Gérard & Sébastien receive their trophy during the Fugare exhibition.
PIPA IATP Ranking
For the fanciers that focus on the extreme long distance races, winning this ranking is like winning the holy grail; it probably only happens once in a lifetime. It is like a european cup. Fanciers can collect points when their first nominated bird appears on the international results and wins a full price per four in the six international races of the program: Pau, Barcelona, St-Vincent, Marseille, Narbonne and Perpignan. There is a maximum of six prizes to be won and the fancier with the highest amount of points is declared the winner (click here to see the rules of the IATP). This year, it is the combination of father & son Ledoux that won the trophy with a total of 116,11 points. We also find the inevitable Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen (Melden, BE) in second place with 109,93 points, while Alain & Valérie Pocholle finished in third place (Morbecque, FR) taking 108,96 points.
The PIPA IATP Ranking has been organised three times since it was launched for the first time in 2013, and this is already the second victory for a Frenchman after Gery Etuin won it in 2013. In 2014 the ranking was dominated by Dutchman Rob Timmermans.
Gerard and his son Sebastien have been pigeon fanciers for many years. Pigeon racing has practically become their job since they are running a shop specialized in racing pigeons; it is now rightly considered a reference point in France. They also developed and commercialized their own feeding mixtures. Of course, their pigeon loft plays a central role in their life. Gerard is now retired and he passed on his company to his son but he continues to stay involved in the daily management. He founded the company on his own in 1995 after a dismissal.
As we said in the title, the loft is located in Rollot, a small town situated in the French department of The Somme. It is also the southernmost town in the department. This means the Ledoux loft cover a short distance, probably the shortest distance in the European international races. This situation is both an advantage and a disadvantage: it allows them to shine when the flying conditions are tough - sometimes with an impressive number of early arrivals on the first day of the race. On the other hand they are in a disadvantage when the pigeons are flying at speeds of over 1,200 m/min.
Competing in the international races over the shortest distance is often considered to be an advantage. And there is some truth to it: most of the pigeons still have to travel hundreds of kilometres while most of the Ledoux pigeons are already back home. But this advantage has a downside: in order to book a top prize at international level, you need class top pigeons that give it their best, pigeons that can make a difference in the first day of the race. You cannot win a race in the second day because then the pigeons from the longer distances have started to come home. In the last few years the Ledoux brothers found out how to win early prizes. Their success is the result of a lot of hard work, both in terms of management and investments (in pigeons, lofts, aviaries, breeding boxes, etc.).
The extreme long distance, a love story
In fact, it has been several years since Gerard & Sebastien decided to focus exclusively on the international extreme long distance races. After an inevitable adaptation period to started to achieve great results six years ago. In 2013 they booked their first national victory from Perpignan (click here to check the report published at the time). The crowning achievement followed two years later, with a first prize in the PIPA IATP Ranking, as well as a first place in the French National Championships in the international races. The 2015 season was one of the best of their career, with loads of trophies won in the championships (Click here for a brief summary of the championships won in 2015).
They had a linear progression, and they performed at a consistent level. They have done everything they could to become successful. Luckily enough, the hard work pays off. It always will. The quality of their pigeons is a crucial element in their development. To be able to participate in the international races, father & son Ledoux quickly decided to travel to Germany to strenghten their loft, relying mostly on three different lofts with a proven record at international level: the basis is built around the Kipp, Brockamp and the Lessmeister breeds. In addition, they bought pigeons from Nouwen-Paesen, the late Etienne Devos, Wijnands but also from Charles Zirn and Maurice Besse (who own many pigeons from Jos Thoné). The pigeons are put under a lot of stress here; they are pushed to the maximum already at the age of one. They also decided to race their hens and it helped them to further improve the quality of their collection, since each pigeon is tried and tested.
As far as preparation before the season goes, the pigeons are coupled at the begining of march to raise one youngster. The hen is then taken away before she lays another egg and the cocks are put on widowhood on their youngster. Another important characteristic: the pigeons are often trained during the season. Each Tuesday they are basketted in the club for a training race from Etampes (140 kilometers). The pigeons that are just back home from an international race are basketted as well. It keeps them in shape but it also enables them to eliminate the weakest birds.
With regard to medical guidance, the pigeon vet Raf Herbots is consulted during the season, before Pau, Barcelona and Perpignan and this in order to ensure that the pigeons are basketted for these races when they are on top of their game.
This was a brief overview of the outstanding 2015 season of the excellent French combination. We hope to see them achieve their dream, which is winning another international victory. Good luck in 2016!
Results 2015 - national & international
19/06 Pau national - 2,115 olds: 14, 16, 31, 122, 232, 303 (6/15) 19/06 Pau International - 9,052 olds: 16, 19, 589, 914, 1142, 2176 (6/15) 03/07 Barcelone national - 3,134 olds: 23, 84, 158, 197, 273, 282, 359, 362, 372, 479, 484 (11/26) 03/07 Barcelone international - 19.089 olds: 153, 515, 944, 1151, 1628, 1655, 2008, 2022, 2063, ... (18/26) 10/07 St-Vincent national - 2,697 olds: 61, 163, 212, 240, 241, 269, ... (13/53) 17/07 Marseille national - 2,445 olds: 32, 80, 153, 161, 193, 350, 450, 512, 522, 587 (10/20) 24/07 Narbonne national - 2,770 olds: 45, 68, 98, 142, 146, 170 (6/15) 24/07 Narbonne international - 10,732 olds: 290, 384, 516, 900, 970, 1620 (6/15) 31/07 Perpignan national - 3,846 olds: 8, 32, 65, 73, 82, 83, 87, 101, 104, 106, 110, 111, 112, 119, 129, 133, ... (27/103) 31/07 Perpignan international - 15,954 olds: 8, 42, 81, 90, 100, 101, 111, 145, 154, 161, 171, 174, 176, 200, 312, 372, ... (24/103)