Raoul & Xavier Verstraete (Oostakker, BE), title of ‘General Champion of Belgium KBDB 2011’ crowning of a richly filled career

For more than 40 years the East-Flemish success formation of father Raoul and son Xavier Verstraete have raced at the top of our national pigoen sport! The brand new title of ‘General Champion of Belgium KBDB 2011’ is then also very thick icing on the cake… the crowning of 40 years pigeon sport at an elevated level!

Raoul & Xavier Verstraete as winners 'Criterium der Azen 2011' by the Entente Belge, prize presented by Mrs Norman 

It is not difficult to typify Raoul & Xavier… they are real ‘pigeon racers’. Breeding out ‘good’ x ‘good’, preferably out ‘super’ x ‘super’… and all descendants, without exception – whatever their lineage is- is tested to the full in the races… beginning as a youngster in the ‘provincials’ and ‘nationals’ for youngsters. A candidate topper amongst the cocks may be allowed to stay home from Raoul after his 3rd national (read: La Souterraine), but the majority of the young cocks race the 4 nationals for youngsters, as well as then hens. But with this difference… the cocks usually remain home during the weekend between the nationals, whilst the hens race a provincial grand middle distance race… but ‘sparing’ pigeons, that word is clearly not in their dictionary there in Oostakker! The old cocks which race the long distance are often given 5 national long distance races… no, there is no room by Raoul & Xavier for ‘scroungers’! A few years ago Raoul told us… why should I spare the pigeons, I’m (then) 75? A reasoning we understand perfectly and which was the basis to a very long chain of top successes achieved there at the foot of O-L-Vrouw from Oostakker-Lourdes! In the meantime Raoul had to blow out 81 candles in December, but his temperament and ambition are still the same… and now son Xavier (57) belongs to the lucky few and was able to take ‘early retirement’ in November, so there are reinforcements for taking care of the pigeons… so that here they can also dot the proverbial i’s!

Nearly a half century at the top

In the seventies our old colleague and fellow member, the late Clement Van Keymeulen, named the Verstraete colony the ‘Loft of Miracles’… feel free to call it a saga of the heroic deeds performed there under the towers of Onze-Lieve Vrouw Church in Oostakker-Lourdes –the ancient well-known place of pilgrimage in the Flanders. At the time it was impossible to race against the Verstraete pigeons in the middle distance, the opponents were wiped out week after week by the phenomenal ‘pointers’ out the rich Verstraete racing- and breeding lofts , with the figurehead of the loft being the wondrous ‘Gouden Bol’ which was ‘Olympiad pigeon Sport class’ in 1973… the first crack which raced the Verstraete colony into the international spotlights after their start in 1968. You have to give it to the Verstraete family, for the basis for their colony they always used real ‘winners’ or at least ‘top racers’! The famous ‘Zilveren’ and the ‘Mirage’ directly followed in the slipstream of the ‘Gouden Bol’. The reinforcements they bought were also very good, and certainly not the ‘cheapest’… the pigeons which made their mark on the further expansion and development of the loft were the ‘Rapido’ and the ‘Panter’ bought in the total auction of Theo Gilbert from Zulte, and the ‘Elvis’ which was 1° National Ace bird of Germany, and the ‘Bolide’. For the long distance they mainly relied on the Robert Venus pigeons (a.o. line ‘Super crack Gruson’).Out a crossing of the ‘Elvis’ x ‘Bol’ x ‘Bolide’ came the super crack ‘Miljonair’, which flew his honours list together in the lofts of fellow villager Tom Van Damme, where he was then bought back again by Raoul & Xavier… to grow in the Verstraete breeding lofts to a ‘stock bear’ on which part of the current loft occupation is still based. Together with the formidable ‘Uno’ and his son ‘Solo’ (winner 1° Nat La Souterraine) the ‘Miljonair’ formed the basis to the team of pigeons with which they did well in the ‘90’s’ in the  provincial and national ‘grand middle distance’. It was also the period in which Raoul started with old and yearling hens in widowhood… let them race according to the known strategy of 'not sparing', until some of them began to ‘snap’…  however the very best ‘ladies’ which survived the strict ‘selection via the basket’ nearly all grew into powerful breeding mothers, and so partly formed the basis to the current successes!

However, when we contemplate the current Verstraete colony, then we can say that in the meantime chain results are also booked in the national ’long distance’. The slight ‘Ace-shift’ came about through the purchase of 2 hens from Cas De Graaff from Arnemuiden (2 daughters of the 2° Nat Dax), and 2 hens from Chris Hebberecht in the public auction in 2001… being the ‘Blue Kathy’ (line ‘Pokemon’ x ‘Herbotsduivin’ x ‘1° Nat La Souterraine Aelbrecht’) and the ‘Chequered Kathy’ (a super hen, as a youngster self 1° Ace bird Youngsters Long Distance trophy… and daughter of the Barcelona crack ‘Panda’, winner 3-year old classification Barcelona by the BBC). With the ‘Blue Kathy’ was it was almost immediately bingo in the breeding… the pigeons of the ‘Chequered Kathy’ didn’t achieve real ‘top prizes’ at first. Until Raoul told Chris Hebberecht about it during the basketting, who promptly asked him if he was giving the pigeons enough ‘distance’? Raoul then basketted one of her sons – the ‘Topstar’-  for the international Beziers for yearlings… a very tough race in which he was winner in the basketting club in Eeklo, good enough for a 68° place National against 9.191 yl. As a 2-year old he was allowed to race Montauban, and once again in very tough circumstances he was victorious and ended in 77° place national against 7.303 p.! An immediate sign to move him to the ‘breeding loft’… a ‘golden move’ as it turns out because when we now look at the long distance team it is nearly all ‘Topstar’… Raoul & Xavier simultaneously call him the ‘best breeder’ they have ever had in their lofts during their entire 44 year career! Almost unbelievable how many ‘long distance toppers’ this chap has brought into the world in such a short time… and he is far from finished! The 2 most predominant descendants who can best illustrate this explosion of top quality are: 


-‘Xtra’ (son ‘Topstar’): winner 1° Nat Cahors 5.425 p. and 21° Nat Brive 14.521 p. in ‘08

-‘Monar’(grandson ‘Topstar’): winner 1° Intnat Narbonne 12.605 p. in 2011 by Etienne Meirlaen!

This breeding line of the ‘Topstar’ not only lies at the basis of a marvelous chain of long distance athletes which are currently populating the lofts… they also brought more ‘power’ into the core line of the ‘Uno’ which up until then was mainly entered for the grand middle distance to at the most ‘small long distance’. Their part in the winning of the title ‘General Champion of Belgium 2011’ was enormous, we have listed the performances which were sent to Halle :

199° Nat Narbonne   6.428 p. (son ‘Topstar’ BE06-4296367)
193° Nat Perpignan  5.591 p. (son ‘Topstar’ BE06-4296594)
6°  N.Zone Souillac 2.507 p. (Grandson ‘Uno’ BE09-4269098)
24° Prov Cahors     1.589 p. (grandson ‘Uno’ BE09-4269098)
35° N.Zone Limoges  6.706 p. (granddaughter ‘Topstar’ BE10-4210043)
64° Nat Montauban   9.091 p. (son ‘Topstar’ BE06-4296594)
3° Prov Chateauroux 4.571 p. (Vincent’-Waldack x lijn ‘Blauw Kathy’)
49° N.Zone La Soute 6.010 p. (son ‘Xtra’ BE11-4211041)
308° N.Zone Argenton 6979 p. (grandson ‘Topstar’ BE11-4211067)
19° Noyon             336 p. (granddaughter ‘Topstar’ BE10-4210044)
21° Angerville        338 p. (grandson ‘Topstar’ BE11-4211067) 

By the basketting for the closing national classic from Gueret Raoul told us that he had a coefficient of around 27% had (26,6853% to be precise) for the ‘General Championship’, and asked us if we knew of any other candidate winners for this title… although a lot could happen in this race from Gueret. Yet it was already clear that the Verstraetes would end very close… in the end they were allowed to stand on the podium as the ‘numero uno’ of our land in 2011! A more than deserved title, which was waiting to happen, certainly after they were so close in 2009 and were proclaimed  primus by the ‘Belgische Verstandhouding’ two years in a row with: 


2° General champion of Belgium KBDB 2009
1° General champion ‘Belgische Verstandhouding’ 2009
1° General champion ‘Belgische Verstandhouding’ 2010 

Call it an extensive appetizer of what was achieved during the past 2011 … and from which it was clear that there in Oostakker they were nowhere near thinking about the dessert, but were planning to make a ‘five course meal’ of it! Take a look… 

1° General champion of Belgium KBDB 2011
1° ‘All round’ Champion Belgische Verstandhouding 2011
1° Criterium der Azen Belgische Verstandhouding 2011
1° Provincial Ace bird Long Distance KBDB East-Fl 2011 (with ‘Magic Ace’)
1° General champion FVOV (provincial races OVV-FVOV)
1° General champion Fond club Eeklo (8th year in a row)
3° General champion Belgische Verstandhouding 

Who did it before they did… or moreover, who will repeat it? To achieve the title of ‘General champion of Belgium’ , you don’t just have to own good pigeons… you need several ‘crack pigeons’ and moreover with an  ‘all round’ character… because they have to win top prizes from sprint to ‘grand distance’ if there is to be any chance of success. Ingredients which are abundant in the Verstaete colony there in Oostakker… because Raoul & Xavier managed to breed this ‘all round-character’ into their pigeons, through introducing  long distance (read: power and endurance) into their ‘grand middle distance pigeons’, and vice versa… crossing enough speed and flexibility into their long distance pigeons. An art… that much is certain, because in doing this most of us achieve the opposite effect of the result intended! One of the prototypes in the current racing team of such an introduction is without doubt the excellent 2 year old cock ‘Magic Ace’, a real class bird, beautiful life and limb, and whose eyes betray ‘breeding capacities’! He performed as follows: 


-‘Magic Ace’ BE09-4269098

1° Prov Ace bird Long Distance O.b. KBDB 2011
1° Ace bird Belgian Fond trophy 2011
’11 Souillac    316 p. 1
        Nat   5.667 p. 56
’11 Cahors      259 p. 3
        Nat   8.105 p. 202
’11 Limoges     923 p. 23
        Nat  19.373 p. 344
’11 Tulle       258 p. 14
        Nat   5.124 p. 124
’11 Brive       491 p. 50
        Nat  10.089 p. 985
’11 Angerville  485 p. 7
    Noyon       195 p. 1
’10 Bourges   1.255 p. 12
’10 Gueret      522 p. 14
’10 Blois       406 p. 14 etc… 

He stems out an inbred line to stock pigeon  ‘Uno 400/88’ (winner 1° Nat Bourges 10.992 p., 1° Prov Ace bird KBDB ’89, and father of the ‘Solo’: 1° Nat La Souterraine 25.545 p.).

Father: ‘Magico’ BE01-4332011… son of ‘Uno’ x ‘Signorita’ (self 1° Prov Barcelona ’98 and 1° Prov Perpignan ’97)

Mother: ‘Daughter Grand Cru Uno’ BE05-4105122… out star racer and top breeder ‘Grand Cru Uno’ x ‘Blauwe Kathy’ (Hebberecht).

For the complete pedigree: click  here

Two other pigeons which signed for the ‘national titles’ in 2011 were the ‘Daughter Belstar 044’ and her own ‘Nest brother 043’, with the following performances to their names: 


-‘Daughter Belstar’ BE10-4210044

6° Best pigeon of Belgium Youngsters over 4 national races 2010 (PiPa-ranking)
Limoges       783 p. 2
    Nat    14.686 p. 18
Clermont      146 p. 3
Noyon       1.161 p. 5
Vierzon       413 p. 7
Blois         352 p. 15
Bourges       944 p. 19
Argenton      771 p. 23
L.Souterraine 662 p. 20   etc…

-‘Nest brother 044’ BE10-4210043, performed excellently in 2011 with :

Limoges       783 p. 5
Chateauroux   784 p. 19
La Chatre     486 p. 19
Argenton      680 p. 16

Father: ‘Belstar’ BE08-4278004… classy and especially beautiful son of the ‘Topstar’ x ‘Blauwe Kathy’

Mother: ‘Daughter Major’ BE07-4257028… daughter of the ‘Major 139/04’ x ‘Granddaughter Miljonair’

For their detailed pedigree: click  here

The primus amongst the youngsters, and great hope for the future by Raoul & Xavier Verstraete is then again the ‘Best Star’… a chap brimming with talent, look with us at his honours list: 


-‘Best Star’ BE11-4211041

1° Ace bird Youngsters Internat. Fond club ’11
1° Ace bird Belgian Fond trophy ’11
Noyon          122 p. 1
La Souterraine 726 p. 4
Angerville     338 p. 19
Angerville     381 p. 30
Montrichard    608 p. 35
Argenton       792 p. 50
Gueret Nat  14.362 p. 682
Bourges Nat 31.719 p. 1739 

The own nest sister of ‘Best Star 042/11’ also won 2° Noyon 214 p., 2° Noyon 222 p. and prize in the 4 national races for youngsters!

Father: ‘Xtra’ BE06-4296522… winner 1° Nat Cahors 5.425 p., 21° Nat Brive 14.521 p., out ‘Topstar’ x ‘Diva’

Mother: ‘Lili’ BE07-427019… super breeding hen and daughter of ‘Mambo’ (grandson ‘Uno’) x ‘Victoria’ (inbred to the ‘Uno’)

For their complete pedigrees: click  here

All these pigeons are perfect examples of how Raoul & Xavier have managed to breed that ‘all round character’ into their pigeons… which enables them to shine with 1° prizes and resounding performances form the middle distance to the furthest distances in the ‘grand distance’! A work of years, in which they were helped by owning a few exceptional ‘stock bears’ with a seemingly inexhaustible gamma of ‘dominant genes’  which was transferred down into the descendants. We have already explained in detail the exploits of this super colony and their prominent titles in 2009 and 2010… we have also described the racing method and their way of coaching their pigeons. Interested parties can read this again (click  here)

Raoul & Xavier Verstraete, more than 40 years continually at the top of our (inter)national pigeon sport… with this title of ‘General champion of Belgium 2011’ as absolute crowning of years of strong racing… it couldn’t be nicer. Don’t think that they are now going to take it easy there in Oostakker, now that Xavier can also fully concentrate on the pigeons… it appears that new triumphs are on the horizon, and certainly not far off! The imminent 2012 season will only confirm this!

A few of the latest top references with R.&X. Verstraete pigeons!

-Yelena  (Et. Meirlaen): super breeding hen out joint breeding with  ‘Topstar’ x ‘Marathon lady’. She is a.o. mother of the ‘Monar’: 1° int. Narbonne 2011., the ‘Montauban’: 1° Prov + 5° Nat Montauban ’10 and 13° Nat Montauban ’11, and the ‘Montali’: 4° Nat Montauban ’11 and 12° Nat Montauban ’10.
-Plum K-Heinz (Germany):   1° + 3° nat. Narbonne 2009    (mother 100% inbreed UNO)
-Chytil Lukas (Slovak):   1° + 2° nat Koblenz  723km  2010  + 2° nat. Ace  (Uno-line)
-Loft Vercammen Jos: stock pigeon Panter is a 100% Verstraete (Panter-Bol-Elvis crossing)
-Pruski Chris (Poland):   Olympiad bird + prov ace 2009
-Grandmother of super breeder ‘Champion’ by Chris Hebbrecht (Barcelona hen 310-85)
-Gaby Vandenabeele (joint breeding with ‘Topstar’ + ‘Xtra’ in 2009):  KIANA BE09-3095175 (Daughter out Topstar xDaughter Bliksem) crossed with the Bliksem line,  Bert Vanden Berghe(Wortegem) 4291415-11, had the best youngster which won 1° Ablis 1.115 p. and never missed a single prize!