He has been at the top for years and he has won countless top prizes and victories seemingly effortlessly, which is quite exceptional. Still, the career of Gommaire Verbruggen is not based on luck. He knew what he wanted to achieve when he started his career as a fancier: he wanted to make it to the very top in the provincial and national classics over 450 to 600km and he knows what it takes to achieve that goal. He started looking for top class pigeons right from the start.
When running his first loft in the Holleblokstraat in Kagevinne-Scherpenheuvel he visited all successful fanciers in the neighbourhood. He did not have a high budget at that time, because he had spent most of his money on building a new house. We assume most of you are familiar with the story of Gommaire Verbrugggen. The first time he spent a lot of money on a pigeon was when he purchased the legendry As from Maurcice Vandevelde, a fancier from the neighbourhood. This proved an excellent investment: As became one of the most important pigeons in the Verbruggen breeding loft, as the breeder of world class pigeons Kletskop, Teen, Massis, Blauwe Vansweevelt, Kadet 002, the 020 and many more. Other pigeons were added to the loft later on, including a few expensive ones. These have shaped the pigeon breed of Gommaire, and they form the basis of a pigeon breed that was further developed over the years. It is thanks to this pigeon breed that Verbruggen has become an internationally renowned pigeon fancier!
Super class pigeons are the key
Some fanciers might be wondering if Gommaire is looking for a specific set of characteristics when he is planning to invest in a new pigeon for his loft. We asked him about it and he gave a logical, yet considered, answer:
“To me the outside characteristics of a pigeon are of secondary importance. I think a pigeon should be an exceptional champion first of all, an exceptionally talented breeder, think for instance of Witneus. The origins of the pigeon are just as important as the pigeon itself, simply because the capability of winning first prizes and leading a race is something that is inherently part of a pigeon family; it is an integral part of a bloodline! This champion should be a successful pigeon himself of course, with multiple first prizes on his list of achievements. I prefer pigeons that excel in typical pigeon racing weather conditions (sunny weather allowing for a velocity of 1,100 to 1,300 m/min). I am particularly fond of pigeons that can win top prizes even in a region where most pigeons have a disadvantage, due to the weather or an unfavourable location of the loft. This means your pigeon has to be able to break away from the group and fly on its own. This is the type of pigeon that can take victories with a lead of several minutes in good weather conditions, think for instance of As! His grandchildren Kletskop, Teen, Kadet and 020 had that ability as well. The future generations have this ability too, which shows that it is part of their bloodline. I can assure you that true champions will breed nothing but top class descendants.
I would never judge a pigeon by its appearances or the type of wing or muscles it has. This is really not the most important thing. On the other hand, a true champion with a bad wing or plumes is something you will rarely see. I have a slight preference for a medium-sized pigeon with a pear-shaped body and a heavily pigmented eye. Unfortunately it is difficult for me to take a closer look at a pigeon’s eye due to respiratory problems (Gommaire wears a kind of helmet in his lofts).”
Make no mistake: if you follow the news from pigeon racing regularly you might start to believe that you have to spend a lot of money to become a successful fancier. It is fact, that purchasing a true champion, ace pigeon or world class breeding pigeon will cost you a lot of money. However, the fancier from Kaggevinne has been really successful with pigeons from Moons-Bries as well (he purchased eggs and a round of average youngsters) and he obtained his top class breeder Schilderij via a voucher from his uncle. In other words you have to keep your eyes open for interesting offers!
Looking for champions
I would say that a champion is the kind of pigeon almost every fancier would like to get his hands on in his career. We have taken a closer look at the list of achievements of Gommaire and it is surprising how many amazing first prize winners, outstanding racing birds and champions he has bred in his career. This shows that he has a successful approach as a fancier. We already mentioned some of his most successful pigeons that made him an internationally acclaimed fancier. We fast forward to his current team of racing pigeons that have been winning many prizes in the loft near the Scherpenheuvel Basilica. These pigeons are the big stars of the current generation and generations to come.
Top of the bill is without doubt Annie, an amazing hen. She achieved three (semi-)national top 60 prizes both in 2012 and 2013, including the victory from Montluçon at semi-national level, an impressive feat! She was so talented that Gommaire no longer wanted to basket her after Argenton, at the end of July. After all, you can never predict what can go wrong during a race. This would mean a great loss and Gommaire did not want to take any risk. He decided to remove her from the racing loft and to give the best hen of Belgium a place in the breeding loft. Let's have a look at her impressive achievements as a racing hen:
’12 Montluçon s-Nat 5,491 p. 1 (23/6) ’12 Argenton CFW 3,696 p. 1 Nat 12,384 p. 13 ’12 Montluçon N.Zone 5,706 p. 11 (16/6) Nat 17,865 p. 21 ’13 Chateauroux N.Zone 4,304 p. 35 Nat 22,254 p. 60 ’13 Montluçon Lok 172 p. 1 B.U. 1,588 p. 3 Nat 18,568 p. 32 ’13 Argenton CFW 4,407 p. 9 Nat 16,325 p. 34 ’11 Argenton Lok 187 p. 1 N.Zone 4,979 p. 9 Nat 19,782 p. 66 ’13 Pithiviers V.Br 1,236 p. 5 ’11 Soissons 642 p. 8 ’11 Pithiviers V.Br 1,200 p. 12 ’12 Bourges N.Zone 6,289 p. 82
Her dam is a half sister of Gust, winner of a first nat. Argenton 20,383 young birds in 2011. Her sire is a direct Rolf Bender, a friend of Gommaire from Germany. Rolf has a big collection of Verbruggen pigeons and Gommaire has obtained pigeons from his own first bloodlines via him (for instance via joint breedings).
Click here for the pedigree of Annie
She was quickly followed by Kim, another top class hen. She is expected to win a 10th place in the ranking for National Ace Pigeons Grand Middle Distance KBDB in 2013. This is her list of achievements:
10th Nat. Ace Pigeon Grand Middle Distance KBDB 2013 (with 2.0325%, to be confirmed)
’11 Pithiviers V.Br 1,373 p. 1 ’13 Argenton I CFW 4,407 p. 1 (30/6) Nat 16,325 p. 8 ’12 Pithiviers V.Br 813 p. 2 ’13 Montluçon CFW 4,995 p. 25 Nat 18,568 p. 39 ’13 Chateauroux 2 CFW 1,727 p. 10 (3/08) Nat 4,757 p. 29 ’12 Montluçon CFW 3,088 p. 4 s-Nat 5,491 p. 5 ’12 Chateauroux CFW 4,386 p. 8 s-Nat 8,854 p. 20 ’10 Argenton N.Zone 5,737 p. 45 ’11 Chateauroux N.Zone 5,560 p. 21 Nat 25,263 p. 97 ’11 Nevers 2,205 p. 25 ’11 Bourges N.Zone 6,043 p. 40 Nat 20,544 p. 147 ’12 Montluçon CFW 5,706 p. 74 ’11 Argenton N.Zone 4,979 p. 124 ’13 Argenton II Nat 5,941 p. 236 (10/08) ’13 Chateauroux Nat 22,254 p. 259 (1/06)
She was bred from two grandchildren from the iconic stock pigeon Kletskop. Click here for the pedigree of Kim
It seems Gommaire has a preference for hens. Still, his team of racing cocks has a few excellent pigeons as well that are just as strong as their female counterparts. We have selected two of his best cocks and we give you their list of achievements:
’13 Argenton II Nat 5,941 p. 18 ’13 Bourges CFW 3,226 p. 36 ’13 Chateauroux 2 CFW 1,727 p. 19 Nat 4,757 p. 53 ’13 Argenton I CFW 4,407 p. 29 Nat 16,325 p. 74 ’11 La Chatre Fleu 5,666 p. 16 Nat 21,180 p. 22 ’12 Bourges N.Zone 6,289 p. 43 ’11 Chateauroux N.Zone 5,560 p. 43 Nat 25,263 p. 242 ’11 Argenton N.Zone 4,979 p. 82 Nat 19,782 p. 357 ’12 Nanteuil Lok 233 p. 3 ’11 Nanteuil Lok 597 p. 15 ’11 Pithiviers V.Br 1,373 p. 22 (14/05) ’11 Pithiviers V.Br 1,200 p. 22 (21/05) ’11 Pithiviers V.Br 1,263 p. 48 (07/05)
He originates from a crossing of the old lines via his father's side (Kletskop and 020), in a pairing to a hen from Gaby Vandenabeele (via Jos Deno), in combination with Ellen, a granddaughter of the first provincial Ace Pigeon KBDB West Flanders Ronker (and winner of a first Limoges 8,883 p.) and Turbo from the lofts of Gaby Vandenabeele.
Click here for the full pedigree
’12 Pithiviers V.Br 813 p. 1 ’11 Pithiviers Club 402 p. 2 ’13 Argenton CFW 4,407 p. 6 Nat 16,325 p. 18 ’11 Nanteuil Club 597 p. 9 ’13 Montluçon Prov 1,429 p. 4 Nat 18,568 p. 37 ’10 Argenton N.Zone 5,737 p. 12 Nat 22,442 p. 86 ’11 Nevers I.Prov 2,205 p. 63 ’12 Argenton N.Zone 3,654 p. 54 ’11 Bourges N.Zone 6,043 p. 74 Nat 20,544 p. 254 ’13 Bourges N.Zone 4,063 p. 78 Nat 19,655 p. 183 ’10 Vierzon C.O. 2,457 p. 90 ’12 Montluçon Nat 17,865 p. 384
Click here for the pedigree of Mannequin
A new approach
Gommaire decided to try a new approach a few years ago, anticipating the recent developments of pigeon racing today. He had a fresh start in 2010 and he aimed for the classics of the longer middle distance, which he had always been fond of. He started racing pigeons on total widowhood, which means he could have twice as much racing pigeons with fewer pigeons in the loft. This allowed him to compose a good team of racing pigeons for the national classics, just like most other specialists.
This new approach gave him a boost in performance. Gommaire had no less than 27 pigeons in the national top 100 in the classics from Bourges, Chateauroux, Montluçon and Argenton 2013. In addition he had several pigeons in the top of the results in a row, which reminds us of his first successful years. His new restart in 2010 is a revival of a pigeon family that still has the same origins. This proves that the Verbruggen pigeons are still among the world’s best. This pigeon breed is tough to beat. Well done Gommaire and Annie!
An overview of the highlights of 2013 at national level
25/05 Bourges Nat 13,588 yearlings: 61-62-80-245-293-307 etc 18/46 01/06 Chateauroux Nat 22,254 old birds: 3-8-60-103-143-238-259 etc 20/30 01/06 Chateauroux Nat 19,691 yearlings: 47-69-76-79-126-171-216 etc 22/36 15/06 Montlucon Nat 21,827 yearlings: 30-44-45-65-72-156-252 etc 19/38 15/06 Montlucon Nat 18,568 old birds: 32-37-39-176-177-182-182-184 etc 22/31 30/06 Argenton Nat 22,463 yearlings: 33-72-123-164-197-294 etc 24/30 30/06 Argenton Nat 16,325 old birds: 8-18-34-52-74-80-83-167-170-194 etc 23/30