Dieter Ballmann (Amel, BE): The Champ, 1st European Ace Pigeon Barcelona 2011-2012!

Barcelona, the most important race of the international calendar, brings each year an important number of afficionados. If the ultimate goal is to win a prize at the national or international level, others tries to classify their best pigeons ahead of the result to try to make them ace pigeons in this mythic race. These pigeons, you can consider them as the hardest pigeons on earth.

Dieter in his breeding loft

These kind of pigeons, Dieter owns a few of them in his loft. He has also a kind of love story with the race from Barcelona, a love history which took a higher dimension last year thanks to the 5 stars presentation realized by his awesome champion, The Champ! This incredible pigeon managed to be twice classified into the national top 15, two years in a row. If the ace pigeons of Barcelona for two races bring each year's new champions, The Champ is probably now one of the best Barcelona racers ever and certainly the best of the last 10 years. Only one pigeon can maybe steal the throne from him: the famous Super Ben from Robert Ben (FR), which gives to his performance more lustre!

- The Champ (BE 07-1033043)

1st   European Ace Pigeon International Barcelona (1.039 km) 2011/2012
1st   Barcelona prov  -    373 pigeons 2011 (1.328 m/min)
1st   Interprovincial -  3,630 pigeons
9th   National        - 12,170 pigeons
42th  International   - 26,066 pigeons
1st   Barcelona prov  -    337 pigeons 2012 (1.437 m/min)
1st   Interprovincial -  3,545 pigeons
14th  National        - 11,590 pigeons
28th  International   - 25,320 pigeons
5th   Marseille prov  -    244 pigeons (806 km)
36th  National        -  3,340 pigeons
67th  International   - 10,333 pigeons
8th   Troyes          -    106 pigeons (274 km)
9th   St Dizier       -    109 pigeons (208 km)
13th  Orange prov     -    373 pigeons (699 km)
357th National        -  4,466 pigeons
42nd  Perpignan loc   -    165 pigeons (874 km)
45th  Narbonne loc    -    164 pigeons (835 km)
620th Interprovincial -  2,288 pigeons
56th  Orange prov     -    424 pigeons
694th National        -  5,237 pigeons
69th  Montélimar prov -    680 pigeons (654 km)
551st Nat. Zone       -  3,923 pigeons

Father: (BE98-1065097), son of the 810/94 who is a 100% Catrijsse x 020/97, a pure Jan Theelen cock who is also one of the most legendary fanciers of Barcelona. The 810/94 is the father of the Red Barcelona 563/00 who won the 3rd Nat & 18th Int Barcelona at the age of 7 years in 2007.
Mother: (BE04-3004248), 100% Emiel Denys, grand-daughter a.o. of Goldfinger.

The ultimate goal : the modern extreme long distance pigeon 

It has been many years now since Dieter begun his quest of what he calls the modern extreme long distance pigeon. As hard and challenging as they are, the races of more than 800 kilometers underwent a modification of their progress since the new millenium. More and more pigeons are now able to fly for numerous hours, to fly long hours without having a rest and also to fly during the night. The Dutch were the very first to experiment with this, as they were already racing with late release times and they saw numerous arrivals during the night or early in the morning. If you want to be one of the best racers of the European extreme long distance lofts, you must take notice of this reality. Like Dieter Ballmann. 

For him, his pigeons must have an excellent orientation, must be ultra hard as nails to fly for a long time but, most important, they must combine speed and stamina.  The Champ is the perfect example of that. The speed he achieved during the two last races from Barcelona are relatively high but they don't undermine the progress of the race as it panned out. In 2011, he classified himself 9th national at the speed of 1,328 m/min during a Barcelona dominated, until the end, by the Dutch, with a lot of pigeons who flew during the night thanks to favorable conditions. Certainly, the 2011 edition won't be remembered as one of the hardest Barcelona races in recent history but the decrease in the speed was fast, it explains that there are two type of pigeons: the Barcelona specialist and the others. The Champ is, of course, in the first category. In 2012, he won again an early prize at the international level with a speed of 1,437 m/min. But how could have it been otherwise as the pigeons were released in Spain around 14h00? Our conclusion? The Champ (clocked at 8h13 the next morning) flew a few hours during the night to make the trip between Barcelona and Amel, so a total of 18h13 of flight to achieve 1,039km with an effective hours of darkness at 22h57 for the first flying day, which ended the next morning at 05h08, which explains his high speed. The Champ trully deserves his name but his owner could have named him Nightflyer!

Of course, if you try hard, you can develop such a pigeon breed in only a few years, but Dieter began this ultimate quest 20 years ago and he had to be very strict with his selection. This German speaking guy purchased top quality pigeons from pigeon fanciers who were renowned for their results in the marathon races. In this loft, one specific pigeon played a big role in the development of the loft: the 820/94, probably the only pigeon in the modern pigeon sport to become the sire of two different national winners! The first one in 2001 for the loft of Jos Schmitz (Baelen) from Brive against 22,026 pigeons, the second for Dieter himself with the 1st national Perpignan from 6,489 pigeons. With such a breeder in your loft, you can envisage many years of high level racing!

With such breeding material, Dieter only had one thing left to do: race his pigeons and only keep the very outstanding ones. Then comes the important time when you want to become a top fancier: to fix the genetic characteristics that you would like to keep. In this case, to try to breed as many pigeons as possible who are able to fly for a long periiod of time and if possible, during the night. It doesn't really depend on the genetics but more on the aptitude, a skill that few pigeons have. This is an endless procedure which depends on two factors: the breeding and the selection. A superb example: the Red Barcelona has won the 3rd national Barcelona '07 against 12,612 pigeons being clocked at 05h44 in the morning. This Red Barcelona is nothing but a half brother of the father from The Champ. Do you think it is only a coincidence? We don't think so. Another example is D'Artagnan who won the 4th national Perpignan in 2005 against 7,611 pigeons (963 m/min). He was clocked at 22h17 for a distance of 884 km being the only pigeon clocked on the day for a distance of a bit less than 900 kilometers. It is also the case of the other emblematic pigeon of the loft, the famous Avignon:

- Avignon (BE 06-1043627)

9 prizes from 10 baskettings at extreme long distance
4th   National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance Master Award 2009
11th  National Ace Pigeon Heavy Long Distance KBDB 2009
81st  Tarbes National     –  4,812 pigeons 2009
169th International       - 12,849 pigeons
2nd   Pau Nat             –  1,984 pigeons 2009
9th   International       -  7,608 pigeons
54th  Montélimar National -  8,634 pigeons 2008
1st   St Dizier           –     96 pigeons 2007
42nd  Pau nat             –  2,183 pigeons 2010
247th International       -  8,170 pigeons
7th   Troyes              –    284 pigeons 2007
695th Narbonne Nat        –  6,081 pigeons 2008
6th   St Dizier           –    100 pigeons 2010
826th Orange Nat          -  4,587 pigeons 2008
145th Bourges I.prov      –  1,152 pigeons 2007

Father: (04-1012945), direct son of the Titan, 1st national Perpignan '04 and half-brother of the 1st national Brive '01 and so a direct son of the super breeding cock 820/94!
Mother: (BE05-9142980), direct from Yvon Deneufbourg (Estinnes)

During the race from Pau 2009, he just lost the victory after a few minutes, but he however showed his class when he was clocked at 21h04 at the speed of 1,080 m/min for a distance of 922 km (second highest distance from the top 30). it is pointless again to talk about the facts that we already explained above!

Dieter, congratulations on this extraordinary achievement and also for having bred this kind of pigeon. I hope 2013 will bring you some brand new incredible performances as well as a third prize from Barcelona for your champion!