Bastogne-Henry (Corroy-le-Château, BE) - When friendship & passion are meeting in a shared vision, the appearance of a project comes up

The 'Alba Pigeons' project is its expression and is materialized through the creation of the Bastogne Henry combination, two longtime friends!

Friendship above everything

It is often said life is sometimes made of encounter and chance. The Bastogne-Henry combination is a magnificent example. Sebastien Bastogne and Luc Henry are still young in their fifties and it has been 20 years since the passion of horses brought them together. From a very young age, Luc is passioned by the art of breeding, especially the breeding of jumping horses. His passion became a full-time job since 25 years. It was in this context that he called on Sebastien's services to help him in the management of the horses feeding. Sebastien, who started out on his own as a sales represensative in a medium-sized factory, then worked his way up over the years to finally end as a 'sales manager' function in the field of horses within one of the largest European agricultural groups. For his part, Luc has succeeded where many have failed: making a living from breeding sport horses, without being above all a salesman. This is how he became a pioneer in various fields of breeding with amazing success. He was thus able to breed and discover several horses which took part in the Olympic Games (which is in fact the highest recognition in the horse's world, such as the Barcelona race for any pigeon fancier) but also of many stallions which are currently among the most requested in Europe.

Even if the two friends are relatively different, several aspects of their personalities unite them: they are both hard workers and genuinely passionate about their professional life. In addition, it is human values and relationships that are first and foremost essential in their eyes: family, transparency, commitment and respect for the word given thus form the backbone of their relationship and of their life in general. It was already obvious when Sebastien was chosen to become the godfather of Aurore, Luc's daughter.

It is through a diner they had together that they came to discuss about Sebastien's passion for pigeons. Luc, who is totally a stranger to the pigeon culture, was then fascinated by the explanations given by Sebastien. He was impressed by the orientation skills and the resistance capacities of what looked like a simple bird for him and he realized that he couldn't leave his friend without encouraging him to get back to the sport in order to start playing again. Luc is directly convinced that he has in front of him a real pigeon fancier who does not take the time to experience what he is most passionate about. This is how he finally managed to convince Sebastien to start again with a double ambition: first of all, having fun and enjoy it and secondly try to shine on the most beautiful and most mythical of all the races of the pigeon calendar: Barcelona! Fifteen years ago, this ambition was mostly a challenge between two friends and a wonderful opportunity for the two friends to spent some time together and enjoy each moment while waiting together for the arrival of their birds.

Vision & ambition

Since a little bit more than two years, everything has been accelerated and you could even say that their lives have taken a new turn. In fact, it was thanks to a specific request from Sebastien that Luc became interested in March 2019 in the sale of several young pigeons from Frans Bungeneers on PIPA. Luc gets caught up in the game and begins to analyze in depth the origin of each pigeon presented. Through this request, Luc understands that Sebastien is now motivated and really ready to compete with the best fanciers. Indeed, what would be the reason to start again if they don't have pigeons able to deliver great performances. During this Bungeneers sale, 4 young pigeons were bought including a daughter of the Barcelona super star: Elena (Best National and International Barcelona Pigeon over 2 and 3 years).
Step by step, Luc became more and more focused and he was truly determined to discover the genetics of the best long distance pigeons in the world. His experience in horse breeding led him to understand that to progress very quickly in pigeon racing, he must meticulously and thoroughly analyze two important data and then cross-check them: these two data are first of all the results of the toughest and most consistent international races of the last 10 years and then the origins of the pigeons or the fanciers that ranked on top of the result. Of course, the analysis will take into account the weather and the flight circumstances in order to finally take a closer look at the origins of the pigeons and the lofts who achieved the best performances. When it comes to Olympic pigeons or ace pigeons, the repetition of the performances is often enough on its own and on closer inspection, the origins of the pigeons responsible of these performances are often unequivocal.
Thanks to all these different filters of selection, Luc and Sebastien applied a well-thought and totally targeted purchasing policy. Initially, the selection was therefore made solely on the basis of the results. Then, it is clear that the pigeons which had been selected must have physical characteristics adapted to the demanding efforts provoked by a long distance flight. Indeed, Luc and Sebastien knew by experience that physical defaults are easily reproducing from a generation to another one and are transmitted more easily than qualities. That's why it was decided to get rid of their selection any pigeon who was not physically perfect.
Although reason and pragmatism have always been dominant in their philosophy, the passion and investment they have both on personal and financial level have now grown to such a level that it became impossible to avoid a comprehensive reflection on new life choices. Not long ago, both Sebastien and Luc decided to turn the page on their previous professional life. Today, they devote themselves largely to their new passion: breeding and training long distance pigeons. It was decided to race at two places from two different lines. Thus, a big accommodation was built at Luc's place in the area of Liège (Luik) (in Paifve) and a new loft will be built soon at Sebastien's place in the area of Namur (in Corroy-le-Chateau). Their ambition is clear: to aim for the first places on the various international races, especially on Barcelona. Their strategy to get there is also very clear: "You have to breed a lot, you have to race everything and then you have to select with no mercy. It is indeed the basket that will have the final word in the selection process. " Now all the youngsters of the ace pigeons will be raced without exception before perhaps, being able to enter the breeding loft someday. Indeed, the quality of the breeders must take advantage over quantity.

The new accommodations in Paifve.

Targeted purchases & introductions 

During the past two years, Luc and Sebastien took the time to travel so that they could meet some of the best european long distance fanciers. This is how they built some strong relationships with several fanciers which leaded to a few joint breeding. In addition, a partnership was created in early 2020 with Frank Zwiers. This choice was a bull's eye when we know that during the year that followed this partnership, this loft produced Mad Max, International Acebird on 2 races in 2020 and International Acebird on 3 races (2019-2020 ). This colony also ranked 6 yearlings among the first 23 of the best European yearlings ranking.

In addition to the Frank Zwiers colony, several investments were made at Jelle Jellema (including a son of MG 43O, a son of Silke, a daughter of Evi, a daughter of Romy, a daughter of Joyce and four daughters of Rena), at Verweij - de Haan with Olympic Heintje and his descendants (via Red Rose and Miss Milos), at Frans Bugeneers (with the line of Queen Tony and of Iron Lady Elie), at Cor de Heijde (with the line of Klamper via Marianne) and finally at Van Ouwerkerk-Dekkers (with the line of Poco Barcelona and his sister Poco Lady). On the other hand, several International Acebirds were purchased and several joint breedings were realized with Gérard Schalkwijk and his two exceptional hens Orange Oil (International Acebird on Barcelona over 3 years) and Lady In the Dark (Best European hen in 2017).

The breeding philosophy is therefore well-thought and two main directions were taken: the pigeons bred for Barcelona and Perpignan and the pigeons bred for other races. The yearling races will become either already real objectives or simply a preparatory step to train the pigeons for the bigger races on the future. The origins and the aptitudes of the young pigeons will be analyzed as well as possible in order to use them on the races which suit them best.

In addition to these future goals, it is remarkable to see that the Bastogne-Henry combination has been already put under the spotlights on several times over the last few years and especially on Perpignan in 2016 with a remarkable arrival. Finally, on the 2018, 2019 & 2020 editions of Barcelona, the combination could be always found on the national top 100 with one or two pigeons, including a 13th national won in 2020. But let's now have a look to the main pigeons of this colony.

- 'SM 911' (FR15-213911)

This incredible pigeon has been bred and raced by Serge Martin (France) where he became the Best European Pigeon on Barcelona 2018-2019 (PIPA Ranking) with the lowest coefficient ever achieved. Moreover, he was also ranked as 2nd Best European Pigeon on Barcelona 2017-2018-2019 (PIPA Ranking). His performance list is astonishing:

2. Barcelona nat - 2.998 p. '19 (857 m/min - 928 km)
 4. International - 15.981 p.
3. Barcelona nat - 2.904 p. '18 (859 m/min - 928 km)
 12. International - 15.700 p.
75. Barcelona nat -  3.152 p. '17
 374. International - 17.026 p.
13. Narbonne nat - 2.245 p. '16
 151. International - 7.811 p.

- 'Goldikova (NL19-1111882)

Despite her young age, 'Goldikova' has impressed everyone with the maturity she showed on several very difficult marathon races. Bred & raced by the Jacquemin-Humblet combination (BE); she won in 2020 the title of Ace Pigeon ZLU, Best European Hen and Best European Yearling. In their quest of perfection, Luc & Sebastien couldn't ignore this high potential hen. Moreover, three of her sisters booked some top performances on races such as Agen and Narbonne: 4 Nat Narbonne, 11 Nat Agen, 13 Nat Narbonne, 32 Nat Agen. Her performances on the two single marathon races she flew:

2. Narbonne nat. & 11. International 8.492 p. (1.056 m/min - 864 km)
6. Agen nat. & 29. International (1.161 m/min - 834 km)

- 'Mad Max' (NL18-3810324)

Still mostly unknow in Belgium, 'Mad Max' became however a very famous pigeon in The Netherlands in the lofts of Frank Zwiers where he has been crowned as 1. European Acebird Extreme Long Distance Fond (2 prizes) in 2020 and also Best European Pigeon Extreme Long Distance 2019-2020. In addition than his performance, it is mostly the conditions on which he booked his performances that impressed all the insiders. Indeed, he won two national top 10 on Pau (1002 km) & Narbonne (954 km) while clocked respectively at 01h24 and 01h15 in the night!! Almost never seen, especially on such a distance. Two of his brothers ('Neo' and 'Adonis') have been also ranked either as Olympic pigeon or either on the european ranking.

Click here to see the pedigree of 'Mad Max'.

- 'Pierre' (NL16-1764396)

'Pierre' is the pigeon who preceded 'Mad Max' to the palmares of the title of 1. European Acebird Extreme Long Distance (2 prizes), title that he won in 2019 for his breeder Jos Habets (NL). He was simply unstoppable that year and he was one of the very first pigeon purchased by the Bastogne-Henry combination, thanks to the following performances:

2. St-Vincent nat - 2.716 p. '19 (1.040 m/min - 975 km)
 2. International - 10.623 p. (clocked at 04h56)
5. Pau nat - 3.787 p. '19 (1.020 m/min - 970 km)
 31. International - 12.119 p. (clocked at 06h04)

- 'Anneke' (FR16-419424)

'Anneke' came directly from Ludovic Guirado (France), the new international Barcelona phenomenon. This name came out of the darkness in 2021 after his wonderful performance on Barcelona but he already showed his worth on the two previous editions of this mythic race, first time with 'Alegria', 1st national & 3rd international in 2018 (now breeding for Batenburg-Van de Merwe) and then the following year with 'Anneke' who became in 2019 1. Best European Hen on Barcelona (2018-2019) but also 4. European Acebird on Barcelona (2018-2019). Once again, a deal was made to purchase this fantastic hen so that she could moove in Belgium. Her performance list: 

13. Barcelona nat - 2.911 p. '18 (819 m/min - 942 km)
 53. International - 15.700 p.
21. Barcelona nat - 2.998 p. '19
 112. International - 15.981 p.

- 'September Girl' (NL16-1352480)

Same as for 'Mad Max', 'September Girl' is an extraordinary hen who wrote history in The Netherlands but who is still mostly unknow abroad. However, she is a racing wonder that we don't see often. This amazing hen has been bred in The Netherlands by Richard Kuijer who then gave him to the good cares of J. Van Amerongen who had then the unique chance to race this breeding wonder with the following performances: 3 provincial victories, the first one being won on Agen while she was only aged of 9 months old, the second time once again on Agen at the age of two (4th National) and the third time on Perpignan at the age of 4 where she also won the national victory from that race who is still considered as one of the hardest from the last years. Her performance list:

1. Perpignan nat - 3.356 p. '20 (846 m/min - 995 km)
 39. International - 11.237 p.
4. Agen nat & 69. International 13.325 p. '18 (864 m/min - 960 km)
39. Agen nat & 88. International 13.189 p. '17 (1.064 m/min - 938 km)
53. Pau nat - 3.787 p. '19 (914 m/min - 1056 km)
 265. International - 12.119 p.
139. Perpignan nat - 4.276 p. '19 (874 m/min - 1064 km)
 232. International - 12.770 p.

While browsing through this collection, you could quickly came to the conclusion that the ambition of these two friends are high. Of course, the discipline they choosed is not the simplest and the quickest to give offer you a first feedback on the investments achieved. However, Sebastien & Luc are really fascinated by the marathon races and the distances are giving them more guarantee to shine one day on the national and international scene. It is also the only discipline that allows you to race against the most prestigious names of the european pigeon sport. And this is exactly what the Bastogne-Henry combination wants to do: get a place among the top names of the international fanciers. We are really excited to see what the future will bring them!