this year, was not known to many fanciers.
And yet, the race of the capital of nougat couldn't have dreamt of a better winner. When he clocked his chequered cock at 15h08 from 614 Kilometers, Dominique Ponlot realized the exploit of his career by winning the national victory againt the whole mass. This victory, is also a sweet revenge on life. The podium was completed with the pigeon of Jacqueline Dodeigne from Aywaille (1.196 m/min) and the 2 year old of André Roovers from Diest (1.180 m/min and 100 km more than the national winner). One of the furthest distances was also included in the result as Yvo Verkoeyen from Mol was 4th (1.179 m/min for 739 km) and the specialist of the heavy work, Dieter Ballmann from Amel was 5th (1.175 m/min for 653 km).


A denial victory
In 2007, like he says himself, Dominique Ponlot was ‘messed up’. In fact, his heart was almost dead. He was then living with the hope of a transplant, with the anxiety that it would never happen… that it was already too late. An endless wait for an operation which however took place at the end of the year. Native from Namur, from Jemeppe-sur-Sambre to be more precise, he decided to live closer to his parents, who went to the Ardennes to live out their last years. Conscience of the fact that he had been very lucky, it was like a new begining for him. At this time he was no longer a pigeon fancier. Indeed, Dominique made his first steps into our sport around the 70’s when he was racing in combination with his father. He decided to call it quits when he left the parental house, came back in business during the 90’s, and stopped again 4 years later.
After his operation and his moving, he wanted to pass his free time with a healthy hobby… ‘why not racing pigeon again’ ? The proof that this damned virus never leaves us…
He then went in search of long distance pigeons, a discipline which he wanted to race. He came in contact with Jean-Luc Struys, an old fellow sport friend who wanted to get rid of his… long distance pigeons. That’s how Dominique bought the entire lot. There were pigeons from Florizoone, Toye, Vanhaverbeecke, Beelen, etc.
They were strenghtened later with pigeons coming from Richard Parmentier, Meux.
All this beautiful world is housed into the barn next to the house in which he lives with his companion, who is also the second member of the combination. The lofts are dry and the ventilation is good. Perfect for racing pigeons. Dominique came back in the competition in 2008. We are now three years later and it’s already the nicest victory ever for him ! A nice revenge on his destiny.

Composition of the colony and system
The breeding team consist of 14 pairs. Most of the purchased pigeons are still there, due to the short testing period. Concerning the racers, the old, of which there are 11, are raced with the classic widowhood system. They were coupled around the 4th of March, had the opportunity to brood a few days and were put into widowhood. There are 12 yearlings for racing. As you can see, it has nothing to do with the mass. The olds are mainly raced on… the Rhône line, while the yearlings are flying the local programme with Limoges and Tulle being the targets.  Dominique likes to give them a few week's rest between two races, sometimes three or four weeks. He then chooses the races for which he will basket his pigeons.

The second pigeon was clocked at 16h42, then 16h43, 18h27 and finally 18h39.Dominique had basketed 8 olds on this race. His winner, the BE 09-7007335, was clocked at 15h08 from 614 kilometres. Was he extra motivated ?
'His hen was kind of hot' the happy owner explained to us. A heat which probably helped him to win with such an advantage !!

Dominique is not really afan of paperwork. Most of the information concerning the national winner is missing.
The parents are two pigeons that he purchased from his friend Jean-Luc Struys. A investment that has already paid dividends !

Father : '963/06' (BE 06-8030963), out a crossing Jacobs x Schellens.
Mother : '456/06' (BE 06-8031456), out a crossing 'Crack Noir Van Den Eynde' x 'National II Herbots'. The 'Crack Noir' has won the 15th national Cahors, Limoges 3/2.460, Bordeaux 1/3.691, Brive 5/2.778.

5° Prov. Limoges 253 pigeons (550 KM)
18° prix Troyes 193 pigeons (205 KM)
1er Nat. Montelimar 8.031 pigeons (614 KM)

With this victory, we once again have the proof that our sport can be wonderful. Dominique and his wife have lived magical moments during their existence, after being involved in a critical situation. Moments that will definitely be engraved in their memories for a long time, and who reached the top of their career as fanciers. It's also a good thing for the promotion of the pigeon sport in the province of  Luxembourg, where our sport is the hardest to practise without any doubt when we take a look at fancier density, relief and... the enormous amount of predators. It has been more than 10 years since a national victory was won outside Luxemburg. The curse is now broken. We are crossing our fingers that Dominique will be soon joined by one of his neighbours. Our warmest congratulations.